In this edition of “Cover 3” on Giants.com, the crew discusses who and what stood out at rookie minicamp.
JOHN SCHMEELK: It’s essential to not jump to sweeping conclusions from a couple days of rookie minicamp, but from the early look at their draft picks, the Giants are getting exactly what they thought they were when scouting these players in college. Based on what I saw on tape from the players in college versus what they did on the field at rookie minicamp, it matches up.
Daniel Jones showed he has the arm to make all the throws. He is accurate and fundamentally sound. Dexter Lawrence is a big man who can move well and play up and down the line of scrimmage. DeAndre Baker is going to be a disruptive press corner who can be physical with wide receivers. Oshane Ximines has good quickness and hands as an outside rusher. Julian Love can do many things well and is going to be a versatile piece in the secondary. The list goes on. There wasn’t a moment during camp where I watched one of the draft picks and thought: “Uh oh, I didn’t see that on tape.” That’s a good thing. It’s also a good thing that the new additions all seem to be good people and teammates. I look forward to seeing them return in a week and get on the field with the veterans to see how they look against real NFL players.
DAN SALOMONE: Cornerback DeAndre Baker is certainly one of those players who grabs your attention. Given the circumstances, the Giants’ third first-round pick will likely see the most time on the field among incoming rookies. He seems wise beyond his years, and the NFL stage shouldn’t be too big for him. He had a reputation of being confident and fearless at Georgia. On the first day of practice, he was already vocal on the field with his teammates, coaching them up and shouting out encouragements. He will be a major part of a completely rebuilt secondary with the exception of returning veteran Janoris Jenkins, who likely will play opposite Baker on the outside.
Julian Love, a fourth-round pick who finished college as Notre Dame’s all-time leader in pass breakups, is also an intriguing piece to the puzzle. He is rooming with Baker and they previously knew each other from college awards circuit. Baker actually won the Jim Thorpe Award over Love as the best defensive back in college football, but now they’re teammates and not rivals.
“I think he kind of has that dog mindset,” Love said. “He’ll tell you that he’s very confident, very physical, likes to attack. And I like that in players. I need that next to me because that inspires people, that helps people grow, helps people go fast as well.”
The Giants view Love as a tweener with corner and safety ability. At rookie camp, he moved around “quite a bit” in the secondary. “It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “I think my skillset kind of fits that of a free safety – smart, physical, and range on the field.”
The secondary didn’t get a lot of pre-draft hype for the Giants, but now it’s one of the main positions to watch this spring and into training camp.
LANCE MEDOW: As I’ve emphasized in previous responses, there’s only so much you can take away from rookie minicamp given they are non-padded and no contact practices. That’s not to say these workouts have no value. It’s just that you shouldn’t read so much into them. That’s why what caught my eye was more of what happened off the field as opposed to on it.
Daniel Jones held his first press conference as a member of the Giants and you can already see similarities between he and Eli Manning in how he handles and navigates through the questions. The temperament of a quarterback can’t be overlooked. It may not be atop the list of most important criteria when evaluating that position, but it’s still crucial, especially during the course of a game when you can’t get too high or too low play to play. Jones’ true test won’t come until he’s actually thrown into a game situation, but part of succeeding in the New York market is handling the demands of the media.
Speaking of temperament, fourth round pick Julian Love already seems to be at ease in the Big Apple and I’m sure a big part of that is the fact he grew up in a big city, Chicago, and also played at Notre Dame. Love’s versatility will be a huge asset for the Giants and the team didn’t hesitate to move him around throughout minicamp. Given his skillset, Love can play outside, inside as well as safety. He’ll be a player to watch throughout training camp, especially where James Bettcher decides to line him up. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that hybrid players have thrived in Bettcher’s system, specifically in Arizona with players like Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon.
Since we’re on the subject of hybrid players, an undrafted player to watch moving forward is former Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, who did a lot of damage as a runner in college, piling up nearly 2,000 rushing yards in his four-year career along with 35 touchdowns. The Giants also listed Dungey as a tight end during minicamp, so as is the case with Love, it will be interesting to see the other opportunities he receives during the offseason as he could take on a wildcat type of a roll similar to the Saints’ Taysom Hill.