Giants add speed at tight end, bolster defense in NFL draft
The NFL draft began Thursday, April 27 with the New York Giants eager to fill needs on their roster. The Giants entered the 2017 draft with glaring holes at the linebacker, offensive tackle and tight end positions. They had six picks total, and did not trade up or down until the sixth round.
Jerry Reese, the Giants’ general manager, said in a radio interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa that there were a few players that he considered trading up for and admitted he almost made a move in the early rounds. Though he did not reveal who those players were, many speculate that one of them was quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, who was seen as a potential successor to veteran Eli Manning.
The Giants had pick no. 23 in the first round and they used it to fill one of their biggest needs at tight end. They selected Evan Engram from the University of Mississippi, a speedy, explosive pass catcher who ran a 4.42 40-yard dash. At 6-feet 3-inches tall and 234 pounds, Engram is often compared to Jordan Reed of the Washington Redskins, a matchup nightmare whose size and speed wreak havoc over the middle of the field. While this was widely considered a strong pick, it was also unexpected considering David Njoku, a tight end rated higher than Engram, was still on the board. Engram is a great weapon for Manning, another piece to the puzzle of an already excellent group of pass catchers.
The Giants used their second-round pick, the 55th overall pick, on David Tomlinson, defensive tackle from the University of Alabama. Tomlinson, at 6-feet 3-inches and 305 pounds, is the perfect plug to supplement Johnathan Hankins’ departure to the Indianapolis Colts in free agency. Tomlinson has big shoes to fill, as he will be expected to line up with Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, three of the league’s premier pass-rushers. Reese explained that Tomlinson interviewed excellently at the NFL combine, which led some to believe that this pick was motivated more by Tomlinson’s character than his skill at the position.
The Giants’ third-round pick finally addressed the Manning replacement drama, as Big Blue selected quarterback Davis Webb out of California. Webb joins the quarterback roster with Geno Smith and Josh Johnson, as many anticipate a heated battle in training camp for the top backup spot. One of those three signal callers will sit for a few years and develop before eventually inheriting the starting QB position. Manning has three years left on his current contract and it is unclear if the Giants will renew it. It was a good value pick considering Webb was projected to go in the second round, not the third.
Big Blue elected for the 6-feet 1-inch, 195 pound Wayne Gallman in the fourth round, expected to add to a very thin running back group. Despite his small frame, Gallman is described as a “between-the-tackles,” bruising back that looks for contact and fights for extra yards. He is not a big threat to the Giants’ de facto starting running back, Paul Perkins, who, coach Ben McAdoo confirmed will be the featured rusher in 2017, but serves as a great compliment to Perkins’ style of nimble quick-cut running. Even still, all eyes are on Reese to make the jump for prized free agent LeGarrette Blount, one of the league’s top rushers in 2016.
The Giants spent their sixth-round pick on Adam Bisnowaty, an offensive tackle out of Pittsburgh. This pick addresses a palpable need at left tackle with Ereck Flowers constantly struggling. The Giants traded up seven spots with the Tennessee Titans to acquire Bisnowaty. Still, questions surround Bisnowaty’s durability as he has battled injuries for most of his college career.
Despite their draft class, many needs still remain unattended along both sides of the ball. The Giants failed to address the linebacker core, which has been mediocre under defensive captain Johnathan Casillas’ lead. Likewise, the departure of kicker Robbie Gould remains unaddressed, leaving Big Blue to search for potential in the undrafted free-agent pool.
Furthermore, it is foolish to believe sixth-round pick Bisnowaty will be the answer to the Giants’ offensive line woes. Reese has finally found offensive weapons to take the field, but if the offensive line cannot keep Manning from getting sacked, the prized receiving core will be for naught. Looking to the free-agent market, one very attractive prospect is left tackle Ryan Clady. Once one of the league’s best, Clady has admittedly suffered a drop in performance in 2016. However, if able to stay healthy, Clady may be a viable option.
The Giants expect Engram, Gallman and Tomlinson to have an immediate impact, while sculpting Bisnowaty and Webb into future contributors. Big Blue is primed to build on a successful 2016 and push further in 2017.