New York Giants Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia – Round 1
The Giants entered the 2019 NFL Draft needing cornerback help, and they were able to land in Baker, who a number of evaluators felt was the best overall corner, late in the first round. With Janoris Jenkins on the other side going against No. 1 receivers, Baker could step onto the field quickly for the Giants to give them a much improved tandem over what they fielded in 2018.

Baker has a lot of skills that should translate to the NFL and could turn him into a starter early in his career. Perhaps his best trait is the quality of his instincts. He recognizes routes well, reads receivers’ hands and eyes well, and times breakups well. While Baker is not the fastest of corners, he has speed and athleticism to run the route and prevent separation. Baker breaks on routes well and has good ball skills. He shows a nice ability to slap passes away or catch them. Baker is a very smooth receiver who is adept to stay in his backpedal when other corners are unable to maintain it.

Along with instincts and ball skills, Baker is a physical defender who will battle receivers. He doesn’t back down and plays with an aggressive attitude. Baker also has an impressive ability to come up with some big plays in the clutch.

Baker was one of the best cornerbacks in college football over the past few seasons and was an integral part of Georgia’s tremendous defense. As long as he doesn’t have off-the-field issues, I think he will become a solid starter for the Giants and could contend for some Pro Bowls during his career.

2018: Will Hernandez, G
2017: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT
2016: Sterling Shepard, WR
2015: Owa Odighizuwa, DE
2014: Weston Richburg, C
2013: Justin Pugh, G

Most Likely To Bust

Oshane Ximines, LB, Old Dominion – Round 3
The Giants had a need for edge rush entering the 2019 NFL Draft, so it was surprising when they passed on Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat in the first round for Clemson nose tackle Dexter Lawrence. Sweat’s off-the-field issues were too much for New York general manager Dave Gettleman, so the organization waited on a pass-rusher and ended up taking Ximines in the third round. Ximines was a solid prospect, but he is an undersized edge defender who could have issues transitioning to the NFL.

At 6-foot-3, 241 pounds, Ximines is very undersized for getting off blocks in the NFL. As a run defender, he is at his best working upfield and trying to cause disruption in the backfield. He is going to have problems taking on pro offensive lines and holding his gap against downhill runs coming straight at him. Ximines has to get stronger in order to hold his ground in run defense. For the pass rush, he has to get stronger to shed blocks or he is going to have real problems when tackles get their hands on him. Also in the NFL, he will need to improve his repertoire of pass-rushing moves, because using only a speed rush will be too predictable. Thus, Ximines has a number of issues to improve upon before being a three-down starter. As a developmental prospect, he may not translate to the NFL, and of the Giants’ early-round picks, he looks like he had the most bust potential to me.

2018: Lorenzo Carter, LB
2017: Davis Webb, QB
2016: Darian Thompson, S
2015: Landon Collins, S
2014: Jay Bromley, DT
2013: Damontre Moore, DE

Potential Boom Pick

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson – Round 1
The Giants surprised many with the selection of Lawrence in the first round. A disruptive nose tackle was not considered to be a top priority for the Giants, but with the first round edge rushers they liked off the board, the Giants took a high-upside tackle who can cause pressure from the inside. Lawrence is a giant lineman who has a shocking combination of size, speed and athleticism for a 6-foot-4, 342-pounder. Lawrence is also very young entering the NFL after his true junior year, so there is plenty of upside for him to develop and have his best football ahead of him.

In the passing-driven NFL, an every-down defensive tackle has to have the ability to contribute in the rush to be a first-round pick, and Lawrence has enough pass-rushing talent to contribute. His seven-sack season as a freshman is not to be expected as the norm, but he has the ability push the pocket and could average about five or six sacks per year, which would be good production from a nose tackle. He has tremendous power to bull rush through guards and harass the quarterback. While Lawrence may not get a lot of sacks as a pro, he has the talent to get the quarterback to move off their landmark.

When Lawrence gets free, he shows a burst to close as he can explode into the pocket. His athleticism gives him redirection skills that allow him to adjust to the quarterback. Lawrence also is a real asset for helping the other defensive linemen as he can eat up double teams and get a push versus two blockers. The blockers he eats up makes it harder for offenses to send double teams to other linemen. Lawrence may not produce huge sack numbers in the NFL, but he definitely will contribute to the pass rush.

Lawrence is an asset in the ground game as well. He is tough to move at the point of attack and has a strong anchor. He holds his ground well, and offensive linemen really struggle to get any kind of push on Lawrence. His lateral anchor is good as well. He uses his strength to shed blocks and start tackles on backs on runs up the middle. He also has the speed and athleticism to flow to the ball and get in on tackles outside of his gap. Lawrence gets into trouble if he stand up too high. Maintaining leverage and his conditioning will be points of emphasis during his pro career. Still, Lawrence should end up being a very good run defender in the NFL.

