New York Giants Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
This was Jerry Reese's 10th draft as Giants general manager. He had six picks this year (one in every round except for the seventh) and used them to pick up three defensive and three offensive players for rookie head coach Ben McAdoo. Now, the pressure is on the draft picks to help New York return to their winning ways.
Read on for results, analysis and grades on Reese's most recent draft class.
New York Giants Picks
Here's the Giants' 2016 draft class, complete with letter grades.
The Giants selected Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple in the first round on Thursday night. They followed that up with the selections of Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard and Boise State safety Darian Thompson on Friday night. Clemson linebacker B.J. Goodson, UCLA running back Paul Perkins and South Carolina tight end Jerell Adams were all selected on Saturday.
For more information on each draft pick, click through the slides that follow.
Round 1, Pick 10: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
After a tumultuous first nine picks, the New York Giants settled on Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick.
Apple, a New Jersey native, is a large cornerback at 6'1" and 199 pounds. Although he was a highly touted high school recruit (Rivals ranked him the eighth-best cornerback in the class of 2013), he was only a two-year starter at Ohio State.
As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Apple started 14 out of 15 games for the Buckeyes team that won the national championship. He had 10 pass breakups and three interceptions that year and followed that up with eight pass breakups and one interception in 2015. He left two years of collegiate eligibility on the table to enter this year's draft.
Apple has plenty of upside at only 20 years old. Giants head coach Ben McAdoo called him a "combative, physical corner," according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, and pointed to his size as a major selling point. This brand of cornerback is clearly on the rise in today's NFL.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and free-agency acquisition Janoris Jenkins are set to be the Giants' two starting cornerbacks in 2016. Apple is unlikely to challenge either of them for a starting job, but he could still see considerable playing time as a rookie. Although his style of play is built for the outside, there's an opening for him to play right away if he can cut it in the slot.
Having Apple on the roster will also come in handy if either Rodgers-Cromartie or Jenkins gets injured. Cornerback was a position in which the Giants did not have much depth before the draft. Even as an extremely young rookie, Apple should have no trouble beating out Trevin Wade to become New York's No. 3 corner on the depth chart.
Round 2, Pick 40: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
The Giants gave quarterback Eli Manning another weapon by selecting Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard in the second round.
Shepard is a small receiver at 5'10" and 194 pounds, but that is in no way a knock against his toughness. In fact, no receiver put up more than his 20 reps on the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He also had the highest vertical jump at 41 inches. Those two measurements may have neutralized Shepard's lack of size in the eyes of New York's scouts.
Ideally built for the slot, Shepard provides much-needed insurance for Victor Cruz, who is trying to come back from knee and calf injuries that have kept him off the game field since October 2014. After making the pick, general manager Jerry Reese likened Shepard to a younger version of Cruz, according to Art Stapleton of the Record. Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, a former Green Bay Packers positional coach, compared him to Randall Cobb, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
Shepard is more than an insurance pick, though. The Oklahoma product is ready to make an immediate impact in the NFL. There's not a route he can't run, and he runs them all with grace. After he racked up a total of 233 receptions, 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns in four collegiate seasons, the Giants are counting on Shepard to be just as productive as a pro.
The Giants, who already allow Odell Beckham Jr. to line up all over the field, will likely do the same with Shepard. McAdoo utilizes a lot of three-wide sets, so the rookie receiver has a direct path to "start" with Beckham and Cruz. His shiftiness and strong hands should help him fit right in.
After allowing Rueben Randle (a second-round pick in 2012 who was also billed as "NFL-ready") to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, the Giants have spent a high draft pick to bring in a different type of wide receiver in Shepard. They should be hoping for a different result, too.
Round 3, Pick 71: Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
After picking up a cornerback in the first round, the Giants turned back to their secondary in the third round with the selection of Boise State safety Darian Thompson.
Thompson made a name for himself as the Mountain West's best ball hawk. In four seasons at Boise State, he racked up 19 interceptions.
While Thompson is best known for his ball skills, he's much more than that at the safety position. At 6'2" and 208 pounds, he's a physical player and a willing tackler. He recorded 242 tackles in college, including 8.5 for losses as a senior in 2015. Ben McAdoo praised Thompson's versatility after the pick was made.
