With the NFL draft less than a month away, the Giants are preparing to select the players that will determine their success on the field for the next three or four seasons and beyond. Orchestrated by Jerry Reese, the draft is the life blood of an NFL franchise and it is difficult to sustain success without a steady influx of young talent replenishing the roster each spring. Reese has been the Giants General Manager since 2007, and in that time, the team has won two Super Bowls, but the has also failed to make the playoffs in 4 of the 7 seasons that he has been at the helm.
Prior to being elevated to GM, Reese was a scout and the Director of Player Personnel for the team. But was he better at evaluating talent than managing those that do and making the final drafting decisions? This season is make or break for Reese as co-owner John Mara has made his frustration with the Giants recent failures publicly known. We’re going to examine the seven NFL drafts that Jerry Reese has presided over in his time as GM and look back at how the players have fared.
Glossary of Pick Ratings:
Home Run – A great pick. Could not have made a better pick in that draft slot
Solid – A good pick. The player is a starter and solid contributor. Injury may have played a part in preventing the pick from being a home run
Neutral – The player has or may still contribute. Better players may have been available, but the pick is not considered to be a complete failure. Yet
Failure – Just what it says, they player has not been and is not expected to be a contributor
Pass – Pick is not rated due to extraordinary circumstances.
An (A) indicates that the player is still active as of the 2013 season, while and (X) indicates that the player was not on an NFL roster.
2007 Draft: Kick starting the first Super Bowl run; this is the draft that Reese hangs his hat on as five players were major contributors to the team that won Super Bowl XLII
Round 1: (A) Aaron Ross, Cornerback, Texas. Started 43 games for the Giants and played well, but was not the blanket coverage corner hoped for when picked. Considering that Joe Staley, picked by the San Francisco Forty-Niners eight picks later, was still on board, this was a reach pick based on need. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 2: (X) Steve Smith, Wide Receiver, USC. Injured for most of the 2007 season, Smith returned to contribute in the Super Bowl and was on the verge of stardom when he suffered a severe knee injury in 2010. He caught 107 passes during the 2009 season and became Eli Manning’s favorite target. The knee injury effectively injured his career. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 3: (X) Jay Alford, Defensive Tackle, Penn State. Was on the verge of breaking out in 2010 when he suffered a devastating knee injury during the preseason. He will be best remembered for his huge sack of Tom Brady during the last drive of Super Bowl XLII. The Carolina Panthers selected star Defensive End Charles Johnson two picks later. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 4: (A) Zak DeOssie, Linebacker/Long Snapper, Brown. Has not contributed as a linebacker, but settled in for the long haul as the team’s long snapper. Any Giant fan who remembers the Trey Junkin fiasco in the January 2003 playoff game in San Francisco realizes the value of a good long snapper. New Orleans selected Offensive Tackle Jermon Bushrod nine picks later. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 5: (A) Kevin Boss, Tight End, Western Oregon. Boss caught 119 passes for 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns. Seen as a developmental project coming into the NFL, Boss panned out and started 45 games in four seasons with the team. In Super Bowl XLII, his only reception was a 45 yard catch and run that shifted momentum in the Giants favor. Boss is an excellent blocker. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 6: (X) Adam Koets, Offensive Tackle, Oregon State. Coming into the league with all the tools needed to succeed, but questions about his work ethic, Koets had four starts in four years with the Giants. The Green Bay Packers selected linebacker Desmond Bishop four picks later. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 7a: (X) Michael Johnson, Safety, Arizona. Although he struggled with injuries in college, Johnson started 35 games in four seasons with the Giants. Has an unremarkable career that ended after the 2010 season. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 7b: (A) Ahmad Bradshaw, Running Back, Marshall. He is the sixth leading rusher in Giants history. Carried the ball 921 times for 4,232 yards and 32 touchdowns, and added 132 catches for 1,087 yards and 3 touchdowns in his six seasons with the team. Pick Rating: Home Run.
Draft Summary: Home Runs: 1; Solid Picks: 3 Neutral Picks: 3; Failed Picks: 1
2008 Draft: Another solid draft for Reese. The Giants went in with specific needs and came out filling the holes in their roster with good players. The defending Super Bowl champions were playing the best football in the NFL until Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg, robbing the team of their best chance to repeat as champions in their four opportunities.
