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Fact or Fiction: Most improved unit after draft

1. The most improved unit following the draft is the offensive line.

John Schmeelk: Fiction -- In three years, the answer to this question could very well be "fact", but I'm not sure it is today. Andrew Thomas provides an immediate upgrade at offensive tackle, but I would not expect Matt Peart to get significant playing time this season. He might even slot behind Cameron Fleming on the depth chart. Despite the plan to try Shane Lemieux at center, I cannot count on him to upgrade a position he has never played before in a game. The Giants defensive backfield, however, might have added two immediate contributors. Xavier McKinney's multi-position versatility will allow Patrick Graham to move him, Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love around the field like chess pieces. Darnay Holmes has a real chance to win the starting nickel job as he competes with Corey Ballentine and Grant Haley, both of whom shared that spot last season.

Dan Salomone: Fact – This was the shot in the arm the Giants needed to fix the offensive line "once and for all", as general manager Dave Gettleman said. Yes, you can create a championship-caliber offensive line without using the fourth overall pick in the draft – see: 2007 and 2011 – but it strikes a tone when you invest this heavily. Andrew Thomas became the highest offensive lineman drafted by the Giants since they selected Ohio State's John Hicks third in 1974. It didn't stop there. Three of the Giants' first five picks were offensive linemen. The offensive line sets the tone of the team, and the Giants sent a pretty clear message last weekend.

Lance Medow: Fact -- The Giants used three of their 10 picks to address the offensive line. That tells you the team was looking to improve and address that group. Between Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart, the Giants may have found the bookends to the offensive line for years to come, starting immediately. Both players have the ability to play on either side given their experience at the collegiate level. Shane Lemieux provides the Giants with another interior lineman who also has the ability and upside to serve as a center. When you take into consideration the toughness, size and versatility of those three players, there is now additional competition at various spots and attractive options to start immediately.

2. "Versatile" is the word you'd use to best describe the Giants' 2020 draft class.

Schmeelk: Fiction -- Xavier McKinney is certainly versatile, but I'm not sure I would label the rest of the class that way. When I think of a player as being versatile, I consider their ability to be used different ways from play to play to give their team an advantage. Even though Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart can play right and left tackle, it's unlikely they would move side to side within a game. I see Darnay Holmes, especially given his size, as primarily a nickel cornerback. Shane Lemieux might cross train at center, but he only played left guard in college. The Giants' picks in rounds six and seven, other than McKinney, might be the most versatile in the class.

Salomone: Fact – It's not just about playing a lot of positions and flying around all over the field. It's about the ability to adapt to schemes and game plans, week-to-week and even quarter-to-quarter in games. That's real versatility. Joe Judge wants the ability to run it 50 times one week and throw it 50 times the next. That requires a certain type of offensive lineman, for example. The same goes for defenders. One week, they will blitz heavily. The other, they will cover. Top to bottom, whether it was a one-position lineman or a multi-tool defensive back, the Giants went heavy on versatility, which was a major theme of this draft cycle around the league.

Medow: Fact -- I think versatility is an appropriate term for the entire draft class. Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart can play both tackle positions on the offensive line, and Shane Lemieux has already been preparing himself to take reps at other spots, especially center. Xavier McKinney was moved around consistently in Alabama's defense and has experience playing safety, in the slot and close to the line of scrimmage. While Darnay Holmes mainly played on the outside in UCLA's defense, at the Senior Bowl, he showcased his ability to man the nickel cornerback position, which is likely where he'll compete for a starting spot on defense. Cam Brown played all three linebacker spots in Penn State's defense and has a great deal of length at 6-5. The same can be said for TJ Brunson based on what he was asked to do within South Carolina's complex defensive scheme. Carter Coughlin was a hybrid linebacker at Minnesota and even dropped back in coverage, while his teammate Chris Williamson saw reps at both corner and safety. Tae Crowder was recruited at Georgia to play running back yet converted to linebacker. If that doesn't spell out versatility, then I don't know what does.

