There was so much anticipation — some of it fairly breathless — when the Giants were on the clock with the No. 6 pick in the NFL draft and sitting there for them, still on the board, miraculously, was Josh Allen, the gifted pass-rusher from Kentucky.
Well, we all know how that went. The Giants took quarterback Daniel Jones and the Jaguars, with the very next pick, eagerly scooped up Allen.
This will do little to soothe the bruised psyches of those unable to get over the Allen denial, but the Giants did pick up a player in the draft with ties to him. In the seventh round, with the 232nd overall pick, the Giants got George Asafo-Adjei, an offensive lineman who went against Allen every day in practice.
So there’s that.
“We both sharpened each other,” Asafo-Adjei said. “He had trouble going against me. I’m a speed guy, I’m good with the pass rush. He’s a great edge rusher, I gave him problems and we both helped each other.”
This does not have to be accepted as gospel based solely on the word of Asafo-Adjei. Someone on the scene studying these battles corroborates the report that they were not one-sided.
“I tell you, that’s iron sharpening iron,” John Schlarman, Kentucky’s offensive line coach, told The Post. “He went against him every day. Going against Josh and his quickness off the edge, I don’t think the speed of the NFL is gonna catch him off guard because he’s basically seen it every day in practice.
“He and Josh had some battles. George won his fair share. It wasn’t a one-way deal, that’s for sure. That’s why he’s in the position he’s in, too. He didn’t dominate him by any means but he won his share.”
Asafo-Adjei looked the part during the recently completed rookie minicamp, lining up at right tackle at 6-foot-4, 306 pounds and working with the first group of offensive players, directed by Jones.
“We like him for all the reasons we liked him on his college tape,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “He is a powerful guy that has very good length. You can tell he is a very physical-style player. That is important at that position.”
Schlarman said most NFL personnel passing through Kentucky believed Asafo-Adjei would end up making a position change, a move Schlarman anticipated would be good for his former player.
“He’s a freak in terms of the weight room and his strength and his explosion,” Schlarman said. “Not a lot of guys have the things that he has from that standpoint. Extremely strong and he’s got great quickness for a big guy. We played him at tackle, I think at the next level he’s probably going to be more of a guard. He was athletic enough to play on the edge for us and that’s where we needed him.”
Asafo-Adjei lined up at right tackle the majority of his 23 starts in college, and that is where he fits with the Giants, Shurmur said, adding there is no thought right now of moving him inside to guard.
This makes sense, as the Giants need a right tackle, hoping to supplant last year’s starter, Chad Wheeler. It is a stretch to think Asafo-Adjei as a rookie will mount a threat here. There is a much better chance the Giants sign veteran Mike Remmers if it is determined he is fully healthy coming off minor back surgery.
Staying outside at tackle is fine with Asafo-Adjei.
“I wouldn’t say I prefer it, I feel comfortable at both,” he said. “I’m a good tackle, I’m a good guard so it’s wherever you put me I’m going to do my job.
“I have confidence I can play tackle, for sure. I have a good pass set and if they want to put me there to use that, that’s great, I’ll give them my best effort and I appreciate them for even getting me out on the field.”
Asafo-Adjei caused something of an immediate stir with his outpouring of emotion after getting the call from the Giants, exclaiming: “Oh my gosh, I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I’m blessed, truly blessed.”
He also came close to losing it describing what this meant to his mother. Born in The Bronx before moving to Cincinnati when he was 8 years old, Asafo-Adjei said his mother raised him by herself and worked three jobs to make ends meet.
“I’m happy for her, she gets to see her boy make it,” Asafo-Adjei said. “I’ve worked really hard for this. I’m going in there not to just goof around, but I’m going in there to take a job, I’m going in there to make a name for myself.”
The Giants signed three players who participated on a tryout basis in their rookie minicamp: DB Tenny Adewusi (Delaware), P Ryan Anderson (Rutgers) and DE Alex Jenkins (Incarnate Word). DE Nate Harvey was placed on the reserve/injured list.