NFL Draft: Giants' Value over Need Strategy Paying Big Dividends for New York
As John Clayton of ESPN recently pointed out, former New York Giants general manager George Young had a mantra that "you never take your depth chart into the draft." Since Young left the team over a decade ago the Giants have stayed that course, often choosing to eschew filling a need for New York in favor of acquiring who they feel is the best player available.
The G-Men appear to be adhering to that philosophy again in 2012, as while the linebacker position and offensive line would appear to be the two biggest holes on the New York roster, the defending Super Bowl champions have yet to address the former and didn't look to the latter until late in the fourth round.
However, it's hard to argue with the results that the Giants have achieved to this point. Those holes may not have been filled, but the team has been able to acquire talent with many of their picks that was rated significantly higher by many draft experts than the selection required to obtain it.
The Giants actually did address something of an area of need with their first pick in the 2012 draft. The departure of running back Brandon Jacobs left New York with precious depth at the position behind starter Ahmad Bradshaw. Given Bradshaw's chronic foot problems that presented the Giants with something of a problem, the team looked to solve that problem with the addition of Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the 32nd overall pick.
The 5'10", 206-pound junior rumbled for over 1,700 yards for the Hokies a year ago, and according to Stats-X no ballcarrier in the nation gained more yardage after contact in 2011. Ball control has been an issue with Wilson, but the Giants have been known to have success with a young running back with fumbling problems, even if that back went on to stab the team in the back.
The Giants may well have gotten one of the steals of the 2012 draft with their second-round pick, even if that pick filled a hole the Giants didn't necessarily have. LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle somewhat surprisingly was the last player left of the 26 invited to the draft festivities in the Big Apple. When the 6'3", 210-pound junior was still on the board at 63rd overall, the Giants pounced.
Randle didn't post big numbers in Baton Rouge in 2011, but that had more to do with spotty quarterback play than any deficiency in Randle's game. As the New York Times reports Randle has drawn comparisons to another Giants star.
NFL Films guru Greg Cosell said this of Randle on the NFL Films blog earlier this month:
A big wide receiver who I believe can align on the outside and run the complete route tree is LSU’s Rueben Randle (6-3, 210). The more games I watch, the more I like Randle. He is smooth and athletic, with better acceleration off the ball than either Jeffery or Sanu. In some ways, he reminds me of the New York Giants’ Hakeem Nicks, who was not drafted until the 29th pick in the first round in 2009. Nicks was the fifth wide receiver selected that year (after Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin), but he’s clearly been the most productive of the bunch. Where Nicks has been very effective—and I project Randle playing a similar role—is at “x iso”, the single receiver to one side of the formation. When you’re aligned at “x,” you must be able to win versus man coverage.
New York wasn't finished getting talent for 60 cents on the dollar with the acquisition of Randle. After watching their secondary be decimated by injuries a season ago the team went after some help at the cornerback position at the end of round three, picking another former Virginia Tech star in defensive back Jayron Hosley.
The 5'10", 178-pound junior had 59 tackles and three interceptions en route to being named a second-team All-ACC performer in 2011. It was believed that Hosley had likely boosted his draft stock into the second round with a strong performance at February's NFL combine, but that belief was short lived, as it was learned soon after that Hosley also failed a drug test while in Indianapolis.
Hosley doesn't have a history of off-field issues however, and the Giants were well served to look past this hiccup and instead to focus on Hosley's coverage ability, 4.43 speed and ability to return punts. With Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara returning from serious injuries and Aaron Ross now gone the team was very smart to add depth to the secondary. Hosley's special teams skills are a badly needed extra benefit.
The Giants finally looked to one of their larger needs with the selection of Auburn offensive tackle Brandon Mosley with the 131st pick, and some fans may grumble that the Giants aren't fixing the parts of the team that are broken.
However, the New York Giants have been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL over the past decade due in no small part to their adherence to the value over need strategy, and many times it's best not to try to fix what isn't broken.
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