New York Giants' Best and Worst Draft Picks of the Last Decade
Some picks made for better professionals than others. For every first-round bust, there has been a late-round steal. The Giants have been lucky enough to have employed the services of two quality general managers—Ernie Accorsi (1997-2006), who has lived a Hall of Fame-caliber football life, and his hand-selected successor, Jerry Reese (2007-present)—during the past decade of drafting.
One could argue that the 2004 selection of Philip Rivers (Round 1, pick four), which directly led to the acquisition of Manning, was one of the best picks of the last decade. However, for the purposes of this article, I have only considered New York's actual picks and their contributions as Giants.
In the same regard, I have not taken into account, for example, the production of 2006 draft selection Barry Cofield (Round 4, pick 124) since he joined the Washington Redskins in 2011.
Upon reading this article, you will likely notice a few things:
- No player from either of New York's two most recent drafts is included, as we have not yet seen enough of these young draftees to consider them among the "best" and "worst" selections of the past decade (although some appear to be well on their way);
- Five offensive players (three among the "best") and five defensive players (three among the "worst") have made this list;
- Three of the five best picks of the last decade were made by Accorsi, while all five of the worst picks were made by Reese; and
- The 2009 draft class was a particularly unsuccessful one.
OK, we're on the clock.
Click the "NEXT" button to view the slideshow, and don't forget to leave a comment suggesting any worthy names not mentioned in the article.
*All statistical information courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.
5th-Worst Pick: WR Ramses Barden (2009)
Wide receiver Ramses Barden opens up our list as the fifth-worst draft pick of the last decade. Selected in the third round of the 2009 draft (45 overall), Barden never seemed quite as big as his 6'6", 224-pound frame would have led you to believe.
Always billed as a big red-zone target, Barden never did find the end zone as a Giant, failing to catch a single touchdown pass through five seasons in New York. Aside from a single game in 2012—a Week 3 matchup with the Carolina Panthers in which he caught nine passes for 138 yards as a fill-in—Barden was a major disappointment during his tenure with the Giants.
An FCS standout at Cal Poly, Barden ranks fifth on this list because of his utter lack of transition to the professional ranks. Despite having elite size, the big pass-catcher never utilized his mass effectively. Reese took a risk by drafting a questionable prospect in Barden and paid dearly for it.
Barden caught just 29 passes for 394 yards as a Giant.
5th-Best Pick: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (2010)
Now on the positive end of the spectrum, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is the fifth-best pick of the past decade. The Giants selected Pierre-Paul out of Southern Florida with the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft. It was considered a risky move at the time, as the pass-rushing prospect was picked almost solely on his raw athletic ability.
In his second season as a pro, JPP caught on as a legitimate edge-rusher and all-around defensive force. He completed an All-Pro season with 16.5 sacks and an absurd 93 total tackles. Sometimes he would single-handedly take over a game, like he did versus the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 of that season, and will the Giants to victory.
Pierre-Paul ranks fifth-best here because of the guts it took to select a player as unproven as he was coming out of college with such a high pick. Although JPP's numbers have significantly dwindled as back and shoulder issues have flared up in the past season-and-a-half, he is still one of the league's most feared defenders.
No matter what, the Giants have already reaped at least one Lombardi Trophy from the selection of Pierre-Paul.
4th-Worst Pick: TE Travis Beckum (2009)
Originally considered a matchup nightmare, 2009 selection Travis Beckum (Round 3, pick 100) was thought to have wide receiver-type ability in a tight end-type body. However, the only nightmare he caused was likely the one that haunted Reese after making this pick.
The Wisconsin tight end never won the starting job in New York, partially because of his complete ineffectiveness as a blocker. Because of his limited playing time, Beckum's production reached just 26 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns through four seasons with the Giants.
This pick is slightly worse than the Barden pick because Reese can't blame the selection on elite size. Beckum is only 6'3", 234 pounds, so his chances to make it as a full-time starter were relatively slim from the get-go. He should have seen this pick falling short from several miles away.
4th-Best Pick: RB Brandon Jacobs (2005)
No Giant has scored more rushing touchdowns than the 60 Brandon Jacobs has scored since being selected in the fourth round (pick 110) of the 2005 draft, making him the fourth-best selection of the last decade. His last four touchdowns came during a 2013 homecoming tour in which Jacobs returned from a one-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers, wearing jersey No. 34 instead of his usual 27.
Jacobs was always a bruising runner not afraid to deliver a blow to a would-be tackler. What is there to fear when you're a 6'4", 264-pound running back?
The massive ball-carrier accumulated over 5,000 rushing yards in eight seasons with the Giants—many of them coming after he had already trampled a defender.
Jacobs is the fourth-best pick of the last decade because the NFL has not ever seen a running back talent quite like him. Jacobs was also selected in a draft class where every pick mattered dearly, as Accorsi only had four that year. He ended up an ideal selection; his unique size and ability helped the Giants claim two Super Bowl titles during his tenure.
3rd-Worst Pick: DT Marvin Austin (2011)
In 2011, the Giants spent a second-round pick on a defensive tackle who had missed his entire senior year due to a violation of NCAA rules. Spending such a high pick on North Carolina's Marvin Austin seemed like it might have some upside down the road, but two years later, Austin wasn't even on the roster.
