Not surprisingly, we’ve had a number of emails and the like over the past several days from – sometimes apoplectic – Giants fans wondering what’s next for the franchise after this week’s shocking blockbuster trade in which star WR Odell Beckham was sent to Cleveland for the 17th pick overall, SS Jabrill Peppers as well as a late 3rd round pick. That came after the Giants had both allowed SS Landon Collins to walk all the way to Washington where he signed a huge free agent deal and traded DE Olivier Vernon, their only legitimate pass-rush threat, to Cleveland earlier in the week.
All that has led a lot of people to question whether the Giants have a plan and if they do why would said plan include ridding the team of three of its best players, especially #13. I suspect that the Giants do have a master plan the essence of which they hope to have in place a roster capable of sustained success in the league beginning a year or so after they finally get Eli Manning’s replacement in place whether this year or next. And they are moving out and/or getting what they can for players they don’t believe are going to be here when that happens. The Giants, for example, could have franchised Collins and kept his around for the 2019 season, but there was no way they were going to give a monster long-term contract to a box safety who can’t cover his own shadow. At the same time, whether or not Vernon stuck around this coming season, 2019 was going to be his last year with the Giants.
Obviously, Odell is a somewhat different case. In a perfect world, OBJ would have been a core Giant over the next 4-5 years. However, as wonderful a player as Odell is, the reality is he drove everyone around him crazy with his on-field demeanor and his off-field antics. And whether it was this year or next year or the next, they were going to move him, if for no other reason to maintain their own sanity. By trading him at this time, the Giants were the ones with the leverage and probably got as much as they were ever going to get for Beckham. On the other hand, had they waited too long, they likely would have found themselves in the same situation as Pittsburgh was with Antonio Brown this off-season when they pretty much gave him away because it was the player that had the leverage.
A couple of other points regarding the Odell trade. Don’t know if it played a part, but it was hard not to get the felling last fall that Odell still wasn’t really 100% from the previous year’s injury. The quickness was still there, the explosion was still there, but you just didn’t see the long speed and the ability to run away from coverage. The other thing is that, for whatever reason, superstar receivers just don’t win championships in the NFL. What seems to work better is a receiver corps with 3-4 solid guys each of whom can make plays. Whether the Giants are there is another matter, although adding a Golden Tate certainly should help in that regard, but it would seem to be an easier place to get to. Bottom line is you can find those types of guys in the middle rounds of the draft – and this is a deep year at WR – and the Giants have a bunch of picks in those types of rounds.
Of course, the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to who’s no longer gonna be around once the Giants find Eli’s replacement and move on is Eli himself. The Giants – or at least the media covering the team – say the organization is committed to Eli for the 2019 season. However, figure that kind of guarantee coming from an organization that literally days ago was proclaiming ‘we didn’t sign the guy just to trade him …’ shouldn’t be all that reassuring. It is also looking less and less likely that the Giants will take a QB with a first-round pick this year. We do hear they’d love to get Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and would even consider moving up to get him, but he is already pretty much signed, sealed and delivered to Arizona. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be much love for Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins within the organzation; while he’s got a decent arm, its not entirely clear Haskins could beat Eli in a foot race and they really would like a QB with at least some mobility.
Meanwhile, the Giants appear to be staring a perfect plausible, reasonable alternative for 2019 in the face. Time will tell whether they pull the trigger. With the Cardinals set to take Murray with the #1 pick, they are shopping Josh Rosen and right now the only team that appears to have any interest at all are the Giants. It just makes too much sense. Trade a conditional three to the Cardinals for Rosen, release Eli and save $17M in cap space, see what Rosen’s got in 2019 and if you don’t like what you see next fall get your young passer in the QB-rish 2020 class. Just makes too much sense so we’ll see.
At the same time, here’s a quick look at the major options the Giants are likely to be looking at with their top 3 picks at the upcoming draft:
#6: Unless they somehow end up taking a QB here, this almost assuredly looks like it is going to be a defensive pick. And it would appear that the Giants will have a look at least several of ERs Josh Allen of Kentucky and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, LSU LB Devin White and Michigan DE Rashan Gary.
#17: The Giants could go back to the defense here with an ER like Brian Burns of Florida State or Michigan LB Devin Bush. However, the addition of free agent ER Markus Golden could open the door to take either an OT or a WR to replace Odell. In fact, one of the strengths of the middle portion of the opening round will be the OL where Cody Ford of Oklahoma, Andre Dillard of Washington State, Alabama’s Jonah Williams and Jawaan Taylor of Florida could all be available. While OU’s Ford will be a popular choice in the peanut gallery and beyond, he’s really an OG and the real gem here could be Dillard who is generally described as the best pass-blocker in this year’s OL class and would be a prime candidate to move over to LT when Nate Solder’s contract becomes excessive. The Giants could also conceivably look at WRs here, but it would have to be for someone they really liked like Marquise Brown of Oklahoma or Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler.
#40: Its always a little risky predicting positional strength this deep into a draft, but the strength at the top of the second round looks like it could be at WR where several of AJ Brown of Ole Miss, Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry, Deebo Samuel of South Carolina, and Ohio State’s Parris Campbell, who had a 4.31 combine 40 clocking, figure to be in the mix. Otherwise, the Giants could be looking at a BPA type scenario among a number of players including Ole Miss OT Greg Little, NC State C Garrett Bradbury, Boston College DE Zach Allen, Temple CB Rock Ya-Sin, and ERs Jachai Polite of Florida and Louisiana Tech’s jaylon Ferguson.