Ranking Each of Jerry Reese's Draft Classes as New York Giants General Manager
After the 2006 season, longtime New York Giants front-office man Ernie Accorsi handed the duties of general manager off to Jerry Reese, who joined the organization as a scout back during Accorsi's first season with the team (1994).
Although much of the team's Super Bowl-winning core—including quarterback Eli Manning, defensive end Justin Tuck and running back Brandon Jacobs—was assembled by Accorsi before Reese took the reins, a lot of the Giants' recent success can be attributed to the successor's draft selections.
However, some of New York's shortcomings can be traced back to Reese's draft picks as well.
A third of an NFL general manager's responsibility is his drafting of rookies. (The other two-thirds are his signing of free agents and negotiating of contracts.) GMs build their careers on solid draft classes, and just a few poor ones can totally tarnish a reputation.
Reese has been effective enough with his selections since 2007 to have claimed two Super Bowl titles during his tenure. That's not to say each individual draft class of his was a successful one. In fact, many were significantly worse than others.
This slideshow will highlight all seven of Reese's draft classes with the Giants, starting with his worst and finishing with his best.
7. Class of 2009
First-Round Draft Position: 29 (out of 32)
Number of Picks: 9
Best Pick: WR Hakeem Nicks, UNC (Round 1: Pick 29)
Worst Pick: LB Clint Sintim, UVA (Round 2: Pick 45)
The 2009 draft class was easily Reese's worst. Littered with players who never reached their draft-day potential, the Giants made very little of a draft in which they boasted nine picks, including five in the first three rounds.
First-round selection Hakeem Nicks was the only productive member of this class, and even his productivity ran dry two years before his rookie contract did. Still, his dominance during the 2011 Super Bowl run made the pick worth it.
The same cannot be said for second-round linebacker Clint Sintim, as well as third-rounders Ramses Barden (Cal Poly), a wide receiver, and Travis Beckam (Wisconsin), a tight end.
Not one of these early-round selections turned out as planned. Second-round offensive lineman Will Beatty (UConn) is now heading down a dangerously similar path, despite signing a five-year, $38.75 million contract only a year ago.
Fourth-round running back Andre Brown (N.C. State) staged half-season resurgences in 2012 and 2013, but most of his career has been marked by injuries. The picks that came after Brown—quarterback Rhett Bomar (Round 5, Sam Houston State) and defensive backs DeAndre Wright (Round 6, New Mexico) and Stoney Woodson (Round 7, South Carolina)—never appeared in a game.
6. Class of 2012
First-Round Draft Position: 32 (out of 32)
Number of Picks: 7
Best Pick: WR Rueben Randle, LSU (Round 2: Pick 63)
Part of what factors into this assessment is draft-day hype and how each selection has lived up to his. In none of Reese's six other draft classes will you find a bigger disparity between hype and actual production than in his 2012 draft class.
First-round running back David Wilson was billed as an electric playmaker and just what the Giants offense needed. In his first two seasons, however, Wilson hasn't been very functional, recording just over 500 rushing yards, three big fumbles and a very concerning neck condition.
Fourth-round tight end Adrien Robinson hasn't recorded a single catch to justify Reese calling him "the JPP of tight ends" in reference to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Even the most successful member of this draft class, second-round wide receiver Rueben Randle, has fielded significant criticism. After being labeled "pro-ready" by head coach Tom Coughlin, Randle had his work ethic called into question as a rookie. Still, some doubt his ability as a No. 1 receiver, even after he caught six touchdowns a season ago.
Other members of this draft—such as third-round cornerback Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech), fourth-round offensive lineman Brandon Mosley (Auburn) and seventh-round defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (N.C. State)—have yet to do much that can be considered impressive, and they are running out of time to do so.
5. Class of 2010
First-Round Draft Position: 15 (out of 32)
Number of Picks: 7
Best Pick: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, USF (Round 1: Pick 15)
Worst Pick: LB Phillip Dillard, Nebraska (Round 4: Pick 115)
Much like the rest of Reese's draft classes, the 2010 class had its good picks and its bad ones. However, luck seemed to play a larger role in 2010 than any other year.
For example, the Giants got extremely lucky with their first-round selection, which they used to pick an extremely raw pass-rusher in Jason Pierre-Paul.
The pick paid off, as New York had an All-Pro defensive end on the roster by the time the project reached Year 2. Conversely, the Giants were awfully unlucky when it came to third-round defensive back Chad Jones (LSU), who nearly lost his leg in a post-draft auto accident, effectively ending his career before it ever began.
New York nailed a sure thing in second-round defensive tackle Linval Joseph (East Carolina), who was a model of consistency from the time of his drafting to his signing with the Minnesota Vikings earlier this offseason. The same cannot be said, however, for the Giants' final four selections of the 2010 NFL draft.
Fourth-round linebacker Phillip Dillard only lasted one season, fifth-round offensive lineman Mitch Petrus (Arkansas) couldn't block half as well as he could bench press, and sixth-round defensive end Adrian Tracy (William & Mary) was too much of a 'tweener to ever catch on.
I would have rather seen the Giants draft a clipboard, a new water cooler or even a tackling dummy than their actual seventh-round selection in 2010: punter Matt Dodge (East Carolina).
4. Class of 2011
First-Round Draft Position: 19 (out of 32)
Number of Picks: 8
Best Pick: CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska (Round 1: Pick 19)
Worst Pick: DT Marvin Austin, UNC (Round 2: Pick 52)
The 2011 draft class was not an exemplary one, but almost every rookie selected in this class had at least one shining moment.
