Pro Football Focus impressed by Giants' offseason
Heading into the offseason, it was clear that the Giants had several areas of the roster they were looking to address, whether it be through free agency or the draft.
Now with the draft complete and most free agents signed, it is safe to say the Giants vastly improved at several positions.
Let's start on offense. The Giants' first big splash in free agency was the addition of wide receiver Kenny Golladay. However, that was far from the team's only move to surround QB Daniel Jones with talented pass-catchers. Veterans Kyle Rudolph and John Ross were also brought in during free agency before the team used the No. 20 overall pick in the draft to select Kadarius Toney.
With those four players now in the fold, Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey ranked the Giants as the second-most improved receiving corps of the offseason.
As Linsey writes, "Kenny Golladay was the last true X receiver on the free-agent market after Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin had received the franchise tag. He is the kind of player the Giants were missing in 2020. Golladay's 53 contested catches over the past three seasons are second only to Robinson at the position, even with all the missed time in 2020. He's a downfield, jump-ball threat Jones can trust in 50-50 situations.
The Giants followed that splash free-agent signing by spending their first-round pick on another wide receiver. Per Zack Rosenblatt, Toney said that he models his game after Alvin Kamara, and like Kamara, his after-the-catch ability is rare. That's something New York needed to add at wide receiver. The Giants' wide receivers averaged 3.0 yards after the catch per reception in 2020, dead last in the NFL. Toney should help turn that number around.
Veteran free-agent additions like Kyle Rudolph and John Ross round out the new incoming class."
Another area of focus heading into the offseason was the secondary. Veteran Adoree' Jackson was signed a week into free agency before the Giants selected Aaron Robinson in the third round and Rodarius Williams in the sixth round of last weekend's draft.
With those three players now available to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, PFF's Linsey listed the Giants as one of the most improved secondaries this offseason.
As Linsey writes, "Don't look now, but the Giants currently boast of the deepest secondaries in the NFL. They've consistently added pieces to the unit in recent years via trade (Jabrill Peppers), free agency (James Bradberry and Logan Ryan) and the draft (Xavier McKinney, Julian Love and Darnay Holmes). That only continued this offseason with the additions of Adoree' Jackson following his surprise release from the Tennessee Titans and cornerbacks Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jackson missed most of the 2020 season due to injury, but he was developing into one of the better young cornerbacks in the NFL prior to last season. He graded at 73.0 or higher in each of his first three seasons and entered last season off a career-high 82.5 grade in coverage. Few receivers beat him deep. Since entering the league in 2017, Jackson has allowed just 14 receptions on passes 20-plus yards downfield while forcing 18 incompletions (second-most in NFL).
Robinson and Williams both appear to be good values at where they were selected, as well. Robinson has a good chance to compete for the starting slot job — a position he manned at UCF. His size and experience in press coverage will also give him an opportunity to compete outside.
Williams is an older prospect, turning 25 in September, but his 2020 performance at Oklahoma State was good enough to warrant Day 2 consideration by itself. He allowed 10 receptions across nine games this past year and has an interesting man coverage skill set.
Those secondary additions paired with a revamped receiving corps have the Giants looking like an intriguing team heading into next season."
As if that weren't enough, Pro Football Focus' praise of the Giants continued with Michael Renner's 10 best player fits of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The players to make this list "found perfect homes after the 2021 NFL Draft," according to PFF's lead draft analyst. It should come as no surprise that the Giants' selection of Azeez Ojulari in the second round was one of the great player-team fits that Renner discussed.
"The Giants are among the few teams that still have a true 3-4 outside linebacker role in their defense," writes Renner. "Last year, Kyler Fackrell dropped into coverage over eight snaps a game. Ojulari is more than athletic enough to do that at 249 pounds while also being a weapon off the edge as a rusher. His 91.5 pass-rushing grade was the best in this draft class."
View photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.
College coach: RB Gary Brightwell can do it all
Not under Joe Judge.
Since the day he took over as head coach, Judge has put an emphasis on the kicking game. This comes as no surprise following 10 combined years of experience on special teams at Alabama and the New England Patriots.
Judge has repeatedly said the team is looking for guys to play those important positions on special teams, and it sounds like that is exactly what the Giants got in sixth-round RB Gary Brightwell.
Brightwell played in 26 games for Arizona over the last three years, picking up 1,305 yards on 245 rush attempts (5.3 avg.) with nine touchdowns. However, the 5-foot-11 back truly made his mark on the Wildcats' special teams units.
Jeremy Springer, now the special teams coordinator at Marshall, served as Arizona's ST coordinator from 2018-20 and told Big Blue Kickoff Live about his admiration for Brightwell.
"I'll tell you this, when I got to Arizona in 2018, he was one of the guys after my first Spring that just stood out as a kid with a lot of natural instinct when it comes to special teams," Springer said. "He was a great running back for us, but often as me being special teams coordinator, that's what I look at. He could do it all. He's one of those guys that I was able to plug and play through his career at any position on any special teams…
"He's all in, as well. A guy that came into practice, doesn't say much. He's a quiet kid, and you like that about him. A quiet kid but works his tail off. He worked his tail off for us, practiced hard, understands the game. And when it comes to game time, that's where he stands out the most and why he was so special for us at Arizona."
The Draft Network's Jordan Reid believes Giants found value in draft haul
The Draft Network's Jordan Reid joined John Schmeelk on the Giants Huddle Podcast to discuss the team's draft haul, in which Reid believes the Giants did a great job in finding value between its six selections and numerous trades.