New York Giants 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web

Kevin BoilardCorrespondent IMay 12, 2014

New York Giants 2014 Draft: Aggregating Report Card Grades from Around the Web

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    Odell Beckham, Jr. was the Giants' first-round selection.
    Odell Beckham, Jr. was the Giants' first-round selection.USA TODAY Sports

    For the college-aged readers who just finished up finals week, the thought of more report card grades may be nauseating.

    For everyone else, the readers who can't get enough draft analysis, this is for you.

    I've gathered assessments of the New York Giants' 2014 draft class from five prominent NFL writers and draft experts (all in the form of report card grades).

    According to these write-ups, the Giants graded out alright, but not spectacularly—three Bs, one B- and a C+.

    Not exactly Ivy League.

    Yeah, it's silly to grade a draft class before any of the rookies even step on the field. That's not to say, however, that these grades are completely worthless. As more misses have marked his drafts than hits lately, Giants general manager Jerry Reese is overdue for a successful class of selections.

    First impressions play a role. Do early indications in the form of expert report card grades tell us whether Reese's 2014 draft class will be the one Giants fans have been waiting on?

    On a larger scale, what do these picks say about the team's current identity?

    Hit "Next" to read about a suspected shift in Reese's draft strategy, the Giants' Super Bowl window under Eli Manning, Rueben Randle's role in the offense moving forward and more.

Mel Kiper, ESPN: B

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    Mel Kiper, ESPN
    Mel Kiper, ESPNGail Burton/Associated Press

    Mel Kiper has analyzed drafts for ESPN since 1984. His analysis of the Giants' 2014 draft class has yielded a B grade (subscription required). Dan Graziano, also of ESPN, comments on Kiper's grade:

    Mel likes the second-round pick of center Weston Richburg the best, and I agree with him. He thinks first-rounder Odell Beckham Jr. "has a chance to be a really dynamic NFL player," which he'd better be, or else this draft will be graded quite poorly in years to come. And he thinks third-rounder Jay Bromley was a reach, which even Bromley thought he was. 

    Graziano goes on to suggest that the Giants' 2014 draft strategy differed from those of previous years. I think he is right.

    In some rounds—particularly the third, as Kiper singled out—the Giants seemed not to select the best player available. Instead, New York appeared more interested in drafting particular prospects it had fallen in love with at positions of need.

    This is a clear deviation from the BPA approach Giants GM Jerry Reese has utilized in past drafts.

    This year, as Graziano points out, New York selected less wait-and-see, developmental projects. Instead, the team picked several players apparently primed to make a difference as rookies.

    The grade New York received from Kiper is one of the team's best across the web, and I believe it was Reese's digression from the norm that earned him this grade.

    Several of the draftees look ready to make an impact right away, so I predict this class to contain the most rookie contributors since the 2007 Super Bowl class, which included running back Ahmad Bradshaw, tight end Kevin Boss and wide receiver Steve Smith.

Eric Edholm, Shutdown Corner: B

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    TE Xavier Grimble (UDFA), USC
    TE Xavier Grimble (UDFA), USCKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Eric Edholm, a Chicago-based football writer for Yahoo! Sports' Shutdown Corner, had a similarly favorable assessment of the Giants' draft class. Edholm echoes the sentiment that New York targeted more pro-ready prospects in 2014:

    Notice a theme? A lot of team captains and players who are serious about football. [Odell] Beckham is a star in waiting, Richburg could be a fine pivot and it was a solid class otherwise with a lot of needs (except tight end) checked off.

    Edholm's grade specifically mentions the Giants' neglect of the tight end position. New York took to filling needs with this year's draft, so when the team's most pressing one went unaddressed, I certainly found it peculiar.

    I think it must have been because New York had not fallen in love with any of the tight end prospects in this year's draft.

    North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron was selected by the Detroit Lions 10th overall, two picks before New York first went on the clock.

    Perhaps Reese had been interested in Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, Notre Dame's Troy Niklas or Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz, but any such interest was not enough to warrant pulling the trigger in the second round.

    By the time New York picked again, at No. 74, all four second-tier prospects were off the board.

    When speaking with the press, the Giants' brass downplayed the need at tight end, as it believes one already on the roster—Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Kellen Davis, Daniel Fells or even newly signed undrafted free agent Xavier Grimble from USC—can make the catches (and blocks) New York needs in 2014.

Doug Farrar, SI.com: B

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    C Weston Richburd, Colorado St.
    C Weston Richburd, Colorado St.USA TODAY Sports

    Doug Farrar, an NFL writer for SI.com, gave the Giants draft the same grade Kiper and Edholm did: B. Farrar praises the first two picks as ones that can immediately impact the offense:

    General manager Jerry Reese knew that he had to come away with a great draft class in 2014 — the pressure was on after 2013′s disappointing season. And the G-Men endeavored to give Eli Manning a blazing target in the first round with LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He is one of the best receivers in this class and should produce immediately. Grabbing Colorado State center Weston Richburg in the second round was a nice addition, though they should have addressed more concerns along the O-line. The Giants seemed particularly enamored with the talents of Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley and Boston College running back Andre Williams; Bromley in particular could be a pleasant surprise if his knack for quarterback pressure transfers to the next level.

