5 Biggest Draft Day Mistakes in New York Giants History
In 1981, the New York Giants drafted a linebacker named Lawrence Taylor from the University of North Carolina with the second overall pick. Over the next 13 seasons, Taylor became one of the best defensive players to ever lace 'em up.
The selection of Taylor was a successful one. If all of New York's picks were half as successful as the Taylor pick, the Giants would have their own wing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While the Taylor pick would easily fall within the Giants' greatest of all time, which selections rank among the worst in franchise history?
In this slideshow, let's take a gander at New York's biggest draft-day blunders.
DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina (2011 Round 2, Pick 52): The Giants took a chance on Austin after the 310-pounder missed his entire senior season at UNC. He played in just 11 games with the Giants before bouncing from the Miami Dolphins to the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.
LB Clint Sintim, Virginia (2009 Round 2, Pick 45): New York tried to convert UVA 'tweener Sintim to a 4-3 linebacker. The experiment eventually failed as Sintim was waived before the 2012 season, appearing in just 24 career games.
WR Sinorice Moss, Miami (2006 Round 2, Pick 44): Moss flashed just enough potential to string Giants fans along for each of his four seasons with the team. He never approached the production of his older brother, Santana, registering less than 500 receiving yards during his Giants career.
WR Tim Carter, Auburn (2002 Round 2, Pick 46): The southern track star was a highly touted pick, but his exceptional speed never translated to superstar-levels of production. Carter played three seasons with the Giants, never eclipsing 30 catches in any given season.
2003 Round 1, Pick 25: DT William Joseph, Miami
The Giants landed one of their greatest defensive linemen ever in the 2003 draft—but not with their first-round selection.
With the 25th overall selection, New York took University of Miami defensive tackle William Joseph. Joseph was part of a vaunted Hurricane defense that featured future NFL stars like Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma, Antrel Rolle and Vince Wilfork. In Joseph—who stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 310 pounds—the Giants thought they had nabbed a surefire Pro Bowler.
Joseph completed a full, 16-game season only once, in 2006—his final healthy season as a Giant. At that point, Joseph had already fallen from glory and was no longer considered a starting talent.
Joseph recorded just seven sacks and 17 tackles through four seasons with the Giants, but he did get a Super Bowl ring as a member of the injured reserve in 2007. He finished his career with the Oakland Raiders.
Thirty-one picks after Joseph was selected, the Giants took Osi Umenyiora—a two-time Pro Bowler who recorded 75 sacks during his nine-season stint with the Giants.
1971 Round 1, Pick 18: RB Rocky Thompson, West Texas State
The Giants spent their first-round pick in the 1971 draft—No. 18 overall—on a running back from tiny West Texas State. The team was still reeling from Allie Sherman's downfall, and new head coach Alex Webster, a former Giants running back himself, must have hoped this pick would return New York to its glory days.
The back's name was Rocky Thompson. Thompson was a sprinter who couldn't ever get his feet under him as a pro. His 177-yard, one-touchdown rookie campaign was Thompson's best with the Giants. Although his rushing stats dwindled drastically, Thompson caught on briefly as a kick returner with 1,768 return yards and two touchdowns.
Thompson was so underwhelming in New York that Ed Valentine of Big Blue View ranked him as the Giants' No. 1 draft bust in team history. And it doesn't end there—Deadspin ranked him as the seventh-worst player in NFL history.
To compound the embarrassment, the Los Angeles Rams selected Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood two picks after New York selected Thompson.
The Giants did not make the playoffs for a decade following the Thompson pick.
1992 Round 1, Pick 14: TE Derek Brown, Notre Dame
Long before a Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham ever stepped onto an NFL field, there was Derek Brown of Notre Dame—a 6-foot-6, 259-pound tight end prospect whom the Giants selected 14th overall in 1992.
With Brown primed to change the way tight ends were utilized at the time, the Giants thought they had landed a valuable offensive weapon. He played just three seasons in New York, though, managing 11 catches for 87 yards before completely fizzling out in 1994. Brown never caught a touchdown in Giants blue.
Brown experienced a minor resurgence with the Jacksonville Jaguars after his stint with the Giants. He then closed out his career with back-to-back unproductive years—the first with the Oakland Raiders, the second with the Arizona Cardinals. Brown is considered the Giants' biggest draft bust in team history by some, while Sports Illustrated went so far as to name him one of the biggest of the modern era.
Howard Cross handled most of New York's tight end duties throughout the '90s instead.
1996 Round 1, Pick 5: DE Cedric Jones, Oklahoma
Cedric Jones was the late-1990's most massive disappointment.
Part of that had to do with partial-blindness. Restricted to the right side due to his disability, Jones never justified his status as a fifth-overall selection. He struggled to crack the starting lineup for three full seasons, but he actually started his final 32 games with Big Blue. That doesn't mean his production rose, though—Jones registered just 15 sacks through five seasons in New York.
The pick spent on Jones is one the Giants will never get back. It will also be remembered as one of the worst in league history. It slid in as No. 100 on ESPN's 100 worst draft picks ever (all major sports), compiled by David Schoenfield in 2009. Deadspin ranked him the 40th-worst player in NFL history, simply describing him as "a very bad player."
With Jones floundering for much of five seasons on the right side, the defensive end he displaced settled in nicely on the opposite side.
His name was Michael Strahan.
2000 Round 1, Pick 11: RB Ron Dayne, Wisconsin
Big Blue's backfield tandem of the early 2000s was significantly less thunderous than expected.
If you only look at the statistics, running back Ron Dayne may not belong on this list. He compiled a respectable 2,067 rushing yards during his four-year stint with the Giants, and his 16 touchdowns during that time are nothing to sneeze at.
But when you consider the fact that Dayne was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1999 and the 11th-overall selection the following spring, the 250-pound bowling ball of a back's stats stand out as painfully puny.
After compiling a still-standing NCAA record of 6,397 rushing yards during his time at Wisconsin, Dayne racked up prestigious collegiate honors such as AP Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Doak Walker Award and the Jim Brown award—it's really no wonder New York fell for this apparition of an All-Star.
Dayne, who was to be the thunder to Tiki Barber's lightning, eventually yielded all backfield duties to Barber. As Barber went on to become New York's all-time leading rusher, Dayne dissolved into NFL obscurity with the Denver Broncos and later with the Houston Texans.
Kevin is a New York Giants Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter here. All draft and statistical information is courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless specifically noted otherwise.
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