The 2021 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 29. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2021 NFL Draft hub.
New York Giants 2021 DRAFT PICKS OVERVIEW
Round 1 (11)
Round 2 (42)
Round 3 (76)
Round 4 (116)
Round 6 (196)
Round 6 (201)
New York Giants Offense
By Rich Hribar
Daniel Jones enters this third season after a sophomore struggle in 2020. Jones managed just 11 touchdown passes after 24 as a rookie. After a 5.2% touchdown rate as a rookie, Jones posted just a 2.5% rate in 2020 and threw 8.6 touchdown passes below his expectation, which trailed only Teddy Bridgewater and Cam Newton. While Jones’s touchdown rate was suppressed from his rookie season, his yards per attempt (6.6) and completion rate (62.5%) were right on par with his rookie campaign.
While 2021 is a big year for Jones to prove his development, the Giants are committed to seeing this through with him while adding assets for him offensively this offseason to aid in finding out if he is capable of making a significant stride forward in year three.
Behind Jones, the team added veteran Mike Glennon on a one-contract this offseason while Clayton Thorson is still signed through 2022.
Elijah Penny (FB)
Cullen Gillaspia* (FB)
Saquon Barkley suffered an ACL injury in Week 2, missing the remainder of the season. Still only 24 years old with 2,028 and 1,441-yard seasons on his resume in each of his full two seasons, we still have not seen the apex Barkley is capable of if everything comes together, but he does enter the season in the final season of his rookie contract.
The Giants will surely pick up Barkley’s fifth-year option after the draft, but the depth here is lacking, especially after a season in which the Giants were 20th in the league in expected points added via rushing after having to run through a gaggle of options with Barkley sidelined a year ago. The team added Devontae Booker on a two-year contract this offseason, but Booker is not much of an upgrade over the reserves such as Dion Lewis, Alfred Morris, Wayne Gallman, and Devonta Freeman who all logged time in the backfield a year ago. The Giants do not have to press adding a back early in the draft, but should explore a day three depth addition.
The Giants made the biggest signing at wide receiver in free agency, securing Kenny Golladay as their future lead wideout. Golladay immediately aids a Giants roster that ranked tied for last in the NFL in touchdown passes (12), 28th in yards per passing play (5.4), and 29th in yards per completion (9.4) while giving Jones his first legitimate downfield clasher and contested-catch maven.
Sterling Shepard signed an extension through 2023 last offseason. Shepard has averaged 5.7 and 5.5 receptions per game the past two seasons, but just 10.1 and 9.9 yards per reception on those grabs. After scoring eight times as a rookie in 2016, Shepard has not topped four touchdowns in any of the past four seasons.
Darius Slayton also still has two seasons remaining on his rookie contract. After 48 catches for 740 yards as a rookie, Slayton came back and caught 50 passes for 751 yards in 2020. Averaging 15.4 and 15.0 yards per catch, the 24-year-old wideout had three or fewer catches in 12 of 16 games and his downfield role should be significantly impacted by the addition of Golladay.
The Giants have still been rumored to be looking at top wideouts in this class as they are pushing their chips in on giving Jones as much as possible to prove himself in year three.
Evan Engram appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career, but set career-lows in receptions per game (3.9), yardage per game (40.9), yards per catch (10.4), yards per target (6.0), and touchdown receptions (one) in 2020. The Giants have been chasing the potential breakout for Engram with no such luck as he once again was used near the line of scrimmage (37th among tight ends with a 7.4 aDOT) and not near the end zone (three end zone targets which tied for 33rd). Engram still received 21.1% of the team targets, which checked in fourth at the position.
Engram enters the season playing on his fifth-year team option, making him an unrestricted free agent after the season. New York added veteran Kyle Rudolph on a two-year contract as a backup and inline option for 12 personnel use while all of Kaden Smith, Nakia Griffin-Stewart, and Nate Wieting have multiple years remaining on their contracts as depth.
LT: Andrew Thomas/Jackson Barton
LG: Will Hernandez/ Zach Fulton/Kenny Wiggins
C: Nick Gates/Jonotthan Harrison/Spencer Pulley
RG: Shane Lemieux /Kyle Murphy/Chad Slade
RT: Matt Peart/ Nate Solder
The Giant’s offensive line is one of the youngest in the league (average starter age of 23.6 years old) and it showed in 2020 as they ranked 32nd in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate (46%). Daniel Jones was under pressure on 40.3% of his dropbacks per Pro Football Focus, which was below only Sam Darnold (43.3%).
The Giants selected Andrew Thomas No. 4 overall last season and his rookie season was far from flattering. Thomas was credited with 57 pressures allowed per Pro Football Focus, the second-most of any tackle in 2020 while allowing a league-high 10 sacks at the position. Although other rookie tackles performed at a higher level than Thomas in 2020 and the fanbase may be having Ereck Flowers flashbacks, we have seen rookie tackles come in and struggle and bounce back recently such as Jake Matthews, Kolton Miller, and Garrett Bolles. The Giants are obviously still committed to Thomas.
