The 2021 New York Giants need to add depth to many positions in order to make a decent run at the NFC East title. Head Coach Joe Judge led the team to a 6-10 record, which is better than it sounds. The NFC East was a disaster on all accounts and the Giants still finished second in the division. At this rate, the division title is up for grabs by anyone. With former ROY RB Saquon Barkley returning from a torn ACL, the New York Giants have a good shot to make the playoffs next year.
QB Daniel Jones didn’t quite make the sophomore leap yet. He regressed in his second season and dealt with lingering injuries. Some say it was because he lost his trusted sidekick in Saquon Barkley. Others link it to having a young offensive line that lacked Nate Solder (opt-out). Both are valid, along with a TE in Evan Engram who kept dropping passes and a less than stellar WR group.
New York leaned heavily on their 2020 NFL draft class, having three rookies start on the offensive line. First-rounder Andrew Thomas was not ready to start at all his first year and it showed. Offseason acquisitions James Bradberry and Blake Martinez panned out at least and were some of the few highlights of the season.
Gaining pressure off the edge, having reliable talented hands for Daniel Jones to throw to, and finding someone to pair with Bradberry are some of the 2021 New York Giants’ top needs during the offseason.
2021 New York Giants Team Needs: Plus Predictions
Pro Bowler Evan Engram Loses Targets
When you look at Evan Engram, some people are going to say he was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2020 and that means he is a lock to be the top receiver for the New York Giants. For starters, the Pro Bowl has zero value these days. Secondly, most call Engram’s selection a blunder and a fluke. His stats were 63 catches for 654 yards and just one touchdown. Factor in eleven drops that led to three turnovers and it’s a mystery how he won over Green Bay Packers Robert Tonyan (52 catches for 586 yards, 11 TDs, and zero drops.
If Engram had better ball control and finishing the catch, the New York Giants might have won the NFC East and gone to the playoffs. There was little competition on the roster at the time but 2021 should bring a position battle during camps. He’s worthy of being a good starter but there is an immediate need for improvement or a secondary option at TE.
There’s a little wiggle room left in the cap if free agency has any enticing TEs available on a budget. Trey Burton is the best available option right now and could be a bargain TE2. Tyler Eifert might be a better pair for Engram, serving as the red zone threat. Jesse James would be suitable if the Giants wait until the last minute to add depth.
Kyle Pitts is by far the best TE prospect in this year’s draft and New York has a real shot at selecting him with the 11th pick. New York could even trade away Engram if they landed Pitts. However, I just don’t see the Giants using a top-15 pick on a TE with other needs.
Hunter Long is another hot prospect but I have a feeling he won’t be around when New York is ready. Brevin Jordan could be a nightmare for Evan Engram and a weapon this team wants later in the draft. He can be a proficient blocker and cause damage with after-the-catch yardage. No matter who it is, it would be a smart move to sign a talented TE to rival Engram and at least push him to improve.
New York Giants Sink or Swim with Youthful OL
Andrew Thomas was selected in the first round last year, fourth overall and a bit high if you ask most scouts. Another tackle, Matt Peart, was picked in the third round, and Shane Lemieux in the fifth round. Nick Gates went undrafted in 2018 and serves as the centerpiece for this young crew while Will Hernandez was selected in the second round of 2018 as well. At 32 years of age, Nate Solder is the lone veteran presence and will likely take over the starting job from Thomas.
Two second-year players, two fourth-year players, and an 11-year vet who took last year off due to the pandemic. This is the projected starting lineup to protect Daniel Jones and open lanes up for Saquon Barkley. Are you as unimpressed as I am?
Gates gave up zero sacks last year in his first year as the starter, but the rest of the line is shaky at best. Will Hernandez lost his role to rookie Shane Lemieux in 2020 but both will be the starting guards this year. Hernandez is hoping to prove his worth after being beaten out by the rookie. Peart and Lemieux played fine but neither were great at their respective positions. As for Thomas, he’s just lucky he isn’t labeled as a total bust yet. Hopefully, he can take advantage of watching and learning from Solder (something he would have benefited from last year).
