Butch Davis, Al Groh, Randy Edsall, Rich Ellerson, Brett Bielema, Paul Chryst, Tom O'Brien. Those names might not mean much off the top your head if you're a Giant fan.
But in analyzing the 2009 NFL Draft, these names were key in who the Giants selected in the high rounds. The team has relationships with these college coaches and used them to their advantage at the draft table.
First round pick wide receiver Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina reminds many of Dallas Cowboys' Hall-of-Famer Michael Irvin. There is good reason for that: He was coached by Butch Davis at UNC. Irvin was coached by Davis as a collegian at Miami and as a pro in Dallas.
Nicks may not have the speed of some of the wideouts picked ahead of him, but he is familiar with the pro style and has better football skills than others do.
The Giants are more concerned with who can catch Eli Manning's wind-blown offerings in the Meadowlands in November than they are are about 40-yard-dash times and Nicks was the best of the bunch when it came to that requirement.
The Giants are familiar with Davis and his approach to coaching receivers. He knows how to develop them. Not only did he produce Irvin, he is responsible for launching the careers of Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr., and Bubba Franks.
Virginia linebacker Clint Sintim, the Giants' first of two second-round selections, was coached by Al Groh. Giants' Head Coach Tom Coughlin and Groh have known each other a long time. They were both assistants on Bill Parcells' Giants team that won Super Bowl XXV.
Groh was a longtime NFL head and assistant coach working with such linebacker talent as Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, Andre Tippett, Chris Slade, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Clay Matthews, Mo Lewis, Marvin Jones, and James Farrior.
He has had several of his Cavaliers stars drafted high, including Chris Long, Braden Albert, and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. To say Groh knows a thing or two about grooming and developing pro talent is an understatement.
When Sintim dropped out of the first round and fell to the No. 45 pick, the Giants acted quickly. They knew they were getting real value.
The Giants' second of two second-round selections was offensive tackle William Beatty of UConn, who wowed the Giants at the combine with his overall athleticism. Beatty's coach at UConn, Randy Edsall, is a graduate of Syracuse, just like Coughlin.
Edsall also served as an assistant to Coughlin at both Boston College and in Jacksonville with the Jaguars. Go figure.
With the first pick in the third round, the Giants selected Ramses Barden, the 6'6" wide receiver from Cal Poly. His college coach, Rich Ellerson, was Giant defensive captain Antonio Pierce's college defensive coordinator at Arizona.
Ellerson now coaches at Army, where the Giants have a long-standing relationship. Current Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and wide receiver coach Mike Sullivan were both assistants at Army in the 1990's.
Tight end Travis Beckum, the Giants' second third-rounder, is from Wisconsin where he played for head coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. Bielema coached at Iowa the same time as Giants offensive line coach, Pat Flaherty.
Chryst is an excellent offensive coordinator that specializes in developing tight ends like Freddie Jones and Steve Heiden.
The Giants' fourth-round selection, running back Andre Brown of NC State, played for coach Tom O'Brien (pictured above). For those not familiar with O'Brien, he was the head coach at Boston College a few years after Coughlin left for Jacksonville.
Chris Snee, the Giants' All-Pro offensive guard and son-in-law of Tom Coughlin, played for four years under O'Brien at Boston College.
So you see, the Giants, like many teams I'm sure, have more than scouts to help them choose wisely in the draft. They utilize every angle, every relationship possible before bringing a player into the fold.