EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants have 10 draft picks, 12 undrafted free agents and three tryout players who earned contracts last weekend on their current roster. That is a lot of rookies.
Not all of them are going to make an immediate impact. The most notable, No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones, might not even get into a game this season behind Eli Manning. If you listen to general manager Dave Gettleman, he might have to sit and wait for three seasons. You never know.
More likely than not, after watching most of the rookies at minicamp, these are the short-term prospects of the draft class:
Daniel Jones, QB: “The Future” held his own at rookie minicamp. He threw the ball confidently and effectively — including one perfectly threaded deep strike to wide receiver Nehari Crawford — and handled the media and questions with Eli-like nonchalance. “I thought [Jones] did a good job,” coach Pat Shurmur said. This was expected, though. Jones is a first-round pick, but nothing that happened this weekend is likely to expedite the process. He will compete with Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta (last year’s fourth-round pick) this offseason to be Manning’s backup. “I told him, ‘It’s your job, let’s go,'” Gettleman said during the draft. Jones will have his work cut out for him to even be the backup. Don’t be surprised to see him working with the third-team offense most of the spring and summer.
Dexter Lawrence, NT: The Giants had Lawrence primarily at nose tackle during his first weekend with the team. That’s not a huge surprise given he checks in at 6-foot-4, 342 pounds. He will move around the defensive line a bit, but he will be the clog in the middle more times than not. The expectation is that Lawrence will make an immediate impact. It wouldn’t be the least bit shocking to see him starting Week 1 at nose tackle alongside B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson. It helps that Lawrence played at Clemson. The Giants’ coaches believe that should work in his favor this season. “When you pick a guy from Clemson, he’s played on the biggest stage there is in college football,” Shurmur said. “The other thing that struck me [aside from his size] is this isn’t going to be too big for him.”
Deandre Baker, CB: The Giants’ third first-round pick has a good chance to make the biggest impact of all the rookies this season. His skills were on full display. Baker got his hands on more than a few passes and even tipped a Jones pass into the arms of a teammate for an interception. The physical nature of Baker’s game was evident even at rookie minicamp. He’s not going to be intimated. “Confident and fearless” is how Baker described his game. “That’s how I explain my personality on the field.” That could help him move seamlessly into a starting role considering the Giants don’t have an outside corner penciled in alongside Janoris Jenkins. Baker has quickly become the favorite over Sam Beal to grab that spot.
Oshane Ximinez, OLB: The third-round pick out of Old Dominion just looked like an outside linebacker (long, rangy and quick) roaming around the field at rookie minicamp. But this is a major jump. Pass-rushers often take time to develop. Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora each had one sack during their rookie seasons. Ximinez might face some of the same challenges. He will likely fall in line behind Carter, Markus Golden and Kareem Martin early in his Giants career. A significant instant impact might be asking too much.
Julian Love, DB: The Giants are viewing Love as a nickel cornerback and occasional free safety. He did a little bit of both at rookie minicamp. He will likely compete with Grant Haley, an undrafted rookie from last season who played well, for the slot cornerback role.
Ryan Connelly, LB: The WISconsin product slides into an inside linebacker role where his instincts can be maximized. There was one play at rookie minicamp where he read the play perfectly, covered the running back out of the backfield and dropped an interception that likely would have been returned for a touchdown. But with the Giants looking for upgrades from their linebackers in coverage, Connelly will have a chance to win playing time over B.J. Goodson and Tae Davis in sub-packages.
Darius Slayton, WR: He had a rough first day of minicamp, by my count dropping five passes. He finished strong and made a few plays late Friday and again Saturday. His speed will give him a chance to earn some playing time competing with Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and others.
Corey Ballentine, CB: His life and rookie year were turned upside down by a shooting incident that took the life of his best friend Dwane Simmons and left him with a wound to his buttocks. Ballentine was already facing a tough transition from Washburn to the NFL. Now the task is even greater, as it will take time to heal physically and mentally. It might not be realistic to expect much from his rookie year.
George Asafo-Adjei, RT: The Giants’ plan is to use Big George at right tackle. If that doesn’t work, they’ll go from there. He’s still a longshot to make a contribution this season, even with the position still considered their weakest spot.
Chris Slayton, DL: He’ll be thrown into the mix as a defensive end in James Bettcher’s defense. Maybe he can work his way into being a part of the Giants’ defensive line rotation.