Round 1: (X) Kenny Phillips, Safety, Miami (FL). Despite an injury history during his college career, Phillips had 41 starts in five seasons with the team. Played well but not at a superstar level. Was allowed to leave as a free agent before the start of the 2013 season and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Released in August 2013 and was not picked up. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 2: (A) Terrell Thomas, Cornerback, USC. Also started 41 games for the Giants and was on the verge of super stardom before back to back knee injuries in 2011 and 2012 derailed his career. Returned in 2013 and made it through the season without another injury. He had a long history of injuries in college that Reese was aware of when drafting the cornerback. Thomas is currently a free agent. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 3: (A) Mario Manningham, Wide Receiver, Michigan. He will always be remembered for his sideline catch in Super Bowl XLVI. Manningham has a reputation as a poor route runner. He returns to the team this season after two injury plagued years with the Forty-Niners. Manningham caught 160 passes for 2,315 yards and 18 touchdowns in his previous four season stint with the Giants. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 4: (A) Bryan Kehl, Linebacker, Brigham Young. Kehl was a special teams player who has bounced around the league after spending three seasons with the Giants. The Atlanta Falcons selected linebacker Kroy Biermann a full 31 picks later. This was a wasted pick. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 5: (X) Jonathan Goff, Linebacker, Vanderbilt. A good middle linebacker who started 20 games and played well until a knee injury ended his career. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 6a: (X) Andre’ Woodson, Quarterback, Kentucky. Woodson never played a snap in the regular season. The Indianapolis Colts selected receiver Pierre Garcon seven picks later. A wasted selection. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 6b: (X) Robert Henderson, Defensive End, Southern Mississippi. Yet another player who never stepped onto the field during the regular season. Players picked after Henderson include running back Peyton Hillis, wide receiver Stevie Johnson, and guard Geoff Schwartz, who the Giants just signed to a free agent contract. Another wasted draft pick. Pick Rating: Failure.
Draft Summary: Home Runs: 0; Solid Picks: 3 Neutral Picks: 1; Failed Picks: 3
2009 Draft: The most disappointing draft in Reese’s tenure as General Manager. Armed with an extra second round pick courtesy of the Jeremy Shockey trade, and nine overall selections, the Giants were poised to set themselves up for success for years to come. This was one of the deepest talent pools of the seven being reviewed, which makes the results that much more disappointing.
Round 1: (A) Hakeem Nicks, Wide Receiver, North Carolina. Prior to leaving for the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent, Nick started 59 games for the Giants and posted two 70+ reception seasons. His rapid decline in 2012 is explained by knee and leg injuries, but is 2013 performance, that included no touchdown receptions, remains a mystery. His work ethic has been called into question. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 2a: (X) Clint Sintim, Linebacker, Virginia. A series of injuries kept him off the field for long stretches, and poor play failed to justify his presence on the field when he was healthy. He had one start and 11 solo tackles in three seasons with Giants. To make matters worse, the Eagles selected LeSean McCoy eight picks later. Also on the board when Sintim was picked, offensive tackles Phil Loadholt and Sebastian Vollmer, safety William Moore, and defensive end Paul Kruger. Pick Rating: (Mega) Failure.
Pick 2b: (A) William Beatty, Offensive Tackle, Connecticut. Elevated to starter in 2011 and has started 41 games. His play had been solid, earning him a long term contract, but dropped off in prior to his 2013 end of the season broken leg. Seen as a developmental prospect coming into the league and developed into a starter. Pick Rating: Solid.
Pick 3a: (A) Ramses Barden, WR, Cal Poly. A raw talent drafted for his 6’6” size as a developmental project who never quite developed into the red zone target envisioned. In five seasons with the team, Barden has 29 receptions and 1 start. Four picks later, the Tennessee Titans took tight end Jared Cook. Pick Rating: Failure.
Pick 3b: (X) Travis Beckum, Tight End, Wisconsin. Injured in Super Box XLII (Along with tight end Jake Ballard, it was a bad game to be a Giants tight end), Beckum started 4 games in 4 seasons with the team. He showed little before the injury and didn’t play after. Had questions about his durability prior to the draft. The Chicago Bears took defensive tackle Henry Melton five picks later. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 4: (A) Andre Brown, Running Back, North Carolina State. Oft injured, well travelled (Seven teams in seven seasons, if you include his recent free agent signing by the Houston Texans), and a thought to be another late round steal, ala, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brown was poised for a big role with the 2013 Giants before, surprise, suffering a preseason leg injury. Brown had a history of injuries in college and there were questions surrounding his durability prior to the draft. A promising player when he can stay on the field. In eighteen games for the Giants, he had 212 carries, 877 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 5: (X) Rhett Bomar, Quarterback, Sam Houston State. Bomar was another developmental quarterback who didn’t pan out. The Miami Dolphins picked safety Chris Clemons fourteen picks after the Giants wasted this one. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 6: (X) DeAndre Wright, Cornerback, New Mexico. He never made it into a regular season game. Players that remained on the board included: Tight end Brandon Myers, running back Bernard Scott, and cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Captain Munnerlyn. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 7: (X) Stoney Woodson, Cornerback, South Carolina. Recent free agent signee, running back, Rashad Jennings was taken twelve selections after the Giants took this cornerback who’s name sounds more like a Flintstones character than that of an NFL player. He apparently played like Barney Rubble as he never took the field during the regular season. Pick Rating: Failure.
