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Any evaluation of the Giants’ draft class has to begin with this: It’s likely going to look a lot different in 2023. Because once they got past the first few picks, they didn’t load up with players expected to have an immediate impact. They’re looking towards the future.
But that doesn’t mean this draft wasn’t about this year, too.
In fact, a closer look shows many of these new Giants could, and maybe should, have at least something of a role in the 2022 season. They won’t all have big roles and most of them won’t be guaranteed, but there are definitely opportunities available for the right players.
So here’s a look at the 11 players in this Giants draft class, what to expect from them, and where (and when) they’ll fit in:
DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (First round, 5th overall)
There’s no doubt about the impact the Giants expect Thibodeaux to have. They have been searching for a reliable, maybe dominant pass rusher since the day they traded away Jason Pierre-Paul.
Thibodeaux is their great hope, and they think his numbers could be big in the hyper-aggressive Wink Martindale defense. Thibodeaux is a lock starter on the opposite side of Azeez Ojulari for what they hope will be a dangerous, 1-2 punch off the edge that clears some room for Leonard Williams, too.
OT Evan Neal (First round, 7th overall)
They had to draft a starting right tackle and they did. There won’t be any competition. He’ll get the job the moment he puts on his new jersey. There’s really no one else on the roster. Matt Gono, Korey Cunningham and Matt Peart, if he’s healthy, can battle for the backup role.
Maybe long term there’ll be some questions about whether they want Neal to stay on the right or switch places with Andrew Thomas. But not now. The right tackle spot belongs to Neal.
WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Second round, 43rd overall)
He is easily the most intriguing of the Giants’ picks, and not just because he’s a 5-8 receiver who seemed like a bit of a reach. He’s also intriguing because Brian Daboll seems legitimately excited about how he’ll be able to use him. It remains to be seen how he will, of course, but he does seem to have some ideas.
The best guess is he’ll play out of the slot and be a gadget receiver. He still ranks fourth in the pecking order if everyone is healthy, behind Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard. Of course, the health of those three is no guarantee. Robinson’s role could end up being big, even if it’s a bit of a mystery right now.
G Joshua Ezeudu (Third round, 67th overall)
The Giants filled the interior of their line with veteran free agents, including guards Mark Glowinski and Max Garcia. Most likely, Glowinski and Garcia will start but don’t be shocked if Ezeudu pushes Garcia at some point, maybe even in training camp.
The Giants like him that much and think his impact could come sooner than later. That will depend on how he performs this summer, of course, and whether Daboll is more comfortable with a veteran blocking for Daniel Jones. But the opportunity is there.
CB Cor’Dale Flott (Third round, 81st overall)
There are a lot of variables in how and wear the 6-1, 175-pound Flott fits in, including whether he adds some muscle between now and the start of the season. The biggest variable, though, is James Bradberry. If he sticks around, he’ll start with Adoree’ Jackson and Flott will have to battle with Darnay Holmes, Aaron Robinson, Rodarius Williams and others for the nickelback job.
If Bradberry is cut or traded, though, a starting job is suddenly open. Flott would have a chance at that, but it would be a wild, multi-player battle for that spot all summer long.
TE Daniel Bellinger (Fourth round, 112th overall)
The Giants are going to find out quickly what they have here because they don’t have a very good or deep tight end corps. They are probably going to start Ricky Seals-Jones, but they’ll want to see if Bellinger can be better.
Some scouts think he’s more of a blocking tight end than a receiver, and he certainly wasn’t a prolific receiver at San Diego State. He was reliable, though, and made some tough catches in traffic. That could be enough to make him the starter before long.
S Dane Belton (Fourth round, 114th overall)
His opportunity is obvious because the Giants have only three safeties on their roster. No, he won’t start ahead of Xavier McKinney and Julian Love, so his exact role will be determined by how much Martindale uses either rotation of safeties or three-safety alignments.
His versatility will help, since he lined up as a safety, corner and linebacker in college. He had a nose for the ball at Iowa, with five interceptions last season. That could help him find a place on the field, too.
LB Micah McFadden (Fifth round, 146th overall)
The Giants do have a lot of depth at linebacker, even if the quality isn’t clear. McFadden is now a big part of that, which could be important considering Blake Martinez is still recovering from a torn ACL.
McFadden’s real spot could be to compete for the MLB job in 2023, but he certainly will have a chance to crack the inside rotation with Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin and others. It all depends on how many linebackers Martindale wants to use and how he’ll use them.
DT D.J. Davidson (Fifth round, 147th overall)
Unlike at linebacker, the Giants are not deep on the defensive line. Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence are locks for two spots, and they brought in Justin Ellis to likely play the other. But Davidson’s size (6-3, 327) and ability to stop the run could be valuable.
He likely won’t be much of a help on passing downs, but he could see the field as part of the rotation on early downs and in short-yardage situations.
G Marcus McKethan (Fifth round, 173rd overall)
This was most definitely a future pick, as the Giants look to add to the young talent base on their offensive line (a base that mostly didn’t exist in recent years). They like the potential and size of this 6-6, 340 pounder, but he needs some time to work on his techniques.
That’s fine because the Giants not only have their likely starting five, but they also have some veteran depth now. Theoretically, if Ezeudu can push for a starting job than McKethan has an opening too, but he’s not expected to do that this year. Maybe in 2023.
LB Darrian Beavers (Sixth round, 182nd overall)
It’s hard to say whether the 6-4, 237-pound Beavers fits on the outside or inside in the Giants’ defensive scheme, but it probably doesn’t matter because his real fit is on special teams. If he sees the field on defense at all he’ll have to battle a bunch of young linebackers like McFadden, Crowder, Coughlin, T.J. Brunson and Quincy Roche.
The upside for him is he was picked by this Giants regime, which is often an advantage. But he’s still got a long road to stay off the inactive list and an even longer road to get on the field.