INDIANAPOLIS — Joe Judge and his newly assembled coaching staff will accompany the entire Giants front office and scouting department on a road trip this week to the NFL Scouting Combine, where the search intensifies for players who fit the criteria of the first-year head coach.
Judge had not yet finalized his staff a month ago when he attended his first official event for the Giants, the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Soon after he was hired, Judge admitted he had “an outsider’s view of this team’’ and he has spent several weeks getting to know the roster he inherits. With a better understanding of what he thinks he has and what he is fairly certain he does not, Judge will take a look at all the top NFL draft prospects, with several days of medical checks, one-on-one interviews and on-field workouts inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
It is an important part of the evaluation process. Here are the top-five storylines for the Giants during their week in Indy:
General manager Dave Gettleman and his Rams counterpart, Les Snead, two years ago enjoyed walking together through a crowded hallway at the convention center, knowing this stroll would lead to speculation that a deal involving Odell Beckham Jr. was cooking even though no deal was cooking. With so many team executives under the same roof, talk of draft-choice swapping is an inescapable reality. Gettleman arrived at this event a year ago and stated, “We didn’t sign Odell to trade him,’’ and two weeks later shipped Beckham to the Browns. Gettleman has the No. 4 pick in this year’s NFL draft and if he is ever going to trade back in his career, this appears to be the opportune time to strongly consider it. The seeds planted this week could blossom in April.
Get in line
Have you heard? The Giants want to upgrade their offensive line. Rinse and repeat. This is a good time to determine if any of the top offensive tackle prospects is worth the No. 4 overall pick. Starting Monday, teams can interview the offensive linemen and the Giants need to get a firm grasp on Jedrick Willis (Alabama), Andrew Thomas (Georgia), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) and Mekhi Becton (Louisville). In league circles, there is no overwhelming, consensus top candidate. Eyeballing the massive Becton is especially important to get a better feel whether his 6-foot-7, 369-pound body will be an asset or a detriment at the next level. Maybe none of these guys is a must-have at No. 4. The Giants cannot have a repeat of their infamous 2015 wiff on Ereck Flowers at No. 9.
Take a deep dive
A franchise that is 12-36 the past three seasons has more holes to fill than the Cross Bronx Expressway. A case can be made that starting talent is needed at nearly every position other than running back, quarterback, guard and possibly defensive tackle. How about wide receiver? There are answers with returnees Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton, but there is no game-breaker on the roster. This is one of the deepest classes at receiver in memory. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper estimates five receivers could go in the first round, eight in the second and 20 in the first three rounds. No. 4 is too high for the Giants to take a receiver, but with a trade-down, all options are open. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy plans on putting on a show this week. Imagine if the Giants eventually buy a ticket?
There has to be a plan, right? Even if they re-sign their 2019 sack leader, Markus Golden, there needs to be an infusion of pass-rush talent. It is hard to believe this new coaching staff will gamble that Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are ready to explode. Finding an edge rusher in free agency is always an extremely expensive investment. The problem is, this draft is not deep in them after Chase Young, expected to land with the Redskins at No. 2. Again, a trade-down seems in order if the Giants are sold on Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa or LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson as high sack guys in the first round. Interviews with defensive linemen begin Tuesday.
Get going with Leonard
Yes, we can confirm all these teams and the agents for the players all possess phones and have ways to communicate without being in the same room. There is something about “See you in Indy’’ that often sparks conversation and plenty of preliminary talks and discussions arise during what is akin to an NFL business convention. This would be an opportune time for the Giants to make inroads into striking a deal with defensive tackle Leonard Williams before the start of free agency in mid-March.