For some, such as sixth-round linebacker Jacquain Williams (South Florida), that moment was as monumental as forcing what was essentially the game-winning turnover in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. For others, such as fellow sixth-round linebacker Greg Jones (Michigan State), the moment was as forgettable as earning a Week 1 start as a rookie.
With the passing of time, we will likely forget about Jones' minor contributions, much like the standout special teams performances sixth-round safety Tyler Sash (Iowa) used to put forth or the one week last season seventh-round running back Da'Rel Scott (Maryland) wound up with the starting job.
Third-round wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) could have his breakout performances of late 2013 forgotten, if he fails to capitalize on them early in 2014.
Not every draft pick in this class was a flash in the plan, though. First-round cornerback Prince Amukamara has developed into a viable starter, one New York must begin considering locking up for the long term. Then there's second-round defensive tackle Marvin Austin and fourth-round offensive lineman James Brewer (Indiana), both of whom never seemed to flash at all.
Austin is already off the team, and Brewer could be right behind him if things don't turn around rather quickly for him.
3. Class of 2013
First-Round Draft Position: 19 (out of 32)
Number of Picks: 7
Best Pick: OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse (Round 1: Pick 19)
Worst Pick: QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (Round 4: Pick 110)
It may be too early to tell how good the 2013 draft class really is, but one thing is already for certain: It is the only Reese-selected class that has yielded a player to start all 16 games as a rookie. That player was first-round offensive lineman Justin Pugh, who was New York's most reliable blocker along a shaky front five last year.
The rest of the class contributed minimally as rookies, but several members will likely take on a larger role in the seasons to come.
Second-round defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (Ohio State) must fill in immediately for the loss of Linval Joseph, while third-round defensive end Damontre Moore (Texas A&M) looks to pick up some valuable pass-rushing reps beside him. Even fifth-round safety Cooper Taylor (Richmond) could get into the mix with 2013 starter Will Hill in trouble yet again.
I wasn't a fan of picking fourth-round quarterback Ryan Nassib, especially when the Giants brass was hoping for him to never play. Was New York thinking that during the selections of seventh-rounders Eric Herman (Ohio), an offensive lineman, and Michael Cox (UMass), a running back, as well?
That may be the case, as neither player showed a ton of promise as a rookie.
The 2013 draft class is one to keep an eye on, of course, for it has the most room to fluctuate on this list, given the inexperience of most of its members.
2. Class of 2008
First-Round Draft Position: 31 (out of 31)
Number of Picks: 7
Best Pick: (tie) S Kenny Phillips, Miami (Round 1: Pick 31); WR Mario Manningham (Round 3: Pick 95)
Worst Pick: DE Robert Henderson, Southern Miss. (Round 6: Pick 199)
The 2008 draft was a clean, safe draft, highlighted by the selections of two key cogs in the run toward Super Bowl XLVI three years later: first-round safety Kenny Phillips and third-round receiver Mario Manningham.
Never the most talked about members of New York's most recent Super Bowl squad, both Phillips and Manningham did most of their work in the shadows of superstars. On defense, Phillips took away almost everything over the top.
In the passing game, Manningham was usually no more than a steady No. 3 receiving option, although he did step into the spotlight briefly to complete the greatest play of Super Bowl XLVI: a 38-yard reception from quarterback Eli Manning along the left sideline in the fourth quarter.
There were no blatantly bad picks in the 2008 draft. Second-round cornerback Terrell Thomas (USC) and fifth-round linebacker Jonathan Goff (Vanderbilt) both had their careers interrupted by devastating knee injuries, yet both Thomas and Goff were solid defenders when on the field and healthy.
Even fourth-round linebacker Bryan Kehl (BYU) could have developed into something special, had he not been waived so early in his Big Blue tenure.
Sixth-round quarterback Andre Woodson (Kentucky) never had a chance to make the active roster behind two former No. 1 overall selections in Manning (2004) and backup David Carr (2002). That leaves sixth-round defensive end Robert Henderson, who never appeared in a game, as New York's only poor pick of the 2008 draft.
1. Class of 2007
First-Round Draft Position: 20 (out of 32)
Number of Picks: 8
Best Pick: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall (Round 7: Pick 250)
Worst Pick: CB Aaron Ross, Texas (Round 1: Pick 20)
The masterful 2007 draft was one of Reese's few draft classes to make its impact felt immediately. In his first season operating as general manager, Reese selected six (out of eight) players who made a tangible difference in the Giants' playoff push toward a Super Bowl XLII victory.
First-round cornerback Aaron Ross, third-round defensive tackle Jay Alford (Penn State) and seventh-round safety Michael Johnson (Arizona) each saw their roles increase on defense as their rookie seasons climaxed.
And on offense, New York featured several rookies at the skill positions, including second-round wide receiver Steve Smith (USC), fifth-round tight end Kevin Boss (Western Oregon) and seventh-round running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
Some of these players—such as Smith, who set a single-season franchise mark for receptions in 2009 (107), and fourth-round linebacker/long snapper Zak DeOssie (Brown), who became a Pro Bowl special teamer—went on to do big things after their rookie campaigns came to a close.
Others, such as Ross, who struggled to hold down the starting job at times, never amounted to much more than their first-year contributions.
Although Ross was a disappointment overall, it must not be discounted that he started in each of New York's two most recent Super Bowl victories. The only pick Reese completely missed in this class was the one spent on sixth-round tackle Adam Koets (Oregon State).
Several members of this draft class were essential to the Super Bowl XLII victory, making it Reese's finest as Giants GM.
*All statistical information and draft records courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless specifically noted otherwise.
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