NFL Draft 2011: The Top 10 First-Round Picks in New York Giants History

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIApril 12, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: The Top 10 First-Round Picks in New York Giants History

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    As the New York Giants gear up for the 2011 NFL draft, fans should look back at past seasons to determine what features make a first-round pick a good NFL player.

    The Giants have had a number of successful first-round picks in team history, but who is the best?  The Giants are one of the NFL's more successful teams, historically.  With a run of success in the 1950's and 1960's, and again in the late '80's, early '90's and 2007, the Giants have a number of players who are among the NFL's greats.

    Click through to discover the Giants best first-round picks and comment below with who you think could turn out to be the next Giants great.

10. Ike Hilliard 1997 (WR, Florida)

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    The Giants selected Hilliard with the seventh overall pick in the 1997 draft.  Hilliard put up solid numbers consistently for the Giants for eight seasons.

    He never became the truly great receiver many expected him to become when he was first drafted (never surpassed 1,000 yards).  Some of his college moves never made it to the NFL.

    Even so, Hilliard accumulated nearly 550 catches for 6,397 yards over the course of his NFL career.

9. Jeremy Shockey 2002 (TE, Miami)

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    Jeremy Shockey had the most talent of any tight end in Giants history.  After the Giants selected him with the 14th overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, Shockey made a number of highlight-reel plays early in his career.

    The four-time Pro Bowl selection had nearly 900 yards on 74 receptions during his rookie season.  While Shockey would never dramatically improve upon these numbers, he has remained one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL throughout his career.

8. Rodney Hampton 1990 (HB, Georgia)

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    The Giants selected Rodney Hampton 24th overall in 1990.  Hampton made two Pro Bowls as the starting running back on some very good Giants teams—one winning the Super Bowl.

    Hampton ran for more than 1,000 yards in every season between 1991 and 1995.  He is one of the most prolific running backs in New York Giants history.

    Following this stretch, Hampton faded fast and had retired by the time he was 29.

7. Carl Banks 1984 (LB, Michigan State)

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    Carl Banks played alongside Lawrence Taylor in what was one of the best (if not the best) group of linebackers any NFL team has ever had.  

    Banks was a member of the 1980's All-Decade Team and recorded 100+ tackles in the 1986 and 1987 seasons.

    Banks was chosen with the third overall pick in the 1984 NFL draft.

6. Philip Rivers 2004 (QB, North Carolina State)

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    Although Philip Rivers never played a down in a Giants uniform, he was part of one of the most significant trades in New York Giants history when he was swapped (along with a bevy of other commodities) for Eli Manning in 2004.  

    Although Manning has yet to make the leap to top tier NFL quarterback, his Super Bowl win in 2007 made the trade a good one for the Giants.

    The Giants picked Rivers fourth overall.  In Rivers' time with the Chargers, he has been a three-time Pro Bowl selection and led the league in passing yards in 2010. 

5. Kyle Rote 1951 (HB, SMU)

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    With the first overall pick in the 1951 NFL draft, the New York Giants selected Kyle Rote, halfback, SMU.  When Rote retired, he was the Giants' career leader in receptions (300), receiving yards (almost 5,000) and touchdown receptions (48).

    Even more significantly, Rote was one of the founders of the NFL Players Association and became its first president.  While Rote's records have long been broken, his legacy of a player union remains today with players fighting for their rights with a lockout.

4. George Connor 1946 (OT, Notre Dame)

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    The Giants selected George Connor as an offensive tackle out of Notre Dame.  He played offensive tackle, defensive tackle and linebacker in the NFL. 

    Connor made his fame with the Chicago Bears and made the NFL Hall of Fame in 1975 after making four Pro Bowls and five All-NFL teams.

3. Frank Gifford 1952 (HB, USC)

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    This 1956 NFL MVP played offense and defense for the New York Giants for 12 seasons and helped the Giants win the NFL Championship that same year.

    Picked 11th overall, Gifford was one of the best running backs in the game for much of his career.  After an injury force him to miss the 1961 season, Gifford returned as a wide receiver for the Giants and was again among the team's top performers.  He also played defensive back for much of his career.

    Gifford was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

2. Phil Simms 1979 (QB, Morehead State)

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    The Giants chose quarterback Phil Simms with the seventh overall pick in 1979.  Simms quarterbacked some of the best teams in Giants history.  Simms passed for over 33,000 yards in his career and 199 touchdowns.

    His best moment as a Giant came in the 1987 Super Bowl when he completed 22 of 25 passes (setting a Super Bowl record) for 268 yards and three touchdowns.  Simms won Super Bowl MVP for his performance.

1. Lawrence Taylor 1981 (LB, UNC)

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    Widely regarded as the best defensive player in NFL history, Lawrence Taylor made smart men of the New York Giants front office when they chose him with the second overall pick in the 1981 NFL draft.

    Taylor brought havoc on opposing quarterbacks throughout the reign of terror that was his career.  Michael Lewis wrote in his book, The Blind Side, that Taylor singlehandedly changed the game by charging in on quarterbacks' blind sides.

    Left tackles are among the most important positions for NFL teams that need to protect their right-handed quarterbacks.