New York Giants Draft History: Part 3: Building Champions (1999-Present)

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IApril 23, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -  JANUARY 11:  Brandon Jacobs #27 of the New York Giants runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Eagles defeated the Giants 23 -11. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Building Champions

Ernie Accorsi, a guy who had been banging around NFL front offices for decades and was George Young's assistant for several years, took the helm as GM in 1998.

Accorsi was an old hand, but wise in the ways of the NFL's new free-agent culture. He firmly believed in building through the draft, but he did not sit idly when it came to improving the club.

He traded for QB Kerry Collins, who would set Giant passing records and take them to a Super Bowl. He signed big-ticket free-agents such as Antonio Pierce, Fred Robbins, Plaxico Burress and Kareem McKenzie.

He selected quality players in both early and late rounds of the draft, and orchestrated one of the biggest trades in Giants history when he swapped Philip Rivers and draft choices for QB Eli Manning.

Accorsi brought in Tom Coughlin, a disciplinarian, to coach the club after several seasons of disarray under Jim Fassel. Fassel was a good coach, but a new direction was needed.

Under Coughlin, the Giants would become competitive again and pull off one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.

Year-by-Year Drafts

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Accorsi was obsessed with mismatches on the field. In the first round, he chose a big, physical safety: Shaun Williams of UCLA. In Round 2, he went for 6'5" WR Joe Jurevicius. Both would become solid pro players.

The rest of the draft was not very productive. The Giants had high hopes for their third round selection, WR Brian Alford of Purdue, but he did not pan out, garnering only two receptions in his two seasons in New York.


This was not a draft that contained many flashy players. With the 19th pick, Accorsi took Notre Dame OT Luke Petitgout. In Round 5, he would chose Petitgout's ND teammate, Mike Rosenthal, another OT.

In between those picks were RB Joe Montgomery of Ohio State, TE Dan Campbell of Texas A&M and Northwestern RB Sean Bennett. All were gamers.

Montgomery was bull of a runner in the Rodney Hampton mold, but he could not stay healthy. Campbell was a superior blocking TE who is still in the NFL today, with New Orleans.

Bennett showed a lot of heart but he would only stick with the club for three seasons before retiring.


Accorsi mad a major blunder by falling in love with the Heisman Trophy winner, RB Ron Dayne of Wisconsin. Dayne was worth a shot, but not with the 11th overall pick and not with Alabama's Shaun Alexander still on the board.

Dayne would go on to disappoint as a Giant and Alexander would become the NFL MVP in 2005, scoring 27 TDs en route to leading Seattle to the Super Bowl.

In the second round, the Giants fared much better. Accorsi took an Alabama player, Cornelius Griifin, a NT who is still in the NFL with Washington.

WR Ron Dixon of minute Lambuth College was the third round pick. He was a productive special teams player who would run back a kickoff for a TD in Super Bowl XXXV.

Accorsi also did well in the late rounds: LB Brandon Short, CB Ralph Brown and LB Dhani Jones. Short had a seven-year career while Brown and Jones are still active.


The team was thin and old at the cornerback position and spent their first two choices in attempt to address the situation. Will Allen of Syracuse and Will Peterson (now known as William James, a Michigan washout) were chosen by Accorsi. One wonders what he saw in these two.

He traded up with the Colts to get Allen and then down with Detroit to get James. With the picks he traded away, the Colts took WR Reggie Wayne and the Lions chose DT Shaun Rogers.

Both Allen and James are still active in the NFL for other teams, but neither made the impact that Accorsi had hoped.

The remainder of the draft was a waste, yielding nothing but QB Jesse Palmer, who became more popular for his off-field activities than he did as a player.


With the 15th pick in the first round, the Giants chose Miami TE Jeremy Shockey, a huge, hulking, athletic target. Their second round selection was an Auburn speedster, WR Tim Carter. Of the others picked in this draft, only LB Nick Greisen is still playing in the NFL.

Shockey became an All-Pro and then a diva. The Giants dealt him in 2008 after he threw a tantrum in front of team officials over their alleged mistreatment of him in the media.

The team had no problem doing so since the team won the Super Bowl without his services the season before.

Carter was a project who could not stay on the field. He struggled, even with the strong-armed Kerry Collins at QB.


Accorsi really outdid himself in what would be his best day at the draft table. He walked away with DE Osi Umenyiora, OT David Diehl, CB Frank Walker, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, KR Willie Ponder and eventual Super Bowl hero David Tyree.

His first round choice, though,  DL William Joseph of Miami, a Warren Sapp protege, was largely a bust. Many of these players played big roles in the Giants resurgence under Tom Coughlin.

Note: seventh round pick WR Kevin Walter was cut by the Giants in training camp. Walter eventually caught on with Houston and is now a valuable third receiver in the Texans' offense.


This was the year Accorsi wanted to make his mark. He hired Tom Coughlin as head coach and said goodbye to Kerry Collins as quarterback. In the draft, he had the #4 overall choice and wanted Ole Miss QB Eli Manning.

The only problem was that San Diego had the No. 1 overall and were going select Manning regardless of whether he would sing with them or not. True to form, the Chargers took Manning and the Giants chose NC State QB Philip Rivers with the fourth pick.

