They say you can’t judge a team’s performance in the NFL draft until at least two full seasons have passed. Well, that is where we are with the 2019 NFL draft, which saw the New York Giants select three players in the first round.
Pro Football Focus is chiming in with their grades for the frost round of last year’s draft and they have given the Giants an average grade overall on their three picks.
6. NEW YORK GIANTS: QB DANIEL JONES
It’s no secret that Jones’ pocket awareness has been bad — no quarterback has racked up more fumbles in a collapsing pocket over the last two seasons than Jones has, and he has also taken way too many sacks.
That said, Jones took big strides as a passer in Year 2, ranking 12th in clean-pocket passing grade at 90.5 and 11th in grade on passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield. He ranked in the bottom 10 in those two metrics as a rookie. The Duke product also did some damage with his legs in 2020, recording a 78.8 rushing grade that ranked fifth among quarterbacks.
Jones still has a lot to prove in Year 3, but he surpassed expectations in 2020 to a certain extent. It’s way too early to commit to Jones long term, but it is a bit too soon to give up on him. For the time being, this selection gets an “average” regrade until we see if Jones can elevate a team that just ranked 28th in the NFL in expected points added (EPA) per play generated.
11 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions with under 3,000 yards passing is nothing to crow about, especially in a league that set records for passing offense in 2020. The fear when Jones was drafted was that he would be just an average quarterback. He was a safe pick.
Going into Year 3, Jones has done nothing to knock critics off their initial stance on him. He has talent and smarts but just doesn’t have the dynamic dimension to his game like many of the other young guns around the league.
The Giants should have passed on him and took Justin Herbert in 2020 like most experts thought they should have…or passed on Saquon Barkley in 2018 and selected Josh Allen.
17. NEW YORK GIANTS: DI DEXTER LAWRENCE
Lawrence was one of the few players from this draft class who was able to make an impact right away, earning a 76.2 PFF grade. He managed to maintain that success in 2020 and improved drastically as a pass rusher. Lawrence’s pass-rush grade jumped from 64.5 in 2019 to 73.2 this past season, tying for 23rd among 111 qualifying interior defensive linemen.
The Giants sure got value here with Lawrence. He’s been dominant at times and will only get better with age. This was the one of the few picks in the Dave Gettleman era that the Giants can truly hang their hat on. Lawrence is a Pro Bowl-caliber player and will be the heart of their defensive front from years to come.
30. NEW YORK GIANTS: CB DEANDRE BAKER
There were some off-the-field concerns with Baker before the 2019 NFL Draft, and according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, that popped up from time-to-time throughout his rookie campaign. He had a rocky first year with a 45.6 coverage grade and 130.1 passer rating allowed that was buoyed by eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Then, following a legal issue in the offseason (Baker was eventually exonerated), the Giants released the former first-rounder.
Baker was then signed by the Kansas City Chiefs in the midst of the 2020 season but suffered a broken femur in his first appearance with the team in Week 17.
There were no red flags pointing to Baker possibly blowing up his career at the time the Giants drafted him. That being said, they still should don’t have traded up for him. There were no cornerbacks selected in the draft up to that point and it was very possible that Baker would have fallen seven more spots to No. 37, where the Giants were picking in Round 2.
Instead, the Giants traded that pick and their fourth and fifth-round selections (Nos. 132 and 142) to Seattle for the No. 30 selection and took Baker. He was a disaster on the field as a rookie and then got himself jammed up in the offseason, leading to his dismissal this past summer.
The Giants have nothing to show for this deal. While they should have had three viable players on their roster, instead they have three holes.