My Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) ballot went in last week, and it showed the New York Giants did a decent job with its 2018 NFL Draft Class.
Usually, when completing these ballots, the New York Giants get a little home cooking, as far as local media contributors go. Part of the reason for that dynamic is the simple fact that you are witness to all 16 games. You have a first-hand look at each of the team’s players on a weekly basis.
So when you’re asking me to compare the No. 1 and No. 2 selections in the NFL Draft, I personally saw Big Blue running back Saquon Barkley play in every game. Compare that with the half dozen games where I saw Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield play.
No doubt that both deserve inclusion on the All-Rookie team, but who was the Offensive-Rookie-of-the-Year?
According to a recent ESPN poll, that distinction went to Mayfield, yet instead I voted for Barkley in the PFWA poll.
“Mayfield simply did the most with the highest degree of difficulty at the position for a team that won one game in the previous two seasons combined.”
Touche. But trust me, I’ll sleep.
I also put guard Will Hernandez on the first-team rookie squad as well. ESPN slotted in Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis Colts) and James Daniel (Chicago Bears). For the record, I believe that Nelson will be one of the future offensive line stars in the league, and he was one of the top picks from a bountiful 2018 NFL Draft.
Interestingly enough, Daniels ranked 42nd with a 62.3 grade by Pro Football Focus. Hernandez had a 65.8 grade, which slotted him No. 28. Maybe Daniels got the nod because the Bears made the playoffs.
At any rate, I’ll be interested in seeing how my colleagues voted at offensive guard. Nelson should be a shoo-in, but I believe Hernandez should be first-team as well.
At the defensive interior spot, I probably reached but gave some love to New York Giants rookie B.J. Hill. Now keep in mind that former Big Blue star Damon Harrison led the pack here with a stellar 92.2 PFF grade. But he was traded away mid-season to the Detroit Lions for a draft pick in order to free up salary cap room, and give the youngster more playing time.
According to PFF, Hill played in 731 total snaps, and he was far down in the pack at 85th with a 69.3 grade. The ESPN defensive interior rookies were Da’Shawn Hand (Detroit Lions), for whom I also voted. Bilal Nichols was given the other nod by ESPN, and he was 37th according to PFF with a 77.1 grade.
So chalk that up to a little home cooking.
Both Hill and Hernandez did get honorable mention on the ESPN team, so overall there were good players drafted last April. But also keep in mind that the Indianapolis Colts slotted four, count them, four players on the All-Rookie team.
Sure, quarterback Andrew Luck’s play helped, but the reinforcements, including defensive Rookie-of-the Year, Darius Leonard, propelled the Colts to the playoffs.
Keep in mind these lists are the best of the best, and guys like linebacker Lorenzo Carter and interior defender R.J. McIntosh may still have bright futures. Obviously, they still have work to do in order to elevate their respective games to the next level..
Conversely, I am not as high on quarterback Kyle Lauletta. I believe the arm strength deficiency makes it impossible for him to be an effective signal-caller in the NFL. So will another mid-round draft selection have been wasted on a quarterback?
Perhap, and in addition, chances are very good that the New York Giants draft another quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft. Yet general manager Dave Gettleman opined that the team’s defense was the primary culprit in the lethargic 5-11 campaign.