If Thomas or right tackle Matt Peart struggle, the team also has the option to call on Nate Solder in a bind after he returns after sitting out 2020 due to COVID. We cannot rule out the Giants going after another tackle should a top prospect slide, but the team has Thomas and Peart on rookie contracts while Solder is signed through 2022.
The interior line is a different issue. Will Hernandez was Pro Football Focus’ 53rd ranked guard with a 58.1 grade. Shane Lemieux was 80th out of 80 qualifying players at the position with a 32.2 grade. He also was last among the 70 qualifying guards according to Next Gen Stats in pass block win rate (PBWR) at 67.4%. Hernandez was tied for 41st at 85.7%. Hernandez is in the final season of his rookie contract while the Giants also have expiring contracts on Zach Fulton, Spencer Pulley, Jonotthan Harrison, and Kenny Wiggins.
New York Giants Defense
By Dan Pizzuta
Interior Defensive Line
The Patrick Graham defense finally completely unlocked Leonard Williams after years of pressure without impactful sacks. Williams was third among all defenders in quarterback hits (30) and put up 11.5 sacks. Williams also spent some time on the edge to make up for a lack of depth there and to get him in some one-on-one matchups. By doing that in a contract year, Williams was signed to a massive three-year/$63 million deal.
Even Dexter Lawrence, one of 2019’s three first-round picks, had pass rush upside in Graham’s defense last season. He ranked 22nd in pressure rate among defensive tackles in 2020, according to Sports Info Solutions.
In free agency, the Giants signed Danny Shelton, who has been a top run-stuffer during his six-year career. He’ll fill the role of Dalvin Tomlinson, who signed with the Vikings as a free agent.
Elsewhere on the depth chart are 2018 draft picks B.J. Hill and R.J. McIntosh, who were immediately buried on the depth chart after the additions of Williams and Lawrence. But as long as Dave Gettleman is around, there will be depth and assets used on the interior defensive line.
The Giants needed Leonard Williams to generate a pass rush last season because no one else was able to do it — though it should be noted Markus Golden couldn’t get snaps in the first half of the season then had one of the highest pressure rates in the league once he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals.
Lorenzo Carter (2018) and Oshane Ximines (2019) are former third-round picks who were anticipated to develop as pass rushers, but neither has reached that point and both suffered season-ending injuries in 2020. Carter tore his Achilles in Week 2 and Ximines had a shoulder injury in Week 5.
In free agency, the Giants took a few low-cost swings in Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson. Odenigbo flashed a ton of potential with seven sacks in 2019, but disappointed with a full-time starter role in Minnesota last season. He was 81st in pressure rate among edge rushers, according to SIS. Anderson flashed when he got on the field with Washington in 2019 but only played 14% of the defensive snaps last season.
Blake Martinez was one of the Giants’ prizes in last year’s free agency haul and he was unleashed when freed from the non-structure of Mike Pettine’s Packers defense. Martinez ranked third among linebackers in total tackles but only ranked 30th in the rate of tackles that came short of the first down marker. Martinez played 97% of the defensive snaps for the Giants.
Without much quality depth behind him and more talent in the secondary, the Giants had one of the highest rates of dime personnel in the league at 26%, which ranked sixth-most. Jabrill Peppers mostly played a box safety/linebacker role and with more added to the secondary, it’s likely the Giants up that percentage and don’t rely on many more players other than Martinez as a true linebacker on the field.
James Bradberry made an immediate impact as a 2020 free agent signing. Bradberry ranked 28th in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap and the Giants ranked 14th in DVOA against opposing No. 1 receivers. Bradberry did that without much help from a pass rush or other cornerbacks.
Darnay Holmes, a 2020 fifth-round pick, did get his chance in the slot over the second half of the season and made the most of his playing time. He ranked 18th among corners in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap and will be penciled in as the starting slot corner for 2021.
The No. 2 outside spot was a rotating cast in 2020 and not much of it was good. To fix that, the Giants signed Adoree’ Jackson to a three-year deal after he was released by the Titans. Jackson has been up-and-down in coverage throughout his career, but should be an upgrade over what the Giants trotted out last year.
Sam Beal is still on the roster, though he’s played in just six games after being a 2018 third-round Supplemental Draft pick. Beal had a shoulder injury that forced him to miss all of 2018 and he opted out of the 2020 season.
At full health, this is one of the strongest safety groups in the league. Logan Ryan made a transition from corner to safety in his first year with the Giants and was able to make an impact everywhere he lined up. When Ryan was deep, that allowed Peppers to play in the box to highlight his strength of playing downhill.
Xavier McKinney missed the first half of the season with a foot injury but he flashed his potential and versatility when he got on the field. Even Julian Love, a converted college corner, was a positive impact player in numerous roles in the secondary that got him on the field for two-thirds of the Giants’ defensive snaps.
The Giants will likely rotate in all four of these players and get three of them on the field at the same time.