QB Ryan Nassib was a surprising pick in the fourth round.
A long draft weekend came to a close on Sunday night, and the New York Giants’ rookie selections have a lot of analysts talking. Overall, the Giants' draft was not one designed to make an immediate impact in 2013 but one to strengthen the team in the future. That is exactly what a solid draft should do.
However, not everyone agrees that the Giants made all the right moves in the 2013 draft, as evidenced by this article. This slideshow will highlight grades, critiques and analysis of New York’s draft selections by some of the foremost names in NFL draft and Giants coverage.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN’s lead draft expert, has been scrutinizing NFL drafts for a national audience since the mid-1980s. Kiper awarded the Giants' 2013 draft only an average grade, claiming that the team failed to address its biggest needs.
“[The Giants] get a C for needs and a B for value,” ESPN NFC East blogger Dan Graziano wrote, “with Mel [Kiper Jr.] downgrading them for failing to address cornerback or linebacker.”
My take: The Giants surely want to improve upon the next-to-last-ranked defensive unit they fielded in 2012, but they only selected three defensive players, compared to the four offensive players that were selected. Kiper has a point; New York’s linebackers and cornerbacks need drastic improvement, and neither deficiency was directly addressed in the draft.
Head coach Tom Coughlin claims that the Giants wanted to address the cornerback position, but the team valued players at other positions in each of the seven rounds, according to Art Stapleton of the Bergen Record. Coughlin is also confident that an option on the linebacker market will present itself before camp, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
Just like free agency, general manager Jerry Reese views the draft as “part of the puzzle” (via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk). The next part of the puzzle is capitalizing on prospects in undrafted free agency, where New York has already signed Charleston Southern cornerback Charles James, and linebackers Alonzo Tweedy (Virginia Tech), Etienne Sabino (Ohio State) and Charles Dieuseul (Mount Union).
Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh wasn’t a firework of a first-round draft pick. However, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated believes Pugh could have a long, successful career with the Giants, but he sees the former Orangemen left tackle lined up along the interior.
“But what the Giants landed in Pugh at No. 19 is a player that should be in their lineup as a guard for the next several seasons, with the ability to slide out and handle some duties at tackle when needed,” Burke wrote.
My take: The knock on Pugh has been his arm length, but it’s been a bit over-analyzed. Many believe it will limit Pugh’s ability as a tackle in the NFL. Surely, Reese does not see any limitations; otherwise, Pugh wouldn’t have been ranked at the top of the Giants’ big board (via Bill Pennington of the New York Times).
Pugh’s footwork will be a bigger factor than his arm length. He showed good control as a left tackle during his senior season at Syracuse, but he has the versatility to line up anywhere on the line. He has the desirable jack-of-all-trades characteristic, like former Giants O-linemen Rich Seubert, and current ones David Diehl and Kevin Boothe.
I expect Pugh to be in a three-way competition with Diehl and James Brewer for the starting right tackle position in training camp. Pugh may earn spot starts at right guard if starter Chris Snee is hurt, or even left guard if center David Baas is hurt and Boothe needs to slide over, but I see Pugh settling in at tackle during his career in New York.
The Giants addressed their awful run defense by drafting Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins in the second round. Nate Davis of USA Today isn’t quite sold, however, that the 325-pounder was worth the second-round pick, considering how often the Giants like to rush the passer.
“The Giants are always true to their board, but it's worth wondering how much a player like Hankins will see the field vs. a trio of NFC East teams that tend to spread the field and/or favor option-oriented schemes…Hankins doesn't seem like the ideal defender to combat a fast break attack of that ilk,” Davis wrote.
My take: Much like Pugh, Hankins wasn’t a flashy selection in the second round. However, the failure to stop the running game was the root of all New York’s defensive woes in 2012, so spending a high draft pick on a player who can plug up the middle proves that the team has placed a priority on rectifying that issue.
Davis’ criticism may be that Hankins will only play a part-time gig with the Giants, but a situational role still holds a decent amount of value. Even if Hankins only plays on running downs and short-yardage situations, he’ll help put the rushers in better position on passing downs by slowing down the run.
Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers are the Giants' two biggest run-stuffers under contract, and there’s a good chance that both players could be elsewhere in 2014. Rogers is nearing retirement, and Joseph is the final year of his contract, so Hankins could be put on the fast track to a starting opportunity.