View photos of the entire 10-member New York Giants 2020 Draft Class

3. The Day 3 pick that intrigues you the most is CB Darnay Holmes.

Schmeelk: Fact -- Nickel cornerback is a starting position in the modern NFL. At just under 5-10 and 195 pounds, Holmes perfectly fits the size and athletic profile for the position. Holmes was one of the top cornerback recruits from his high school class along with Jeffrey Okudah. Holmes is a smart player who graduated UCLA in only three years. What makes him intriguing is that he did not play inside much at UCLA, so the position change will be a transition for him. If he can make it smoothly, there's a chance he could be a real contributor in his first season.

Salomone: Fiction – While Holmes' obsession with chess to train his mind is certainly intriguing, how about seventh-rounder Carter Coughlin. "No, I've never met [Giants' two-time Super Bowl champion head coach Tom Coughlin], and we are not related," Coughlin said, "but I've got a bunch of people that have been asking me that over social media."

At Minnesota, Coughlin played the team's "RUSH" position, which is a hybrid of outside linebacker mixed with defensive end. It allowed him to drop into coverage, get after the quarterback, play off tight ends and make plays near the line of scrimmage. "I loved the RUSH position," said Coughlin, who was high school teammates with Giants second-year linebacker Ryan Connelly in Minnesota. The Giants drafted seven players on the final day of the draft (Rounds 4-7), and six of them play defense. Coughlin was the first of four picks made in the final round alone.

"The theme of the day was speed," Judge said. "[Coughlin is] a guy that gives us more speed on the edge. He brings some length with him. He plays with a high motor and a lot of aggressiveness. He was productive in Minnesota's scheme and with the way we are going to play guys on the edge in different packages, he's someone with a lot of value. He will come in here and compete."

Medow: Fiction -- I like Darnay Holmes' aggressiveness on film, and his ability and desire to play the nickel cornerback spot makes him an intriguing player, but let's also not forget Holmes was a fourth-round pick. That's why I'm going to go with one of the team's seventh-round choices: Carter Coughlin out of Minnesota. In four years with the Golden Gophers, Coughlin collected 22.5 career sacks and eight forced fumbles and proved to be a very disruptive player. Minnesota used him as a hybrid linebacker and played him on the line of scrimmage as well as in coverage. He can contribute on special teams right away and perhaps carve out a role on defense down the road. His versatility makes him an extremely intriguing player.

4. The undrafted rookie that intrigues you the most is WR Austin Mack.

Schmeelk: Fact -- In a wide receiver class that was very deep, Mack might have been a sixth round pick in a typical draft. Ohio State has become very adept at developing good wide receivers who perform well in the NFL, even if they do not put up awe-inspiring numbers as a Buckeye (see: Terry McLaurin). Brian Hartline is the wide receiver coach at OSU and does excellent work instilling the importance of the nuances of route running, and Austin Mack is no exception. Mack only ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the combine, but he has 33 and 5/8 inch arms, giving him a large catch radius. I can see him developing into a good receiver in the short to intermediate area in the middle of the field to get much needed yardage in critical situations.

Salomone: Fiction – Running back Javon Leake of Maryland is certainly a name to keep in the back of your mind. The 6-0, 206-pounder averaged 8.3 yards per carry in college and 25.2 yards on kickoff returns, three of which he returned for touchdowns. Aside from his special teams value, you can never have enough running backs these days. Each brings a unique element to the game to keep defenses honest.

Medow: Fiction -- I'm going to go with Austin Mack's teammate and fellow Ohio State wide receiver Binjimen Victor (which should still make Dan Salomone and the rest of Buckeyes nation very happy). Victor has two inches on Mack and if there's anything the Giants could use in that receiver room, I'd argue it's a bit more size and a potential red zone target. Like Mack, Victor also had a career-year in 2019 as he posted college bests in receptions (35) and receiving yards (573) while accounting for six touchdowns. Victor's playing time increased each and every season in Columbus and no surprise his stats followed that lead. It also doesn't hurt that he has plenty of experience playing in one of college football's Power Five conferences, the Big Ten.

View photos of every undrafted free agent signed by the Giants.


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