The Giants.com crew breaks down the team’s 11-player draft class, the first of the Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll Era:
Dan Solomon: Similar to his first draft in Buffalo when he was the assistant general manager to Brandon Beane, Joe Schoen held two first-round draft choices in his first time around with the Giants. But sitting in the big chair is a whole different ballgame.
Unlike his time in Buffalo, Schoen couldn’t spend the morning of the draft playing golf. Instead, he was playing with his magnets, each one printed with a prospect’s name on it. With a half-dozen players graded in their top tier, the Giants were nearly guaranteed two of them with the fifth and seventh overall selections. So, Schoen and Daboll spent their days gaming out how the magnets would stack up come Thursday night.
As it turned out, edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal were available, an exact scenario they had been through “probably 15 times.” They were “ecstatic” about the two players, just like the Bills were with Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds in their first draft under the new regime. Now, the Giants hope their top picks also turn into foundational pieces to better days ahead on the field.
Lance Medow: If Joe Schoen’s goal was to add versatility and depth to the roster, he certainly accomplished that feat with the 2022 draft class. Alabama’s Evan Neal and Josh Ezeudu of North Carolina have each played multiple positions on the offensive line throughout their collegiate careers. The same holds true for Iowa’s Dane Belton and Darrian Beavers of Cincinnati, who were utilized at various positions on defense. Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson also falls under that category as he served as a running back and wideout. Although Schoen mentioned Neal will start at right tackle, the four other players don’t have a specified spot and could very well move around depending on the team’s needs.
Ezeudu and fifth-round pick Marcus McKethan were teammates at North Carolina and played key roles in helping the Tar Heels showcase one of the nation’s best rushing attacks in 2020 as Michael Carter and Javonte Williams each ran for over 1,100 yards. In terms of helping to stop the run, fellow fifth-round pick Micah McFadden should help and has a knack for getting after the quarterback (12.5 sacks over his last two seasons at Indiana). McFadden is also an insurance policy for Blake Martinez as he works his way back from a torn ACL.
You could say the team took a similar approach at wide receiver as Robinson has similar traits to Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard, but could also be on the field simultaneously with those two. And let’s not overlook the fact that Toney, Shepard, Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton have dealt with injuries throughout their careers. Robinson’s speed and versatility also falls in line with the Buffalo and Kansas City offenses, which will influence the Giants’ attack this season.
Belton and corner Cordale Flott join a secondary, which is defined by youth as aside from James Bradberry and Adoree Jackson, every other player was drafted between 2019-22 (with six arriving over the last three year)s. Given new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to blitz, the versatility and development of the secondary will be critical because of their need to consistently cover.
Matt Citak: Although the Giants’ draft class will always be highlighted by the two first-round picks, let’s take a look at how some of the other members of the 11-man class fit in.
Wan’Dale Robinson put together an underrated campaign at Kentucky this past season. In 13 games for the Wildcats, Robinson caught an impressive 104 passes for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns. He served as the focal point of the offense, finishing with eight or more receptions in eight games and 16 deep catches, good for the sixth-most among receivers in the 2022 draft. More importantly, Robinson forced 22 missed tackles, which was also good for the sixth-most at the position. The Giants wouldn’t make this pick in the second-round unless Brian Daboll had a specific plan in mind for the 5-foot-8 receiver. Robinson and Kadarius Toney should cause a lot of problems for opposing defenses.
Cor’Dale Flott is another Day 2 pick that should have Giants fans excited. At just 20 years old, Flott was mostly used in the slot as LSU, but his size and athletic skillset could lead to him eventually playing outside. He was there over the final five games of the 2021 season, allowing just three of eight targets to be caught for 40 yards on 89 coverage snaps. On the season, Flott earned an 84.8 coverage grade from PFF. Flott should be making his presence felt in the secondary sooner rather than later.
Joe Schoen also picked up some possible key contributors on Day 3, starting with Daniel Bellinger and Dane Belton. Bellinger was underutilized at San Diego State and could undergo a similar rise under Daboll as Dawson Knox, who caught nine touchdown passes for the Bills last season. Meanwhile, Belton is fresh off a five-interception season for Iowa in which he earned an 82.3 PFF coverage grade. Considering the current depth on the roster at tight end and safety, both fourth-round picks could see playing time early with the Giants. Don’t sleep on some of the later picks, either. Micah McFadden earned a 92.0 pass rush grade (6.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss) in 2021 while Darrian Beavers received an 86.1 pass rush grade (4 sacks, 11 tackles for loss).
The Giants did a great job of not only shoring up the depth at positions of need throughout all three days of the draft, but also adding some athletic, versatile players who can help them in several areas.