After their legendary Super Bowl run, the Giants' brass did everything in their power to keep Jeremy Shockey on their roster and more importantly, keep him happy. Rumors that the Saints were willing to relinquish their 40th overall pick in the 2008 draft for the Giants playmaking tight end were prominent.
Ultimately, the Giants decided to hold on to Shockey. With the possibility of infusing a reinvigorated Shockey to an offense that came to life in the post-season, the Giants decided that a high second round pick was not worth their 2002 first round selection.
But circumstances changed. Instead of accepting life as a Giant, he and General Manager Jerry Reese allegedly clashed in the weeks leading up to training camp. And on July 21, Shockey was traded to the Saints in return for a second round pick, the same price the Saints were reportedly willing to pay just a few months earlier.
The Saints had another sub-par season, finishing the year with an 8-8 record, which equated to the 45th pick in the draft, a selection the Giants would use to replenish youth and speed to an aging defense.
45th overall: Clint Sintim LB University of Virginia
Plaxico Burress and the demise of the Giants' offense stole the headlines last summer, but what was overlooked was how pedestrian the defense played down the stretch. They looked slow, old and helpless in certain situations. Perhaps it was merely foreshadowing.
Clint Sintim was a terrific pick in this spot. The Giants have continuously loaded up on backup linebackers who thrive more on special teams than on playing defense. Sintim appeared to be a terrific solution for a disintegrating Giants' defense. He’s long, strong and a natural pass rusher.
Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross appeared to be enamored with Sintim’s pass rushing skills. In a press conference shortly after the selection, Ross laid a heap of compliments on his second pick of the draft.
“I don't know what (highlights) they showed (on TV), but he is a heck of a pass rusher. That is what we liked about him. He is a physical at the point of attack guy. He can really rush the passer—11 sacks this year… He is a smart guy that can play multiple positions. The way we use our guys in various ways, he will fit in there perfectly. But he is a big guy who is physical. And he is a presence at the line.”
Obviously Ross wasn’t going to criticize Sintim upon drafting him, but the Giants appear to be very impressed by Sintim’s overall pass rushing ability. And generally speaking, when the Giants identify a player with above average rushing abilities, they have typically been right.
Sintim started 48 games in college, and compiled 19 of his 27 sacks in his last two seasons. However, he struggled last season with adjusting to a 4-3—he played in Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme at Virginia—as well as some nagging injuries. Due to his inability to grasp his role as a strong side linebacker, the Giants decided they would sporadically place their second round pick at defensive end to unleash his raw pass rushing abilities.
In all likelihood, Sintim will not take any snaps at defensive end in 2010. The Giants are already hard pressed in distributing snaps to four extremely talented pass rushers, and Sintim is actually projected as the opening day strong side linebacker.
Is he ready? That question won’t be answered until the middle of the regular season. With Perry Fewell bringing his Tampa Two scheme to the Meadowlands (then again, safeties coach Dave Merrit said on Monday that the Tampa Two is not necessarily Perry Fewell's base defense, and that he likes to incorporate various defenses; we will see what happens on that front), Sintim’s performance becomes critical. In the same position under Fewell, Keith Ellison of the Bills led the team in tackles before an injury late in the year. However, he didn’t record a single sack.
In order to have success, Sintim will have to be able to recognize plays quickly, and then be able to cover ground even faster.
However, coming out of the draft some scouts questioned his ability to play in space. If this is the case, Sintim may struggle early without having an inside linebacker nearby, as is the case in playing a 3-4. But in addition to being a talented pass rusher, his football IQ has also been commended by the Giants. There will be growing pains, but he has enough talent to complete the transition within the year.
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