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2021 Rookie Camp

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Fact or Fiction: Rookie Qs with minicamp underway


Kadarius Toney is the player you're most interested to see at rookie minicamp.

John Schmeelk: Fact - I don't know exactly what rookie minicamp is going to look like, so Kadarius Toney is the only obvious answer here. Since we were unable to attend the Senior Bowl this year, I have not seen Toney move around in person yet. I look forward to being able to do that for the first time during rookie minicamp. It's one thing to watch an elite athlete on tape and another all together to see one up close and in person.

Dan Salomone: Fact - The first-round pick is always the headliner, and because of the pandemic, people haven't seen much of these prospects in person. There was no NFL Scouting Combine, and pro days and the Senior Bowl were limited. The fun part about the NFL is he won't be the headliner once the vets get added to the mix later this summer. He has to start over from scratch and prove himself at the next level.

Lance Medow: Fiction - There's only so much you can take away from rookie minicamp as it is because of limited participants and no contact. So, if there's a player worth focusing on, it would be someone who doesn't have nearly as much buzz surrounding them as this year's first-round pick Kadarius Toney. That's why I'm going with fourth-round selection Elerson Smith, who also didn't play in 2020 because his fall season was cancelled. That's more of a reason to want to see him in at least a practice setting compared to the others who were on the field this past season. On top of that, Smith is one of this year's most intriguing picks given his lengthy and pass rushing skills.

View photos of the Giants' 2021 class getting fitted for equipment after arriving at rookie minicamp.

Toney, who rushed for 580 yards and two touchdowns in his college career, will be used frequently in the backfield.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - I'll take frequently as meaning three times a game or more, and I don't see that happening. I'll predict it happens between 20-30 times, which is one or two times per game. I do think Kadarius Toney will get the ball in the backfield on jet sweeps or end-arounds often, but I don't see him lining up as a straight running back or quarterback very often.

Dan Salomone: Fact - "Frequently" means "noticeable" to a fan who isn't a film junky. And I think it will be noticeable how much they move him around. That's just my initial thought based on how much Joe Judge values versatility. Toney can also drop back and pass, too.

Lance Medow: Fiction - The term frequently can be interpreted in a variety of ways, but as far as my interpretation goes, I don't think it will apply to Toney's usage out of the backfield. I think Jason Garrett will tap into that component of his skillset but I think he'll carefully pick his moments plus with the return of Saquon Barkley, the goal will be to give him as many touches as possible out of the backfield. Case in point, when Garrett was in Dallas in 2018 and 2019, he had Tavon Austin, who is also a versatile player that can be utilized in a variety of different roles. Austin appeared in 20 games in both of those seasons combined and received just 12 total carries. That's mainly because they had Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and he's by far their most dangerous weapon in that position.

View jersey numbers for the members of the Giants' 2021 rookie class. Note: jersey numbers are always subject to change.

Azeez Ojulari was the best value pick made by the Giants this year.

John Schmeelk: Fact - He was one of the highest value picks made in the entire draft. Ojulari was ranked by many analysts as the top edge rusher in the draft, and the Giants got him with the 50th overall pick (after trading down) as the seventh edge rusher taken in the draft. There's an argument to be made he had the best combination of health, pass rush skill and athletic ability at the position. Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah is the only other player in the second round that would come at similar value. It is not surprising that both those players were dealing with late reports of some speculation about their medicals.

Dan Salomone: Fiction - It's hard to get more value than Kadarius Toney at No. 20, especially considering the full trade package. They received the Bears' first-round and fifth-round choices in the 2021 draft, plus first- and fourth-round choices in the 2022 draft. They wanted to stockpile picks for next year – which they accomplished – but also got an immediate boost with Toney's dynamic play-making ability.

Lance Medow: Fact - Several outlets ranked Azeez Ojulari as the top pass rusher in this year's draft class so from that standpoint, to be able to walk away with a player of that stature with the 50th overall pick, I'd say that's great value. You also can't overlook that he fills a position of need as the Giants were looking to bolster their pass rush this offseason and add insurance with a few players returning from season-ending injuries sustained in 2020 such as Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines.

The position where rookies tend to make the biggest impact right away is edge rusher.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - It usually takes some time for edge rushers to round into shape as they add strength and figure out how to win against NFL caliber offensive tackles. There's a chance that some of these rushers won't face someone in their first season in the NFL that's worse than the best offensive tackle they faced as a collegian in 2020. It is a whole new ballgame and it can sometimes take a year or two for these players to round into form. Wide receivers and running backs tend to have bigger impacts in their first year in the league.

Dan Salomone: Fact - Wide receivers and running backs might make a bigger impact individually, but when you talk about the effect on teams' wins and losses, edge rushers can turn things around quickly for franchises.

Lance Medow: Fiction - You're not going to find a better success rate and greater impact across the NFL than at wide receiver. You don't even have to look that far if you take Darius Slayton into consideration. He was a fifth-round pick in 2019 and wound up leading the Giants in receiving yards (740) and receiving touchdowns (eight) that season. Look at the 2020 draft class overall. Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr and Chase Claypool are just a handful of names that made an immediate impact during their rookie campaigns. With the exception of Chase Young, you're not going to find the same depth and substances at edge rusher from last year's class.

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