As the off-season progresses toward the 2021 NFL draft, the New York Giants are in a position to land a premium offensive weapon to help quarterback Daniel Jones reach his potential. Over the past two seasons, the Giants have lacked talent on offense, especially with star running back Saquon Barkley playing injured in 2019 and missing a majority of the 2020 campaign. Jones was gifted with an inadequate pass-blocking offensive line and inconsistent receivers that failed to create separation and make splash plays.
However, ownership has committed to helping the offense this off-season, so we should expect the Giants to utilize the 11th overall pick and possibly some free agency money to increase their talent levels.
The draft offers a number of stellar prospects they can choose from, including quintessential pass-catching TE Kyle Pitts from Florida and even star Alabama receiver, Jaylen Waddle. The expectation is that both Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith will be off the board by the time the Giants pick at 11, but that doesn’t mean they can’t land a stellar playmaker at their spot.
In this scenario, the Giants have their choice of Pitts or Waddle, two players who immediately rejuvenate the offense with some playmaking ability. It is a difficult choice, so here’s a look at both players and what they bring to the table.
Who would help the New York Giants more?
Waddle suffered an ankle injury in 2020, limiting him to just six games, where he posted 591 yards and four scores. In fact, he was expected to be the better prospect over Smith, who remained healthy and posted one of the best college seasons for a receiver in history.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t take away from Waddle and just how talented he is. His ability to play “X” receiver on the outside and line up in the slot makes him extremely dangerous. Designing plays for him should be a necessity for whichever team lands him in the draft. He has Tyreek Hill explosiveness, and while I’m not comparing him to the Chiefs’ star receiver, his elite speed and vision on the field make him a threat with the ball in his hands. Utilizing him on and-around runs and drag routes across the middle — simply getting the ball to Waddle is enough to spark a big play.
However, some might make the argument that the Giants need a big body receiver, and Waddle being 5-foot-10 might not fit the bill. I would counter, saying Waddle plays above his size and is capable of making contested catches in traffic.
The attention he draws from defenses makes him a stellar decoy, which would open up the running game for Saquon Barkley and provide Sterling Shepard with more man coverage matchups.
Waddle’s ability to run the entire route tree is what makes him such an attractive prospect. There is room to grow, as he needs a bit of polish on the intermediate routes, but he’s so elusive and dynamic, he can be an immediate impact player for the Giants.
While the Alabama receiver brings a lot to the table, a player like Kyle Pitts can’t be overlooked. Considering the Giants already have Evan Engram, it would be surprising if they allocated the 11th overall pick toward Pitts, but not if you really read between the lines.
Pitts is not just an ordinary TE, he is the perfect modern-day player at the position, with elite pass-catching ability and fantastic size. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Kyle has room to grow regarding mass.
What makes the Florida star such a fantastic talent is his ability to play in-line, slot receiver, and on the outside. Utilizing him in different alignments is exactly what an NFL team will look to do with Pitts, who has Plaxico Burress size and 50-50 catching abilities. Bringing back that big body red zone threat would be perfect for Jason Garrett and his offense, assuming that the Giants retain him as their coordinator. His ability to high-point balls in the air and run routes like a receiver are simply extravagant traits.
There are not many tight ends in the NFL they can line up as a wide receiver and dominate against corners in man coverage. Pitts can do it all, and that type of diversity is exactly what the Giants like with their change in mentality under head coach Joe Judge.
The one con regarding Pitts is his blocking abilities, which are underdeveloped. You can make the argument they hover in the average range, but if the Giants did draft him and retain Engram, utilizing them in 12-personnel sets would be devastating for opposing defenses.
Just imagine Pitts lined up in the “X” spot outside and Engram in-line — opposing defenses would have no idea what the Giants are doing with the football and that they have a 6-foot-5 monster TE who can run routes like some of the best receivers in the NFL.
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