Giants have moved closer to being an NFC East favorite

The Giants got better in this 2021 NFL Draft. But how much better? Enough to win the NFL’s most mediocre division, which was decided via pillow fight in 2020? Possibly … with an asterisk,...

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The Giants got better in this 2021 NFL Draft.

But how much better?

Enough to win the NFL’s most mediocre division, which was decided via pillow fight in 2020?

Possibly … with an asterisk, because there are asterisks attached to every NFL draft.

This was Dave Gettleman’s fourth draft as Giants general manager. At 70 years old, with a 15-33 record in his first three years and with a standing mandate from Giants ownership to better his “batting average,’’ it’s possible this might have been his last as a GM, pending 2021 results.

In honor of Gettleman’s four Giants drafts, here are four takes on this one:

Take One: The Giants strengthened their strengths.

With two of their first three picks, the Giants added to two positions they’d already improved via free agency — wide receiver and cornerback — with receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round and corner Aaron Robinson in the third.

Prior to the draft, the Giants spent $112 million in free agency on receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

Take Two: The Giants finally addressed the outside pass rush.

That was the team’s greatest need, and the Giants hope they found a productive edge rusher in the second round with Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari, who had 8.5 sacks last season, 6.5 in the final six games.

The Giants cannot count on another 11.5 sacks out of Leonard Williams, an interior lineman who posted his career high in 2020. Williams, in fact, will only be better with an outside threat alongside him to reduce double-teams.

Giants coach Joe Judge and GM Dave Gettleman.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

In the fourth round on Saturday, the Giants added Northern Iowa outside linebacker Elerson Smith, a 6-foot-6, 252-pounder who had 14 sacks in 2019 and didn’t play in 2020 because his conference’s season was canceled due to COVID-19.

Take Three: The Giants might have left their questionable offensive line compromised by not addressing it with any of their six picks in this draft.

Will the Giants pay for that?

The likely answer is “yes.’’

In fairness, teams with as many needs as the Giants cannot address every issue in one draft. The Giants made it their priority to find quarterback Daniel Jones another explosive skill-position player and they hope they did that with Toney.

What they hope now, though, is that their offensive line can protect Jones well enough for him to get the ball downfield to the likes of Golladay, Toney, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton before he’s either sacked or turns the ball over.

“We have a lot more confidence in our offensive line players than you guys [reporters] do,’’ Gettleman said. “We’re happy with the guys we have. We’re not going to take a player just to take a player.’’

  • Giants complete 2021 NFL Draft Tracker

Take Four: The NFC East just got a lot more interesting thanks to this draft.

The Giants may have done enough to overtake the likes of NFC East “champion’’ Washington, which went 7-9 last year and will be counting on 38-year-old journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. They may be better than the Eagles, who are relying solely on unproven quarterback Jalen Hurts after trading Carson Wentz to the Colts.

There will be some fascinating subplots out of this draft within the NFC East, scenarios that may well shape the outcome of the division.

The Eagles leapfrogged the Giants in the first round, trading their No. 12 pick with Dallas, which was at No. 10, to beat the Giants to Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, the receiver Gettleman was ready to take at No. 11.

After the Giants traded out of No. 11 once Smith as nabbed by the Eagles, the Cowboys drafted Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, another player the Giants had an eye on.

One pick after the Giants took Ojulari at No. 50 overall, Washington selected Texas tackle Sam Cosmi. Giants fans will be watching carefully to see good he turns out to be.

“Every pick in this draft is a projection,’’ Giants coach Joe Judge said. “There’s not a single player who’s NFL ready.’’

The Giants, of course, hope theirs become NFL ready faster than those picked by the Eagles, Cowboys and Washington.

“We feel like we’ve added a lot of talent to our roster,’’ Gettleman said. “We added some playmakers, we added some pass rush and corners. We’ll know in three years whether we got this right or not.’’

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mark Cannizzaro

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