Hard Knocks Episode 2: New York Giants thoroughly evaluated drafting Daniel Jones’ replacement

New York Giants
Credit: Tariq Zehawi/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

After conservatively projecting a budget of $240 million, Joe Schoen was blown away by the salary cap increase to $255.4M. In his conversation with Chris Rossetti, the New York Giants’ director of pro scouting, Schoen believed they’d “maybe be able to get something done with X (Xavier McKinney).” For what it’s worth, McKinney signed a four-year, $67 million contract with the Green Bay Packers.

Missing out on ‘X’ should have spared enough cap space to offer Saquon Barkley a respectable contract, yet the Giants made it clear that they preferred to let the market dictate the price of their best skill position player. Meanwhile, Rossetti did note that “26 probably thinks he’s getting Jonathan Taylor money now.” Taylor signed a three-year, $42 million contract, but that was last year.

Related: Hard Knocks Part 1: Joe Schoen made a New York Giants-sized mistake

Once again, Joe Schoen disrespected one of the New York Giants’ best players

Barkley didn’t quite take ‘Jonathan Taylor money’ with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he did sign a three-year, $37.7 million contract. Schoen did admit that the NFL’s salary cap increase “kind of changes the game plan” when Rossetti brought up Barkley’s name, but he never seemed like a man who was ready to offer his Pro Bowl running back a respectful rate.

In fact, Schoen appeared bitter about his interactions with Barkley and his agency. At one point, Schoen blurts out that he “wanted to give him a lot of money a year ago, and he didn’t want that, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Schoen sounds tired of trying to reach an agreement with Barkley, and there are plenty of subtle hints expressing his sour feelings. He seems deadset on trying to diminish the value of the 27-year-old running back, but his agent knows his client’s value, certainly more so than the Giants do.

“I’ve been dealing with this for a long time, since last November. Here’s where I’m worried: We offer him something, he gets a little pissed off because it’s not what he wants, and some other team comes in a million over us, and he’s pissed at us, he feels disrespected, so he goes. So I’m going to let him go to the market, and if you just want to keep your word, and say, ‘Hey, he said he wants to be a Giant for life, the chance of being in the Ring of Honor, there’s a lot of things out there that he’s got to take into account.’ I think he can still play, it’s just you gotta get the value right. And you look at the data, the data is what it is.” – Joe Schoen

“That’s why I’m asking, like, in your room at night when you’re by yourself, are you like, ‘I wouldn’t mind if this kid bounced?’ ” – Ed Berry

“Yeah, I’m torn, Ed, because I still think he can play, and I think he can help us. But I didn’t want to come in on a number because I didn’t really have a great idea of where the market is. That’s why I’m going to let the league tell him what it is, and hey, if you want to come back and be a Giant, let’s try to find something that makes sense. Like, [if] we’re close, then let’s have a conversation, because again I do think he was our best offensive player.” – Schoen

Joe Schoen and Saquon Barkley’s agent going back and forth

Then, Schoen rings up Barkley right away.

“I just talked to Ed Berry (Barkley’s agent). And I think, just mulling over this, the right thing to do is let you test the market and see what your value is. I don’t want to do the franchise thing, or all that again, I don’t want to go through that, we’ve both been through that. If you really want to be a Giant for life and you’re interested in staying here and coming back, just see what your market is and have Ed come back to us and we’ll see if we can come to an agreement. Can you give me your word on that?” – Schoen

“I mean, I already told you where I want to be, so…” – Barkley

“Alright let’s do that and see what the market says. I think it’s the right thing to do. I love you man and I appreciate everything you did for the organization the two years I was here, and I’m not saying we’re not gonna get something done but I think it’s right that if for some reason it doesn’t work out that you know that the organization thinks the world of you and everything you’ve done. ” – Schoen

Joe Schoen and Saquon Barkley discussing future with Giants

There’s a lot to unpack there, but it confirms what we already knew, that Schoen didn’t have a a good feel for the market. He’s also speaking about Barkley’s tenure in the past-tense, as if he’d already made the decision to move on from the Pro Bowl back. It seems as if Schoen expected Barkley to suddenly give the team a friendly discount, but that’s not how free agency works, especially when you’ve already disrespected an elite talent.

