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2024 NFL Draft

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2024 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive-heavy class could set record


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In 2009, quarterback Matthew Stafford was the top selection in the NFL Draft, by the Detroit Lions. Stafford was the first of a record 19 offensive players chosen in the first round.

The 2024 draft begins Thursday, and it is replete at two glamour positions, quarterback and wide receiver, as well as offensive tackle, plus a premier tight end. It's possible the top 10 players chosen will all be on offense. And that record of 19 offensive players in round one?

"That could be put to the test this year," Giants general manager Joe Schoen said.

The Giants own the sixth selection in the first round. Whether they stay, trade up or move back, they are expected to stay within the strength of the draft and go offense with their first pick.

Potential candidates include wide receivers Marvin Harrison, Jr. of Ohio State, Malik Nabers of LSU and Rome Odunze of Washington and perhaps quarterbacks Drake Maye of North Carolina or Michigan's J.J. McCarthy. The top tackles are Notre Dane's Joe Alt and Penn State's Olu Fashanu. Georgia's Brock Bowers is the only tight end expected to be a first rounder.

"I do think it's an offensive-heavy draft, specifically at the top," Schoen said. "I think in the top 10, it's going to be offensive heavy."

The Giants currently have no seventh-round selection after trading it to Arizona last year for linebacker Isaiah Simmons. That may not be a bad thing because the back of the draft might yield less talent than usual.

Because of NIL rules and longer eligibility due to COVID, fewer underclassmen are entering the draft. Only 54 did so this year, the lowest number in a steady decline since 106 underclassmen were eligible for the 2018 draft. Schoen called the number "really low."

"A lot of players (stay in school) for various reasons, NIL being a big one," he said. "I think it's the last class for the COVID next year, so you're going to get out of that cycle where the guys get the six years or whatever it may be. When a lot of these kids go back that would be fifth-to-seventh-round picks, and they're getting more money from the NIL than they would in the draft, you understand why they do it. But we deal with what we're given in terms of the players that are in this draft. Our scouting department does a good job, all those players go back, and we're dealt the players that are in the fifth-through-seventh, and we'll try to find a good player there."

Because more players are staying in school, this draft class is older than most, with an increasing number of candidates in or approaching their mid-20s. Quarterback Sam Hartman, who played last season at Notre Dame after beginning his career at Wake Forest, will be 25 when the season begins. He is 10 weeks older than Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is entering his fourth NFL season.

"There was a tight end we were talking about the other day that's older than Brian Burns (the recently acquired outside linebacker who turned 26 yesterday) in the draft," Schoen said. "You look at some of the top quarterbacks that have played five years, six years, played a lot of games, they're all going to be 24 their rookie year. So, there are some older players in the draft. At the same time, there's some 20 and 21-year-olds that are coming in. It was a unique time with COVID and everything else where these guys got extra years. And again, there just happens to be players that have played a lot of football and are a little bit older, but that doesn't deter us from taking anybody.

"Sam Hartman is a quarterback that has been pretty durable, so you don't really worry about it at that position. But no, I still think if they're an NFL player at 25, they're still in their prime. We look at it, we talk about it. If there's any reason that would deter us from taking a player that's older, we'll take that into account. But typically, that doesn't affect us one way or the other."

View Daniel Jeremiah best remaining prospects from his original top 150 ranking in the 2024 NFL Draft.

*Schoen on the last few days before the draft:

"There's really no new information right now," he said. "We've done the security, we've done the psychological stuff, our coaches have Zoomed with them, we've Zoomed with them, we've been to the Combine, all-star games, workouts, pro days, privates, we've done all of that. So now, a lot of it is gathering information from around the league and a lot of it is rumors. You don't know if some of it's true or not, but it may make you pivot in terms of a different strategy if you hear something that may or may not be true. A lot of it is trying to gather information from around the league right now to get some idea of what may happen in front of you."

*On whether he studies mock drafts.

"We look at them every now and then," Schoen said. "But those are, to me, throwing darts. Some people have evaluated the players and they put together the mock drafts or have connections within buildings, and you know who those people are. Our analytics department does a good job, they put a compilation of multiple mock drafts together, then they go through, and they do how many times the players were selected in the first round, average pick in which they were selected in the mock drafts, number of trade ups, the highest they were picked and the lowest they were picked. They do a good job of working through the numbers and kind of give us an idea of the probability of a player being at a certain position."

*Schoen on the evolution of the Giants' draft board:

"(We first put together a board) in August when the first reports come in from our college scouts," he said. "The board is initially set based on high grades of any of our scouts. The board sets itself as these come in. If a scout gives a guy a first-round grade and another scout gives them a third-round grade, he's going to stay up at the first round until we get into meetings. Then in February, that's really when we'll start to move guys around.

"In February, there's no shorts and T-shirts, there's no pro days. Let's get this guy right as a football player on the football field in football pads versus shorts, T-shirts and a stop clock. We try not to move guys too much based on spring workouts. That's why I think the February meetings are very important because there haven't been any pro days or timed 40s where guys change their grades. Then we circle back in April with that additional information, how tall guys are, what they weighed, how they moved around at pro days, how they learn, how they were as people when we take them to dinners. In April, it continues to evolve based on more information, and then the scouts leave and we whittle it down to a smaller circle. That's (assistant G.M.) Brandon (Brown), (director of player personnel) Tim (McDonnell), (assistant director of player personnel) Dennis (Hickey), (executive advisor to the general manager) Ryan Cowden. Then we make subtle tweaks, and it's ready to go. It's ready to go on Friday. And then we'll also do a vertical stack. One through 150, we'll stack them vertically like a fantasy draft."

*Schoen played quarterback and then wide receiver at DePauw University, so he knows about pregame anxiety and nervous energy. Does the buildup to the draft engender those same emotions and provoke the same competitive fire as does competing on the field?

"There's definitely energy and excitement that leads up to it where, an athletic event, you're in control in terms of how you perform," Schoen said. "Granted, if you're a receiver, the quarterback's got to throw you the ball or whatever it may be, but you're a little bit more in control. Right now, you're at the mercy of what the other teams are going to do in front of you or behind you."

Schoen listed one more significant difference.

"A lot of times you make a decision in life and you know the outcome fairly quickly afterwards, whatever it may be," he said. "This is a case where you make a draft pick in April, and you really don't know how it's going to play out for two or three years."

Check out photos of the city of Detroit as it prepares to host this weekend's NFL Draft.


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