December 3, 2021

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What the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Washington…

3 min read
What the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Washington...

(Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

You may have heard and heeded the advice to never go grocery shopping when you’re really, really hungry. I have no idea how Giants general manager Dave Gettleman shops at the grocery store, but this is how he tends to approach free agency.

This off-season, Gettleman gave defensive lineman Leonard Williams a new three-year, $63 million contract with $45 million guaranteed after one career year, and spent $26.5 million guaranteed over three seasons on former Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. Over four seasons in Tennessee, Jackson allowed 15 touchdowns and had two interceptions, and allowed three of those touchdowns — and an opponent passer rating of 149.9 — in just 131 coverage snaps last year.

The deal for ex-Lions receiver Kenny Golladay — $72 million over four years with $40 million guaranteed — is more in line with the talent of the player, but Gettleman should consider snacking before buying in future years. Here’s what the Giants still need in the draft.

Offensive guard: Gettleman loves to talk about his “Hog Mollies,” and he’s going to need at least one more with Kevin Zeitler off to Baltimore. Will Hernandez had a decent season on the left side, and the real requirement here is someone to the right of center who can do what offensive coordinator Jason Garrett would seem to like to increase — pulling out of gap schemes to present problems in the run game for opposing defenses. Alabama did a ton of that last season, so watch out for Alex Leatherwood, who has played both guard and tackle for the Crimson Tide. Because as we’re about to reveal, the G-Men need help everywhere Leatherwood has already played.

Offensive tackle: Ugh. Last season, the Giants’ tackles combined to allow 18 sacks and 101 total pressures. Rookie Andrew Thomas is still getting the hang of things on the left side — he allowed more sacks (10) than any other offensive lineman in the NFL last season, and only Jacksonville’s Jawaan Taylor (58) allowed more pressures than Thomas’ 57. The Giants also welcomed right tackle Nate Solder back with a heavily re-structured contract after Solder opted out of the 2020 season. In 2019, Solder allowed the most pressures in the NFL (56) and the third-most sacks (11) behind Atlanta’s Kaleb McGary (13) and Carolina’s Daryl Williams (12). Cameron Fleming, Solder’s primary replacement in 2020, gave up six sacks and 35 total pressures last season. The Giants are kind of stuck waiting for Thomas’ development, but maybe a new right tackle would be in order.

Cornerback: The good news: James Bradberry played cornerback at an above-average level for the G-Men, allowing 44 receptions on 78 targets for 454 yards, 178 yards after the catch, three touchdowns, three interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 70.1. The bad news: Isaac Yiadom, Darnay Holmes, and Ryan Lewis were unable to match that standard. This explains the overpayment for Adoree’ Jackson, and maybe Jackson can merit it under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, but if I’m Gettleman, I’m looking for help early here.

Most mock drafts you see have Denver taking a cornerback with the ninth pick (even after the acquisitions of Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller), and Dallas doing the same at 10, which would leave the Giants short at 11. If they stand pat, they might still be able to grab South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn or Northwestern’s Greg Newsome, and either player would fit Graham’s aggressive coverage concepts.

Edge-rusher: The Giants are packed with talent in their interior defensive line with Dexter Lawrence and the aforementioned Leonard Williams, and Williams can kick outside in certain packages. But from their actual edge guys, production was problematic in 2020. Kyler Fackrell led the team with 19 total pressures from the outside. and veteran Jabaal Sheard placed second with 16. Not optimal. Meanwhile, Lawrence and Williams combined for 91 total pressures. It’s a good year to need an edge defender in the draft, and since the Giants might need two, they could look at a finished product like Miami’s Jaelan Phillips or Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari in the first round, or developmental guys like Penn State’s Jayson Oweh or Washington’s Joe Tryon later on.

Assessing the draft needs for the NFC East