Mike Freeman's NFL Draft Notebook: Giants' 'Inexcusable' Pick a Reach Too Far

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterApril 26, 2019

Duke quarterback Daniel Jones poses with his new jersey after the New York Giants selected Jones in the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Day 1 of the 2019 draft is complete. Who thrilled, who disappointed and who has a lot of explaining to do?

   

1. The Giants are rudderless

There were hints going into this year's NFL draft that the Giants were falling in lust with Duke quarterback Daniel Jones.

Scouts say they noticed at the combine that the team was paying a lot of attention to him. As time went on, talk about the Giants' infatuation with Jones continued. In the past few weeks, scouts tell me, the talk didn't subside.

But teams believed New York would take him later in the first round with its second pick, at No. 17, or even early in the second round. Most teams told me they viewed the 6'5", 221-pound junior as a massive project, thanks in large part to his accuracy issues while at Duke.

No one, and I mean no one, thought the Giants would take him at No. 6, which they did in one of the most jaw-dropping moves of Thursday night.

Around the league, there wasn't just a mocking of the Giants' selection; there was almost a sort of outrage.

"That pick was inexcusable," one AFC South front office executive texted me.

People around the league are shaking their heads in disbelief not only because Jones appears to be far from an NFL-ready product, but also because Giants general manager Dave Gettleman (who already engineered the stupid Odell Beckham Jr. trade) likely could have waited to take Jones. Look at the teams ahead of the Giants at 17: the Jaguars, Lions, Bills, Steelers (originally the Broncos), Bengals, Packers, Dolphins, Falcons, Washington and the Panthers.

Most wouldn't have considered Jones. Of those teams who needed a quarterback, Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins and Missouri's Drew Lock were still on the board. The odds are good Jones would have been available to the Giants.

And consider the players they could have drafted: Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Devin Bush or Christian Wilkins. Hell, they could have traded for Josh Rosen or drafted Haskins.

One of the more pervasive criticisms I heard of Gettleman's move was how it showed a total disregard for draft pick value.

Sometimes teams focus on trade value too much. If there's a guy a team likes, then go get him. 

But this move? Wilt Chamberlain didn't have this kind of reach.

This pick will have reverberations for the Giants for years to come, and chances are history won't be kind.

    

2. The guardrails are missing in Oakland

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 26: Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock of the Oakland Raiders of the North Team talk before the start of the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on January 26, 2019 in Mobile, Alabama. The North defeate
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock was supposed to be a grounding force for coach Jon Gruden.

Gruden has a reputation for making decisions based more on his feel than from objective information. Mayock was supposed to change that.

He apparently hasn't.

The Raiders took Clemson pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick, stunning many around the league (at least until the Giants surprised even more people two picks later). One NFC East scout I spoke to on Thursday night said he believes most teams had Ferrell in the 20-to-25 range in the first round.

The Raiders can say what they want publicly, but there is no way in hell this is a Mayock pick. This is Gruden all the way, acting on instinct.

Gruden trading for Antonio Brown was brilliant. This pick, at No. 4, was not.

    

3. Class act 

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

One positive from the Raiders' choice at No. 4 is that they selected a guy in Ferrell who could quickly become a team leader. Studious. Classy. Ferrell will be an asset to build a positive atmosphere for a Raiders team rebuilding under Gruden. Ferrell is a good person and will likely, at some point, command the Raiders locker room. That's a good thing.

    

4. Smoke screen city

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25:  Kyler Murray Oklahoma reacts after he was picked #1 overall by the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

That the Cardinals chose Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray did not come as a surprise to many. Before the draft and after the draft, teams told me the same thing: The Cardinals were always going to take Murray.

Teams believe, pretty strongly, that the Cardinals were sending out fake signals about their interest in a trade or taking one of the defensive stars early to perhaps entice teams to make a ridiculous offer. But they always loved him. And early Thursday night, they made that clear to everyone.

    

5. Murray is in good company

Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

The comparison between Murray and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is an obvious and fair one. Both are under 6'0" (Murray is 5'10"; Wilson is 5'11") and use their mobility to create a moving pocket. Both are also excellent athletes.

But Murray's playing style reminded even more people of a different quarterback, someone who's already in the Hall of Fame.

"He's Steve Young, not Russell Wilson," an NFC West coach texted me after the first round Thursday night.

    

6. Bosa has a lot to answer for

Vera Nieuwenhuis/Associated Press

Controversial social media activity from Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, who was drafted second overall by the 49ers, has drawn tons of scrutiny. His views are a different subject for a different day.

What was most interesting were his responses when asked about his activity.

"I was a little insensitive in some of the things I said," Bosa explained, according to a transcript provided by the 49ers, "so I've learned a lot in the past few months, and I'm just ready to move forward from that, put it in the past, and bring the faithful some wins."

When asked about liking a derogatory Instagram post, Bosa said: "I was a 16-year-old scrolling through my Instagram and I liked a picture of somebody I knew with a girl. There was nothing racist about the picture. Obviously, there were some bad things said in the hashtags, but obviously I didn't read those, and as a 16-year-old in high school you kind of don't think something like that will come back and bite you, so that's that."

Whoever coached Bosa in the art of media relations did a good job. He said all the right things. My guess is he will continue to do so.

    

7. The best way to stop an offensive revolution

Butch Dill/Associated Press

Four of the first five picks Thursday night were defensive players. This isn't the first time the top of a draft was defense-heavy, but the choices to bolster that side of the ball, some in the league tell me, were made with a purpose in mind.

The league continues to transition to a more offensive game, and teams aren't just going to let that happen without a fight. Notice the common theme among all of those defensive players drafted in the top five: incredible athleticism and speed. The Jets' Quinnen Williams, picked third overall, weighs 303 pounds and at the combine ran a 4.83 40-yard dash.

Increasingly, the league has passed rules to favor the offense, and now franchises are countering with overwhelming defensive firepower. It won't stop the path the NFL is on, but it might slow it down. At least for a while.

    

8. The best pick of the day?

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25:  Quinnen Williams of Alabama poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #3 overall by the New York Jets during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by A
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I asked seven personnel men on Thursday night who had the best pick of Round 1. Six said it was the Jets with Williams at No. 3. One said it was the Vikings, who took Garrett Bradbury—the center from North Carolina State—18th overall.

More to come tomorrow. 

      

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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