Thompson would complement Landon Collins well in the starting lineup. Collins is at his best when he's allowed to play in the box and attack the ball when it's in front of him. In contrast, Jerry Reese describes Thompson as a "center fielder," according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
There will be a lot of competition for the starting job opposite Collins, though, so Thompson will need to put up an impressive fight in training camp to earn it. Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Cooper Taylor and Bennett Jackson will also be gunning for the job. Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross identified Thompson's instincts as the factor that separated him from the rest of the safeties in this draft class, according to Art Stapleton of the Record—perhaps that factor will set him apart again this summer.
Thompson isn't a perfect prospect; he still needs some coaching. However, if he's a quick learner, this safety will find himself in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
Round 4, Pick 109: B.J. Goodson, LB, Clemson
The Giants continued to bolster their defense in the fourth round with the selection of Clemson linebacker B.J. Goodson.
Goodson, who is 6'1" and 242 pounds, has grown-man strength. At the combine, he outdid every other linebacker on the bench press with 30 reps. He'll lean heavily on that strength as he makes his transition to the NFL.
It took a few years for Goodson to break through at Clemson, but he worked his way up to team captain as a senior. He led the Tigers to an ACC championship last season; his team's only loss was a 45-40 decision against Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The determined linebacker will also rely on his leadership skills at the next level.
Goodson was very productive in 2015, his first season as a full-time starter. He led Clemson with 108 tackles, including 14.0 for losses. He also had 5.5 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. On top of that, Pro Football Focus only charged him with seven missed tackles (h/t Art Stapleton of the Record). The Giants are starving for statistics like those at the linebacker position.
With the Giants, Goodson should compete for a starting job right away. His thick build and physical style of play will make him an ideal fit at middle linebacker. New York currently has a wide-open competition for those duties, featuring Jasper Brinkley, Keenan Robinson, Uani 'Unga and Kelvin Sheppard. Goodson, a thumper, could come in and bust up this competition on day one.
Another area in which Goodson will come in handy is on special teams. His potential impact in the third phase of the game may have been what appealed most to the Giants, as Goodson said special teams coach Tom Quinn was particularly fond of him when they met, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
Round 5, Pick 149: Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
The running back position wasn't a pressing need for the Giants, but that's where they went in the fifth round with the selection of UCLA's Paul Perkins.
Perkins is far from a giant running back (5'10", 208 lbs), and he is not a blazing-fast ball-carrier either (4.54-second 40-yard dash). He does possess some pop, though. His cuts are explosive, as evidenced by his 124-inch broad jump at the combine.
At UCLA, Perkins was a workhorse. He finished his college career with nearly 3,500 rushing yards in three seasons, including a high of 1,572 yards in 2014 and 1,343 yards in 2015. He also scored 29 touchdowns on the ground.
Perkins is a modern running back in the sense that he's a helpful hand in the passing game. He caught 80 passes for the Bruins, totaling 739 receiving yards and three touchdowns in three years. Even more appealing than his pass-catching ability is his willingness to pick up the blitz.
Perkins has an NFL bloodline; his father, Bruce Perkins, had a brief professional career, and his uncle, Don Perkins, played eight seasons for the Dallas Cowboys. Giants fans might find his style of play familiar, as draft expert Nolan Nawrocki describes him as "a poor man's Tiki Barber" (h/t Tom Rock of Newsday).
There's no direct route for Perkins to find the field (outside of special teams) as a rookie. New York's crowded backfield already features Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa and free-agency acquisition Bobby Rainey. However, that's not to say Perkins can't outshine them all in training camp and quickly climb the depth chart.
Round 6, Pick 184: Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina
With their final pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Giants chose South Carolina tight end Jerell Adams.
At 6'5" and 247 pounds, Adams has the basketball background that has become popular in today's tight ends. However, he differs from many of those tight ends in the sense that he's a willing and effective blocker. Jerry Reese actually considers him a better blocker than receiver, per Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News. He was also the fastest tight end at the combine, as he ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash.
Adams' impact as a pass-catcher steadily swelled in each of his four seasons with the Gamecocks, culminating with a high of 28 receptions for 421 yards and three touchdowns as a senior in 2015. His height and straight-line speed will help him exploit the seam and possibly replicate those numbers as a pro.
An interesting competition is brewing at tight end now that Adams has joined the mix. Larry Donnell is returning from a serious neck injury that cost him the second half of the 2015 season. Will Tye is also back after leading all rookie tight ends in receptions (42), yards (464) and touchdowns (three) last year. Jerome Cunningham and Matt LaCosse are also lurking in the background.
The big difference between Adams and the other tight ends is that he was a sixth-round pick, while the rest entered the league as undrafted free agents. He may also be the best blocker of the bunch. We'll see if these factors help set him apart from the competition this summer.