The common belief is that it takes two, three, even four years to properly assess a team's draft class. But we don't have that kind of time or patience. We were already issuing grades just hours after the New York Giants and their 31 NFL counterparts made their picks last April, and now that one season is in the books, we're ready to reassess things in regard to the seven players the Giants suited up as drafted rookies in 2013.
Round 1, pick 19: Justin Pugh (OT, Syracuse)
I thought it was weird that the Giants left defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine as well as cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes, Desmond Trufant and Jamar Taylor on the board in order to pick Pugh, who many thought didn't have the reach to succeed as a right tackle. That's because they should have addressed the defense here unless they had a surefire prospect.
Pugh proved me wrong.
The versatile 23-year-old started a bit slow but really got into a groove during the second half of his rookie campaign. He didn't have a lot of help, especially once center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee went down for the year, but he was still only responsible for five of the 39 sacks Eli Manning took, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
|Justin Pugh: Pressure allowed/game|
|First five weeks||5.6||0.4|
|Final 11 weeks||2.0||0.3|
|Pro Football Focus|
As a pillar for all 16 games on Manning's right side, Pugh rightly earned a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team. Next year, regardless of whether he shifts inside or stays at tackle, look for the kid to make a run at the Pro Bowl.
Round 2, pick 49: Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
It's tough to grade Tom Coughlin draft picks this early because guys like Hankins just don't see the field enough as rookies. However, Hankins did enough in a limited sample size as a backup to inspire confidence going forward.
The 320-pound 21-year-old actually earned the third-highest PFF grade on the team when it came to run defense. He had 11 stops and only one missed tackle on 195 snaps. And when he started getting regular reps beyond Week 12, you could see him improving each week. By the time the season finished, Hankins had the look and feel of a veteran.
|PFF: Best Giants run defenders, 2013|
|Player||PFF run defense grade|
|1. Justin Tuck||11.7|
|2. Jason Pierre-Paul||9.6|
|3. Johnathan Hankins||9.5|
|4. Linval Joseph||8.0|
|5. Mike Patterson||6.4|
|Pro Football Focus|
The Giants were steady at the defensive tackle position in 2013, but Linval Joseph is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and there's been talk of Cullen Jenkins moving to defensive end. Regardless of what happens there, look for Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to find ways to make Hankins a more prominent part of the weekly game plan in 2014.
Round 3, pick 81: Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
Moore made an immediate impact in rookie camp and organized team activities, causing many to believe that he had a chance to shine as a rookie. Alas, he was also lost in a deep rotation along the defensive line, taking a back seat to Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul (when healthy) and Mathias Kiwanuka.
Ultimately, he was held without a sack and had just 11 tackles on 136 snaps, the majority of which came alongside fellow rookie Hankins during the final five weeks of the regular season.
On the bright side, he capped his rookie campaign with a solid four-pressure performance against the Redskins, per PFF. That was his best game of the year, and with Tuck potentially hitting the road as an unrestricted free agent, look for the 21-year-old to pick up where he left off with plenty of opportunities next season.
Round 4, pick 110: Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)
This pick was made with the extremely long-term future in mind, and Eli Manning was the guy. We aren't going to criticize the Giants for taking a flier on a quarterback for the future with the 110th pick. Nobody expected Nassib to play in 2013.
Still, I don't love that the Giants also lost a sixth-round pick in order to trade up to take Nassib. This team had a lot of holes that could have been addressed with those picks.
Round 5, pick 152: Cooper Taylor (S, Richmond)
To nobody's surprise, Taylor played sparingly as a rookie, earning just a handful of defensive snaps while contributing on special teams.
With Antrel Rolle, Will Hill and Ryan Mundy holding it down at safety, there wasn't much room for him, but Taylor still loses points for failing to compete for playing time after Stevie Brown went down. That defense also needed help at linebacker, but the 23-year-old wasn't able to emerge.
Round 7, pick 225: Eric Herman (G, Ohio)
When that interior line was ravaged by injuries, there were opportunities. Yet Herman failed to make the active roster and spent 15 weeks on the practice squad. You're not supposed to hit on seventh-round picks, but it's still a negative when a guy doesn't pan out.
Round 7, pick 253: Michael Cox (RB, Massachusetts)
David Wilson and Andre Brown went down early, but Cox couldn't take advantage and the Giants were forced to bring in a slew of retreads. He did make a single start and appeared in 14 games, but the 24-year-old managed only 43 yards on 22 carries.
He just wasn't ready. Will he ever be? The jury's still out, but backs who succeed usually make more of an impact as rookies.
Again, the Giants don't like giving rookies heavy playing time, which is why these grades are still very much in flux. Only three rookies made any sort of impact this year, which is why they received the top grades. The potential remains extremely high for all three of those players, though, which actually makes this a pretty strong draft at the one-year mark.
OVERALL GRADE: B-