Giants Report: Thoughts on the 2024 Draft

April 17, 2024

Is the cold hard reality starting to settle in? … We’ve haven’t posted any Giants Reports for awhile and we really weren’t planning on doing much until at least after the draft; however, we’ve been getting so many emails in the past little while from Giants’ fans we felt it might be easiest to post our collective thoughts. Not surprisingly, the number 1 question we’ve been getting is ‘will the Giants draft a QB with their first round pick on the 25th. Fact is anything can happen on the actual draft day and the reality is that at this point we have no idea who the Giants are ultimately going to take next Thursday. Indeed, its very possible that the Giants themselves don’t know who they are going to select and won’t until the draft actually starts to unfold. At the same time, though, that while we can always hope and pray, everything we are hearing is that QBs are going 1-2-3-4 next week quite likely leaving the Giants on the outside looking in. in fact, the sense we get right now is that the Giants are actually far more likely to get a QB either by trading down in the opening round or trading up in the second than moving up in the first.

For starters, its almost impossible to find anyone around the league at this point who hasn’t pretty much pencilled Caleb Williams to Chicago, Jayden Daniels to Washington and Drake Maye to New England with the first three picks. And yes there were some rumblings out of New England several weeks back that the Patriots were interested in trading down; however, those rumors have all but dried up. Plus if the Patriots are going to trade out of the 3rd pick, it won’t be because they aren’t enamored with their QB choices, but because they want to stockpile future picks, in particular at least a couple of #1 picks in 2025 and 2026. And that’s simply a price that almost assuredly is going to fall way above the Giants ‘walkaway’ number.

At the same time, it is looking more and more like the 4th pick will come down to a deal between Arizona, which really wants to deal, and Minnesota, which really wants to buy. And while some correspondents have asked why the Cardinals would not view the Giants 6th pick as an eminently more valuable starting point than Minnesota’s 11th selection, getting a better player in the opening round isn’t Arizona’s goal in moving down. Like the Patriots, they want the multiple #1 picks that the Vikings appear much more disposed to part with than the Giants. In fact, we have been told by one usually reliable source that the Giants aren’t even talking seriously any more with either the Patriots or Cardinals. They have put their best offer on the table and would be willing to deal if those teams came way down, but don’t have any great expectation that they will. Of course, there are almost always surprises on draft day, plus it could all be just subterfuge, but the sense seems to be that the Giants have turned their attention to the other QBs in this year’s draft, as well their options at other positions.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade … He actually didn’t necessarily sound all that excited when he made the comment, but Giants GM Joe Schoen said at his owner’s meeting presser that if the top 4 QBs weren’t available when they got on the clock with the 6th pick, the Giants would be guaranteed a shot at one of the two best non-QB prospects this year. And that’s almost assuredly one of WRs Marvin Harrison, Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze. In fact, there have been rumblings that head coach Brian Daboll has been lobbying for the Giants to take a WR with their first round pick, possibly even if one of the top QB was still on the board at that point. Just maybe Daboll recalls that Josh Allen, whom he has been credited with ‘developing’ in Buffalo really didn’t become emerge as a top player in the NFL until the Bills went out and acquired a true #1 receiver in Stefon Diggs. Whatever, Giants fans probably shouldn’t under estimate how impactful a really good receiver can have on a team.

Indeed, in addition to the Bills’ Allen, Joe Burrow didn’t really take off in Cincinnati until the Bengals’ selected Ja’Marr Chase, his former teammate at LSU with the 6th in 2021, while there questions being asked in Miami whether Tua Tagovcailoa was indeed a legitimate franchise QB before the Dolphins brought in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. And we could go and name QBs from Jaylen Hurts to Geno Smith whose careers improved dramatically once given elite receivers with which to work.

And one can also look at the Giants own history. Back in 2008, for example, they appeared to be on cruise control to a possible second straight Super Bowl appearance before Plaxico Burress shot himself – and his career – in the leg and the 11-1 Giants finished the season 1-4 and crashed out of the playoffs in the first round. They were crowned champions again in 2011 with Eli throwing to a couple of Pro Bowl receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, only to have the bottom fall out the following season which coincided with Nicks being injured and never playing at that level again. And while there has been a tendency to dismiss the impact of Odell Beckham, the reality is that Eli had the best three-year run of his career from 2014-2016 during which the Giants had a top 10 offence in both 2014 and 2015 and made the playoffs in 2016. Its also hard not to notice that the bottom really fell out for the Giants in 2017 around the time that Odell was injured. The fact is that over the course of his career, Eli was a very good QB when he had special receivers, but was closer to ordinary when he didn’t.

The other part of the equation is that there is some evidence that an elite receiver can also impact more than just the QB. Victor Cruz, for example, never came close to matching his earlier production after Hakeem Nicks was injured. And Reuben Randle might be an even more interesting case. Randle, who was drafted in 2012 averaged 30 receptions and around 400 yards in his first couple of years with the Giants, but quite literally doubled those numbers to 60 catches and over 800 yards per season the following two years when he was paired with Odell. Of course, there have been plenty of elite receivers in the history of the league whose teams haven’t won diddly-squat. But there are no good QBs in the league right now that don’t have a really talented receiver and no team is likely to win much without at least one.

Draft principles … Before talk more specifically about the Giants actual picks this year, there are a few draft basics we wanted to re-emphasize.

  • First, Joe Schoen doesn’t make the picks. Obviously as the GM he has an out-sized role, but like most teams around the league these days, the Giants as an organization will put together a list of players they want to target before each day of the draft and for the most part take the top player on their list when they actually get on the clock. We also have the sense that with the arrival of Schoen and Daboll the Giants have shifted how they put their board together. In the past, the coaches told the personnel people what kind of players they were looking for who then essentially made the picks. More recently, though, it appears that the coaches still tell the personnel department what they are looking for and the scouts etc still prepare the preliminary board, but its the coaches that drive the actually selection process. Which only makes sense.
  • And that leads into another issue which is that the whole business is a process. Teams just seldom go from 4 wins to 14 and a Super Bowl in 2-3 years, while the path also isn’t usually linear with plenty of ups and downs along the way. The Giants, for example, didn’t win their first Super Bowl until the 8th year of George Young’s tenure and that included a 3-12-1 season in his 5th season in New York. Over that process, teams are going to lose players, as the Giants did with Saquon and McKinney this year