Every year, NFL analysts and fans spend inordinate amounts of time studying the NFL Draft. Fans become convinced they know the perfect player for their team to pick in every round of the draft, or that the entire draft is a failure if the team chooses not to select the one player said fan had his heart set on.
Then whatever rookie the team drafts receives mountains of praise from the coach, general manager and scouting department before setting foot on the field.
Then what happens when the players actually get on the field and the games begin to have meaning? In the case of the New York Giants those rookies often disappear for much of their rookie seasons. In many ways the first season, or at least a good portion of it, becomes a red-shirt type season.
Thus has been the case for first-round pick David Wilson and, to a similar degree, second-round pick Rueben Randle. Beginning Monday night against the Washington Redskins, when Wilson should see significant snaps as the backup running back and Randle will likely be the clear choice as the No. 3 receiver, those roles should increase dramatically. The red-shirt portion of their Giants' careers is history, and it's time for them to get down to the business of helping the Giants win games.
Tom Coughlin says he has always had "a developmental philosophy" when it comes to rookies, and it is hard to argue with the success he has had, winning two Super Bowls since 2004 and developing the best quarterback in franchise history.
"The concept is to try to get people where they are able to provide good play for us on a lot of levels. This is where we are with these guys. This time of year, hopefully they’ve done their homework. They’ve been developed, they can go into games and we can have confidence that they can do more than just one or two things. They can be a well-rounded player and that’s why it happens at this time of yea," Coughlin said.
Going back to 2005 here is the history of Giants' draft choices. The pattern, as you will see, is a familiar one.
2005 -- Corey Webster was the Giants' first pick, not coming until the 43rd overall selection of Round 2. He started only two late-season games as a rookie.
2006 -- Mathias Kiwanuka was selected in the first round, 32nd overall. Kiwanuka did not start a game until Week 8, but registered four sacks the second half of the season as the Giants made the playoffs. Fourth-round pick Barry Cofield started every game that season.
2007 -- Aaron Ross (the 20th overall pick) started nine games as a rookie, none until Week 4. That was also the year a seventh-round pick named Ahmad Bradshaw was a nobody in the Giants' offense until Week 16, when he ran for 151 yards against the Buffalo Bills.
2008 -- Kenny Phillips was the 31st overall selection, and he made only three starts as a rookie. His first start did not come until Week 10.
2009 -- Hakeem Nicks was taken 29th overall by the Giants. He started only seven games and caught 41 passes as a rookie, but has blossomed into a great player.
2010 -- Jason Pierre-Paul was the 15th overall selection in 2010 and he never started a game as a rookie. He did, however, register 4.5 sacks the final six weeks of the season. JPP is now an All-Pro player. Don't forget that 2010 was also basically a res-shirt year for second-round pick Linval Joseph, now a defensive mainstay.
2011 -- Prince Amukamara was taken 19th overall last season and had a frustrating rookie season. He made no starts, played in only seven games and got picked on by opposing offenses when he was on the field. This year, Amukamara is showing signs of becoming a top-flight cornerback.
The point of all of this is that I know many of you have been waiting -- not so patiently -- for Wilson and Randle to get more snaps. It's instructive to remember that third-round pick Jayron Hosley has been getting the playing time, and struggling with it.
Beginning Monday night, we could get an eyeful of just how much Wilson and Randle have developed. And if they have developed enough that could bode well for the Giants' offense heading down the stretch.