The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.
The Senior Bowl is the most important pre-draft event other than the combine for NFL teams.
John Schmeelk: Fact – You could even argue that the Senior Bowl is more important as an event because the players are actually playing football with pads on in practice and in the Senior Bowl game, itself. The Combine features all draft-eligible players, not just seniors, which makes it a bit more important. Putting numbers to times and measurements on players, along with the medical evaluations is also essential. But the Senior Bowl blows everything else out of the water. Rounds 2-4 of the NFL Draft are littered with players from the Senior Bowl, which also gets teams measurements on players and gives the teams the opportunity to get face time with every player at the game in formal and informal interviews.
Dan Salomone: Fiction – The great thing about the Senior Bowl is seeing how they compete in live drills, as opposed to running around in shorts. But it's unclear if there is one single event that is the most important because they're all valuable. Game tape, medical checks, and interviews are the three biggest items on the checklist. The first speaks for itself, the second is done at the combine, and the third happens in and out of Mobile.
Lance Medow: Fact – The scouting combine provides teams with opportunities to speak with prospects one on one and get a better idea of who they are off the field, but that it doesn't create a true competitive practice setting where the top offensive players are going up against defensive players with pads. That's why the Senior Bowl has a great deal of value. Even though it highlights only a small portion of the upcoming draft class, teams still have the chance to evaluate players in as close to a real football setting as possible. On top of that, the event in Mobile, Ala., also allows teams to meet with players in both formal and informal setups. When you take all those factors into consideration, you won't find another event like it leading up the draft.
The best characteristic of Senior Bowl prospects is their experience
John Schmeelk: Fiction – Experience is overrated. It's all about traits and seeing how those demonstrate on the field. The interviews help give teams the opportunity to figure out which players have the best chance to use those traits to meet their ultimate potential. It's all about heigh, weight, power, quickness, speed and how the players use those athletic traits to dominate on the football field. Determining those traits,and which players have the best chance of reaching their ceiling is the key to drafting well.
Dan Salomone: Fact – It also opens doors for the late bloomers who didn't break onto the scene right away and grab a lot of hype. Some players just need that experience.
Lance Medow: Fact – The draft, in general, is an inexact science. You can do all the necessary homework on a prospect but it's still far from a guarantee that the player will pan out on the NFL level. What better way to increase your chances of receiving a return on an investment than delving into players with multiple years of college experience. There's a reason it's called the Senior Bowl as it highlights a select group of players, who remained in school and likely saw the field for a nice portion of games. That volume is far more beneficial to study versus a player that has a much smaller sample size.
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Free agency will have a bigger impact than the draft on the Giants in this cycle
John Schmeelk: Fiction – It's always about the draft, even when a team is selecting 25th. The Giants have the following players hitting free agency in the next two off-seasons: Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Julian Love, Xavier McKinney, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and Adoree' Jackson. Assuming the Giants pick up Andrew Thomas' fifth-year option, he will be a free agent the following season. Many of those players are going to have to be paid at the top of the market at their position. The Giants will have to be prudent with their money to re-sign their own players, so how aggressive can they be in signing big-time free agents from other teams? It is essential, however, that the team fills out the roster with low-cost players on rookie deals to grow within the organization and become the backbone of the team. It's always about the draft. With that said, the single most event of the off-season will be whatever happens with Daniel Jones and his contract. It will be the basis behind everything else this team does the next few years in terms of team-building. Balance those two things out as you see fit.
Dan Salomone: Fact – Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports, and that's at the top of the offseason to-do list with Daniel Jones set to become a free agent. He is the first domino to fall.
Lance Medow: Fiction – The Giants are still working on moving toward a healthy cap situation that gives them the flexibility to pursue external candidates and invest in their own. Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Julian Love and others are scheduled to be free agents. If Joe Schoen determines he wants to bring nack the majority of them, that's going to require plenty of cap space. That's more of a reason why the Giants can rely on the draft to do most of their heavy lifting in roster building. It is also unlikely Schoen is in a rush to lock up a lot of cap space when he inherited a situation which didn't give him much wiggle room.
Tom Brady was Eli Manning's biggest individual rival
John Schmeelk – Fiction: You don't place other quarterbacks as an Eli Manning rival – he didn't directly play against them. Defensive players can be his rival. Darren Sharper was someone who haunted Manning for a long time. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox were players that were constant trouble. So was Malcolm Jenkins. The Cowboys had players such as Demarcus Ware. If you want to choose a quarterback, you would select someone in the NFC that Manning faced more often – perhaps Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or even someone in the division, maybe Tony Romo or even Donovan McNabb.
Dan Salomone: Fact – You can't talk about Eli Manning's career without mentioning Tom Brady. While they were never divisional rivals, his legacy has much to do with what he did against the greatest quarterback of all time. On the other side, you know Tom Brady will never get over those losses to Manning and the Giants, especially the one that spoiled the perfect season.
Lance Medow: Fiction – Eli Manning played 16 seasons in the NFL and collided with Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl twice as well as a few times during the regular season. Although some of those matchups occurred on the biggest stage, it's hard to justify Brady being his biggest individual rival when he went up against other quarterbacks and teams (especially in the NFC East) much more often. You can make a strong case for Tony Romo, given he was the Cowboys' main starter from 2006-15, which perfectly overlaps with Manning's career. Or maybe long-time Washington pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan, who sacked Eli (11.5) more than any other signal caller and recorded a Pick-6 off him in the 2011 season opener.
View the best practice photos from 2023 Senior Bowl Week in Mobile, Alabama.