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Mailbag: Will Giants add a receiver in the draft?

mailbag

Ian in Pennsylvania: Do you think the Giants should get a wide receiver in the draft instead of a free agent?

John Schmeelk: This is a question we will be discussing throughout the off-season. Why? Both the NFL Draft and the free agent market have a number of high-end options who have the potential to be game-changing players for the Giants.

These are players that could hit the free agent market at wide receiver this Spring if they aren't re-signed or tagged by their current teams: Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Juju Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay, Sammy Watkins, TY Hilton, Will Fuller and AJ Green. It is a highly productive and talented group with various skills.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, there are several receivers who could be taken in the first round, including DeVonta Smith, Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore, Chris Olave, and Terrace Marshall Jr. Others could sneak their way into the round, too, and there are always more that make an impact on the second and third days of the draft.

It is difficult to say which avenue is better for the Giants since no one knows where the salary cap will land and how much space they will have. The Giants may not have much cap space left if they re-sign Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, or they might decide on grabbing players in free agency.

The good news is that the immediate success of last year's draft class will allow the Giants the freedom to choose either avenue without the fear of waiting for production. NFL offenses more closely resemble college offenses than before, allowing receivers to contribute earlier in their careers.

Justin Jefferson gained 1,400 yards in 2020. Tee Higgins, Ceedee Lamb and Chase Claypool topped 900 yards, and Jerry Jeudy surpassed 850. Despite injuries early in the season, Brandon Aiyuk managed over 700 yards. Four other players had more than 500 yards receiving. Whether the Giants select someone 11th or wait until the 43rd or 75th overall pick, the Giants can get a player who can help them right away.

 If the Giants' scouting staff determines they can get a game-changing wide receiver with one of their early picks and can secure them on a rookie contract, it is certainly a more cost-effective option than signing one in free agency.

James in South Carolina: I would like to know what's happened to rookie linebacker T.J. Brunson. I thought he was super good at South Carolina. How is he doing and what kind of playing time did he get this year?

John Schmeelk: Brunson only played two snaps on defense – they came against Washington in Week 9. He played substantial special teams snaps in Weeks 7, 8, 9, 16 and 17 and totaled 53 for the season. The coaching staff preferred to play Tae Crowder on defense, while Brunson played a bigger special teams role. Brunson may have to beat out Crowder and David Mayo to get regular snaps next to Blake Martinez at inside linebacker on next season's depth chart.

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