The New York Giants allowed 50 sacks in 2020, the second most. With Daniel Jones trying to break out into his own, this is a step in the wrong direction. The guys tasked with protecting the QB are hampering his progression as a player. Does the team invest in yet another top pick into the already young OL?
Look at the current OL free agents left and none of them stand out as being a fit. Russell Okung, Alejandro Villanueva, Eric Fisher, and Mitchell Schwartz are either going to be expensive or are past their prime and not worth the time. One of these guys could be brought into the building later as a cheap veteran presence and depth, at the very least.
It’s also not wise to select OL before Day 3 of the draft. You paid the price for these young prospects and have to ride it out. There’s been some promise within them and they could end up evolving over time along with Daniel Jones. The team may just have to bite the bullet on Thomas failing as a future star in the end.
Depth at every position is a concern though and should be a route in the draft. There is a list of C/G/T that could provide serviceable depth and will be found in Rounds four through seven. Aaron Banks or Ben Cleveland would be great rotational guards while David Moore could be a late-round steal to backup Nick Gates.
2021 New York Giants Team Needs: NFL Draft
Upon restructuring Nate Solder’s contract, the New York Giants have around $11.5 million to work with in free agency. It’s not a ton of money to move around but they can bring in a few depth pieces. The bulk of their roster improvements will come from the draft. Joe Judge went heavy OL and LB in his first draft as HC, selecting three LBs in the seventh round alone (most of rotational/depth players). His second draft has to be more balanced and focus on specific needs.
The 2021 New York Giants primary needs are wide receiver, edge rusher, tight end, and cornerback. Other positions to consider are offensive line and running back.
Judge decided against bringing in an exciting new receiver last year but there is a need for strong talent here. John Ross was signed via free agency but he’s a mere slot guy. Golden Tate wasn’t brought back, leaving Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton as the two returning starters. Don’t knock these guys either, but neither guy had over 800 yards last year. With the signing of Kenny Golladay, Daniel Jones has a legit WR1 he can rely on whenever he needs a big play.
With the 11th pick, the New York Giants could still select Rashod Bateman or Terrace Marshall. There are some nice developmental guys like D’Wayne Eskridge or Austin Watkins, available around the end of day two that could provide depth to the roster.
Don’t let the stat sheets lead you astray when it comes to sacks. The team was 13th in the NFL with 40, which isn’t a bad number at all. Leonard Williams accounted for 11.5 of those but the second-most was Dexter Lawrence and Kyler Fackrell, each with four. Williams can’t be expected to do it all and there have to be others on the defense who can pressure the QB and get them to the dirt.
OLB Lorenzo Carter wasn’t consistent and Oshane Ximines is getting benched for FA Ifeadi Odenigbo. Odenigbo is young and had seven sacks in 2019. Azeez Ojulari would be a smart move in the first round who can get off the edge quickly with raw athleticism.
James Bradberry was an excellent pickup last year but doesn’t have anyone who he can pair with inside the secondary to make him even more effective. There was a rotation of starters last year but none really stuck. The Giants allowed the ninth-best completion percentage to opposing QBs in 2020. Ifeatu Melifonwu and Greg Newsome could compliment Bradberry well and also give the entire secondary a boost.
2021 New York Giants Mock Draft
Round 1- #11- Azeez Ojulari- LB- Georgia
Round 2- #42- Ifeatu Melifonwu- CB- Syracuse
Round 3- #76- D’Wayne Eskridge- WR- Western Michigan
Round 4- #117- Aaron Banks- G- Notre Dame
Round 6- #196- Kylin Hill– RB- Miss State
Round 6- #201- Jonathan Adams Jr– WR- Arkansas State
Thanks for reading my article on the 2021 New York Giants team needs and predictions!
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New York Giants.