The 2018 NFL Draft recently concluded. It’s too early to truly know how these players will pan out in the NFL, but it’s fun to give teams “grades” anyway. My favorite team, the Giants, did very well in the draft in my opinion. They addressed their revolving door at RB by getting a generational talent, added a day one starter on the o-line, and possibly found their QB of the future as well. So, let’s look over each pick and give them a grade, shall we? By the way, I might do this for other teams, but figured I’d start with my favorite squad.
Round #1, Pick #2: Saquon Barkley (RB- Penn St.)
Some Giants fans wanted to grab a QB with this pick, but most were in the Barkley camp. Giants GM Dave Gettleman certainly was, as he didn’t waste any time with selecting Saquon. He didn’t even listen to any trade-up calls, as clearly he was high on Barkley. Barkley and Peyton Manning were the only players to earn a perfect grade from Gettleman in all of his years of scouting. Barkley could instantly become the guy that gets 20+ touches a game, and end the Giants “backfield by committee” nonsense that’s been going on for years. 2nd and 9s will start to become 2nd and 6s or 5s.
Putting Barkley in an offense with Odell Beckham Jr. and Evan Engram should make the Giants a fun team to watch. I was extremely hyped about this pick. The only questions are, should they have taken a QB, and should they have traded down for a RB? Personally, I would say no to both of those questions. Some critics may question whether it was worth it to take a RB so high in a passing league, but Barkley is a great pass-catcher. Saquon certainly seems to be worth it. (Grade: A) Barkley mentioned that he “kind of fell in love what this place” when talking about the Giants. He could be the face of the franchise for Big Blue. (Photo Credit: AP/Julie Jacobson)
Round #2, Pick #34: Will Hernandez (OG- UTEP)
Hernandez had a first round grade from the Giants, and will immediately help an o-line that has struggled the last 3+ years. He will probably be starting alongside Patrick Omameh, a guard the Giants added in free agency. That would mean John Jerry would be out of the lineup, who has underwhelmed throughout his tenure with the Giants. Justin Pugh left in free agency, so this makes the pick of Hernandez even more important.
Hernandez is a shade under 6′ 3″, “short” for an NFL o-lineman (I laugh as a guy that’s 5′ 9″), but he weighs in at well over 300 lbs. To me, Jason Kelce is proof that “short” interior o-linemen can not only succeed, but thrive in the NFL. Hernandez is a nasty lineman, who will help bring the Giants back to the old-school football they were known for. He is the kind of “hog molly” that GM Dave Gettleman has raved about. Gettleman mentioned that Hernandez played for a disastrous, winless UTEP team in 2017, but he played just as tough in the first game as he did in the last. That’s the kind of character the Giants should be looking for. (Grade: A+)Hernandez says he “wants to embarrass defenders”. Gettleman mentioned that “he’s a little cranky”. You can’t blame him, considering he was an NFL-level talent on an 0-12 team. (Photo Credit: Joe Robbins)
Round #3, Pick 66: Lorenzo Carter (OLB- Georgia)
Gettleman discussed that it’s great when “need meets value”, and that appeared to happen again for Big Blue in the 3rd round. Just as Gettleman had a 1st round grade on Hernandez, he had a 2nd round grade on Carter, and was able to pick those players in the round afterwards both times. That could just be the effect of having picks at the top of each round. But it’s worth mentioning, considering Gettleman apparently tried trading up for Carter.
Carter is a physical specimen at 6′ 5″, 250 lbs. He could definitely compete at edge rusher in the Giants 3-4 scheme, as the Giants needed a linebacker to add to the mix there. Carter only had 15 sacks in 4 years, which is disappointing, especially considering his 4.5 40 yard dash time. So if nothing else, he could definitely be a big contributor on special teams for the G-men. (Grade: B+)LB Lorenzo Carter can help the Giants with rushing the passer, one of the things Gettleman has stressed the most. (Photo Credit: USA Today Sports/Crystal LoGiudice)
Round #3, Pick #69: B.J. Hill (DT- NC St.)
A few picks after the Giants selected Carter, they were on the clock again as a result of the JPP trade. This should purely be a depth pick, as Hill likely won’t start in 2018 unless injuries force him to. After all, there’s only three d-linemen in a 3-4 defense. He could certainly rotate into the game at times, but I expect Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson to take up most of the snaps at defensive tackle.
If the Eagles proved anything from their Super Bowl run, it’s that you can never have too many d-linemen. Gettleman took DT Vernon Butler with a 1st round pick while he was with Carolina in 2016. This was despite the Panthers having the solid duo of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short at defensive tackle. Hill had a solid career at N.C. State, with 187 tackles in 44 starts, so maybe he’ll be a starter one day. I’m okay with him being just depth for now, but not exactly thrilled either. (Grade: B-)While he likely won’t make an impact on day one, Hill adds solid depth on the d-line. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Round #4, Pick #108: Kyle Lauletta (QB- Richmond)
Kyle Lauletta wrote this awesome article for the Player’s Tribune, and it makes me hyped about his possibility of being the future for the Giants at the QB position. He seems like the classic underdog story, as he was overlooked because of all the top-flight QBs in this draft. Not only that, he played for Richmond Spiders, not exactly a college football powerhouse. Lauletta will likely compete with Davis Webb for the backup position, and possibly to replace Eli a few years down the road.
Lauletta has ideal size for his position (6′ 3″), and Gettleman talked about him having “instinctual things that you can’t teach”. He put up decent stats with the Spiders last season, tossing for 3,737 yards, and 28 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. The big question with Kyle is his arm strength, as it’s not exactly elite. In any case, learning behind Eli Manning will definitely help Lauletta’s development. I reacted negatively to the Giants taking Davis Webb last year, considering it was the 3rd round. He was taken a pick after Kareem Hunt! Since it’s the 4th round however, I’m more okay with the Giants looking to the future with this pick. (Grade: B+)Lauletta impressed at the Senior Bowl, and he could very well be the heir apparent to Eli one day. (Photo Credit: Chet Strange/Getty Images)
Round #5, Pick #139: R.J. McIntosh (DT- Miami)
The Giants came into the draft needing depth on the d-line, and so that’s why they took Hill in the 3rd round. But Big Blue doubled down with McIntosh in the 5th round, and I don’t think they should have. Finding depth at receiver or corner would’ve been more ideal here in my opinion, as the Giants needed that. Some Giants fans wanted them to draft a tackle, but I think Adam Bisnowaty, Chad Wheeler, and (sigh) Ereck Flowers will compete at RT. I wish they could’ve found a trade partner for Flowers, but I digress.
So taking another defensive tackle was a bit of a head-scratcher, but he was certainly good value. He can be used as a pass rusher at defensive end, and on the interior of the d-line. In any case, the Giants were probably going to get a depth guy here anyway. So I can’t be too upset. (Grade: B)McIntosh will add more depth to the d-line. (Photo Credit: USA Today Sports)
Overall Grade: A-
To me, the Giants hit a home run with their first two picks. While I would’ve liked them to add some depth at receiver and corner, they signed some as undrafted free agents. Those guys could possibly compete for roster spots. The depth they got in rounds 3-5 could possibly help them years down the road, as they may have gotten one of the draft’s biggest steals in QB Kyle Lauletta.
GM Dave Gettleman had a great first draft, and he’s certainly popular among most Giants fans. He did have the luxury of drafting high in these rounds. But with only 6 picks, he made the most of them. The Giants running game got a huge boost with Barkley and Hernandez, and “hog mollies” were added on both sides of the line. The Giants are returning to their old-school style of football, and you’ve got to love that as a fan.