inside the giants

Why Brian Daboll’s Giants success may depend on the 2021 draft class

Every newly hired NFL regime largely is evaluated on how it develops the team’s handpicked incoming players.  For Giants general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll, the evaluation process begins with this year’s modest crop of veteran free agents, the 11 players selected in the 2022 NFL Draft and whichever rookie free agents make the cut.

Schoen and Daboll will not get off that neatly, though. There is unfinished business left from the previous front office execs and coaches, and, like it or not, how the new leadership group advances the careers of those leftover Giants could define how quickly the franchise gets turned around.

Put another way: How the 2021 draft class progresses this season could be more vital to immediate and long-term success than how the 2022 draft class gets out of the gates as rookies.

Of course, the Giants want their 2022 draft picks to hit, hoping No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux can show legitimate, NFL-caliber pass rush skills and No. 7 selection Evan Neal can move in at right tackle and be a reliable run blocker and pass protector. But the reality with Thibodeaux is that it often takes rookies a full season to figure out how to get to the quarterback at the next level (to wit: Michael Strahan had one sack in nine games in 1993, Osi Umenyiora had one sack in 13 games in 2003 and Justin Tuck had one sack in 14 games in 2005). And anyone expecting Neal to make a seamless transition must have forgotten how Andrew Thomas struggled in 2020 to find his footing at left tackle.