In fact, it was a throwback draft for this team in many ways from a GM who understands the history of how this team’s winners have been built in the past. Picking No. 2 after last year’s forgettable season, Gettleman nailed his early picks while adding young talent to his two-deep in the draft’s later rounds.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman goes into why the franchise decided to choose Saquon Barkley with the second pick overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
This draft was all about identity for the Giants, or, perhaps more fittingly, a return to an identity. Part out of necessity, and in large part due to neglect, the Giants had stopped being a team in recent years that would run the ball.
Neglecting the offensive line or the running back position in the draft as well as free agency has a way of making a team one-dimensional, and the league’s worst ground game the past two seasons certainly made the Giants anything but a balanced offense.
But the additions of first-round pick Saquon Barkley, arguably the best collegiate running back in the past decade, and the second-round choice of UTEP ‘Hog Molly’ Will Hernandez are throwback selections for this team. These are Giants players of old, the type who not only love a physical brand of football but thrive on it.
Eli Manning has been at his best, not surprisingly, when he has had time in the pocket to pick apart an opposing secondary. Add in a legitimate running game to set up the play action and that was the formula that helped turn Manning into a two-time Super Bowl MVP. He’s got that now with those first two picks. There is no excuse for him now not to return to the Manning, who in 2016, led the Giants back into the playoffs.
While Barkley and Hernandez are the type of players that made up the core of this franchise’s four Super Bowl teams, the rest of the picks on Day 2 and Day 3 are no throwaways either.
In the third round, the Giants went defense, selecting LB Lorenzo Carter at 66 and DT B.J. Hill at 69. And in the fifth round, they chose another tackle in R.J. McIntosh.
Carter, an outside linebacker was a bit of an enigma at Georgia, but he can get after the quarterback. Adding depth along the defensive line in nose tackle Hill from NC State and Miami’s McIntosh helps a unit that struggled to control gaps and collapse the pocket a year ago. These picks are the types of players that help a team win in December, so that they can keep playing into January.
Add in a nice value pick in the fourth round with Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta, and the Giants suddenly got deeper in a bunch of positions. In Lauletta (108th overall), the Giants have a quarterback who is raw but highly regarded coming out of an FCS program, and someone who could develop to compete with Davis Webb to be a backup behind Manning.
More than the talent accrued for the Giants is the way Gettleman went about this draft. It was in stark contrast from years past. This draft, in many ways, seemed to have direction. Big Blue took the best available player – especially true in the first two rounds – while addressing glaring needs. Their inability to run the ball was predicated on the fact that the offensive line was arguably the worst in the league the past two years and also lacked a true playmaker out of the backfield.
Now, there are no excuses. Not with the talent that Gettleman brought in via Barkley and Hernandez.
While a trade out from the second round might have been ideal, the Giants certainly maximized their picks on the draft’s first two days to bring in talent and also get deeper in positions of need. Finally, the adults were in the war room for the Giants, and it showed with a team that now looks more like the Wild Card Giants of 2016 than last year’s 3-13 record.