The New York Giants on Thursday may have gotten the right player and the right position in the first round of the NFL Draft, but to me, it comes at the wrong time.
Evan Engram may go down as one of the best receiving tight ends in Giants history. He may have a productive career and he could well end up being a great fit for this team. But he wasn’t the best fit and he’s not the player to take the Giants to the next level.
This was a luxury pick at No. 23 for the Giants, who didn’t need to take a tight end in the first round of the draft. While tight end was an area where they needed to add depth at some point in free agency or later on in the draft, what this team needed was a player who could get them over the hump and past last year’s NFC Wild Card disappointment.
They got a very good player with a high upside. What they needed was an offensive tackle to shore up the worst part of their team. It’s the same need in 2016.
Sitting at No. 23, only one offensive tackle was off the board when the Denver Broncos took Garett Bolles three picks earlier. There was still Cam Robinson on the board, the four-year starter at Alabama and a player who could start at either tackle position for the Giants. Also available was Ryan Ramczyk, short on experience but a player with tremendous upside.
But the Giants went with a tight end who happens to be a tremendous athlete and has impressive numbers from the NFL Combine. The question now is: Will quarterback Eli Manning have time to throw to his new target?
Engram is a nice player and instantly upgrades their offense. Yet he’s of little use if the man throwing him the ball is in a pocket that’s collapsing around him.
Their Achilles’ heel is the offensive line. The Giants came into the offseason needing to make some upgrades and needing an offensive tackle. They did not address that in free agency and now head into Day 2 in the same predicament.
Truth be told, there may not be an offensive tackle ready to start in Day 2 unless the Giants are willing to move up in the second round. If that is the case, then taking a tight end in the first round might not be worth the cost of using multiple picks to move up in the second right to take a tackle.
So in essence, the Giants doubled down on Ereck Flowers, their first round pick from two years ago. He is the Giants starter by default at left tackle.
It is precious to say that the Giants followed their draft board and took the best player available. It is also naïve to ignore the biggest deficiency on this team for a second straight offseason and hope that things will be different this go around.
At 36-years old, Manning isn’t getting any younger, a reason why the Giants went out and got a free agent star wide receiver in Brandon Marshall this offseason. They need to make a run with this group at the Super Bowl while they still have Manning and they got Marshall to add with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard for a deadly set of receivers. The Giants didn’t need a tight end to take the next step and win the NFC East, to get into the mix of becoming a Super Bowl team.
Instead, what they needed was someone who could come in and change the dynamics on the offensive line.
It is the kind of move that is a huge gamble, especially for a team that seems close to being ready for a run at the Super Bowl. The pieces are there, almost at least, to be very good for the next season or two. The quarterback is in place, the defense is much-improved and the play-makers are in place. A complimentary piece, an offensive lineman to make this whole thing click, was what this season was crying out for.
They didn’t need a difference-maker as much as they simply had to find a talent to fill a need, to upgrade the weakest part of their team at tackle.