After nearly a year, let’s take a look back at the 2019 New York Giants draft class and evaluate which picks have worked and which haven’t.
The 2019 NFL Draft was, to be honest, a strange event for a straightforward pro football franchise in the New York Giants. Surprise decisions within the annual event’s first round. Dave Gettleman not going with the “best player” route at No. 6 overall. Needless to say, New York took its own version of a “chicken salad on rye” approach with some of its earlier picks, for all you Seinfeld fans.
But the first round encompassed just three of the 10 college prospects who ended up in blue. From round No. 1-7, each selection has undergone his own story up to this point.
So without further ado, as the 2020 NFL Draft approaches, let’s take a look back and evaluate how each 2019 selection has panned out for Big Blue thus far.
Round 1, pick No. 6 — QB Daniel Jones
Unless certain circumstances arise, Gettleman likes to take the best player available in the draft. An example of a “certain circumstance” would be needing a quarterback of the future. Thus, the Giants welcomed Duke’s Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick.
And up to this point, I choose to believe that it was a beneficial pick in regards to the future of the franchise. Jones impressed in his rookie season, throwing for 3,027 yards and 24 scores. His turnover issue is definitely apparent (12 picks, 11 fumbles lost), but that will hopefully be improved under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
Some think the Giants should’ve taken an edge rusher with the No. 6 pick and then draft Jones at No. 17. But I truly believe Jones would’ve been taken by someone else prior to the latter selection.
Jones’ potential is real, and I think he was the correct choice to be Eli Manning’s successor.
Round 1, pick No. 17 — DL Dexter Lawrence
This was another pick Giants fans didn’t agree with initially. Since the team didn’t draft one at No. 6, many felt New York would take an edge rusher at No. 17. Instead, Big Blue chose Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson, a 342-pound defensive tackle that the organization hoped would be a nice complement alongside Dalvin Tomlinson.
And throughout his rookie year, that’s exactly what Lawrence was.
Despite the fact that he wasn’t the pick Giants fans were hoping for, Lawrence put together a very productive and efficient campaign. He recorded 38 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks through 16 games (all starts) and notched a 76.1 Pro Football Focus grade. His 2019 efforts earned him a spot on the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Team.
He and Tomlinson will hopefully be a part of this foundation of defensive linemen for years to come.
Round 1, pick No. 30 — CB Deandre Baker
The Giants gave up a trio of picks to trade back into the first round and select Deandre Baker out of Georgia. The former Bulldog won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2018 for the nation’s top defensive back and was also a consensus All-American.
But Baker failed to transfer his collegiate success over to the pros. He allowed quarterbacks to complete 61.4% of their throws for 850 yards and six touchdowns when targeting him. He was also the subject of an effort-related controversy when taking on the crosstown-rival New York Jets.
Hargreaves benched/cut for lack of hustle.
— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) November 12, 2019
Baker will remain the No. 2 cornerback after the waiving of Janoris Jenkins and the signing of James Bradberry. But up to this point, he hasn’t been a great selection by Gettleman and could see the bench if he doesn’t show improvement early on in 2020.
Round 3, pick No. 95 — EDGE Oshane Ximines
Along with Dexter Lawrence, Oshane Ximines was chosen with a pick given to the Giants via the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Throughout his first year, he didn’t earn as much playing time as Lorenzo Carter and Markus Golden, but still performed well in spurts.
Oshane racked up 4.5 sacks through 16 games, which tied for second on the team behind Golden’s 10. With Markus’ future with the team uncertain, look for Ximines to potentially see the field more in year No. 2. If he just stays consistent with his on-field production, he could definitely be a significant part of this pass-rushing group for the future.
Round 4, pick No. 108 — DB Julian Love
Will he play free safety in 2020? Will he play slot corner?
The Giants saw Julian Love‘s versatility very early on, which is why they drafted him as a corner but fielded him as a safety. After failing to see much time on the defensive side of the ball for the first 10 games, Love relieved an injured Jabrill Peppers in the Week 12 loss to the Bears. Peppers then sat for the rest of the year with a transverse process fracture, which led to Love starting the final five games at strong safety.
Now, Big Blue may indeed start the athletic Love at free safety amid Antoine Bethea’s exit. Or, there’s also the chance he could start at nickel corner if Grant Haley and Corey Ballentine struggle.
But all in all, the Giants believe in Love and what he can bring to the field. It’s possible he could be a staple in this secondary for years.
Round 5, pick No. 143 — ILB Ryan Connelly
Prior to his season-ending injury, Connelly recorded 20 combined tackles, one sack, two picks, and two passes defended.
Gettleman saw something in the now-former Wisconsin Badger that other teams may have not. If he returns fully healthy, and if the Giants run a 3-4 defensive scheme, look for Connelly to potentially compete with David Mayo for the starting inside linebacker spot alongside Blake Martinez.
Round 5, pick No. 171 — WR Darius Slayton
What a steal Darius Slayton was. It’s hard to believe 170 players were taken before this man, especially when you ponder over the rookie season he experienced in 2019.
Slayton developed a great on-field relationship with Daniel Jones very early on, a connection the Giants are hoping will stay existent for years. But, it wasn’t just Jones he had beneficial chemistry with, as Slayton additionally portrayed talent in a pair of games with Eli Manning under center.
Overall, Slayton caught 48 balls for 740 yards and eight touchdowns. The latter two statistics led the team.
Gettleman drafted Slayton to be a decent complement alongside Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, but the former Auburn Tiger was much more than that.
Round 6, pick No. 180 — CB Corey Ballentine
Corey Ballentine‘s career started with tragedy, as he and close friend Dwane Simmons were shot while attending a party in the early hours of the morning following the NFL Draft. Simmons was killed in the incident.
Ballentine began in a reserve defensive back role but then started at the slot corner spot against the Jets and Bears in Weeks 10 and 12, respectively.
Overall, Corey allowed quarterbacks to complete 64.3% of throws for 393 yards and four touchdowns while targeting him. Those aren’t great numbers, but Ballentine still carries the potential to grow into a reliable, consistent nickel corner for this defensive backfield.
It’ll be interesting to see how Ballentine fits within this secondary when you consider the future. He, Deandre Baker, Julian Love, Jabrill Peppers, and James Bradberry could very much be the starting group in 2020.
Round 7, pick No. 232 – OT George Asafo-Adjei
George Asafo-Adjei’s tenure with the Giants was very short-lived, but it’s not like anyone truly believed he was the long-term answer at the tackle position. After his placement on injured reserve in August 2019 with a concussion, Asafo-Adjei didn’t play the entire season and was eventually waived this past March with a failed physical designation.
He’s currently a free agent, and it’s unclear what the next move will be for the Bronx-born individual.
Round 7, pick No. 245 — DL Chris Slayton
Chris Slayton was the Giants’ final selection of the 2019 draft but didn’t see the field at all during the regular season. The Giants waived the former Syracuse Orangeman in August 2019 and then signed him to the practice squad thereafter. New York then promoted him to its active roster prior to the Week 17 matchup with the Eagles.
At this moment, he’s still a member of the organization but his future is very much unclear. The Giants possess a decent foundation on the defensive line with Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and B.J. Hill.
Therefore, it’s unknown if there will really be a roster spot for Slayton in 2020 and beyond.