Breaking down the New York Giants' 2018 draft class.
Round 1, No. 2 overall: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
My take: The Giants bypassed quarterback Sam Darnold -- never even contemplated him -- in lieu of the top player on their board. General manager Dave Gettleman said Barkley was his highest-graded player since Peyton Manning in 1997. Barkley will make the Giants better. He’s a tremendous player who can do it all. The Giants raved about his skill set. Gettleman said it was as if he was “touched by the hands of God.” But Eli Manning is 37 years old, and Darnold was taken with the very next pick by the crosstown Jets. Darnold and Barkley are eternally linked. This decision will be debated for years to come.
No trade: The Giants knew they wanted Barkley. They weren’t even going to contemplate risking the chance to land what they considered “the unanimous best player in the draft.” When they knew he was there at No. 2, the room exploded and they all slapped hands. There was no serious talk of a trade. The Giants had such a strong conviction on Barkley that Gettleman told them not to even field calls for the pick. “They took Mayfield, we were taking Barkley. End of decision,” he said.
Giants' future at QB: The Giants are all-in on Eli Manning. That much is clear. Gettleman said the long-term plan is that “[Manning’s] gonna play.” The GM told everyone to stop worrying about age, before comparing Manning to players such as Tom Brady and Julius Peppers. Gettleman said, “Some guys are just freaks.” Clearly, the Giants aren’t as concerned about their long-term future at the game’s most important position as most outside their building. They also liked what they saw from last year’s third-round pick, Davis Webb, although it remains unclear where he stands in the future plans other than as a contingency plan for Manning.
Round 2, No. 34 overall: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
My take: The Giants once took a short guard with the 34th pick in 2004. That was Chris Snee. He turned into one of the greatest offensive linemen in franchise history. The Giants hope Hernandez follows in his footsteps. This makes sense and is a quality move. The Giants needed a mauling guard. Hernandez fits the bill. His selection aligns with general manager Dave Gettleman's desire to fix the offensive line and bolster the running game. The Giants finished 26th in the NFL last season in rushing.
Hernandez was considered a first-round talent by some teams. One personnel evaluator said he was "really good" and was surprised he was available for the Giants in the second round. Hernandez is known for his physicality and run-blocking. He's the third major piece added to the Giants' offensive line this offseason. It's a start. There might be more.
How he fits: Hernandez played left guard at UTEP. Newly signed guard Patrick Omameh has also played left guard most of his career. The Giants said they would try Hernandez at both sides before making a decision where he lands. Gettleman also added Omameh played right guard earlier in his career, so the Giants have options. Either way the additions of Hernandez, Omameh and left tackle Nate Solder make the Giants better equipped to run the ball successfully with Barkley. Their running game is "a lot better" now that it was before the draft, according to coach Pat Shurmur. Hernandez's NFL comp is Denver's Ron Leary. Neither are especially tall, but they can move and displace defenders. The Giants need some guys like that on their offensive line. They're trying to build a more physical unit.
Round 3, No. 66 overall: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia
My take: The Giants finally addressed the defense, and their front seven in particular. They even tried to trade up for Carter. Ultimately, it wasn’t necessary: He was there for the Giants with the second pick of the third round. Carter is a physical specimen. He’s 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds with 34-inch arms and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. His production, though, hasn’t matched his athletic ability. He had 15 sacks in four years at Georgia. The Giants’ brass thought there was a lot of hidden production in his tape. They also thought he played best in Georgia’s biggest games. Carter is an edge rusher with upside and an intriguing pick.
How he fits: Carter will join the mix at outside linebacker. He will likely compete with Avery Moss and Romeo Okwara for playing time as backups. The Giants also viewed him as a solid special-teams player. He’ll do a lot of that early in his NFL career. Carter should also fit into some of James Bettcher’s sub-packages as a pass-rusher. That’s his primary value. “He gives us pass rush,” GM Dave Gettleman said.
Round 3, No. 69 overall: B.J. Hill, DL, NC State
My take: Hill is a rotational defensive lineman. He gets upfield and can provide some pass rush from the interior. Gettleman described him as an “inside power broker.” The Giants viewed their two third-round picks -- Lorenzo Carter and Hill -- as second-round values. Either way, they are depth additions. Hill played in 51 games with 44 starts at NC State. He was a productive player, making 187 tackles with 26.5 tackles for a loss. He also had 9 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 11 quarterback pressures.
How he fits: Hill adds to a defensive line which lacked depth. He will work with Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson and Robert Thomas in a rotation to keep guys fresh. Gettleman talked about how he used eight defensive linemen in Carolina. It paid dividends. The Giants are hoping the addition of Hill helps replicate that success. He could be used as a shoot-the-gap defensive end or nose tackle in the Giants’ 3-4 base defense.
Round 4, No. 108 overall: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Prospect Profile: Kyle Lauletta
Todd McShay believes Richmond QB and Giants fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta can be a good backup and eventual starter at the NFL level.
My take: This is an interesting pick. The Giants never serious contemplated a quarterback at No. 2, running to the podium for a running back. Instead, they waited until Day 3 and grabbed Lauletta. He joins Eli Manning and last year’s third-round pick, Davis Webb. Lauletta is “a good, little player” and his comp was to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, according to a coach. Several scouts had concerns about Lauletta’s arm strength. This is a head-scratching pick for the Giants, who seem to be banking on a third- or fourth-round pick to be Manning’s successor.
How he fits: Lauletta will likely slide in as the third-stringer this season, especially after making the jump from Richmond to the NFL. At best, he competes with Webb for the backup job behind Manning. But he’ll have a chance and won’t be too far behind since Manning and Webb are also learning a new offense under coach Pat Shurmur. Lauletta should benefit from working with Shurmur, who is known as a quarterback whisperer.
Round 5, No. 139 overall: R.J. McIntosh, DL, Miami
Prospect Profile: R.J. McIntosh
Former Miami DT R.J. McIntosh has the agility and versatility to play inside and as an edge rusher.
My take: McIntosh was ranked 115th among all players by Scouts Inc. He was good value for the Giants in the fifth round at pick No. 139. McIntosh is a quick-twitch defensive lineman who can get upfield and provide some interior pass rush. He started 12 games last season for Miami and had a team-leading 12.5 tackles for a loss. He’s a solid addition to the defensive-line rotation.
How he fits: He adds to the mix on the defensive line. McIntosh could help immediately as a pass-rushing defensive end in Bettcher’s defense. That’s important. The Giants entered the draft fairly thin on the defensive line. They weren’t able to produce much interior pressure last season, either. McIntosh had 2.5 sacks and seven pass breakups during his junior season at Miami.