Related: 3 bold predictions for Malik Nabers’ rookie season with New York Giants

Brian Daboll perked up during QB evaluations, put prospects through the ringer

Syndication: The Record
Credit: Tariq Zehawi/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

One factor that became obvious was that the Giants did indeed heavily consider drafting Daniel Jones’ replacement. This was reported throughout the draft process, but seeing their extensive evaluations and combine meetings with the various quarterbacks confirms their interest.

When it was time to put LSU’s Jayden Daniels on the spot, Brian Daboll was more than prepared for how he wanted to test the young QB. Daboll’s focus was on trying to throw as much as he could at Daniels to see how he could process information on the fly. For the most part, Daniels handled himself well, but there were a few occasions when he had a minor slip-up, to which Daboll replied, “That’s okay.”

However, when it came time to put Drake Maye through the ringer, the North Carolina QB passed the test with flying colors. Ultimately, Daboll wanted to test the young prospects’ football knowledge and understanding of passing concepts. Again, Maye was superb, with Daboll almost seeming giddy to work with him.

Maye might have been the target the Giants were aiming for, yet it became apparent that the Patriots weren’t too interested in trading down. However, Schoen wanted to ensure he’d get the Patriots’ word, that if they were ready to consider a trade, they’d at least check in with the Giants first.

Daboll was impressive during the interview portion, showing how engaged he was with each prospect. Some Giants fans may not be high on Schoen after these first two episodes, but Daboll has likely improved his standing.

We may never know what would have happened had Daniels or Maye lasted until the Giants were on the clock with the sixth pick, but it sure looked like coach Daboll was eager to work with the North Carolina QB. Maye was selected third overall by the New England Patriots, and reports suggested they weren’t willing to consider trades.

Related: See where Daniel Jones lands in Sportsnaut’s NFL QB Rankings

Giants defensive coordinator Shane Bowen gushes about Tyler Nubin

NFL: Combine
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While the Giants weren’t able to retain Xavier McKinney, they found his replacement in the second round of the draft, selecting Minnesota safety Tyler Nubin with the 47th overall pick. Nubin, 23, is expected to start as a rookie.

During a brief clip shown at the combine, it became obvious how fascinated Brian Daboll and new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen were with the do-it-all safety. In fact, Bowen was nearly speechless when Nubin’s name was brought up.

“The safety there, from Minnesota?” – Brian Daboll

“F–k.” – Shane Bowen

“He’s impressive.” – Daboll

“Yeah.” – Bowen

Brian Daboll and Shane Bowen discussing Tyler Nubin

If nothing else, this shows how excited the Giants are to add Nubin to their secondary. McKinney may have priced himself outside New York’s market, but they’re probably pleased with getting much cheaper at the position.

Bowen also expressed excitement about the possibility of adding Brian Burns, saying “I’m good with Brian Burns,” with a big smile on his face.

Related: 2024 NFL defense rankings: Where does the New York Giants’ defense rank?

Malik Nabers hates losing, wants to be involved early on

Malik Nabers
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants may not have secured another quarterback of the future, but they did land a potential superstar in Malik Nabers. This episode featured their combine interview with the LSU receiver, which revealed a few notable aspects of the young prospects’s mindset.

Daboll wanted to know how Nabers handled losing and not being involved in the offense early in the game. Nabers provided mixed results.

“How do you handle losing? Be straight.” – Brian Daboll

“Uh, really hate it. I hate losing more than I love winning.” – Malik Nabers

“How do you handle not being involved early in the game?” – Daboll

“I handle it pretty tough.” – Nabers

“Yeah, that’s what I’m looking for.” – Daboll

“Especially, putting in the work with the offense, getting a lot of plays known to be called for me, so if I’m not in those plays, not getting the ball, you know then I’m pretty hard on it.” – Nabers

“I don’t mind that. I want guys that want to get the ball, and I want guys that hate f—ing losing, but you’ve gotta learn how to harness that a little bit. I don’t mind competitive f—ing juice man, we need some dogs. I want guys that want the ball.” – Daboll

Brian Daboll and Malik Nabers

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