Most NFL experts tell you it takes three seasons to fully judge the success or failure of a team's particular draft class. In general, I agree with that sentiment. By that theory we should now be able to get a good read on exactly what the Giants hauled in with their selections in the 2008 NFL Draft.
So, let's take a look.
Round 1 (31st) -- Kenny Phillips (S)
Phillips was the guy Giants General Manager Jerry Reese really wanted in the 2008 Draft. He is the guy most folks here at Big Blue View at the time wanted. He was the right selection. In hindsight, though, it still has not quite worked out the way the Giants hoped.
They were hoping to get the next Ed Reed or Brandon Meriweather, the next great game-changing safety from Miami. Phillips has not quite lived up to that billing. The arthritic knee condition that befell him in 2009 and cost him all but two games is, of course, a large part of the reason. He was healthy in 2010, and was good, but not great.
Maybe what you see is what you get with KP -- good, but not the difference-maker the Giants had hoped for.
Round 2 (63rd) -- Terrell Thomas (CB)
A risky pick in the second round because of some injury concerns while he was at USC, Thomas is a big, physical corner who was a great fit for the man-to-man press coverage style employed by then-defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Thomas had five of his career total of 11 interceptions in 2010, and is a sure tackler and excellent run defender on the edge who made 121 tackles in 2010. What he is not is a great fit in the more zone-oriented scheme employed by current defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Not to rely on them too much, but Thomas was -8.5 in pass coverage in 2010 after rating +8.9 in the press scheme employed by Bill Sheridan, the style held over from Spagnuolo.
As an aside, this is my one problem with Fewell. He is not using his corners and safeties in the roles for which they are drafted or signed. He is fitting them into his system, rather than utilizing their talents to their fullest.
Thomas was a good pick, and is a good player. To me, he just is not being utilized in the best way.
Round 3 (95th) -- Mario Manningham (WR)
Manningham is not DeSean Jackson, but he is pretty darn good. He is a big part of the reason why the Giants have one of the most explosive big-play passing attacks in the league. Functioning as the No. 3 receiver most of the past two years Manningham has 117 catches in that time, 14 for touchdowns. He can be frustratingly inconsistent with his route-running, but he should be a home run-hitting wide receiver for years to come.
Nothing to complain about with this pick.
Round 4 (123rd) -- Bryan Kehl (OLB)
This is where Reese's magic touch, which he had in a 2007 draft that produced players from the first to the seventh rounds who helped the Giants win a Super Bowl, began to desert him.
As Michael Lombardi, then of the National Football Post and now the NFL Network, pointed out to me the Giants have for decades employed a "size, speed formula" in the drafting of linebackers. Kehl, out of BYU, fit the mold. He is an excellent athlete and was generally considered the strongest linebacker on the team -- while he was on the team.
The problem is that Kehl could not play, at least not in a 4-3. He was a 3-4 linebacker in college trying to convert to the Giants 4-3 system. He also simply did not possess the aggressiveness to be a quality NFL linebacker. The Giants released him, and he is now a member of the St. Louis Rams.
Let's hope that the Giants are spending some time re-examining that linebacker formula. It's a different game than when the Giants were drafting Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks and Harry Carson -- plus the Giants are playing a 4-3 scheme not the 3-4 of those years. Different era, different defense equals time to update the formula, gang.
Round 5 (165th) -- Jonathan Goff (MLB)
Few people thought Goff could hold down the middle linebacker job after the Giants parted ways with Antonio Pierce. He did just that in 2010, however. Goff will likely never be an All-Pro, but he is a solid run defender who can occasionally get into the backfield and make a play. He can be a liability at times in pass coverage, though he was better there in 2010 than I anticipated.
For a fifth-round choice, the Giants are getting pretty good mileage from Goff.
Round 6 (198th) -- Andre Woodson (QB)
A complete waste. Reese and the Giants got it in their heads that they wanted to develop their own backup quarterback for Eli Manning. The sad part is they didn't learn from this mistake, repeating it the next season by wasting another late-round pick on quarterback Rhett Bomar.
Just forget this nonsense, sign a veteran like you did with Jim Sorgi or Sage Rosenfels and quit wasting late picks on quarterbacks. First off, Manning does not get hurt. Secondly, if he does the Giants are pretty much sunk no matter who the backup is. So, use those picks to help your depth elsewhere.
Round 6 (199th -- compensatory pick -- Robert Henderson (DE)
Another wasted pick. Back when he was drafted I remember reading scouting reports that said, basically, he was not an NFL player. Those proved correct. Reese would have been better off taking a flier on a potential kick returner or a specialist rather than drafting a player at a stocked position who seemingly never had a chance to make the team.
Four good players, a mistake (Kehl) and two wasted choices (Woodson, Henderson). This draft would like a lot different if a) Phillips had never gotten hurt and b) Thomas was being utilized in the system for which he was drafted. As it is, this is a good draft but not much more than that.