Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

Giants 2018 draft: A future gold jacket in RB Barkley

Normally a NFL general manager plays his cards close to the vest when it comes to his draft strategy.

In the case of New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, the outgoing Boston native dropped numerous clues into his thinking all along, clues that can be best summed up in nine words.

Run the ball, stop the run, rush the passer.

The Giants’ first four picks in the draft — running back Saquon Barkley, guard Will Hernandez, outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle B.J. Hill — all check one of those boxes, and for head coach Pat Shurmur, that strategy certainly sounds very familiar.

The addition of Barkley in the first round and Hernandez in the second, who will join free-agent acquisitions like tackle Nate Solder and guard Patrick Omameh, especially has a familiar feel to it.

Shurmur, as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings last year, witnessed what an upgraded running game and offensive line could do for a football team.

The Vikings added two free-agent tackles (Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers), drafted center Pat Elflein, and added running back Dalvin Cook in the draft.

Within a year, the Vikings went from 8-8 and from ranking at or near the bottom of the league in both offensive production and rushing to a 13-3 mark and a place in the top half of the league in the two offensive categories.

“Eerily similar to a year ago, actually,” Shurmur said when asked if he saw enough to make a comparison. “Dave and I were just talking about it. A year ago in Minnesota, we went out and got two free agents and then we drafted Pat Elflein, who played at a level way above what a rookie would (normally) play.

“This year we went out and got two free agents and now we’ve drafted another offensive lineman and a year ago we brought in Dalvin Cook and we brought in Saquon Barkley. I don’t think it was planned that way, but it sort of worked out that way.”

As for the Giants’ defensive picks, Carter and defensive tackle B.J. Hill, not only do both check off the boxes for stopping the run and rushing the passer, Gettleman pointed to another important contribution the two rookies are projected to make.

“When I was in Carolina, we had eight guys, just roll them in and out, and the ability to keep those guys fresh is really a terrific thing,” Gettleman said. “It’s one of those deals where you’d like to keep your starters in around 75 percent. You’d like your backups to be good enough to be 25 percent. That’s the ideal world.

“You look at what Philly did last year, and they were rolling them in and out. What that does and the other thing that is the kind of unseen part of it is that if you’re playing Philadelphia and you’re an offensive lineman, you might see seven different guys in a pass-rush situation. Those guys better study for those seven different guys or else they’re going to get their fannies beat.”

Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta is the Giants’ fourth-round pick. In four college seasons for the Richmond Spiders, Lauletta passed for 10,465 yards, completing 758 of 1,194 pass attempts. He had 73 career touchdowns to 35 interceptions.

Lauletta will compete with Davis Webb, last year’s third-round pick, for the primary backup role behind Eli Manning. Lauletta’s presence likely ensures that the Giants will pass on adding a veteran quarterback as a potential backup to Manning.

The Giants’ final pick of the draft is Miami defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh. McIntosh is a versatile defender who fits either a 3-4 or a 4-3 defensive front and figures to be in the mix for the defensive end rotation, especially with Josh Mauro set to serve a four-game suspension to start the regular season.

While time will only tell if Gettleman’s first draft class as Giants general manager is a success, the optimism felt by the organization was probably best summed up by team chairman and executive vice president Steve Tisch.

“We’ve got a quarterback (Eli Manning), we’ve got a running back (Barkley) and we’ve got the Giants back!” he said.




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