Joe Schoen giants 2023 nfl draft
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First seasons can be deceiving. We all know that. Todd Bowles and Ben McAdoo taught us too well. But even so, there is no apprehension to say the Giants got it right with Brian Daboll. He has shown far more than the aforementioned one-hit wonders ever did.

We cannot speak with the same certainty about his partner in this Big Blue revitalization effort. And that is not a knock on Joe Schoen. It is just reality.

There was only so much Schoen could do in Year 1 after assuming Dave Gettleman’s mess, and most of it was relatively easily. To his credit, he did it well. And he, and his pro personnel staff, certainly deserve a share of the recognition after a surprise playoff run. But let’s be clear: The general manager was able to draft off the coach’s brilliance last season. If the Giants are going to keep ascending, the output will need to be much more balanced. Or maybe even the other way around.

We are about to learn a lot about whether Schoen is the guy everyone thinks he is, starting with his scheduled media session Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Daniel Jones. Saquon Barkley. A punchless wide receivers room. Extensions for Dexter Lawrence and maybe Andrew Thomas. Offensive line upgrades. Inside linebacker weaknesses. Secondary depth. The Giants may not have as many issues now as they did when Schoen arrived, but it is close. And you could argue the current challenges are more daunting in the grand scheme. He’s gone from a total teardown to tough, possibly career-defining calls.

The big two seem pretty straightforward to us. Retaining Jones is the Giants’ only viable option at quarterback. And they are going to need to pay up to do so, likely with the franchise tag. Jones should be demanding $45 million a year. Because that is the going rate for franchise quarterbacks these days and Schoen christened him as one when he said he wanted him back. If the Giants are going to balk at the money, they should have thought this out better.

As for Barkley: His camp has clearly launched a campaign to win hearts and minds over. But if Schoen is allowed to make emotionless decisions absent sentimental thinking or ownership interference, he should let the running back walk. The math may have made sense when Barkley was offered $12.5 million a year during the season. But that was before Jones broke out. The numbers no longer work. Which brings us full circle to the day Gettleman drafted Barkley.

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This has never been about Barkley the player. No one ever doubted he had gold jacket ability. It has always been about assets and positional value. And you cannot go all in on a running back when you have a second-contract quarterback, looming paydays for higher-priority cornerstones and many glaring needs elsewhere.

Speaking of those needs: If Jones gets the tag, there will only be so much cap space to work with. Schoen cannot fix everything in free agency. That means he has to find immediate impact players in the draft. His background is in scouting, and he did well on that front last year. But he also had two top-10 picks, and the jury remains very much out on Evan Neal. Will we see growth from that group and another strong rookie class? Jerry Reese had what appeared to be a strong first draft, remember. It helped win a Super Bowl. And then it never went anywhere.

No one wants to hear it right now at a time when hope springs eternal. But the 30,000 foot view suggests these Giants are prime for regression. It’s hard to win close games at the clip they did in 2022. It is even tougher to do it again the following season. Breaks have a tendency to even out. Who is to say Jones will make another significant leap, even with better weapons around him? And Wink Martindale’s defense feels particularly at risk for a step back. Blitz-heavy schemes are tough to sustain, especially in the areas the Giants excelled. Add it all up and it’s not hard to see how 9-7-1 becomes 7-10 in the blink of an eye. And then who knows what happens from there. Things can unravel quickly. We know that too.

But not if Schoen is up for the task. We will start to learn if he is this week. Daboll is the guy. We think Schoen is. But he has to start proving it now. This is what he was brought here for. Let us see if he can do it.

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James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.


James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.