A New York NFL Draft Review
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On the last weekend in April, the NFL draft was held. It was a three-day spectacle that provided countless moments of intrigue, especially for the New York teams. Here are our takes on the Giants and Jets NFL Draft hauls.
New York Giants: B+
The Giants draft may only be getting a B+, but Dave Gettleman, the general manager (GM) of the Giants, gets an A+++ for looking like a good GM and actually trading back (this was his eighth draft as a GM and his first time trading back). Once the Eagles traded ahead of the Giants, up to pick 10, to take DeVonta Smith, a receiver from Alabama, there was no need to overdraft a player at 11. Since the players at the top of their draft board were not available at pick 11 and there were still two good quarterback prospects available, Justin Fields from Ohio State and Mac Jones from Alabama, trading back appeared to be the smart move.
The Bears have still never had a good quarterback in their franchise’s history, and they continued their search in this draft, so they traded up to the 11th pick. In return for the 11th pick, the Giants received an impressive haul: the 20th pick this year, the Bears 2022 first round pick, 2022 fourth round pick, and 2021 fifth round pick. The Giants used that 20th pick on Kadarius Toney, a receiver out of Florida. While Toney was not the consensus fourth receiver in this draft class, he did fill a need for the Giants. They needed a player who could create after the catch, and Toney was the best at that in the draft. His shiftiness and ability to cut back make up for his lack of top end speed, and he should be another weapon for Daniel Jones.
In the second round, the Giants traded back again, picking up a 2022 third rounder, and were still able to get arguably the best edge rusher in the entire draft in Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia. Ojulari was a first round talent, but injury concerns led to him falling all the way to pick 50, so the Giants may have gotten a steal.
In the third round, they picked Aaron Robinson, a cornerback out of UCF, to add to their already stacked secondary. On day three, the Giants drafted a rotational pass rusher with a lot of athleticism in Elerson Smith in the fourth round. Then, after waiting 80 picks, they picked Gary Brightwell, running back out of Arizona, who will provide backfield depth and be a special teams ace. Finally, five picks later, they picked up Rodarius Williams, cornerback out of Oklahoma State, to add depth at the position. The Giants made a lot of good moves this draft, but the lack of resources put into their bottom tier offensive line, especially after they parted ways with their best offensive lineman, Kevin Zeitler, lowered their grade.
New York Jets: A-
The Jets had a solid draft this year as Joe Douglas continued to prove he’s the GM this franchise desperately needed. The Jets obtained their new franchise quarterback in Zach Wilson with the second overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. After a rough 2019 season during which he required surgeries on his throwing shoulder and a fractured right hand, Wilson overcame adversity and saw a meteoric rise in 2020. He led the BYU Cougars to an 11-1 record with 3700 passing yards for 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions. An athletic quarterback with elite arm talent, Wilson can throw the ball accurately, has good decision-making skills, and is able to throw on the move. Wilson has a lot of potential to succeed in the NFL, and the Jets made the right decision to invest in his future.
With the Jets’ other first-round selection, they traded up with the Minnesota Vikings to select offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker from USC. As an offensive guard, his footwork and athleticism make him one of the top offensive lineman of his class. He’s a great pass blocker and moves fluidly, and he has enough athleticism to move to the second level and block linebackers. The Jets made the correct choice in moving up the draft to fill a need at interior offensive line.
In the second round, the Jets selected wide receiver Elijah Moore from Ole Miss. He had a 1000-yard season in 2020 and was a notable receiver in his sophomore year among future star receivers A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf. He’s a great slot receiver who can run crisp routes, a deep threat, and quick with a 4.35 second time in the 40-yard dash. He’ll make a fine addition to the Jets’ future receiving core and can prove to be a valuable piece in a revamped offense.
The Jets also decided to solidify their run game in the fourth round by selecting running back Michael Carter out of North Carolina. Though his teammate, running back Javonte Williams, was selected before him, it doesn’t diminish the skills and production he has shown during his time in North Carolina. He posted back-to-back seasons with 1000-plus rushing yards, possesses good agility, and is able to make quick cuts, which the Jets can use to their advantage.
Overall, the Jets had a stellar draft in terms of drafting offense, but they got points deducted for only addressing their need for a cornerback in the later rounds and not picking up any edge rushers. However, the Jets did a great job building a team for the future, with young players taken from the draft and free agency with a lot of potential. With newly hired head coach Robert Saleh, a former defensive coordinator who saw a lot of success in the San Francisco 49ers, and general manager Joe Douglas, who was in charge of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl winning team, the Jets have an opportunity to finally turn their losing record around.