How high can Giants climb in NFL Draft? What does 2024 schedule look like?


How high can Giants climb in NFL Draft? What does 2024 schedule look like?

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll speaks with General Manager Joe Schoen before an NFL preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

The New York Giants’ season comes to a merciful end Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Eagles in the season finale. But action figures to pick up after the season ends, as there are plenty of questions looming over the Giants’ uncertain future.


Let’s put a bow on some odds and ends from the 2023 season, with a peek ahead to the future:


Draft status

The most important implication of Sunday’s game is how it affects the Giants’ spot in the draft order. At 5-11, the Giants enter the finale projected to have the fifth pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.


The Chicago Bears have locked up the first pick via their trade last year with the Carolina Panthers, who are 2-14. The Washington Commanders, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals have matching 4-12 records. The Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans are behind the Giants’ in the draft order with matching 5-11 records, while the New York Jets sit at No. 8 with a 6-10 record.


The highest the Giants’ pick can be is second, and the lowest it can be is eighth. But here’s a closer look at the most realistic outcomes, based on information culled from the invaluable Tankathon.


First, it’s important to understand that draft order tiebreakers are different than playoff tiebreakers. For the draft order, the first tiebreaker is strength of schedule (SOS). The team that plays the schedule with the lower winning percentage is awarded the higher pick.


The Giants’ SOS entering the finale is .511. So if they lose, and the Cardinals (.562 SOS) beat the Seattle Seahawks, the Giants will definitely move ahead of Arizona in the draft order. The other potential ties at five wins are trickier to forecast

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A Giants loss combined with wins by the Commanders (.515 SOS) over the Dallas Cowboys and/or Patriots (.518 SOS) over the Jets may not move the Giants ahead of those teams in the draft order based on how the SOS would change for the teams based on the Week 18 results.


So, with a loss to the Eagles, it seems like the highest the Giants can move in the draft order is No. 4, and that would require a win by the Cardinals, who are 2.5-point underdogs to a Seattle team fighting to make the playoffs.


A win over the Eagles, who are five-point favorites and still battling for the NFC East title, would drop the Giants to the seventh pick if the Chargers lose to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Titans lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars. If the Giants lose, they should stay ahead of the Chargers (.526 SOS) and the Titans (.529 SOS) — even if both of those teams lose. A Giants win combined with a Jets loss could drop the Giants to the eighth pick since the Jets (.507) enter the weekend with a lower SOS than the Giants.


The most likely outcome is the Giants lose to an Eagles team that needs to right the ship entering the playoffs and wind up with the fifth pick. But hopefully this provides some guidance while you’re scoreboard-watching this weekend.


Iron men

It’s been well-documented that linebacker Bobby Okereke and safety Xavier McKinney have been iron men, playing all 1,063 defensive snaps this season. They are the only two defensive players in the league to play every snap this season.


It was important for McKinney to display such durability as he enters free agency. He missed eight games last season with a hand injury and 10 games as a rookie with a foot injury. He played 97 percent of the defensive snaps during the 2021 season, including every snap in the final 14 game


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Okereke has been impressively durable throughout his five-year career. He has only missed two games, and he led the Indianapolis Colts by playing 98 percent of the snaps in 2021. Okereke has been on the field every play this season despite dealing with a broken rib, a broken finger and a nagging hip injury.


Guard Ben Bredeson leads the offense by playing 91 percent of the snaps. Bredeson missed 15 games with a variety of injuries in his first two seasons with the Giants, but only missed one game this season due to a concussion.


LB Carter Coughlin (87 percent), LB Cam Brown (80 percent), CB Nick McCloud (78 percent) and S Dane Belton (76 percent) formed the special teams core.


Perfect attendance

A handful of players have made it through the entire season without appearing on the injury report or missing a single practice: McCloud, DL Jordon Riley, OLB Boogie Basham, OLB Jihad Ward and LS Casey Kreiter. That’s particularly impressive durability from Ward, who has played 58 percent of the defensive snaps in his ninth season. He has a career-high four sacks this season.


Future foes

The Giants’ 2024 opponents won’t be finalized until after this weekend’s games. As always, the Giants will play each of their division foes twice next season. They’re also scheduled to play all of the teams from the NFC South and AFC North.


The 5-11 Giants should be locked into third place in the NFC East since they swept the season series with the 4-12 Commanders. So they’ll play the third-place teams from the NFC North, NFC West and AFC South.


The Seahawks are locked into third place in the NFC West, so the Giants will travel to Seattle for that game. Third place in the NFC North is still to be determined between the Green Bay Packers (8-8), Minnesota Vikings (7-9) and the Bears (7-9). The same applies to the AFC South between the Jaguars (9-7), Colts (9-7) and Houston Texans (9-7). The Giants, who have nine home games next season, will host the third-place teams from the NFC North and AFC South.


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Staff departures

Running backs coach Jeff Nixon is departing to become Syracuse’s offensive coordinator, while director of strength and performance Craig Fitzgerald is leaving to become Florida’s director of football performance.