Reese and the Giants could not pass up the defensive end talent that was still available in the third round, settling on Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore as the team’s hand-picked pass-rusher of 2013. Evan Hilbert of CBSSports.com believes Moore’s abilities transcend those of an average defensive end, though.
“Moore knows what a successful NFL linebacker looks like, having played behind current Broncos star Von Miller while with the Aggies. Though he's listed as a defensive end, Moore can also play linebacker,” Hilbert wrote.
My take: Moore is only 20 years old, so he may not make much of an impact as he transitions to the professional ranks during his rookie season. He will have to compete with many other young prospects, like Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou, for more reps in training camp and preseason. Moore could produce a few head-turning plays in 2013 while getting his feet wet at the NFL level.
Aside from a few character concerns, Moore’s slide to the third round was primarily due to a poor showing at the combine, where he ran a 4.95-second 40-yard dash and only recorded 12 reps on the bench press. Moore can counter these red flags by displaying a nose for making plays in the backfield similar to the ones he made in college.
Hilbert has good reason to praise Moore’s versatility, as the former Aggie played a “joker” position in Texas A&M’s defense. Similar to Mathias Kiwanuka, Moore can line up at defensive end or inside at defensive tackle. He is also just as natural standing up as a linebacker; his experience comes from his time as a 3-4 outside linebacker before he became a 4-3 down lineman in 2012.
The Giants took nearly everyone by surprise in the fourth round, trading up to snag Ryan Nassib of Syracuse, one of this year’s highest-rated quarterbacks. Ralph Vacchiano thinks all possibilities are on the table, and Nassib could end up the Giants' quarterback of the future.
“Three years ago, who would’ve ever imagined Peyton Manning in anything other than an Indianapolis Colts uniform? Tom Brady’s door to the Hall of Fame wasn’t open until Drew Bledsoe got injured. And Aaron Rodgers, who spent three years not playing behind Brett Favre, is now the highest-paid player in the NFL,” Vacchiano wrote.
My take: Nassib’s value made him impossible to pass up in the fourth round. The Giants made the right move by jumping up to select him. By doing so, the Giants added a talented young quarterback to learn under Manning in a secure environment in which there will be no controversy for the starting job.
Manning has two Super Bowl MVPs to his name, and the Giants pulled off one of the gutsiest draft day trades in franchise history to get him in 2004. Manning is expected to be the man in New York for as long as possible, so it wasn’t surprising when Reese said, “if he doesn’t ever play, that would be great,” about the rookie quarterback he traded up to grab.
Nassib is too talented a prospect to never play, whether it’s with the Giants or one of the NFL’s 31 other teams. Manning is in the prime of his career, but if Nassib performs well in a spot start—that’s a big “if” considering Manning’s current iron man record of 146 consecutive starts—he could end up as trade bait, like Matt Flynn in 2012.
With their final three selections in the draft, the Giants took Richmond safety Cooper Taylor, Ohio guard Eric Herman and UMass running back Michael Cox. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York sees the upside in all three late-round prospects, grading the selections B, B- and C+, respectively.
Youngmisuk believes Taylor is large enough to step in at outside linebacker as well as safety, bolstering one of the team’s most deflated units. He also described Herman as a “tough, physical and nasty” lineman, and praised Cox’s size, speed and catching ability, claiming that he will compete for a roster spot with Ryan Torain and Da’Rel Scott.
My take: The Giants brought in intriguing prospects with each of their final three selections of the draft, but it definitely hurts that none of them are cornerbacks or linebackers, the team’s two biggest needs. If Taylor ends up being effective as both a safety and linebacker, that will ease some of the pain. Taylor, however, will be making a huge jump from Richmond Spiders to the New York Giants in 2013.
Herman’s athletic ability is nothing to marvel over. At Ohio, he found a way to take his man out of the play, usually by putting him on the ground. The Giants may be enamored by his nasty attitude, but that won’t be nearly enough to put NFL defenders on their butts. Herman will need drastic improvement to see the field.
The film on Cox is sparse, as he only recorded less than 1,000 rushing yards over the course of his career at UMass and Michigan. Andre Brown, New York’s short-yardage specialist, is injury prone, so the 214-pounder could gain an opportunity in 2013 to become the team’s next bruiser.