Draft Summary: Home Runs: 0; Solid Picks: 2 Neutral Picks: 0; Failed Picks: 7
2010 Draft: A feast or famine draft for Reese, he his early with his first two picks and then took the rest of the draft off. This could have been another draft for the ages, but none of the late round picks panned out, and there were some good players left for the taking.
Round 1: (A) Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End, South Florida. Described at the time as the ultimate hit or miss prospect, Pierre-Paul is a definite hit. A rising superstar until back and shoulder injuries caused him to have a shortened, poor 2013, a healthy Pierre-Paul is expected to bounce back and pick up where he left off in 2014. Pick Rating: Home Run.
Round 2: (A) Linval Joseph, Defensive Tackle, East Carolina. Considered another developmental prospect coming out of college, Joseph replaced departing free agent Barry Cofield in 2011 and the team never looked back. Stout against the run, and providing good pressure up the middle on passing plays, Joseph was everything the Giants hoped when they drafted him. He left after the 2013 season for a big money contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Pick Rating: Home Run.
Round 3: (X) Chad Jones, Safety, Louisiana State. Before reporting to the Giants, Jones was involved in a horrific car accident that cost Jones his NFL career and nearly cost him his life. While it’s hard to be critical of this pick with no football centric data to evaluate, had the Giants selected the player that the Forty-Niners took fourteen picks later, linebacker Navarro Bowman, it would have been three straight home runs. Pick Rating: Pass.
Round 4: (X) Phillip Dillard, Linebacker, Nebraska. Dillard played mostly special teams in his three seasons with the Giants. The Seattle Seahawks selected safety Kam Chancellor eighteen picks later. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 5: (X) Mitch Petrus, Guard, Arkansas. Four starts in three years with the team. He never distinguished himself. The Dolphins picked safety Reshad Jones fourteen picks after the Giants took Petrus. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 6: (X) Adrian Tracy, Linebacker, William & Mary. In Tracy’s two seasons with the Giants, developmental prospect Tracy played mostly special teams and failed to morph into anything more. Eleven picks after the Giants took him, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted receiver Antonio Brown. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 7: (X) Matt Dodge, Punter, East Carolina. WHY DID HE KICK THE BALL TO DESEAN JACKSON??? EVERYONE KNEW NOT TO KICK THE BALL TO DESEAN JACKSON. Dodge played one season, and is out of the NFL. Good riddance. Pick Rating: (Super Epic Mega) Failure.
Draft Summary: Home Runs: 2; Solid Picks: 0 Neutral Picks: 0; Failed Picks: 4; Pass: 1
2011 Draft: In a shallow talent pool, Reese had an especially weak draft. Draft day pundits were raving about the Giants results early, proving yet again that draft results can’t be analyzed until players have been on the field for 2 or 3 seasons. Although I consider the Giants last several picks to be failures, other teams didn’t fare much better as none of the names called in the 6th and 7th rounds in 2011 have had celebrated NFL careers.
