The three-day extravaganza that is the NFL Draft is over. How did the New York Giants and general manager Dave Gettleman do?
Did he come out of the proceedings looking like a genius, a madman or—gasp—like the second coming of Jerry Reese?
Let’s take a look.
First Round: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
There’s no reason to waste a lot of time on this one. Saquon Barkley was the best player in the draft. He’s a game-changer in every possible way. Not only will he improve the team’s offense, but his ability to extend drives will positively impact the defense as well.
Don’t overlook his personality, either. People are drawn to Barkley. He’s a natural leader, someone who will positively impact his teammates, whether it be on the field, in the weight room, or elsewhere.
Second Round: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Remember when the Giants’ offensive line was a joke? Not anymore.
GM Dave Gettleman on Will Hernandez: One of the great gifts you can get in the draft is when value meets need, and we had a solid first-round grade on Willy. He's exactly what we were looking for. #NFLDraft
— New York Giants (@Giants) April 27, 2018
Will Hernandez joins a vastly improved unit that includes newcomers Patrick Omameh and Nate Solder—and isn’t likely to include malcontent (and former first-round bust) Ereck Flowers.
Not only will Hernandez’s physical attributes improve the offensive line, but he plays with an edge, leading to comparisons with the recently retired Richie Incognito. Future Hall of Fame receiver Steve Smith, however, isn’t convinced that Will equals Richie.
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) March 2, 2018
Third Round: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia
Saquon Barkley wasn’t the only athletic freak the Giants nabbed in the 2018 NFL Draft. Lorenzo Carter waves the freak flag as well—to the point that Gettleman considered trading up to get him.
Carter, 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, put on a show at the NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, posting a 36-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-10 broad jump.
He needs to add some bulk and muscle to his frame, but Carter is an aggressive edge defender who can play on the ball or drop into coverage. He’s a fantastic fit in defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s 3-4 defense.
#NYG 3rd-round LB Lorenzo Carter: "I feel like I'm an elite pass rusher. Gotta go out there and show it. Look forward to doing that. … I'm comfortable in any defense. I'm just looking forward to getting there and getting the playbook."
— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) April 28, 2018
More to the point, when was the last time the Giants walked out of the draft with a potential three-down linebacker? It’s been a long time. Carter fills a need now and in the future.
Third Round: B.J. Hill, DT, NC State
In case you hadn’t noticed, teams had a fairly easy time moving the ball on the ground against the Giants last season. Big Blue’s once-vaunted run defense ranked just 27th in 2017.
Adding Hill, a run-stuffing 6-foot-3, 311-pound behemoth, should help improve that ranking in 2018. While he can get after the quarterback, Hill projects as a two-down player.
Fourth Round: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Kyle Lauletta was the first truly questionable decision of the draft for Gettleman and company. Depending on who you ask, he’s either the next coming of Jimmy Garoppolo or a career backup.
“Picking Kyle has less to do about Eli [Manning] and Davis [Webb] and more to do about Kyle,” head coach Pat Shurmur said, via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “We liked the player and we wanted to add him to our team and then just let them compete.”
Questions about his arm strength aren’t going away, but Lauletta is an accurate, intelligent passer who opened eyes at the Senior Bowl. Ironically, Webb did the same thing a year ago.
While Giants fans have no reason to not trust Gettleman and Shurmur’s judgment, the fact is that the Giants now have two backup quarterbacks that have never taken a regular-season snap. That’s not an ideal situation to be in.
There were also players who could have made a more immediate impact on the board, including Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett and Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton. (Yes, the receiving corps is a bit thin after Brandon Marshall’s release).
If Lauletta becomes the next Garoppolo, this grade would certainly get a sizable bump.
Fifth Round: RJ McIntosh, DT, Miami
You can never have enough quality defenders, but this pick seemed like overkill just two rounds after taking Hill.
McIntosh doesn’t have the speed to get into opposing backfields as a 3-4 outside linebacker, so he seems destined to become a part of the defensive line rotation.
As with the Lauletta pick, this grade is more about the players still available rather than McIntosh, who should develop into a solid, albeit unspectacular contributor.
The question we have to ask is this: Are the Giants a better team coming out of the draft than they were going in? The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.
While Gettleman’s final two picks can be scrutinized, it’s impossible not to walk away from the 2018 NFL Draft filled with hope for the Giants in 2018.
Ultimately, without the benefit of hindsight, that’s what you hope for at the end of the draft. Hope that a team is better than they were.