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2024 NFL Draft: Five biggest takeaways from Giants’, Jets’ first-round decisions

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1) Five years after trading Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants finally replace his big-play ability with LSU’s Malik Nabers. Nabers is an explosive play waiting to happen, something the somnolent Giants offense, which ranked 30th in scoring last season, desperately needs. The Giants have not had even an 800-yard receiver since Beckham was traded in the 2019 offseason. The Giants particularly love Nabers’ toughness — he simply doesn’t miss games or practices — and his competitiveness. In the ultimate compliment, Brian Daboll called him “a dog on the field.” Nabers said that in his pre-draft meeting with Daboll, he came to like the head coach’s personality after Daboll told Nabers he could guard him.

Uh, probably not. Nabers can create separation, play multiple positions and give the quarterback an easy window to throw the ball to. Jones’ health and durability is the wild card, but the Giants have given him the kind of weapon who will help any QB succeed — general manager Joe Schoen said he texted Jones and he was fired up about the pick. Nabers joins Jalin Hyatt, Darius Slayton and Wan’Dale Robinson in a wide receiver room that suddenly has a lot more speed than it did a year ago. That had been a stated goal of Daboll’s since before the 2023 draft. And, Schoen noted, Nabers does not turn 21 years old until this summer, so he still has plenty of room for development while the Giants have him under a rookie contract.

2) The Nabers’ pick was also the safe one once the Giants could not pry the No. 3 pick from the Patriots with a trade. Schoen acknowledged that the Giants had talks with teams about moving up and down, but once the Patriots stuck and took Drake Maye — who was believed to be New York’s target — the Giants did not reach for a quarterback they weren’t sold on, even with J.J. McCarthy on the board when the Giants picked at No. 6. That is likely to be a disappointment for some fans who have tired of the Jones roller coaster, especially as they saw six quarterbacks go in the top 12. It’s unlikely all of those will pan out, though, and the Giants could not afford to tie themselves to another quarterback they are not bought into. Instead, in this offseason, they have tried to fortify the offensive line and improve the weapons for Jones — two issues that have clearly undermined his chances for success. If Jones doesn’t show dramatic improvement and sustained health this season, the Giants can get out of his contract after the 2024 season, but at least they will know they put enough pieces around him to get a fair evaluation, something that could not be said before. In the meantime, they go into the season hoping a healthy Jones can regain his 2022 form, and with Drew Lock waiting in the wings if he can’t.

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