In this edition of “Cover 3” on Giants.com, we debate whether free agency or the draft will have a bigger impact on the 2019 season.
JOHN SCHMEELK: I go out of my way to always choose the draft for questions like these, but I really think it’s going to be free agency this year. The Giants have so many holes on the defensive side of the ball, and they are going to have to use free agency to fill them. I do not think they are going to pursue a lot of very lucrative long-term deals with a ton of guaranteed money, but I could see them signing a bunch of solid players to fill their holes so they can simply draft the most talented players in the draft.
The Giants do not need to hunt for stars in free agency. They need to find solid football players to fill specific roles and play valuable snaps. They might not be Pro Bowlers or All-Pros, but they will fill their roles. That scenario will give young players selected in the draft, especially with the Giants’ bevy of Day 3 picks, time to develop and watch until they are ready.
Giants fans might have to be patient because moves like the ones I describe might not come until the second or even third wave of free agency. That is when the market presents opportunities to maximize a team’s investment. I think you are going to see a lot of turnover on this roster once again.
DAN SALOMONE: The draft will still have a greater impact on the upcoming season. Just look at last year. Where would the team have been without Saquon Barkley (AP Offensive Rookie of the Year), Will Hernandez (PFWA All-Rookie), B.J. Hill (set Giant’ rookie sacks record) and Lorenzo Carter (4.0 sacks and nearly 700 snaps between defense and special teams roles)? And this year the Giants hold 10 picks instead of six. That’s a lot of stamps for Dave Gettleman to put on this team.
Even though they start with the sixth pick instead of the second like last year, there will still be a franchise-type player at that spot. Look at the last six No. 6 picks: All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Pro Bowl defensive lineman Leonard Williams, Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Matthews, and Super Bowl LI champion linebacker Barkevious Mingo. If the Giants trade up or down, it makes the draft that much more important.
LANCE MEDOW: Given the Giants have 10 picks in the 2019 draft, they’ll have a great opportunity to add some substance and volume to their roster. As it stands right now, there will be plenty of roles up for grabs on defense, and there’s no way you can fill every need through free agency. The ideal way to build the nucleus of your team is through the draft. In 2018, rookie draftees Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill all played key roles, with the first three earning starting jobs.
The Giants will look to build off that group with another strong rookie class and you can argue the depth of this year’s group fits the Giants’ needs with numerous pass rushers and playmakers on the defensive line. Rookie contracts are a team’s best friend because they don’t stress the salary cap like a free-agent deal, especially one involving a star player. I think the Giants will look to once again get younger across the board this offseason, and the best way to implement that plan is through the 2019 draft.