I caught my fair share of flack when I tweeted this during the season.
This was right after the New York Giants’ 19-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, a win that brought the Giants’ record to a measly 4-7, but put them in first place in the NFC East. The tweet had plenty of sarcasm in it, as the words “brutal win” are not often strung together in the same sentence. The Giants went on to win their next week’s game against Seattle Seahawks, but then dropped their following three before bringing the division race down to the wire in Week 17.
Though the Giants were one game away from winning the NFC East and making it into the playoffs, they finished the year 6-10 and have plenty to focus on as they move forward. But I do need to give new head coach Joe Judge some credit. Regardless of how the wins came about, he won six games in his first season without his star running back Saquon Barkley to lean on. Not too shabby.
Moving forward, the Giants have a handful of positions they need to address: wide receiver (passing game playmaker in general), edge rusher, and a potential cornerback spot opposite James Bradberry, depending on what they want to do with Julian Love.
With the No. 11 overall pick in hand, here is how the Giants can hit some holes on the roster and bolster the depth chart with good playmakers.
Round 1 (Pick No. 11 overall): Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
When the Giants go offense in 2021 mock drafts, it’s often in the form of a wide receiver. Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith are two of the top players we’ve seen mocked to New York. But with both Smith and Waddle gone in the mock simulation I ran, my attention was turned to another offensive weapon that might serve them even better: Kyle Pitts.
Pitts is labeled as a tight end, but he can play a variety of different positions in the passing game. With tight end Evan Engram not exactly living up to his draft billing—I know, I know, he made the Pro Bowl—this could be a good pairing while Engram has one year left on his deal. They would have a lot of freedom to use Pitts in a lot of ways—which is ideal for his unique talent.
Round 2 (Pick No. 43 overall): Carlos Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest
Leonard Williams proved to be a great addition to the Giants’ defensive line when they acquired him from the Jets. However, there hasn’t been much outside of him. Williams finished with 11.5 sacks in 2020, but the next closest player to him finished with just four. The Giants have to have more than just Williams. Basham gives them a bigger-bodied edge presence to play opposite Williams, or even get creative with Williams kicking inside on some subpackages.
Round 3 (Pick No. 75 overall): Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Blake Martinez has turned out to be a good signing from last year’s free agency group as the Giants’ inside linebacker, but they need a better running mate next to him. Cox brings you that coverage upside, as he has a good feel for zone as well as the athleticism to play man.
Round 4 (Pick No. 115): Dazz Newsome, WR, UNC
Golden Tate was brought in a few years ago to try to make up for the Giants trading away Odell Beckham Jr. As Tate’s age has climbed into his 30s, his effectiveness has dipped. Tate was once one of the best receivers in the NFL with yards after the catch, but that ability has really slowed down for him to the point where the team might move on from him. If they do, adding a shifty and speedy slot player like Newsome could be exactly the kind of new juice they need for their offense moving forward.
Round 6 (Pick No. 192): Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
The Giants were struggling to get good CB2 play opposite Bradberry as their CB1. When they moved safety/cornerback Julian Love to that spot, he played well, but do they want to use him more as a safety? If they do, and even if they don’t, they could stand to get another corner on the roster. Graham Jr. fills that potential need as a good outside zone corner who can play in press.
Round 6 (Pick No. 197): Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina
Can you catch the theme of this Giants’ draft yet? Let’s get some new playmakers in there!
The Giants were the second-worst team in the NFL in terms of points per game with just a 17.2 average through their 16 games. Regardless of record or how close they were to the postseason, that won’t cut it. Smith is an edgy wide receiver who brings a big-play mentality to the passing game. He was held back by a not-so-great passing attack at South Carolina, and his best ball could easily be ahead of him. Give quarterback Daniel Jones all the passing weapons he could want to prove his worth. This is a big year for him as a potential franchise QB.