• Matt Oehl

Following the Rookies: NFC East New York Giants

The NY Giants had the 4th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after spending their 1st round pick of 2019 on quarterback Daniel Jones out of Duke. Jones has struggled throughout his career so far partially due to the way his offensive line has protected him. So with the 4th pick in the 2020 Draft, the Giants took offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. He was my favorite tackle in this class simply because he had the highest floor and was the safest of the top tier of offensive tackles. Although I didn't believe he had the highest ceiling I did believe he could be a very good starting tackle in the league. With their 2nd round pick, they took Alabama safety, Xavier McKinney who has unfortunately missed the majority of the season, only playing in his first game in week 12 against the Bengals.

Andrew Thomas has started in 10 of the 11 games he has started in, playing in 100% of snaps in 8 of those games. Playing in 695 snaps he has been penalized 2 times while also giving up 6 sacks. So far he has not played up to his draft status of being taken with the 4th pick. One thing I have noticed that has not translated well to the NFL is his power. At the college level, he had elite power that looked like it would translate well to the NFL, but he has struggled when going up against stronger defenders. His footwork has looked solid so far but there is room for improvement in his hands, especially when he loses contact after the first attempt in pass rush. His ability to regain control with his hands needs to be improved against pass rushers. Part of Thomas's struggle is due to the overall lack of talent on the Giants team but I think it is also due to the coaching. The Giants offensive line coach was just recently fired and I believe that firing will lead to a better performance from the line. Thomas has already shown improvement from the beginning of the season and I think the improvement will only continue. The Giants are in a very interesting spot, being in contention for playoffs but also being in contention for another quarterback based on how Daniel Jones's first 2 seasons have gone.

Xavier McKinney was one of my favorite prospects in the 2020 draft class. He has only been able to play in 1 game so far this year and will hopefully be able to play the rest of the season with his playing time only increasing. Since he hasn't played in the NFL much most of what I will discuss will be his play from college. He is a bit of a positionless player as he can line up all over the field, as a deep safety, box safety, slot corner, and linebacker. He is very good in run support as he takes good angles and knows how to tackle. As a deep safety, he has the athletic ability and range to make plays on the ball and he diagnoses routes very well. He can play man coverage on tight ends and slot corners when he needs to and his ball skills are very good when he can turn and find the ball. When his back is to the quarterback he does struggle to turn and find the ball in man coverage so he will need to improve there. I think the Giants will have pieces to move McKinney around and put him in the best positions to succeed with Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers as the other safeties. McKinney can easily become the leader on the backend of this defense where they have shown some signs of life with James Bradberry playing as one of the better corners in the league. McKinney could have a very bright future in the NFL if he can stay healthy.

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