NFL Draft Grades 2023: How good were the Giants’ picks?

NFL Draft Grades 2023: How good were the Giants' picks?

After four long months and three long days, the 2023 NFL Draft is on the books.

Now the New York Giants continue to refine their roster throughout their rookie camp, mini-camp, practice camp and the rest of their offseason program. But while we await news on the offseason program, let alone free agency that hasn’t been drafted, let’s take a moment to take stock of what the Giants did over the three days of the draft.

Grading a draft less than 24 hours after completion is silly. Every single player drafted in the last three days is a project. Some “home runs” might turn out to be busts, and some players who were discounted might become stars. That’s why we like to wait three years to give players a chance to develop before evaluating a draft class.

But I can still express my thoughts immediately after the draft.

24th overall – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

Grade: A-

I agree with Big Blue View’s poll. I didn’t think Banks would even be available for the Giants in the first round, so this is automatically an A. Banks should fit Wink Martindale’s defense well and give them a good bookend for Adoree’ Jackson. He will continue to be the Giants’ CB1 depending on what happens to Jackson after this year.

I think it’s fair to push the note down a bit due to trading up. Yes, the Giants wanted to secure “their guy,” but there’s an opportunity cost to the trade. Overall, trading back and collecting more picks is a smarter choice, considering every draft pick is a lottery ticket. However, the 160 and 240 picks are also unlikely to make the difference, so I think it’s just a small swipe on the pick.

57th overall – John Michael Schmitz, OC, Minnesota

Class: A

Schmitz was one of my best offensive linemen in every position throughout the draft. He’s not the tallest, strongest, or most athletic lineman in the draft. I personally don’t think that matters. He is athletic enough and has a sky high football IQ, fantastic awareness, great technique, competitive ability and a wrestling background. He also has a background in a diverse running scheme and is a reliable pass protector

The Giants have a pretty bad need for offensive interiors, and Schmitz should be an immediate starter. He is also said to be a stabilizing force on offense. And while the Giants probably would have gotten a starting center a bit later, he probably wouldn’t be as good as Schmitz.

73rd overall – Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Grade: B+

This is another pick we probably would have accepted in 25th overall if the board had gone poorly in the first round for the Giants. So from that perspective, this is an “A” or even an “A+”. Hyatt should give the Giants the big-play potential their offense was lacking and make room for their various slot machines to work.

And while the Tennessee prospects were likely dinged for the offense they played on, there are indications that Hyatt should be able to adapt to the NFL game. I’m also fairly confident that Mike Kafka and Brian Daboll can adjust their plans to put Hyatt in a winning position while he hones his skills as a receiver.

But as with bank selection, I think it’s fair to bang selection up based on trading. The Giants sent their fourth-round pick (128th overall) to the Los Angeles Rams to make the leap up. I knock it down a letter because the 128th pick is more of a valuable piece than the 160th or 240th pick (or the two combined). But like Banks, the Giants wanted to make sure they got their man, and there’s no guarantee a receiver they cherish would be available at 89th overall.

172nd overall – Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma

Grade: B+

It was a long wait of 3 hours and 20 minutes before the Giants made their first pick of day three. Time will tell if they made the best of the selection, but it’s hard to see that selection go wrong.

A compact, nervous and agile running back, Gray has good vision and the ability to string moves together to make defenders miss at close range. He was consistently prolific as a runner and receiver for an Oklahoma offensive that was down a step from previous years. Gray doesn’t have “pull away” speed, but he does have the quickness and pop to keep the chains moving, even when the game goes sideways.

Several runners were available offering different flavors with similar benefits. We have to trust that the Giants picked whoever best fits their team vision.

The “B+” is really a preliminary grade, because you can’t grade players until a few years later. Gray is likely to be the Giants’ RB3 this year and could end up pushing Matt Brieda. He’s likely to remain a reliable depth player in the Giants backfield that the coaching staff is confident is rotating onto the field. But it is possible that he will become a long-distance runner. In the first case, this is a solid “B” pick – not a home run, but the kind of single you need to build a team. If Gray becomes a solid starter, this immediately becomes an A+ pick.

209th overall – Tre Hawkins III, CB, Old Dominion

Class: C

I admit I haven’t seen Hawkins. The feeling I get from my research after the picks have been made is that he’s a tool-less lottery ticket that could evolve into something with time and coaching. Hawkins is a good height at 6-foot-1 (32⅛-inch arms), 197 pounds, and is an excellent athlete. He ran a 4.39 second 40, 6.74 second tricone and 4.22 second short shuttle and also has a 37.5 inch vertical jump. He reportedly needs to work on his technique and awareness after giving up too many touchdowns in college.

Hawkins was named a “priority free agent” by both Lance Zierlein and Dane Brugler, so it appears Joe Schoen used that pick to secure a UDFA that the Giants didn’t want to risk signing elsewhere.

243rd overall – Jordon Riley, DT, Oregon

Class: C

To be honest, I never really noticed Riley on the Oregon tape I was watching, although that can happen with a nose tackle. He’s a massive defensive tackle with 6-foot-4, 340 pounds and 34-inch arms. He also had a winding road to the Giants, beginning his college career in North Carolina in 2017 before moving to Nebraska and eventually Oregon. He was Academic All Big Ten in 2021 so he seems like a smart player and this appears to be another instance of Joe Schoen suspending a player he had eyed as a priority free agent.

Taking a step back, the Giants could have the strongest line of defense in the NFL this year. Between the 340-pound Riley, 340-pound Dexter Lawrence, 330-pound DJ Davidson, 325-pound Vernon Butler, 320-pound A’Shawn Robinson and 307-pound Rakeem Nunez-Roches, the Giants have a hefty one defensive front. All that mass upfront investment could tell us something about how Wink Martindale plans to play defense.

254th overall – Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston

Class: C

This is another instance where it feels like the Giants took the opportunity to secure a player they had earmarked for a high-priority free agent.

A good-sized athletic safetyman, Owens was also a second-team All-ACC and had an intriguing production. In the past two years, he had 126 tackles (5.0 for a loss), 3 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown), 11 passes defended, and 1 forced fumble. He has a background as both a corner and safety and is reliable as a willing hitter.

This is another grade that starts out as “average,” but could be a slight “A” if Owens becomes a contributor (it’s a very late seventh-round pick, after all. They’re not expected to succeed ). It’s possible the Owens could be an immediate factor in the Giants’ safety squad, but he’ll likely have to prove himself on special teams first.

#NFL #Draft #Grades #good #Giants #picks

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