Twenty-five years as a Giants fan has certainly not given me the expertise in drafting players for an NFL team, but I have seen some crazy picks by our New York Football Giants, and I’d like to share what I think the Giants need to do in this year’s draft.
The Giants had an obvious gap in the defensive line when Osi Umeniyora went down last year and need depth on the line to prevent a single injury from devastating their defense. The linebacking corps needs help as well. Big Blue's current linebackers are not getting any younger, and might underperform.
Their biggest defensive loss might have been Steve Spagnuolo, who left to coach the Rams, but good players can certainly make it seem like he’s still on the Giants sideline. And you don’t necessarily want to draft a new defensive coordinator.
Free agency has seen the Giants address these needs to some degree, with the acquisitions of Chris Canty (fourth-round, 2005) Rocky Bernard (fifth-round, 2002) and Michael Boley (fifth-round, 2005). They can’t stop there.
The draft is the place to add some valuable cogs to the wheel to help the Giants maintain a strong, and deep defensive unit. A few good picks can be the difference between finishing third or fourth in the NFC East, or returning to Super Bowl glory.
The parentheses above demonstrate that players who contribute to a team’s success are not always first and second rounders (i.e. Tony Mandarich) but fourth, fifth, or later rounders as well (i.e. Ahmad Bradshaw).
Players in the early rounds are usually fixtures at their positions, whereas later picks can be diverse in their abilities, and plug up multiple holes for a team.
David Tyree, a former sixth-rounder (2003), contributed greatly to the Giants special teams, and then made "the Catch" in Super Bowl XLII. He was injured last year, but may have been heading for bigger and better things. His absence obviously hurt the Giants in 2008.
With 10, and possibly 11, picks in this year’s draft, Jerry Reese will certainly be able to find a few gems. Look for the Giants to look for a wide receiver in the first round.
For obvious reasons (Plaxico) wide receiver is a glaring weakness, as the current WRs were unable to perform up to expectations. Their lack of clutch performances prevented the Giants from advancing further in the playoffs. WR is a priority in this year’s draft, and I look to Reese to plug this hole quickly.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (6’2”, Maryland) Kenny Britt (6’3”, Rutgers) and Brian Robiskie (6’2”, Ohio State) figure to be available in the first or second-round, and could be the big receiver the Giants need.
Percy Harvin would be a nice game-breaking type to have as well, but he doesn't have a lot of size. Without a doubt, a WR pick needs to come early, in the first or second-round at least.
Demetrius Byrd (LSU), Derrick Williams (Penn State), and Louis Murphy (Florida) are high achievers, but have some downside and/or poor performances in the combine, which will likely drop them to the second or lower rounds.
Defensive picks will be a priority throughout the draft, but should start coming for the Giants in the second, third, and fourth rounds.
Tyson Jackson is a nice DE-type and has a combination of size (6’4”, 300 pounds) and speed (4.90 40-yard dash). Larry English (6’2”, 255) and Clint Sintim (6’3", 256) need to bulk up and aren’t that fast (4.8-4.9 in the 40, which might get worse when they get bigger). Larry English comes from N. Illinois, and the Giants like the smaller schools.
Sintim also could be a good strong-side linebacker in the 4-3, which would provide versatility in the Giants defense. Southern Cal might help the Giants, as Fili Moala and Clay Matthews might be there in the second round.
Peria Jerry (Ole Miss) might also be available. Any of these picks would be nice apprentices for Umeniyora, Tuck, and co. Look for them in the second or third rounds. Chris Baker (Hampton) is a sleeper pick, at 326 pounds and a time of just over five seconds in the 40. He is a likely mid-round pick, if anyone notices him, that is.
Linebackers Tyrone McKenzie (South Florida), Marcus Freeman (Ohio State), Zack Follett (Cal), and Jonathan Casillas (Wisconsin) all look to be men who lack size and ran slow 40s, which might turn some teams off. All of them, however, contributed to their teams in total tackles, tackles for loss, and the occasional sack. One of these players could be the third or fourth-round pick for the Giants as well.
Derrick Ward’s loss is huge as well. Wind is gone, but the Giants might find a good replacement in the third through sixth rounds.
Looking down on the lists of RB rankings, I see Donald Brown (UConn), Shonn Greene (Iowa), Rashad Jennings (Liberty), and Kory Sheets (Purdue) who all scored double-digit TDs in 2008, and might be able to help.
And the sleeper pick of the day is Bernard Scott from Abilene Christian. It’s a Division II school so he might just come in the last round, but look at the stats from 2008: 12 games, 2,156 yards, 8.1 yards per carry, 47 receptions, 826 yards, and six TDs.
Crazier things have happened.
Stats for this article came from ESPN.com, SI.com, Scout.com, WalterFootball.com, and www.draftcountdown.com, I fully acknowledge that information on those sites helped me write this article.