A trade was orchestrated in which the Giants sent Rivers and a third round pick in that day's draft, plus 2005's first- and fifth-round selections in exchange for Manning.

In the second round, the Blue chose BC's Chris Snee, an offensive guard. In rounds 3 and 4, Accorsi took LB Reggie Torbor and S Gibril Wilson.

The analysis is still ongoing whether on who the better player is (Rivers or Manning), but Eli has led the Giants to a Super Bowl victory and was named MVP of that game. Rivers has put up excellent numbers in leading the Chargers to the AFC Championship game in 2007, but has yet to get to the Super Bowl.

Snee, since being drafted, has become Coughlin's son-in-law, an All-Pro and a stalwart on the Giants' front line. Torbor and Wilson were integral pieces for the Giants during their time here, but left for big paydays via free agency.

2005 - With only four selections, Accorsi was forced to choose wisely. He did. In the second round, he took LSU corner Corey Webster. In Round 3, he chose Notre Dame's all-time sack leader, DE Justin Tuck.

Then, Accorsi could not help his penchant for obtuse players by selecting 6'4", 260lb RB Brandon Jacobs. In round 5, he chose DE Eric Moore of Florida State.

Webster intercepted Brett Favre's last pass as a Packer which essentially changed the fortunes of both the Giants and their bunkmates, the Jets. Tuck has become perhaps the game's best defensive lineman.

Jacobs generates lots of attention due his size and style and has been instilling fear in the hearts of opposing defenses for several seasons now. Moore played only a few seasons with the Giants with minimal impact. He is now part of the Rams' DL rotation.


The Giants had the 25th pick in the first round but seeing little value or difference in talent, they traded that pick to Pittsburgh for No. 32 overall and an a third rounder. Then they switched their second-round pick and Pittsburgh's third-rounder with Baltimore.

The net result was DE Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College and WR Sinorice Moss of Miami. Rounds 3 and 4 also yielded DT Barry Cofield, LB Gerris Wilkinson and OT Guy Whimper. 5th round selection Charlie Peprah was chosen off the Giants practice squad by Green Bay.

This draft was a good one because all but two players are on the current roster. Kiwanuka's value can not be properly gauged because of injury and the fact that the team keeps changing his role. He is an exceptional athlete who the team feels will be a huge contributor to their defense regardless of position. Moss has hardly brached the lineup and the club is waiting for him to stay healthy and start producing. They won't wait much longer. Wilkinson is kind of a 'tweener' that the team has not been able ot figure out what to do with. Because of that, he is being bumped down the depth chart as other more natural LBs are drafted and/or signed. Cofield has been a rock in the center of the Giants' d-line. He has started in all but one game in his 3-year tenure with the Giants. Whimper has basically been a backup, and was only active the first 8 games of the 2008 season.

2007 - Jerry Reese took over as GM after years as the team's Director of Pro Personnel. Many were curious of what he had up his sleeve. With his first ever selection, he took Texas CB Aaron Ross. He followed that selection with several serviceable college stars: WR Steve Smith of USC, Penn State NT Jay Alford, LB Zak DeOssie, the son of former Giant Steve, TE Kevin Boss and OL Adam Koets of Oregon. The coup d'etat of the draft was Reese's two 7th round picks: S Michael Johnson of Arizona and the electrfying RB from Marshall, Ahmad Bradshaw.

This draft turned the Giants into champions. All eight players made the roster and contributed, with the exception of Koets, who served as a backup. Ross was brought in to push Corey Webster at the corner spot.

They are now partners in a very effective tandem. Reese could have taken Miami LB Jon Beason with this pick, but the team was basically set at LB after signing Kawika Mitchell.

Smith became a viable short-yardage option for Manning and is now a starter. Alford is in the mix on the D-line.

DeOssie made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer in 2008. Kevin Boss has for all intents and purposes helped Giant fans forget Shockey.

Johnson is the team's starting strong safety. Bradshaw provides a sharp contrast in style to that of Jacobs, entering the game in the second half and whizzing past tired defenses.


Reese felt the need to continue to bolster the defensive secondary, especially since Gibril Wilson departed via free agency. He took Miami safety Kenny Phillips in the first round. In Round 2, he couldn't let USC corner Terrell Thomas get past him.

He did the same thing in the next round with Michigan's speedy wideout, Mario Manningham.

The rest of the draft was dedicated to filling the roster with potential backups and pros: LBs Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff and an unknown DE by the name of Robert Henderson. In Round 6, Reece took a flyer on Kentucky QB Andre Woodson.

Phillips is in the mold of another Miami S, the late Sean Taylor. The Giants believe he can be a special player. At 6'2", 215, Phillips provides a presence in the team's young secondary.

Thomas is still a backup at this time, but he is coming on. He getting plenty of playing time and that will only increase over time. Manningham is very much in the team's plans. They need him to become the home-run hitter they need in the wake of the Plaxico Burress affair.

Kehl played fairly well as a rookie and he will only improve. Goff was injured for most of 2008, so it remains to be seen if he can regain the form that made him a star at Vanderbilt.

Woodson and Henderson are practice squad players that the club hopes will improve enough to compete for a job in camp.

published from blogNYG.com

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