Lawrence could be his generation’s Vince Wilfork, and if he is that kind of player, he would be a real boom pick for the Giants.

2018: Saquon Barkley, RB
2017: Evan Engram, TE
2016: Eli Apple, CB
2015: Ereck Flowers, OT
2014: Odell Beckham Jr., WR
2013: Johnathan Hankins, DT

Future Depth Player

Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn – Round 5
This was tough to select because I think the Giants landed three starters in the first round who will be solid players and potential boom picks. Yes, all three, including quarterback Daniel Jones. I also believe that fourth-round pick Julian Love could become the other starting corner across from DeAndre Baker, so that is more than a depth player. In the fifth round, Slayton was a nice pick as he has a good skill set with some size (6-1, 190) and speed. With a 4.39 time in the 40-yard dash, Slayton is fast, and he could end up being a steal who is more than future depth. He was underutilized at Auburn, and I think in the NFL, he could at least be a nice backup receiver who rotates into the game and has the ability to contribute.

2018: Kyle Lauletta, QB
2017: Wayne Gallman, RB
2016: Paul Perkins, RB
2015: Bobby Hart, G
2014: Andre Williams, RB
2013: Ryan Nassib, QB

Walt’s 2019 NFL Draft Grades:

6. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke D- Grade
I had Daniel Jones slotted to the Giants with the sixth pick in my 2019 NFL Mock Draft, but I don’t like this selection. Jones is not good enough to be the sixth-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, especially when considering that the Giants also have the No. 17 choice. They could have waited and probably have gotten Jones at 17. If not, the 2020 NFL Draft class is loaded with better quarterbacking talent! There’s no need to reach for a signal-caller with studs like Ed Oliver and Josh Allen available. This was almost an “F,” but at least it makes some sort of sense, unlike the Oakland selection.

17. Dexter Lawrence, NT, Clemson C+ Grade
With Andre Dillard available? I’m not so sure about this. I don’t hate this selection, but it seems as though the Giants keep making the same mistake, which is failing to protect their quarterback. Still, Dexter Lawrence should be a dominant force for the Giants in the middle of their three-man front. He has exceptional athleticism for a man his size, but I think this is the high end for him. He easily could’ve gone in the 20s, so the Giants aren’t getting terrific value, and they’re passing on a huge need.

30. DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia D+ Grade
I get the feeling that the Giants could’ve obtained DeAndre Baker had they not traded up. Of course, that’s unknown, but Baker isn’t worth trading up for considering how many second-round cornerback prospects there are. The Giants definitely would’ve obtained someone very comparable to Baker, if not Baker himself atop Round 2. Instead, they needlessly surrendered resources for a player with some question marks.

95. Oshane Ximines, DE/OLB, Old Dominion A- Grade
Dave Gettleman said he wanted an edge rusher early, but I guess better late than never. Oshane Ximines could start as a rookie, as he’s very talented. He needs to improve his strength, but he has the ability to become a consistent edge rusher in the pros. At the very least, he’ll be a situational edge rusher on passing downs in his rookie campaign. This is a solid pick at the end of the third round.

108. Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame A- Grade
This is unbelievable. I’ve never given so many “A” grades in a consecutive sequence. Julian Love is another prospect who could have been chosen a whole round earlier, so I love the value. Love is a nickel cornerback who figures to fill a big need in the Giants’ poor secondary.

143. Ryan Connelly, LB, Wisconsin B+ Grade
Ryan Connelly was a walk-on at Wisconsin, but he worked hard to become a starter in 2018. He has good instincts and will give the Giants 100-percent effort. At the very least, he should emerge as a standout special-teamer, but given his effort and mind, he could end up seeing defensive snaps.

171. Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn B+ Grade
The Giants found their replacement for Odell Beckham Jr.! OK, maybe not. Darius Slayton dropped way too many passes at Auburn and had trouble staying healthy. However, Slayton has tremendous upside because of his great speed and athleticism. He’s definitely worth a choice late in the fifth round.

180. Corey Ballentine, CB, Washburn B+ Grade
Corey Ballentine has tremendous athleticism, so the upside is definitely apparent. I imagine that’s why the Giants drafted Ballentine, as he’s otherwise a raw player who doesn’t have very good instincts. He’ll need some good coaching to develop, but I like this pick for its potential.

232. George Asafo-adjei, OT, Kentucky C Grade
It’s amazing that the Giants didn’t draft an offensive lineman before this pick. George Asafo-adjei was not in my top-500 list, so I can’t get behind this pick. Still, there’s no such thing as a bad reach in the seventh round.

245. Chris Slayton, DE/DT, Syracuse B Grade
Chris Slayton isn’t much of a pass rusher, and he doesn’t have very good athleticism, but he’s a rock-solid run defender, so he could carve out a role as a two-down player in a 3-4 scheme. I had him getting drafted in the seventh round, so the range certainly makes sense.

2019 NFL Draft Team Grade: A- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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