Round 1: (A) Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, Nebraska. A solid starter, and good cover cornerback, Amukamara will be a key player in the Giants secondary for the foreseeable future. He was expected to be drafted higher than the 19th overall pick and the Giants were delighted when he slipped to them when four quarterbacks were taken in the first twelve picks. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 2: (X) Marvin Austin, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina. The Giants were also initially delighted when Austin was available as their turn in the second round came up. In hindsight, they wish someone else took him. Injuries, combined with a poor work ethic, resulted in Austin starting no games prior to his release last season. A few other teams gave him a look-see and decided he wasn’t worth a roster spot. Randall Cobb went to the Packers twelve picks later. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 3: (A) Jerrel Jernigan, Wide Receiver, Troy. Prior to the last 3 games of the 2013 season, Jernigan appeared to be another draft bust. When injuries to other players gave the speedy receiver playing time, he stepped up with 19 receptions. He will surely get opportunities in 2014 to showcase his abilities. This quote from the Pro Football Weekly 2011 draft guide, “Can be a weapon for a clever offensive coordinator to take advantage of his creativity after the catch” appears to sum up his career. Perhaps Ben McAdoo will be a tad cleverer than Kevin Gilbride. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 4: (A) James Brewer, Tackle, Indiana. Seen as a raw, developmental prospect coming into the NFL, Brewer failed to impress in eight 2013 starts. More than a full round later (the Giants traded their 5th round pick to Cincinnati for linebacker Keith Rivers), the Seahawks selected cornerback Richard Sherman. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 6a: (X) Greg Jones, Linebacker, Michigan State. Started 5 games, was injured, and has not resumed his career. The Eagles picked up linebacker Jason Kelce, a 34 game starter, six pick later. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 6b: (X) Tyler Sash, Safety, Iowa. Sash was on the team for two years, and played mostly special teams. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 6c: (A) Jacquian Williams, Linebacker, South Florida. A college teammate of Pierre-Paul‘s, Williams has been unspectacular in 13 starts and has struggled though injuries. Has shown some flashes of ability when healthy. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 7: (X) Da’Rel Scott, Running Back, Maryland. A speedy halfback and kick returner, Scott was on the Giants roster for the just over two seasons until he was waived-injured after pulling his hamstring in the week 6 game against the Bears game last year. He remains a free agent. He started one game at running back, and his work returning kicks was also less than memorable. Pick Rating: Failure.
Draft Summary: Home Runs: 0; Solid Picks: 1 Neutral Picks: 2; Failed Picks: 5
2012 Draft: Another weak draft class, the jury is still out on many of the Giants picks. The early round picks were for need, and it’s too soon to tell if any of the late round picks will develop into starters or reliable rotation players. 2014 will be a make or break year for some.
Round 1: (A) David Wilson, Running Back, Virginia Tech. It was rumored that the Giants really wanted Doug Martin and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers jumped in front of them to take him. We may never know as Reese will always publicly say that Wilson was their target all along. He is fast, shifty, and has electrifying ability. His weakness remains his pass blocking. After suffering a neck injury early in the 2013 season, Wilson’s career is in jeopardy following spinal fusion surgery in January. If healthy, he is a quality NFL running back. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 2: (A) Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, Louisiana State. A big, fast, and raw player, who appeared to struggle in Kevin Gilbride’s complicated offense. Randle will have a chance to start and showcase his talent as he moves into Hakeem Nicks spot in the lineup. In two seasons, with only four starts to his credit, Randle has 60 receptions and 9 touchdowns. It is good production that Ben McAdoo can build on. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 3: (A) Jayron Hosley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech. Noticeably improved in his second season, Hosley has started seven games for the Giants over his two seasons with the team and his play has been solid of late. Given the influx of talent as his position, he may have trouble sticking on the roster, although the Coughlin might want depth at cornerback to match up with the Eagles high octane offense. And Hosley may be too talented to let go. Potential trade candidate if his development continues. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 4a: (A) Adrien Robinson, Tight End, Cincinnati. Reese infamously called Robinson “The Jason Pierre-Paul of Tight Ends,” a reference to his considerable, but very raw athletic prowess. Unlike the defensive end, however, Robinson’s promise has remained unfulfilled. Injuries and lack of development have limited him to only 3 games and no receptions in 2 seasons. 2014 is a definite make or break season for the tight end as the Giants have a strong need at the position and cannot wait any longer for Robinson to step up. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 4b: (A) Brandon Mosley, Offensive Tackle, Auburn. A converted tight end needing time to develop as an offensive tackle, Moseley started one game in a season where the Giants were desperate for offensive line help. Need I say more? He’s still on the roster as of today, it’s doubtful he will be when the season opens in September. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 6: (A) Matt McCants, Offensive Tackle, Alabama-Birmingham. Another developmental project when drafted, McCants started three games for Oakland last season. Unfortunately for him, this is an evaluation of the New York Giant’s draft performance and they desperately needed offensive line help. And he wasn’t good enough to make the team. Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 7: (A) Markus Kuhn, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina State. Kuhn is another developmental project, but this time taken in a round where developmental projects are expected to be drafted. Kuhn has shown some potential in his time on the field and may still become a serviceable NFL player. He will be expected to be a rotational player and quality depth in 2014. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Draft Summary: Home Runs: 0; Solid Picks: 2 Neutral Picks: 2; Failed Picks: 3
2013 Draft: It’s too soon to properly evaluate most of this draft class. Many of these players have not seen ample playing time or gone through a full offseason program. The biggest leap in a NFL player’s development takes place between his first and second seasons. We will find out a lot more about these players during the upcoming season.
