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Big Apple Teams, Until Now Rotten To The Core, Have New Star Power

LAS VEGAS — It’s good for the NFL when its New York teams are good.

The league’s biggest media market helps the bottom line when the clubs playing there are good. Except neither the New York Jets nor New York Giants have been very good of late and if you don’t believe it, understand these two teams basically owned the top half of the 2022 NFL draft.

And that kind of draft slotting is usually reserved for terrible, sad face emoji teams.

Well, one way to improve is to add talent and both the Jets and Giants believe they’ve done that Thursday evening.

The Giants, holding the No. 5 and No. 7 picks filled needs along both their defensive and offensive lines. General manager Joe Schoen ignored the bad press Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux received in the lead-up to the draft and selected him at No. 5 overall.

Thibodeaux loves the limelight.

New York City has limelight to offer.

“Come on, come on!” Thibodeaux said. “I feel at peace. This is like Nirvana … They believed in me. It was great getting with them and now it’s time. It’s time to go hit a deli or something.”

Thibodeaux said former Giants defensive end and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan is a mentor.

And at No. 7, the Giants solidified their offensive line by taking offensive tackle Evan Neal from Alabama. This pick comes one year after the Giants picked Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas in the top 5.

“Opening up holes for Saquon Barkley is going to be really cool,” said Neal, who said playing in the SEC prepares him to compete immediately in the NFL.

Neal learned some things when he visited the Giants during a pre-draft visit and is eager to be part of the culture change.

“I didn’t even know the Giants were in New Jersey. I thought they were in New York,” he said. “But it looked like they’re serious about winning some games and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

The Jets, picking at No. 4, selected Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner to help upgrade a secondary that was swiss cheese in 2021.

So the Apple gets Sauce.

Ba-dom.

With their No. 10 overall selection, the Jets came back with help for quarterback Zach Wilson by staying in the family tree by selecting Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson — no relation.

Interestingly, the Jets in recent days offered the No. 10 pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Deebo Samuel. The 49ers rebuffed the efforts.

“I wasn’t putting any extra pressure based on where Deebo ended up,” Wilson said.

The Jets get a receiver with the pick anyway.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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