The New York Giants should wait to address either defensive position when the 2021 NFL Draft ultimately commences.
The cornerback and edge rusher positions have potentially found themselves on the Giants‘ list of first-round options. Some believe the pass rush, a unit that improved in 2020, requires a star while others think the starting corner spot opposite Pro Bowler James Bradberry is what the organization initially needs to address.
But the correct move would be for Big Blue to pass on either position when the No. 11 overall pick arrives. The Giants shouldn’t take a chance on Alabama corner Patrick Surtain or Virginia Tech corner Caleb Farley, or even Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau, should any of these individuals be available.
It’s not to take anything away from each of the aforementioned soon-to-be rookies — all possess bright futures. But the Giants are simply not in a legitimate position in which they require a young defensive star.
Why should the team pass on a CB?
Utilizing the No. 11 overall pick on a cornerback (on the outside) means you’re going to heavily rely on him to assume a noteworthy role and most likely start. The last time this occurred for the Giants was when they selected DeAndre Baker with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Baker struggled throughout his rookie campaign and was an absolute liability in the secondary.
You could also say Jeff Okudah — last year’s No. 3 overall selection out of Ohio State — struggled with the Lions in his inaugural NFL season.
No, not every corner (or player, for that matter) is equal. The speed of the game at the professional level, however, is much different than it is at the collegiate level, and you could argue that concept is realized the most in the defensive backfield.
The Giants cannot take any more risks at this critical spot. They need someone who can be consistently reliable alongside Bradberry — Isaac Yiadom didn’t fulfill that requirement in 2020.
Instead of snagging someone in the first round, the Giants would be better off signing a veteran free agent — possibly Xavier Rhodes or Ronald Darby — to a short-term deal and then selecting a corner in the second or third round. The veteran newcomer could then assist in the development of the rookie defensive back, whose role may eventually expand down the line.
Why should the team pass on an EDGE?
The edge rusher rotation that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham utilizes is very situational, meaning a number of the outside linebackers are role players and their playing time is based on the matchup at hand.
Lorenzo Carter was on the field for 98% of the defensive snaps in two games last year but just 65% of the snaps in another matchup. Oshane Ximines, on the other hand, participated in 58% of the defensive snaps in one game but just 29% in another.
Kyler Fackrell took part in 100% of the defensive snaps in one game but then experienced matchups where he saw time on 44%, 49%, and 55% of the snaps.
The point is that depending on the opponent, Graham likes to rotate guys in and keep bodies fresh and minds focused. Thus, the Giants won’t need to draft a talented edge rusher such as Miami’s Rousseau, who was a first-team All-ACC selection and second-team All-American in 2019.
New York could instead wait until the third or fourth round and acquire someone on a cheaper rookie deal.
Disclaimer: Leonard Williams is a different story. He’s more than a role player and in a different situation within Graham’s defense considering he’s more of a down lineman in a 3-4 scheme.
Too many offensive weapons potentially available
The bottom line is the Giants require help at the offensive skill-player positions. Jason Garrett’s unit was 31st in both total offense and scoring and 29th in passing last season.
Building around the struggling Daniel Jones should additionally be a notable goal for the team.
Selecting a receiver (whether it’s Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, or Jaylen Waddle) or tight end (Kyle Pitts) would assist in resolving the offensive issues.
The defense wasn’t the problem last season — Graham’s unit kept the team in a multitude of games while Garrett’s struggled mightily. It’s time to enhance the talent level on the offensive end.