I've been a long time reader of this blog, and I finally decided to chime in with my perspective on my beloved Gmen and one of my favorite topics, the draft! I think this site has some of the most intelligent and insightful analysis of the Giants, so I'm eager to hear the fans' feedback. I hope my analysis helps fans to look at the Giants draft a bit differently, it sure has for me!
Forget draft grades, mock drafts, and big board rankings. These are often subjective evaluations that say more about the ego of the evaluator than the perception of actual NFL decision makers. What makes a particular selection a "great value" or a "reach" often comes down to whether a team selected who the pundit thought they should select. I have often fallen for the "we could’ve drafted player X" trap. However, I have since learned that the best way of analyzing a team’s draft in terms of maximizing value per pick is based on where comparable players ACTUALLY got drafted. Just like appraising real estate, you must look for comparables that were recently SOLD in similar neighborhoods/locations. To analyze value according to mock drafts or grades is like analyzing a house's value based on the listing or asking price. There is often a huge divergence between the perceived value of the seller's listing price and what a buyer (NFL team) is willing to pay. We can never know, immediately after a draft, whether a player picked in the third round was actually a first round talent. What we can definitely know is that a player projected to be a first rounder (listing price) was in fact a later round value (sale price).
Take for example Morgan Moses, a pre-draft pundit favorite that had been consistently mocked in the first round to the Dolphins or the Panthers, but actually got selected in the third round by the Redskins. We know that Morgan Moses did NOT have a first round value because EVERY team drafting passed on him for TWO rounds in favor of other players at his position. This seems like an obvious observation, but it is the most solid ground to start from when analyzing a player’s perceived value. We don’t know if Morgan Moses was in fact a worse value than a third rounder, but as value is determined in other fields, we know that a third round pick is what an actual NFL team was willing to pay for him. Just like at an art auction, there can be the "ugliest" painting up for bid, and everyone in the room can pass on bidding, but it only takes one person to pay $1,000 dollars to make that "ugly" painting a $1,000 dollar painting. So with that framework in mind, I will try to make sense of the New York Giants 2014 draft selections over the course of the next few posts.
Odell Beckham Jr.
So many in Giants’ nation thought they should’ve drafted someone in the trenches such as offensive lineman Zack Martin or defensive tackle Aaron Donald. However, what if I told you that you could have a dynamic playmaking wide receiver with return ability that has played in one of (if not the best) conferences in the nation and has no injury concerns? What would you pay for that player? Well, the Bills paid an extra first and fourth round pick to get that type of player when they moved up to draft Sammy Watkins. The Giants stayed put and drafted Beckham who has comparable attributes. Both players are similar height, while Watkins is more thickly built than Beckham. Both are touted as yard after catch specialists, both have return ability, both win 50/50 balls.
But you say, "this was a deep wide receiver draft and they could’ve drafted Lee, Cooks, Matthews, Davante Adams, or Allen Robinson, in the second if they had selected Martin or Donald in the first." Well, Lee and Cooks actually got drafted before the Giants’ second round pick, and both have negative attributes that got them drafted after Beckham. In the case of Lee it was injury history, and in the case of Cooks it was size. As for Matthews, Adams, and Robinson, we know these guys were NOT valued by NFL teams in the first round and do not possess the dynamic/ rare traits that NFL teams like the Bills with Watkins, the Saints with Cooks, and the Panthers with Benjamin value in the first round.
Lastly, let’s look at Martin and Donald’s perceived value. The player most often compared to Martin was the Giants’ very own Justin Pugh because both players did not have the ideal physical traits to play tackle in the NFL, but were versatile tacticians that had the potential to play any of the five offensive line positions. Pugh was selected with the 19th pick in the 2013 draft, but Martin was perceived as a better prospect. Was Martin seven slots better than Pugh and worthy of being drafted at 12th overall? Apparently not, because the Cowboys decided to pay the 16th overall pick for him. Three slots better than Pugh sounds more like it. As for Donald, the Giants do not deviate often from their size/ speed/ physical attribute template for trench positions like defensive tackle. In the 2013 draft, Giants’ nation was clamoring for Sharrif Floyd, another quick, penetrating, "3-technique", defensive tackle like Donald, but bigger. The Giants passed. They did not value that type of player with a pick in the teens. The Vikings actually paid the 23rd overall pick for Floyd.
Bottom line: The Giants paid a good value for Odell Beckham Jr. with the 12th overall pick.