The 2022 NFL Draft begins on April 28, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs, and pinpoints their potential 2022 NFL Draft targets. The New York Giants are the subject of today’s 2022 NFL Draft profile.
The 2021-22 season was expected to be the last for Giants general manager David Gettleman who was likely going to retire after the season. However, it ended up being the final year for Joe Judge was well after the team went 4-13 this past season. Judge was only the team’s head coach for two seasons. But the team performed so poorly under him they felt it was best to get a fresh start for both their general manager and head coach.
Quarterback Daniel Jones was expected to take a leap in his third after adding more weapons to the offense. Instead, Jones continued to raise doubts about if he could be the Giants’ long-term solution at quarterback. For the third season in a row, Jones missed extended time due to injury. In 11 games, Jones threw for 2,428 passing yards, ten passing touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm were under center for the Giants when Jones was out of the lineup.
Also for the third season in a row running back Saquon Barkley missed extended time due to injury. The former Pro Bowl running back has struggled with lower-body injuries since his third season in the league. It appears that the team hasn’t let him get completely healthy from injuries and it shows in his play once he returns. In 13 games Barkley rushed for 593 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. He also had 263 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Backup running back Devontae Booker was tied with Barkley for the team lead of 593 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Booker also had 268 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
New York added two receivers to their roster with premium assets last offseason. First, they signed former Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay to a four-year $72 million contract. Then the Giants traded back to the 20th overall pick to select Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Despite adding Golladay and Toney to their offense, New York’s pass catchers were riddled with injuries and without their top receivers for multiple games. Surprisingly, Golladay led the team in receiving despite having a disappointing first year with the team. Golladay had 37 receptions for 521 receiving yards no receiving touchdowns. It was shocking to see a receiver like Golladay who led the league in receiving touchdowns a few years ago have an entire season without catching one despite playing 14 games.
Veteran receiver Sterling Shepard was limited to only seven games due to multiple injuries. Kadarius Toney was limited to ten games but showed flashes throughout the season that he could be a very productive offensive weapon for the Giants. Former Pro Bowl tight end Evan Engram only played in 15 games and was basically a non-factor for New York’s offense despite all of their injuries. It is worth noting that fullback Elijah Penny was the only offensive skill player to play the full 17 game season for the Giants.
Last season New York’s defense was close to getting this team to the playoffs. This past season the Giants’ defense couldn’t do enough to keep the team competitive throughout the season. Rookie second-round pick Azeez Ojulari led the team with eight sacks. Former Pro Bowler Leonard Williams was second with 6.5 sacks. Second Year player Xavier McKinney led the Giants in interceptions with five and then former Pro Bowler James Bradberry was second with four interceptions.
The Giants did not retain a lot of their free agency. Multiple veteran free agents signed with other teams including Evan Engram (one year $9 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars), Austin Johnson (two years $14 million with Los Angeles Chargers), Logan Ryan (one year $1.1 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Lorenzo Carter (one year $3.5 million with the Atlanta Falcons), Jabrill Peppers (one year deal with the New England Patriots), and Will Hernandez (one year deal with the Arizona Cardinals).
Even though the Giants had limited cap space they were able to make a few signings to address needs on their roster. They signed former Indianapolis Colts guard Mark Glowinski (three years $18.3 million), former Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (two years $11 million), former Bills offensive lineman Jon Feliciano (one year $3.25 million), former Falcons tackle Matt Gono (one year $1.1875 million), former Bills running back Matt Breida (one year $1.1875 million), former Washington tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (one year $1.1875 million).
The trade New York made with the Chicago Bears last season netted them the seventh overall pick which is their second first-round pick in the top-10 selections of the 2021 draft. New Giants general manager Joe Schoen and new head coach Brain Daboll could use those selections to step the foundation for this rebuilding franchise.
2022 NFL Picks
New York will have nine picks to use in the 2022 NFL Draft
First Round (two picks): No. 5, No. 7
Second Round (one pick): No. 36
Third Round (two picks): No. 67, No. 81
Fourth Round (one picks): No. 112
Fifth Round (two picks): No. 147, No. 173
Sixth Round (one pick): No. 182
Seventh Round (zero picks):
Offensive Tackle- New York has done a great job signing veterans to plug up the holes on their offensive line. However, the Giants should look for a long-term answer at tackle that’ll push Matt Gono into a swing tackle role.
Edge Rusher- Pass rusher Lorenzo Carter left in free agency to sign with the Falcons. Prior to Carter signing elsewhere, the Giants needed a pass rusher to join second-year player Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams as the team’s primary pass rushers.
Tight End- The Evan Engram experiment was an overall failure in New York. Now that Engram and Kyle Rudolph are no longer with the team they need a tight end better than Ricky Seals-Jones to be a reliable pass catcher for Daniel Jones and a solid blocker in the running game.
Linebacker- Blake Martinez likely doesn’t have a long-term future with the team. Besides that, the Giants have needed an upgrade at inside linebacker for about a decade.
Safety- Both Jabril Peppers and Logan Ryan left in free agency leaving the Giants possibly looking for another safety. They could look for a third safety to play with Xavier McKinney and Julian Love.
Running Back- Saquon Barkley is going to be a free agent next offseason. Even if Barkley has a bounce-back season next year it seems unlikely he’ll return to New York. The Giants should look for a running back to backup Barkley and possibly emerge as the team’s starter next season.