Round 1: (A) Justin Pugh, Offensive Tackle, Syracuse. A good value in a position of need, Pugh started all 16 games for the Giants and has a good rookie year. He is short armed compared to the average NFL offensive tackle and this may cause struggles in pass blocking and eventually force the Giants to move him inside. His overall talent gives him promise. Pick Rating: Solid.
Round 2: (A) Jonathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State. Hankins is expected to step into the starting position vacated by departing free agent Linval Joseph. While he has looked good in his very limited 2013 playing time, we will know all we need to know about Hankins midway through the 2014 season. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 3: (A) Damontre Moore, Defensive End, Texas A&M. Moore burst onto the scene with a blocked punt in his first preseason game, promptly got hurt, and his development was slowed as a result. He is an accomplished pass rusher and will be expected to play a larger role in 2014 with Justin Tuck’s departure. Moore is another player who can be better evaluated in six month’s time. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 4: (A) Ryan Nassib, Quarterback, Syracuse. Pugh’s college teammate was the shocking pick of the 2013 draft. Labeled by some a first round talent, Nassib failed to pass Curtis Painter on the depth chart in 2013. He will get another chance to supplant Painter this summer. Giant fans hope to never see him in a regular season game, unless it’s in a mop up role in a blow out win. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 5: (A) Cooper Taylor, Safety, Richmond. A size/speed combination rare at safety in the NFL, Taylor played in 10 games last season, mostly on special teams. His development as an every down safety continues and he did not supplant Antrel Rolle, Will Hill, or even Ryan Mundy on the depth chart as a rookie. Taylor had durability concerns going into the draft that resulting in him being taken off some teams draft boards. Pick Rating: Neutral.
Round 7a: (A) Eric Herman, Guard, Ohio. The Giants offensive line was in shambles and Herman didn’t see the field. What more can be said? Pick Rating: Failure.
Round 7b: (A) Michael Cox, Running Back, Massachusetts. Cox had 43 yards in his one start at running back and was unspectacular as the Giants primary kick returner. With his speed, he could develop into a third down back, but I won’t be holding my breath. Pick Rating: Failure.
Draft Summary: Home Runs: 0; Solid Picks: 1 Neutral Picks: 4; Failed Picks: 2
The evidence speaks for itself. Reese is a gambler, often taking players from small schools and/or players seen as having great potential or players with an injury history hoping they can stay healthy and contribute. After early success that laid the foundation for the Giants two Super Bowl teams, Reese’s recent draft results have been disappointing. His philosophy makes him look like a genius when the players pan out (Pierre-Paul, Joseph), but causes problems when they don’t develop as planned (Pick any offensive lineman taken after round 2). It may be that Jerry Reese the General Manager misses the work product of Jerry Reese the Director of Player Personnel. Or he may need to be a bit more conservative when evaluating a player‘s perceived potential and history of injury.
When evaluating by position, Reese has done reasonably well selecting running backs with Ahmad Bradshaw being the best of the bunch. Andre Brown’s college injuries were a red flag and continue to limit his success as a pro, and David’s Wilson’s recovery this season will tell his story. Reese has also had his greatest success in drafting wide receivers, with Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle, Mario Manningham, and Steve Smith all making contributions to the team. His greatest wide receiver success story, Victor Cruz, was an undrafted free agent. Conversely, Offensive linemen have been a disaster with 6 of the 8 drafted categorized as failures. That statistic may best explain the Giants struggles in 2013. I also implore the Giants general manager to stop drafting quarterbacks after the 4th round. The results are not pretty.
On defense, Reese’s greatest success has been on the line with Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph leading the pack. Only 2 of his 8 selections of defensive lineman are considered abject failures. Similar success can be seen in the defensive backfield where only 3 of the 10 picks (Chad Jones is not counted here) were called failures, but there were no home runs. The group drafted is unremarkable and this explains the high number of free agents signed this year at these positions.
Linebacker is a complete disaster with an underwhelming, injury riddled group that has no solid picks, and no home runs, just 3 neutrals, and 4 failures. And the play of this unit over the past several seasons reflects these results. We won’t discuss special teams, because there have only been two players drafted in this area and I don’t want to think about Matt Dodge punting to DeSean Jackson again.
The 2013 draft may yet turn out to be a solid one, depending on how Jonathan Hankins, Damontre Moore, and Cooper Taylor perform in 2014 and beyond. If Reese reviews his results as closely as I have, and I am certain he does, he will take players with proven performance records rather than small school players with potential in the early rounds and stay away from linebackers with a checkered injury history.
Then, maybe, just maybe, we will see the Giants back in the playoffs in 2014. But first, Jerry Reese needs to recapture his early magic on May 8th through 10th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.