Big Blue get their man and other Sunday morning thoughts on the Giants (and the draft):

By | March 20, 2021

It took awhile but the Giants finally got their man Saturday afternoon when they announced the signing of former Detroit WR Kenny Golladay, the guy who had been pretty much their top target once he became a free agent. Needless to say, Golladay didn’t come cheap with a 4-year, #72M contract. However, only $40M is guaranteed and we say ‘only’ because DE Leonard Williams got $45M guaranteed, but in just three years, in his new deal agreed to earlier this month.

In Golladay, the Giants are hoping to finally have a legit #1 receiver with big-play ability. That’s certainly what he was with the Lions with whom his 16-game averages were 61 receptions for 1,020 yards and 7 TDs with a 16.8 average yards per catch. However, he only played in 5 games in 2020 because of a hip injury that the Giants clearly had checked out over the past few days. For the record, Golladay is a big receiver at 6-4, 214; he’s also got basically good speed – he had a 40-clocking of 4.50 from his combine – and he uses his size/speed combination effectively to get separation and has that ability to accelerate when the ball is in the air.

Golladay also came to the NFL in something of a round-about way. He was lightly recruited out of HS in Chicago and originally signed on at FCS North Dakota where he spent two seasons. He then transferred to Norther Illinois where he had two outstanding years in the MAC before being selected by Detroit in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft.

Now that they have their #1 receiver, the big question for the Giants is does the signing alter in any significant way their thinking regarding their 2021 draft which is now less than 40 days away. And while we won’t know for sure until April 29th, the sense here is that it may not in fact have a huge effect.

The Giants were pretty clear at the end of the season that their primary objective for this off-season was to get QB Daniel Jones some weapons on offense. Golladay certainly looks like one, but we think that the Giants are really looking to build a unit of big-play threats rather than just filling a hole or finding a #1 receiver per se.

As such, we would expect a receiver like one of the two Alabama guys to still be very much in play with the 11th pick overall. In fact, the signing of Golladay almost makes Jaylen Waddle, in particular, that much more attractive to the Giants. Waddle is more of a YAC slot receiver and is so dangerous on underneath routes and would be a nice compliment to Golladay who excels in the deep and intermediate zones. In fact, it is entirely possible that the Giants could go from having arguably the least threatening receiver corps in the league to having one of the most dynamic, and that’s not to mention having Saquon coming out of the backfield. Good luck trying to cover everyone!

Of course, the signing of Golladay doesn’t change the overall dynamic of the draft in that the Giants can still only take a player at #11 who is actually on the board at that time which will determined largely by what other teams picking ahead of them do. And that draft dynamic has been pretty consistent for weeks now. Other than the QBs – and right now it looks like 4 or even 5 could go in the top ten – there appears to be 2-3 legit blue chip prospects including LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, Oregon OT Penei Sewell and maybe Florida TE Kyle Pitts and 7-8 or so red chippers including the Alabama WRs Waddle and Devonta Smith, Northwestern G/T Rashawn Slater; Miami DE Greg Rousseau; Penn State LB Micha Parsons; and CBs Patrick Surtain and Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech. And picking 11th the Giants are pretty much assured that 3-4 of those red chip guys, each of whom would fill a major need, will be available.

The one thing that could change in the Giants’ draft strategy as a result of the Golladay signing is that they probably aren’t likely to be taking more than one receiver early. Before the free agent signings, the Giants were probably going to have to take two, if not three receivers among their first 4-5 picks (as they did with OL last year) if they genuinely wanted to rebuild the unit. What the Golladay signing may do is open some other options with their second and early third day picks.

Again, we won’t know for sure, but the sense here from reading what tea leaves are available is that the Giants would really like to come out of the first two rounds with a WR and a CB, although in what order will be dependent on what is on the board at #11 especially. It was really interesting, for example, that the Giants’ scouting director Chris Petitt went to the Georgia pro day earlier this week. And while that lead to some speculation that he was there looking at OLB Az Ojulari, one of the better ERs in this year’s draft, the guy who went with him was DB Coach Jerome Henderson. And he was there likely to look at UGA CBs Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, both of whom are considered to be solid second round candidates, especially after both tested so well at their pro day. Stokes, in particular, was timed in as low as a warp speed 4.25 in the 40, while Campbell at 4.40 was no slouch.

This being Giantsland, we’ve already had several emails from folks wondering if the signing of Golladay increases the chance the Giants take an OL like Slater with their #1 pick. It’s possible. He’s an outstanding prospect who clearly would be an upgrade at OG as well as give you some cover at RT. However, we just aren’t convinced that the Giants are going to pass on what are going to be 3-4 legit playmakers with the 11th pick just to fill a hole.

Clearly, there is some work to be done on the OL. Although at the same time, the Giants likely feel they are set at OT and C, at least for 2021. Andrew Thomas and Nick Gates are locks to start at LT and C respectively and, by all accounts, the Giants are going to give Matt Peart every opportunity to win the RT job. If he stumbles they have Nate Solder, an experienced veteran as a fall back. Is it a perfect scenario? No, but you just can’t fix everything all at once. In fact, we think the Giants are looking at the OL in 2021 as something of a ‘show me’ year with the primary goal to find out exactly what they have in their young players like Thomas, Gates, Peart and Shane Lemieux. If further fixing is required it’s more likely to come next winter once they get a better sense of what they actually have upfront.

Of course, the OG situation is a lot dicier than the case at C/T and it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the Giants tried to bring in a low-rent veteran G/T or two for the upcoming season. It also wouldn’t be a total shock if the Giants took an OG in the second round where guys like Wyatt Davis of Ohio State or Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood have the experience in big-time programs to come and play early. The Giants could also take an OL in the later rounds, but the fact is that they’re not likely to find anyone who could start early outside the second round and guys selected after the second round are going to be by definition more developmental types.

Two other general comments re the OL. First, if OG is your biggest problem you don’t really have all that big problems because no matter how good or bad, OGs don’t win or lose games. Second, and somewhat less facetiously, we have argued on several other occasions that in many ways the best thing the Giants could do for their OL is force opposing defenses to back off. The past couple of years, opponents have been bringing 8-9-10 guys up to the line of scrimmage because they just didn’t fear the Giants beating them over the top. And I don’t care how good your OL talent is, 5-6 guys are going to struggle if they have to block 7-8 guys on every play.