Cornerback- Over the last few seasons the Giants have made a lot of investments in the cornerback position including signing James Bradberry, signing Adoree Jackson, drafting Darnay Holmes in the fourth round in 2020, and drafting Aaron Robinson in 2021. It is unclear how many if any of them could be a part of the team’s rebuild. New York could get a head start on rebuilding their secondary in this year’s draft.
2022 Draft Targets
Pick No. 5: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Due to the likelihood of multiple pass rushers being taken in the first four selections, there is a chance that Alabama tackle Evan Neal falls to the Giants at fifth overall. A few weeks ago Neal felt like a prospect that could be penciled in for the first overall pick to Jacksonville. He should be without a doubt a top-5 player on everyone’s draft boards and shouldn’t last long on draft night. Many scouts consider him the best pass blocker in this draft class and one of the best run blockers in the entire draft.
Neal’s positional versatility would be perfect for the Giants because he has experience at both tackle positions. Over the last two seasons, Neal was one of the best left and right tackles in college football. He also played guard earlier in his career at Alabama. New York could figure out which position Neal or 2020 first-round pick Andrew Thomas would be better lining up at next season in camp. Thomas can also play both tackle positions like Neal. However, the feeling would be that the Giants would play Neal at right tackle to keep Thomas at left tackle where he played very well last season.
New York’s offensive line would take a massive leap forward from last season if they added Neal to their line. Neal would be the best offensive lineman the Giants have had on their roster in at least a decade.
Pick No. 7: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
In recent weeks the Giants have become a potential landing spot for a defensive back in the first round. Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton was a trendy pick here, but the Giants are more likely to choose Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner for a few reasons. Hamilton’s forty time being in the 4.7’s is brutal for a defensive back and is hard to look past despite his elite tape. Also, New York may now need a cornerback because they are reportedly going to trade former Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry this offseason.
After scouts have watched tape on the top cornerbacks in this class it is clear that Gardner is the best cornerback in this class. He was a lockdown cornerback during his time at Cincinnati. Gardner did not allow a single touchdown during his three seasons with the Bearcats. He also didn’t allow more than 20 receiving yards a game to the receivers he went up against in coverage.
The Giants’ new brass could bring in a cornerback like Garnder thinking he could emerge as a key part of their defense like All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White has in Buffalo. White was drafted by the Bills drafted when Schoen and Daboll were both working with the team. Gardner would help New York lockdown the young talented receivers in the NFC East and be a foundational piece to their rebuilding defense.
Pick No. 36: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
New York has a lot of needs to address during the draft but they could take advantage of the best tight end in the draft being available to them early in the second round. The Giants could add Colorado State tight end Trey McBride to address their need at tight end. Not only is McBride a reliable pass catcher but he also showed at Colorado State that he is a very good blocker too. Of the tight ends in this class, McBride appears to have the safest floor as a prospect. He could have the reachest the highest ceiling among players in the position group years from now.
McBride fits the mold of most tight ends in the league, unlike Evan Engram who was an unorthodox player at the position. He could be the reliable option for Daniel Jones in the middle of the field that he has lacked so far in his career. McBride could also help open up rushing lanes for Saquon Barkley in the running game as well. Adding him to their talented receiver room should give Jones all the weapons he needs to succeed this season as long as they stay healthy. He showed during his time at Colorado State that he is capable of being a team’s best weapon on offense. For a Giants offense that is constantly dealing with injuries having a pass-catcher who could step into a major role if needed like McBride would be huge.
Pick No. 67: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
The Giants would be getting a steal if USC pass rusher Drake Jackson fell to them in the third round. Jackson never developed into that first-round edge rusher much thought he would be coming into this season. However, he still has all the tools to be a very talented player at the next level. New York needs to invest in a pass rusher that could contribute right away. Even though Jackson will require some growth at the next level, due to poor coaching at USC, he could be trusted to start for the Giants as soon as his rookie season. At the least, he should rotate with second-year player Quincy Roche opposite Azeez Ojulari.
Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has years of experience developing multiple pass rushers like Jackson who have the tools to be a successful pass rusher in the NFL during his time at Baltimore. A few of those players include Za’Darius Smith, Matthew Judon, and Odafe Oweh. He is the perfect coach to help Jackson refine his craft and develop into a high-level pass rusher for the Giants. If Jackson reaches his ceiling in New York he could challenge Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams for the title of the team’s best pass rusher. This could be a selection where people ask years from now how did other teams pass over Jackson in this draft.
Pick No. 81: Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
New York should not go into next season feeling comfortable with Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder as their starting linebackers. At the minimum, they should bring in some competition for one of their starting jobs in the draft. One player they could target is Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith.
During this draft process, Smith has gotten lost in an average linebacker group. However, during the combine, Smith showed scouts why he should be considered a priority mid-round pick with his outstanding athletic testing. Mockdraftable has compared Smith’s measurables to some very fast and athletic pass rushers who have come out in recent years. That athleticism is not common to find in a linebacker and could make him a hot commodity on the second day of the draft.
There have been rumblings about Smith possibly playing some safety at the next level with his speed and cover ability. He could fill the void left by Jabril Peppers on New York’s defense as a hybrid safety/linebacker who was used in the middle of the field in sub-packages. Smith could start off as a rotational player that works his way into a long-term starting role in the middle of this defense.
Last offseason in Baltimore defensive coordinator Wink Martindale took a chance on an athletic pass rusher from Penn State in the first round name Odafe Oweh who had an outstanding season. He could possibly go back to Penn State to land another athletic gem in Smith in the middle rounds to fill New York’s void at linebacker.