Building Through the NFL Draft: GM Jerry Reese Has the Formula

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Building Through the NFL Draft: GM Jerry Reese Has the Formula
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

When Giant President John Mara hired Jerry Resse in 2007, words like extraordinary, outstanding, and energetic were used to describe the Tipton, Tennessee native who killed cows, pigs and fowl in his great-grandfather's slaughterhouse as a teen.

Reese said last year in a Memphis Commercial Appeal blog that "he never set out to have a big job; he set out to do a good job, day after day after day."

Jerry's humble background and his commitment to showing up and working hard has helped him become one of the premier General Managers in pro football.

In a short time, Reese has built the Giants into a Super Bowl contender in the NFC. He drafted 15 players in all the past two years and all of them remain on the Giant roster. A total of nine draft choices have started in their first two years.

Reese's draft approach relies strongly on speed and college production. His attention to detail and his penchant for picking up strong talent at the bottom of the draft that in some cases seem character tainted or diminished, has given him an edge on his competitors, distinguishing him from his peers over the past three years.

In each of his three drafts, he has taken one player that has run into problems at school that many teams removed from their boards. 

Seventh-round 2007 pick, Ahmad Bradshaw was told directly by Reese the day after the draft that "he had one chance to get it right."

Reese banked on Bradshaw's resume which showed a Conference USA player of the year award, and, although he was thrown out of Virginia as a freshman for drinking, he felt Bradshaw deserved another chance due to his youthful inexperience.

Bradshaw helped secure a playoff spot in his rookie year with an 88-yard touchdown run in week 15 against Buffalo that avoided a do-or-die home finale against the then-undefeated Patriots. He then played effectively in the playoffs averaging 4.3 yards a carry and providing glimpses of his game-breaking ability.

Credit Reese for taking a chance at selection 250, as teams like the Bengals feel the pain of watching a second-rounder, Auburn's Kenny Irons, get cut after one year due to injury and non-production.

Another low pick from the same year is fellow seventh-rounder, starting safety Michael Johnson, a long, athletic player who has basketball-like agility on the football field.

While Johnson didn't have any off the field problems, he developed into a starting safety as a rookie, showing solid toughness and big-time ball hawking skills.

Reese has two others that he is looking to for similar results. One is 2008 third-round pick Mario Manningham, who failed a drug test for marijuana use and lied about it during the pre-draft combines, but then took the unusual step of writing all 32 teams and admitting he did use the drug.

Apparently this moved Reese, who stepped up after many talent evaluators said that Manningham might not get drafted becasue of his drug use.

Reese again pointed to Mannigham's college production at Michigan where he caught 12 touchdowns and grabbed 72 passes during his senior year. After a pre-season quad injury slowed his progress with the Giants, Manningham only had four catches for 26 yards all of last year, but, to his credit, had no off-the-field problems.

While Manningham didn't play much, second-round 2007 pick, Steve Smith, picked up the slack when starter Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg, leading the team with 57 receptions.

Fans should be reminded that it took the Giants best pass catching receiver of all-time, Amani Toomer, three years before he hit his stride in his fourth NFL season. Reese is hoping that either Manningham or fourth-year receiver Sinorice Moss can develop and produce at the other receiver spot opposite Smith.

In this year's 2009 draft, Reese took a shot on fifth-round selection Rhett Bomar who ran afoul at Oklahoma after setting the school freshman record for passing yards—2,018. Allegedly, he accepted money for work not performed while working at a car dealership.

He ended up at Sam Houston State and left the school's all-time leading passer accumulating 5,564 yards, throwing 37 touchdowns and running for 12 more. 

While the Giants have David Carr and last year's sixth-round pick Andre Woodson  ahead of him on the depth chart, Bomar has above-average arm strength and Drew Brees-like potential. Look for him to push David Carr in a year or two.

While Reese's draft strategy could be called "Oakland Raider's light," what makes the Giants different is the elimination, not the embracing, of the bad boy image. Reese is extremely effective getting his no-nonsense approach across to  players who have had problems on and off the field (see Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey).

Reese's drafting prowess will again be tested this year as the Giants look to first-round receiver, North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks, to step in and have an immediate impact. Given Reese's draft record, look for one of his drafted players at the jammed wide receiver position to step up and perform in key situations.

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