Austin never acclimated himself to the NFL game, as his entire rookie season was lost to injury. Then, in his second season, two years removed from a meaningful game, Austin played in only eight games. His tenure with the Giants ended with just eight total tackles.
Austin played three impressive seasons as a Tar Heel, but that should not have been enough to give New York the confidence to select him in the second round. The loss of his senior season should have been a much bigger concern for Reese. An exponentially more productive defensive tackle in Stephen Paea, now of the Chicago Bears, was selected just one spot after New York picked Austin.
3rd-Best Pick: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (2007)
Running back and 2007 seventh-round pick (250 overall) Ahmad Bradshaw barely edges out Brandon Jacobs as the third-best selection of the past decade. Bradshaw recorded less rushing yardage (4,418) and touchdowns (34) than Jacobs did during his Giants tenure, but the spark-plug back provided just as much fire to the offense.
Part of what made Bradshaw so great was his versatility. As a youngster, he was the quick, explosive and elusive runner everyone expected David Wilson to be. From kick returns to pass-catching to blitz pickups, Bradshaw excelled in all facets of his game. He did all of this while playing on feet and ankles that required almost yearly surgeries to repair.
One of the toughest players to ever suit up for Big Blue, Bradshaw was every bit as strong as Jacobs was pound-for-pound. Two factors led to him being ranked ahead of his former mentor: him being a seventh-round selection and his seizing of the starting job in 2010.
Bradshaw was also a major contributor on both the 2007 and 2011 championship teams, scoring, in fact, the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI.
2nd-Worst Pick: CB Aaron Ross (2007)
The Giants' only first-round selection to make this list of worst picks of the last decade, Texas cornerback Aaron Ross never amounted to what the team expected he would. The 20th overall pick in 2007 had exceptional speed and athleticism, which probably enamored Reese in his rookie season as GM.
Multiple times, Ross was thrust into a starting role, and the Giants secondary suffered. He started 15 games in both 2008 and 2011 but started just one each in the two seasons in between. A career marred by inconsistency, Ross' is one that is only salvaged by 11 interceptions and the fact that he started in both Super Bowl XLII and XLVI.
Ross would be the worst pick of the past decade, but his contributions cannot be completely overlooked. Although he was totally unreliable when on the field, he was kept on the roster for quite some time. Ross was even talented enough to warrant a second go-round in 2013 after spending a season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If Ross was not a first-round pick, he probably would not have been named on this list.
2nd-Best Pick: RG Chris Snee (2004)
Right guard Chris Snee, a second-round selection in 2004 (34 overall), is the only active Giant on this list other than Pierre-Paul. After 10 seasons of service, Snee ranks ahead of all but one draft pick made in the last decade.
Snee was the first player selected to form Manning's supporting cast. A solid pick it turned out to be, as the Boston College product has started all 141 games in which he has appeared. From 2005-2012, Snee missed but a single game, and, at one point, he was riding a 101-game consecutive start streak.
The guard has been New York's most reliable blocker throughout the tenure of head coach Tom Coughlin, who happens to be Snee's father-in-law.
Even though Snee's body and ability have deteriorated in recent seasons, his grit and determination have not. He ranks so high on this list because of his decade-long role as a mainstay on the Giants' offensive line. Manning may have been the franchise's major investment of 2004, but Snee was the equally valuable insurance policy.
Worst Pick: LB Clint Sintim (2009)
Linebacker and 2009 second-round selection Clint Sintim was New York's worst draft selection since 2004, as the Virginia product failed miserably to catch on within the Giants defense. A productive rush linebacker in college, Sintim didn't disrupt much of anything as a pro...except for maybe Reese's sleep when he wasn't having nightmares about Beckum.
Sintim's best fit would have probably been in a 3-4 defense, but the Giants were committed to banging a square peg into a round hole. A pair of serious knee injuries probably ended Sintim's chances of ever fitting into the Giants' base 4-3 before they even began. His Giants and NFL career ended with just 23 total tackles and a sack.
To be fair, not many players could have rebounded from the injuries Sintim suffered early in his career. However, his drafting was an immediate head-scratcher. Although he was certainly talented, Sintim was never an ideal fit for the Giants' defensive scheme, and that, in combination with the injuries, is likely why the Giants gave up on him in 2012.
This pick was just a total miss.
Best Pick: DE Justin Tuck (2005)
The best pick of the last decade was Accorsi's 2005 selection of defensive end Justin Tuck out of Notre Dame (Round 3, pick 74). Before recently signing on with the Oakland Raiders, Tuck spent nine seasons as a Giant, becoming a team captain and fan favorite along the way.
Tuck started out as a backup to Pro Bowlers Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan but eventually carved out a role all his own. Perhaps a more talented run defender than he was pass-rusher, Tuck's career with the Giants ended with 60.5 sacks and 456 total tackles after the 2013 season. He became a vocal leader and figurehead of the franchise after an explosive performance in Super Bowl XLII.
It is Tuck who tops this list, for no other draft pick selected in the last decade has been more instrumental to the team's prolonged success than he. Originally just a mid-round pick, Tuck's career production with the Giants far exceeded his draft-day potential. Without him, more so than any other defensive player, New York does not claim either of its two most recent league titles.