That has been the buzz phrase associated with Dave Gettleman for years now and in this year’s draft, he stuck to his beliefs.
4th overall pick Andrew Thomas was the best Hog Molly and best Offensive Lineman available in the 2020 draft and will have the longest career of all the early tackles taken.
The 2020 NFL Draft
GM Gettleman resisted the claims by Draftniks that Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills or Mekhi Becton were the premier assets at the OL position and stuck to the rating that he and many others held for Thomas early in the 2019 draft process, as opposed to being tempted by those late risers. Of the OL options, Thomas has the highest floor and will be joined on the line by third and fifth rounders Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux.
Peart and Lemieux may not immediately start, but they are also high floor picks and will provide competition across an offensive line that should be a strength in 2020.
High floor equals solid, but not spectacular and this is a trend for Gettleman and his beloved hog mollies on both sides of the trenches. The Giants’ defensive line starters of Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson all come with the pedigree of first and second round picks but have never lived up to their high round billing within the national consciousness.
Irrespective of draft capital spent, these hog mollies are still solid and do what is required of them. All three are capable of occupying multiple blockers and moving the pocket for the flashier, twitchier athletes to pile up the stats.
Herein lies the issue with the Giants. Where are the flashy, twitchy playmakers behind them?
Sack Artists are scarce in the Big Apple
Markus Golden had an excellent 10 sacks last season, 2.5 off his career best and has resigned a one-year deal. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines both had 4.5 sacks apiece. Ximines was a third round pick in 2019 and could flourish into a key cog within the defense, but where is the scary pass rush that Big Blue used to be famed for?
Blake Martinez has been signed from Green Bay and will mop up any ball carriers that reach the second level. Martinez ranked second in the league for tackles in 2019 and will be catapulted into national stardom if he continues the consistency that he has shown in Titletown over the past few years.
The secondary will be bolstered by the nationally underappreciated James Bradberry and ex-Titan and Patriot Logan Ryan, but the talent here is paper thin. Ryan was brought in as a result of an injury to second rounder Xavier McKinney, but it is asking a lot for the veteran to come in and immediately fortify the back end of a below average safety unit rounded out by formerly highly touted prospects, but underwhelming pros; Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love.
Further issues in the secondary pertain to the criminal proceedings that cloud the underwhelming 2019 first rounder DeAndre Baker, as charges for armed robbery could curtail a career that has failed to launch up to this point.
Baker would have needed to have taken a huge leap forward in order to stave off 2020 draftee Darnay Holmes. A bit of competition may have been exactly what he needed to inspire him to begin to repay the first round faith shown in him but we may now never know his true talent.
Danny Dimes to surge in NFL sophomore year?
On offense, Daniel Jones will be given a long leash as he looks to take a step forward in year 2. Jones was taken 6th overall by Gettleman in 2019 and showed flashes of real talent, but too many inconsistencies have meant that he is yet to be considered anywhere close to the same echelon as Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott who also reside within the NFC East.
If Jones suffers a slow start, fans in the Big Apple may be clamouring for a ‘Tank for Trevor’ type of season. I get the sense they will be caught in the same kind of draft purgatory that Miami experienced last season.
Nevertheless, Danny Dimes should become a foundational piece to Big Blue as he enters his sophomore year. The running game should be boosted by a fully healthy Saquon Barkley, and Darius Slayton was a genuine find in the fifth round in 2019, finishing the season as the Giants’ leading receiver with 740 yards and 8 touchdowns.
The Giants must utilise a gameplan that serves to protect Jones at all costs, whilst looking to utilise his mobility with planned rushing attempts written into the game script. There will be moments where Jones is forced to improvise, but this must be the final resort and not the norm.
New OC Jason Garrett must strive to find ways of how to incorporate Jones’ athleticism in a similar way to how the Seahawks chose to develop their prize asset, Russell Wilson, in a controlled rushing manner.
Whilst wildly successful, Dangeruss merely survived his first three years in the league running out of the frying pan and into the fire more often than not. Jones does not have the level of elusiveness that Wilson has been naturally gifted and so injury is a real concern unless he can prove his football IQ is of the standard that mobile QBs must possess.
Saquon Barkley to break scrimmage record?
Barkley will be central to the Giants’ plans. The former Penn State back is an explosive force of nature and amassed almost 1,500 yards last season despite missing a quarter of the Giants’ season and battling a nagging high ankle sprain.
There is a very real possibility that a 2,500-scrimmage yardage mark is on the horizon at some point during his career, and Chris Johnson’s single season record of 2,509 in 2009 will be in his sights. Garrett employs a running back friendly system, highlighted by Ezekiel Elliott’s consistency in Dallas and the sky truly is the limit for an excellent receiving back entering his prime.
Worst team in NFC East?
Overall however, the Giants just have too many holes to be considered a major threat for most teams. A schedule with four games against two genuine playoff contenders in their division will not help matters in what will be a baptism of fire for new HC, Joe Judge.
Finding the highs are difficult. The Giants could split the series against the Washington Football Team who are also a team in development, but Washington may be just a small a step ahead thanks to the worldly-wise Ron Rivera and stronger depth in many areas across in D.C.
Non-divisional road games against the Rams, Seahawks and Ravens along with welcoming the powerhouses of Pittsburgh and San Francisco will be too much for New York to overcome and Gettleman will be on the clock inside the top 5 again in next year’s draft.
In a best-case scenario, Daniel Jones takes the leap forward that is required of him to transform the Giants into a fringe playoff team at 8-8. Fundamentally sound football is preached by Judge, Garrett et al., in the Meadowlands to immediate success and provides a strong foundation to build from. However, fumbling issues could still plague Jones and the D in Big Blue just is not yet where it needs to be in order to keep games close against the elite teams within the conference.
This prediction truly is a worst case scenario, but it would allow the Giants a shot at a premier defender such as Micah Parsons or Gregory Rousseau in the 2021 draft class which would continue the rebuild that has begun around Martinez on that side of the ball.