Gettleman and the Giants Own New York/Draft
Something rare happened on night one of the NFL draft. In fact, something unheard of. Giants’ General Manager Dave Gettleman traded down — for the first time in eight years– from the number 11 spot to pick 20 with the Chicago Bears. And you know what? He did pretty well, getting Chicago’s first-round pick next year, and a couple of mid-round selections as well. Meaning he was able to grab even more players to help build the team in 2021 and look confidently ahead to the future.
With the NFL Draft finally drawing to a close, here is a look at each member of the New York Giants’ 2021 draft class, and what they may bring to the team in the upcoming season.
Kadarius Toney, WR (Florida)
With the 20th overall selection, the Giants get wide receiver Kadarius Toney, adding to an already much-improved pass-catcher group.
Last season, Toney made 70 catches for 984 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns, in 11 games at Florida. Throw in 19 rush attempts, for 161 yards, and a single touchdown on the ground, Kadarius was behind only 4th overall pick, Kyle Pitts for the team lead in scoring.
Joining a receiver room with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and John Ross means that Toney has a lot of work to do to advance up the depth chart. With his ability to break tackles and create yards after the catch, the 22-year-old could swiftly become one of the top targets for Daniel Jones.
Azeez Ojulari, EDGE (Georgia)
The Giants go with a pass rusher, adding to a defense that averaged 2.5 sacks per game in the previous season.
During his three seasons as a Bulldog, Ojulari recorded 15 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 5 forced fumbles, four of which came in the 2020 season. At 6-3, 240 pounds, he can play on any of the three downs, and by all accounts will become a very productive starter right out of the gate.
With the additions of Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson during free agency, there doesn’t appear to be a clear starter at the position. If Ojulari has a productive camp and can present himself as he did in college, it’s easy to imagine him starting week one.
Aaron Robinson, CB (UCF)
New York added to the secondary with cornerback Aaron Robinson out of UCF, making their selection in the third round.
Robinson’s best statistical season came in 2019, where he played in 12 games, making 54 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, with three interceptions on 10 passes defended, and also had a forced fumble. Through three fewer games played in the 2020 season, Aaron recorded 41 total tackles, with a single forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Robinson is added to a secondary with Adoree’ Jackson, James Bradberry, Jabrill Peppers, and Logan Ryan, meaning he is likely to play more of a backup, or “depth player” type of role during his rookie season.
Elerson Smith, LB (Northern Iowa)
With the 116th pick, the Giants add more depth to their defense, after a terrific 2020 from Blake Martinez.
Smith produced a stellar 2019 campaign with 14 sacks, 64 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, and 14 quarterback hurries. Add in 5 forced fumbles and 2 blocked kicks, and it’s clear he can make impact plays from anywhere on the field.
As noted above, it appears that Smith will start the season primarily in a backup position. However, if he is able to carry his talent over to the NFL, it won’t take long to picture him as a potential starter.
Gary Brightwell, RB (Arizona)
With their first pick in the sixth round, the Giants go back to the offense, adding some much-needed help behind Saquon Barkley.
After not seeing the field in his freshman year, Brightwell had a productive 2018 running for 525 yards on 91 attempts and scoring 3 touchdowns. In his final two seasons as a Wildcat, Gary ran 154 times for 780 yards and 6 touchdowns. With an added 121 receiving yards and a single receiving touchdown, he showed the capability to make plays through the air if needed.
It’s quite obvious that Saquon Barkley will be the starting running back when healthy. But adding a player like Brightwell gives the Giants an excellent piece in the unfortunate event of yet another injury to the star rusher.
Rodarius Williams, CB (Oklahoma State)
To close out the 2021 draft class, the Giants bring in another cornerback to compete for a roster spot at the position.
Williams was efficient during his time at Oklahoma State. In four seasons, the cornerback made 169 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions on 31 passes defended, and one forced fumble.
In an already set secondary, Williams will have to fight his way up the depth chart. However, with his skill to recognize routes and shut down plays after the catch is made, add a little bit of coaching, and the sky’s the limit.