NFL general managers have to trust the people in the building who work for them to evaluate players. They have to know that all their scouts and evaluators have done their homework the right way, and that all the information disseminated is based on real work, as opposed to speculation.

In HBO’s premiere episode of “Hard Knocks: Offseason with the New York Giants,” there was a scene in which Giants general manager Joe Schoen and his staff were discussing pass rushers they could add to their team via trade or free agency. That process ended with the trade that brought former Carolina Panthers edge demon Brian Burns into the fold, but there was a highly interesting part of that discussion that had my ears perking up.

After talking about Kansas City’s Chris Jones as the NFL’s best defensive tackle outside of Big Blue’s own Dexter Lawrence (I would agree with that), the subject turned to ex-Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who wound up signing a four-year, $110 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.

When Wilkins’ name came up, Chris Rossetti, the Giants’ Director of Pro Scouting, was less than overwhelmed by Wilkins’ attributes.

“This is Dexter’s best friend,” Rosetti said. “I don’t think he’s a difference-making pass-rusher on third down, which is what we need opposite Dex, but a really good football player who will do well for himself.”

“Dex texted me about him the other day,” Schoen responded. “[He] asked what we thought [about Wilkins].”

Wilkins and Lawrence played together on Clemson’s defensive line from 2016 through 2018, and both were first-round picks in 2019 — Wilkins 13th overall by the Dolphins, and Lawrence 17th overall by the Giants. So, that’s where the friendship and chemistry come from.

But apparently in the case of Wilkins, the answer was no. And if it was no because of the information Rosetti put forth, that’s a giant whoops. Last season, per Pro Football Focus, Wilkins had 66 total pressures. 30 of those pressures came on third down. Now, different analytical services have different charting methods, so the results can be slightly different, but among NFL defensive tackles last season, Wilkins was one of the best at creating third-down pressure. Sports Info Solutions agrees.

And it’s not as if there wasn’t tape in house of Wilkins wrecking the Giants’ offensive line. Wilkins had one sack and seven total pressures against New York in Week 5; it was one of Wilkins’ best games of the 2023 season.

So. We know that scouts and executives get things wrong. It’s part of the process. But in this case, how did the Giants come to this conclusion, leaving themselves on the outside looking in?

You’ve got to do the work.


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