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Giants' 2018 draft class has been disappointing after promising first season

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dave Gettleman's résumé as New York Giants general manager isn't perfect. Far from it. There are misses in NFL free agency, unfortunate public declarations and a record that will make ownership shudder.

The area on which Gettleman was supposed to be able to hang his fedora was the draft, beginning in 2018. Although that group appeared promising after its rookie season, there no longer is the same optimism. Year 2 has not gone well.

It begins with the struggles of the "Gold Jacket" running back, Saquon Barkley, and filters all the way to the bottom. Quarterback Kyle Lauletta, last year's fourth-round pick, was barely on the Giants' roster for a calendar year. A flash from fifth-round defensive lineman RJ McIntosh is almost as rare as a Giants victory.

This seems to be how everything is going for the Giants lately, and it reflects poorly on Gettleman. That is why the feeling from some around the league indicates that his future could be in jeopardy two years into his tenure as general manager.

The Giants (2-11) have dropped nine straight to tie a franchise record and are 7-22 the past two seasons. When Gettleman was asked what constitutes a successful season, the first 35 words of his answer were about the 2018 draft class.

"Improvement," Gettleman said the last time he talked publicly this summer. "You would like to think that guys like Saquon and Will [Hernandez] and B.J. [Hill] and Lorenzo [Carter] and RJ McIntosh are going to make a significant jump. That old saying 'from Year 1 to Year 2.'"

That hasn't worked out as planned, possibly because the bar was set too high. Players such as Carter (outside linebacker), Hernandez (guard) and Hill (defensive lineman) were expected to be upper-echelon starters on a team that desperately needed it to happen.

Barkley was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year last season after he led the league in total yards. This season has been a struggle since he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 3. He hasn't topped 100 yards rushing since Week 2 and is averaging a pedestrian 4.0 yards per carry.

Barkley hasn't played well, but there is hope that his struggles are related to the ankle injury and the Giants' offensive line problems. Included in that is Hernandez, the second-round pick last year. Hernandez started 16 games and showed signs during a promising rookie season. There was reason to believe that he could develop into a Pro Bowl guard with his tenacious approach in the run game.

Although Hernandez insists that he has improved, the results haven't been quite the same.

"I think I've been playing better than I was in some areas," he said. "And there are some areas I need to get better in."

Hernandez noted specifically that his run-blocking needs to improve. He has a 46.4 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade this season. His pass block win rate (PBWR) has actually improved, from 90.7 to 92.1 this season, in part because of what he considers improved technique and better knowledge of his position and the offense.

The Giants' third-round picks -- Carter and Hill -- also haven't made the expected jumps. Hill, who had 5.5 sacks as a rookie, doesn't have a sack this season and has become a part-time rotational player in recent weeks. The Giants were expecting big things from Carter, but he has just 3.5 sacks through 13 games, despite starting and playing a much bigger role.

Even he isn't happy with his overall progress.

"I haven't had enough impact plays," Carter said. "To be an effective player, to be a player that is going to help this program and organization, you have to be disruptive."

Carter is 64th among players aligned pre-snap as edge rushers, with a 10.4% disruption rate, per NFL Next Gen Stats. He pinpoints his first step as the key to his successes and failures, and he considers that his point of focus down the stretch. The second-year outside linebacker still thinks this season can be salvaged -- and maybe it can be in the final three weeks.

Maybe things can also be salvaged long-term for the 2018 draft class. But right now, it's not looking as promising as it once did.

"I think everybody is trying to figure out what it takes to get over the hump, to get winning," Carter said. "I think winning games, the perception changes. They'll see. Just have to let the pads to the talking."