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Grading every Giants 2024 NFL Draft pick: Malik Nabers leads way in surprising class

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There are three big surprises about the Giants’ 2024 NFL Draft class.

General manager Joe Schoen did not use any of his six picks on a quarterback, he did not address the offensive or defensive lines, and he did not trade up or down at any point during the seven rounds. The last two points are big departures from Schoen’s strategy during his first two drafts in charge.

The Giants got faster and more athletic on both sides of the ball, with an even split of three offensive and three defensive picks.

Here are The Post’s pick-by-pick grades for the Giants’ draft class:

Round 1, No. 6 overall: Malik Nabers (WR, LSU) ( A-)

The Giants would have preferred quarterback Drake Maye, but their trade packages to get up to No. 3 were rejected by the Patriots.

Not a bad pivot when some teams reportedly had Nabers graded as the No. 1 receiver and No. 2 overall player. The Giants ranked receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. ahead of Nabers, but Harrison went No. 4.

Nabers, who is the all-time leading receiver at a program that produced Odell Beckham Jr., Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, should be the high-volume No. 1 target that the Giants have been looking for since trading Beckham. in 2019. He should be the featured playmaker in the first year post-Saquon Barkley.

Nabers also checks two boxes that head coach Brian Daboll looks for in receivers: He gains easy separation and he is inside/outside versatile.

Malik Nabers went to the Giants with their first pick. SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

For Schoen, it sounded like Nabers’ reputation for not missing practices or games even when injured was big, especially with the Giants having the most injured players miss games over the last 10 years, per various analytics sites.

Nabers has a reputation for demanding the ball, so you wonder if he will get frustrated if the Giants’ passing attack sputters like it has during most of quarterback Daniel Jones’ career.

The only reason to knock this pick down a peg is that so much time was invested in scouting the top quarterbacks. Schoen has to hope that Michael Penix Jr. (No. 8 to Falcons), J.J. McCarthy (No. 10 to Vikings) and Bo Nix (No. 12 to Broncos) do not come back to haunt him.

Round 2, No. 47 overall: Tyler Nubin (S, Minnesota) (B+)

New defensive coordinator Shane Bowen’s system emphasizes ballhawking safeties. Enter Nubin, who had 13 career interceptions.

Nubin is the definition of the “smart, tough, dependable” motto preached by Schoen and Daboll. Pencil him in as a projected starter.

Tyler Nubin will join the Giants’ secondary. Getty Images

Would the Giants have preferred a starting cornerback here? Maybe, but four went in the seven picks before they were on the clock, which recalls that the Giants included No. 39 and kept No. 47 when dealing a second-round pick to the Panthers in the package for pass-rusher Brian Burns.

Nubin provides downhill run support but his speed in man-to-man coverage is a question. Time will tell if that was because he was playing through a torn meniscus that required offseason surgery.

Round 3, No. 70 overall: Dru Phillips (CB, Kentucky) (C+)

For the second time in three seasons, the Giants took a slot cornerback in the third round (Cor’Dale Flott in 2022).

The real need was for an outside cornerback to start opposite Deonte Banks.

The job right now belongs to special-teamer and super-sub Nick McCloud. Perhaps the plan is to try moving Flott again – or to sign a cheap veteran now that the draft is over.

Dru Phillips USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Phillips had zero career interceptions in 38 games despite playing more than 600 coverage snaps over the last two seasons, but “he will bring the wood” as a big-hitter, Daboll said. He took a top-30 visit to the team facility before the draft, so there was a two-way comfort level.

Round 4, No. 107 overall: Theo Johnson (TE, Penn State) (C-)

The Giants are preparing for Darren Waller to retire.

If Johnson is going to surpass Daniel Bellinger for snaps, however, he will need to be a bigger pass threat than he was in college, where he had 77 catches for 938 yards in his career. It’s possible given that he has the profile of size (6-foot-6), catch radius and athleticism, but most of his receptions were underneath and not down the field.

Theo Johnson is a Penn State product. Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Johnson’s blocking needs improvement, too.

A curious choice – maybe forcing a need? – even though Johnson had gained some third-round traction.

Round 5, No. 166 overall: Tyrone Tracy (RB, Purdue) (C)

After five seasons playing receiver (four at passing-challenged Iowa), Tracy switched positions and found a home with 6.3 yards per carry and eight touchdowns.

Schoen predicted that the new NFL kickoff rules might change how teams drafted on Day 3. Well, Tracy felt like a special teams pick after he finished second in the Big Ten with 428 kickoff return yards on 17 attempts, including a 98-yarder for a touchdown.

Tyrone Tracy Jr. gives the Giants another running back. AP

It might have been one pick too soon for a returner, but the Giants lacked a threat in that area for what felt like an eternity until Gunner Olszewski arrived in the middle of last season. Tracy also stood on kickoff and punt coverage.

Round 6, No. 183 overall: LB Darius Muasau (LB, UCLA) (C)

Muasau is a tackling machine, with 440, including 40 for loss, and made 51 career starts at Hawaii and UCLA. He was a four-time All-Conference selection, after he was Hawaii’s Special Teams MVP as a freshman, according to The Athletic.

Darius Muasau comes to NY from UCLA. AP

Can he push third-year pro Micah McFadden for playing time next to stud inside linebacker Bobby Okereke on run downs?

Another example of the draft class’ theme of durability: He played in 63 straight games.

Overall draft class grade: B-

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