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The Giants didn’t need the No. 2-overall pick or three first-rounders to make a splash in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Unlike the past three drafts of general manager Dave Gettleman’s tenure, the Giants didn’t act over-aggressive or defy the scouting consensus with bold picks.
This felt very much like a “let the board come to us” philosophy — and the Giants could be rewarded for it this upcoming season and in the future, after adding three extra picks in the 2022 draft.
Round 1, No. 20 overall: Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
The trade back from No. 11 to pick up a 2022 first-rounder plus two other picks is an A+. The player? More of a B+ because of questions of whether he fits a playbook light on pre-snap motion, whether WR was the right fit after signing free agent Kenny Golladay, and some character and injury concerns.
Round 2, No. 50 overall: Azeez Ojulari (OLB, Georgia)
Another trade down from No. 42 netted a third-rounder in 2022. The Giants filled their biggest need with a pass-rusher who was in the discussion for pick No. 11 at one point. He led the SEC in tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles. He never missed a game at Georgia, though some teams were scared off by a recently diagnosed arthritic knee.
Round 3, No. 71 overall: Aaron Robinson (CB, Central Florida)
Rare five-year college player who began his career at Alabama. Robinson immediately will challenge 2020 fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes to start in the slot but can bump to the outside if necessary. He tackles more like a safety and will bump-and-run with receivers.
Round 4, No. 116 overall: Elerson Smith (OLB, Northern Iowa)
It’s hard to figure why the Giants didn’t address the offensive line to start off Day 3, when three tackles and a guard went later in the fourth and they were staring at an 80-pick gap. Smith had 21.5 tackles for loss (14 sacks) and five forced fumbles in 2019 before the 2020 FCS fall football season was postponed due to COVID-19.
Round 6, No. 196 overall: Gary Brightwell (RB, Arizona)
The Giants needed a young running back — none drafted since Saquon Barkley in 2018 — with special teams ability. Brightwell played on all four units in the past and cares about the “hidden yards.” Right up Joe Judge’s alley. Just 264 career offensive touches — 19 receptions — so he should have fresh legs entering the NFL.
Round 6, No. 201 overall: Rodarius Williams (CB, Oklahoma State)
Williams will turn 25 in the first month of the season and is the older brother of 2019 second-round pick Greedy Williams of the Browns. Like Robinson, he connected with the Giants at the Senior Bowl. Oklahoma State’s record-holder with 48 straight starts played a lot of man-to-man coverage and defended 33 passes. Not much special teams experience.
Overall draft class grade: A