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Why did the Giants draft Tyler Nubin and Andru Phillips?



New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen has, without a lot of fanfare, built a defensive core that he hopes will be together for several years.

“I know the players that are under contract for more than one year. So again, Dexter [Lawrence] is under contract. His contract status. [Brian] Burns is for five years. Kayvon [Thibodeaux] for three. [Bobby] Okereke for another three, Tae Banks for four, and just got [Tyler] Nubin for four years,” Schoen said on Friday night. “You’ve got a young core group of players that will be able to be together for — and again, I know people want instant gratification, but it takes time to build this, and then over time, you have guys that are able to create continuity because they play together year over year.

“It was something we experienced in Buffalo. By the time we left, some of those guys had been playing together for four years in the same exact scheme, same defense, and playing together. I think that’s important from communication and just being on the same page when you’re playing as 1/11 and everybody knowing their job. I’m excited about the young core that we have together and the guys that are under contract for multiple years and even guys that may only have a year left that potentially we can extend down the road. But I do think we have pieces in place that I like that are going to be together for a couple of years here.”

Schoen added two pieces who will hopefully be part of that core on Friday night. He selected safety Tyler Nubin in Round 2 (No. 47 overall) and cornerback Andru Phillips in Round 3 (No. 70) to replenish a depleted secondary. The Giants lost safeties Julian Love and Xavier McKinney to free agency the last two offseasons, and are not expected to retain free agent cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

Nubin, the first safety selected, told media on Friday night that he was “crying for the last 35 minutes” after the Giants selected him.

Here is his phone call with the Giants when he learned the team would select him:

“We were very, very fortunate to get [Tyler] Nubin there, a guy that we spent a lot of time with,” Schoen said. “He had an injury. We went out to his pro day when he was healthy to see him out there. Obviously losing ‘X’ [McKinney] in the offseason, to get Nubin at that value, a guy with high character, leadership, smart, tough, dependable, and then the 13 career interceptions. Just a good football player.

“Culture changer at the University of Minnesota and he’s going to bring that type of mentality here, and I think that will come out tomorrow when you guys meet with him and spend some time with him. Just a really special kid that’s a good football player.”

The Giants aren’t bothered by Nubin’s poor athletic testing. Nubin played through a meniscus injury to his right knee last season, had it scoped and tested at the NFL Scouting Combine despite being less than 100% recovered.

“It’s a testament to the kid’s character and toughness to play through that stuff because it’s going to happen here,” Schoen said. “It wasn’t a light injury. He was in some pain. So just the fact that he wanted to be out there his last year at Minnesota and not let his teammates down, I think that’s a testament to who the kid is.”

Phillips also had an emotional reaction to being selected by the Giants:

Phillips can play inside and outside, versatility that the Giants like as they try to pair him with Cor’Dale Flott, who can also play both the slot and outside. The knock on Phillips is ball production, as he had no interceptions during his college career at Kentucky.

“Some of these guys that are 5-11, 200, run 4-4 would be playing receiver if they had really good ball skills unfortunately,” Schoen said. “But no, I mean, he’s sticky. He’s in terms of coverage, he’s around the football a lot. And watching him down in the Senior Bowl on one-on-ones, he has a lot of traits and those are things we are going to work on. He’s in position, but he just has to finish a little bit better. But I really like the athlete, like the kid, look forward to him getting here.”

The Giants, of course, have a new defensive coordinator with Shane Bowen replacing Wink Martindale. Defensive backs will likely be tasked with playing more zone coverage than Martindale used. Schoen paid particular attention to what Bowen wanted.

“Probably less man, not as much press,” said Schoen of how the secondary will be employed. “But still the versatility piece I think came up multiple times, whether it was if we would not have gotten a corner in the third, well, okay, Dane Belton has versatility, J-Pinn [Jason Pinnock], Tyler, like how can those guys play, [Isaiah] Simmons. The versatility and the chess pieces, I think Shane is going to do a good job moving those guys around. The versatility piece came up multiple times in our meetings.”

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