    Farrar's assessment is evidence that the Giants' draft strategy is still centered around quarterback Eli Manning and fielding the best possible team around their Super Bowl MVP-winning QB.

    Last season, Manning recorded career-high figures in interceptions thrown (27) and sacks absorbed (39). The ankle injury he suffered in the 2013 season finale was approaching like a ticking time bomb all last fall.

    Now, with Manning still recovering from the related surgery, the Giants have taken appropriate measures to protect the franchise's most valuable investment.

    Beckham should give Manning a veritable outside threat, something he has lacked since Hakeem Nicks' decline began with a broken foot in May of 2012.

    The Giants have not had a truly consistent man snapping Manning the ball since Shaun O'Hara's departure after the 2010 season. Richburg could be the long-term solution David Baas never was.

    Manning gives New York its best shot to win another Super Bowl, and with the veteran quarterback now 33 years old, the Giants aren't interested in wasting much more time to get back there.

Rob Rang, CBSSports.com: B-

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    RB Andre Williams, Boston College
    RB Andre Williams, Boston CollegeUSA TODAY Sports

    Rob Rang, a draft analyst for CBSSports.com, gave the Giants a B-, which is a slightly lower grade than the ones Kiper, Edholm and Farrar each doled out.

    Comparing New York's draft to those of its NFC East rivals, the Giants graded out higher than the Redskins (C+), but lower than the Cowboys (B) and Eagles (B+).

    Rang again praises the first two picks as ones to boost Manning's production before breaking down the back half of the Giants' 2014 draft:

    The Giants started off their 2014 class with a surprise in playmaker Odell Beckham and the year's top center in Weston Richburg, each of whom should be able to help Eli Manning return to form. Three of their next four picks were spent on instinctive, passionate defenders with underrated athleticism in defensive tackle Jay Bromley, safety Nat Berhe and pass-rusher Devon Kennard. Running back Andre Williams is a no non-sense grinder who could give Tom Coughlin the featured back that David [Wilson] has failed thus far to become. Each of the four comes with question marks, however, as Bromley and Berhe lack ideal size, Williams has only average top-end speed (despite a solid 40-yard dash time) and Kennard has struggled with durability. Other than Beckham, this wasn't a flashy draft for the Giants with some luck it could be very effective in restoring Big Blue pride.

    One draftee Rang points out as having starting potential is Boston College running back Andre Williams, drafted in the fourth round (113th overall).

    Barring injury, I think Rashad Jennings is New York's featured running back in 2014, but Williams may be too impressive a runner to ignore. A finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2013, Williams will be a tough player to keep on the bench as a pro.

    The selection of Williamsif not the signing of Jenningsmarked the failed implementation of David Wilson, a 2012 first-rounder, as the Giants' featured running back.

    Considering the hype that once surrounded Wilson, this new direction at running back is particularly disappointing.

    Yet, I find it equally exciting. Now, Wilson, an uncertainty to begin with, bears no more responsibility than a change-of-pace back. This role, however, may better suit his skill set than that of a featured back.

    Last year, running back may have been the team's weakest unit. Jennings, Williams and a healthy Wilson would make for a much-improved contingent in 2014.

Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: C+

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    WR Odell Beckham, LSU
    WR Odell Beckham, LSUUSA TODAY Sports

    Pete Prisco, a draft analyst for CBSSports.com, gave the Giants draft a C+ grade.

    Prisco's grade doesn't make much sense to me. The pick most criticized as a reach is third-rounder Jay Bromley, whom Prisco singled out as the team's "best pick."

    The only "questionable pick" Prisco mentions is Odell Beckham, Jr. in the first round, but he also says he "understand[s] it" as a necessary weapon for Eli Manning.

    So what is it that Prisco didn't like about New York's draft? Landing the class' best center in the second round? Picking up a Heisman finalist in the fourth round?

    "The selection of Beckham with the 12th pick was a bit of surprise to some, but they need to free up Victor Cruz from the doubles. He will. Second-round pick Weston Richburg will compete to start at center," he wrote.

    Okay, he's right that Victor Cruz needs to be freed of double-teams. A lot of people think Beckham will be the man to do perform the liberation. I think he will play a significant role, but more as an exceptional "Z" receiver or No. 2 outside pass-catcher.

    I think Beckham will push Rueben Randle for the "X" receiver routes, but ultimately Randle's 6'3" height and two years of experience with Manning will earn him the job.

    People are quick to criticize Randle's many miscommunications with Manning, but few point out that Randle led the team in receiving touchdowns in 2013 despite seeing far fewer targets than both Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

    Beckham's role, even as the "Z", will be an important one, as it will force opposing defenses to respect both sidelines in the Giants' revamped passing offense under Ben McAdoo.

    Randle and Beckham's efforts will keep the middle of the field open for Cruz, who is likely to remain the Giants' most productive pass-catcher.