New York Giants 2021 NFL Draft Recapby Lee Wehry May 4, 2021 0 comments
The New York Giants surprised many during the 2021 NFL draft by orchestrating multiple trades down. “Trader Dave” Gettleman, notoriously known actually for never moving back in drafts did so in each of the first two rounds. They moved back from 11 to 20, acquiring an additional fifth-round pick in 2021 as well as the Bears’ 2022 first and fourth-round picks in the process. In round two, they moved back from 42 to 50 and landed a 2022 third-round pick from the Dolphins.
All in all it was an exciting couple of days for Giants fans. They landed some explosive and talented players while also putting themselves in a great position for the 2022 draft. Let’s take a quick look at some of the notable players from the incoming rookie class, and what they can bring to the team.
Best Pick: Kadarius Toney (Round 1, Pick 20)
There were plenty of rumors swirling during draft season that the Giants were targeting one of the playmakers from Alabama (Jaylen Waddle/DeVonta Smith) with the 11th pick. Waddle went sixth to the Dolphins, and when the Eagles leap-frogged them to draft Smith they had a decision to make. The Giants traded back with the Bears. They moved down to 20 and selected wide receiver Toney.
At 6′ tall and 193 pounds, Toney is built like a running back. Much like Waddle, he is electric with the ball in his hands. His elite speed and shiftiness make him impossible to catch in open space. A true ankle-breaker, Toney is not only an offensive threat but a fantastic return man. With Toney’s upside, and the future draft picks acquired, this was a home run.
For more on Kadarius Toney, check out our scouting report on him here.
Worst Pick: Gary Brightwell (Round 6, Pick 196)
This pick is a total head-scratcher. At pick 196, running backs like Khalil Herbert (rated fifth by PFF), Chris Evans (7th), and Pooka Williams (9th) were all still on the board. The Giants drafted Brightwell out of Arizona. This is a back with low-end athleticism, is bad in pass protection, and fumbled the ball five times in five games in 2020. Brightwell offers zero production in the passing game (19 career receptions) and has less than desirable top-end speed (4.62 40-yard dash). With the addition of Brightwell and the signing of Devontae Booker in free agency, the Giants have exceptionally weak depth at running back behind Saquon Barkley.
Sleeper Pick: Elerson Smith (Round 4, Pick 116)
In the fourth round, the Giants once again opted to ignore the offensive line and selected Smith, an edge rusher from Northern Iowa. He is an intriguing prospect, bringing great length (6’6″, 252 pounds) and solid athleticism to a position of need. Northern Iowa’s season was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, but in 2019 Smith recorded 14 sacks and five forced fumbles. He displays a foundation of good technique and could be a contributor on day one with a little bit of coaching.
The Giants did a fine job of building up their roster through free agency and the draft and could be a sleeper to win the NFC East. However, the fact that the 31st-ranked offensive line in pass protection received no upgrades is a bit unsettling. Toney brings the type of weapon this team hasn’t seen since the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., and the impact of defensive ends Azeez Ojulari and Smith should be felt immediately. The fact that they were able to add 2022 draft capital is also vital. If Daniel Jones underwhelms with all of his new toys, the Giants may be forced to look for a successor. At the bare minimum, this team should be fun to watch in 2021, and they set themselves up nicely for the future.
Overall Grade: B+