Head coach Brian Daboll only had to replace one position coach after his first season, running backs coach DeAndre Smith, who made a lateral move to the Colts. It would be a major surprise if Nixon is the only assistant coach who isn’t back next season.


It’s possible that all three coordinators could be gone. If that happens, there would likely also be some position coach departures, which could force Daboll to spend the early part of the offseason reconstructing his staff.



Lopsided losses

It was expected that the Giants would experience some regression after going 8-4-1 in one-score games last season. That has happened, as they’re 4-4 in one-score games this season.


But the biggest difference is that the Giants haven’t been in nearly as many close games. The Giants have lost seven games by at least 15 points, which is the most losses in the league by that margin. Their -158 point differential is the third-worst in the league.


Leading man

Wide receiver Darius Slayton is poised to lead the Giants in receiving for the fourth time in his five seasons. Slayton has 708 yards receiving entering the finale, which gives him a huge lead on tight end Darren Waller’s 507 yards.


It says a lot about Slayton that the 2019 fifth-round pick has been the Giants’ top receiver consistently throughout his career. It also says a lot about the Giants’ receiving corps over the past five years that Slayton holds that distinction despite never topping 751 yards in a season.


Kenny Golladay led the Giants with 521 receiving yards in the forgettable 2021 season when Slayton had a career-low 339 yards. Slayton has finished between 724 and 751 yards in his other three seasons, and will likely finish in that same range again this year.



Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pay QB Baker Mayfield as much as the New York Giants paid Daniel Jones? (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

Baker Mayfield vs. Daniel Jones

It will be fascinating to compare the contract Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield gets this offseason to the Daniel Jones deal. Mayfield and Jones were top-six picks in consecutive drafts, but their careers traveled very different paths. Mayfield finds himself in a similar position that Jones was in a year ago after delivering a career year for the Buccaneers as he enters free agency.


Presumably, Mayfield’s camp will use Jones’ four-year, $160 million contract as a comp in negotiations. It will be interesting to see how the Bucs value Mayfield as he has them on the cusp of an unexpected division title. Do they franchise tag Mayfield and make him prove it again? Or do they follow the Giants’ approach and reward Mayfield with a long-term extension? If so, is that deal worth more or less than the one Jones got?


Again, Jones and Mayfield aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons, but their contract-year breakouts are quite similar, and their teams find themselves facing similar decisions.


Missed opportunity

This was a big season for outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari for multiple reasons. Most importantly, he needed to bounce back from an injury-marred second season that limited him to seven games.


That didn’t happen, as Ojulari missed six games this season and has been ineffective when in the lineup (0.5 sacks). The lack of availability will hurt Ojulari’s wallet next year. As a second-round pick, he was in line for a proven performance escalator (PPE) next season in the final year of his rookie contract.


But Ojulari would have needed to play at least 60 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons or averaged at least 60 percent of the defensive snaps over his first three seasons. Ojulari has played 36 percent of the snaps this season after playing 20 percent of the snaps last season. He played 67 percent of the snaps as a rookie, so his three-year average will fall well under 60 percent.


Ojulari’s base salary for next year will remain at $1.6 million since he failed to qualify for the PPE. If Ojulari played 60 percent of the snaps this season, his 2024 salary would have increased to $2.8 million.


Safety Jason Pinnock, who was a fifth-round pick by the Jets in 2021, will qualify for a PPE raise because he has played an average of 51 percent of his teams’ snaps in his first three seasons. Third- through seventh-round picks must average at least 35 percent of their team’s snaps over their first three seasons to trigger the PPE. Pinnock’s 2024 salary will increase from the minimum of $1.1 million to $2.8 million.


PPE raises have been a double-edged sword for Giants players in recent years. The team squeezed Slayton and cornerback Darnay Holmes for pay cuts in each of the past two years after those players earned PPE raises. Pinnock should be immune from that treatment since he’ll be penciled into a starting safety job next season.


Giants free agents

The Giants are set to have 29 players hit free agency this offseason. Here are the lists of the different types of free agents:


• Unrestricted: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Saquon Barkley, RB Matt Breida, WR Parris Campbell, WR Gunner Olszewski, WR Sterling Shepard, TE Lawrence Cager, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Tyre Phillips, OL Justin Pugh, OL Matt Peart, OL Sean Harlow, OL Shane Lemieux, OL J.C. Hassenauer, DL A’Shawn Robinson, OLB Jihad Ward, LB Isaiah Simmons, LB Carter Coughlin, LB Cam Brown, LB Jarrad Davis, CB Adoree’ Jackson, CB Darnay Holmes, S Xavier McKinney, K Randy Bullock, LS Casey Kreiter.


Barkley and McKinney headline that group, but there are a bunch of players who have played a lot of snaps on offense, defense and special teams set to hit the market.

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• Restricted: WR Isaiah Hodgins, OL Wyatt Davis, CB Nick McCloud.


The lowest RFA tender is $2.8 million. Hodgins and McCloud are useful depth players, but the Giants may be able to re-sign them for cheaper.


• Exclusive rights: LB Benton Whitley.


ERFAs can be retained with a one-year minimum contract with no guaranteed money, so they’re usually a no-brainer to be re-signed.

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