The annual NFL Future Power Rankings recently published by ESPN (Insider only) show a distinct lack of faith in the New York Giants. Specifically, a distinct lack of faith in general manager Jerry Reese and the team's college scouting department.
ESPN analysts Mel Kiper, John Clayton, Louis Riddick and Mike Sando place the Giants 18th in their rankings, which are designed to determine which teams are best positioned for success over the next three seasons.
The Giants were ranked 18th by the ESPN panel out of the 32 NFL teams, a full 11 spots lower than a year ago. On a scale of 100 points, the Giants scored 74.35. The breakdown, with five categories ranked on a scale of 10 points and then weighted was as follows:
- Roster -- 6.4
- Quarterback -- 7.9
- Draft -- 7.0
- Front Office -- 7.5
- Coaching -- 8.8
Clearly, the grades are critical of Reese and the college scouts and complementary toward head coach Tom Coughlin and his staff. Here is the core of what ESPN's analysts think of the Giants:
The overview: The Giants fell 11 spots overall after a 2013 season that seemed to confirm in analysts' minds that the team has not drafted well, its roster has suffered dramatically and it could no longer overcome these shortcomings through coaching. New York suffered double-digit drops in non-QB roster, drafting and front office. The QB ranking fell only four spots, to No. 11, which suggests analysts do not think Eli Manning has suddenly become unviable as the long-term starter. The results were similar regarding Manning when I polled 26 NFL insiders regarding every projected starting QB for the QB Tiers project. Manning held firm in Tier 2, even after he tossed 27 interceptions this past season. The Giants actually improved one spot in the rankings for coaching, with Ben McAdoo's hire as offensive coordinator the major change. It's fair to wonder how long Tom Coughlin will continue in the role of head coach; he will turn 68 on Aug. 31 and will be 71 in 2016, the final season these future rankings encompass. -- Mike Sando
The dilemma: The foundation of this roster is weak, and that can be attributed entirely to the fact that, since 2007, the front office has been unable to draft and develop high-impact players on a consistent basis, particularly in Rounds 1 and 2 (Jason Pierre-Paul is the only All-Pro/Pro Bowler selected with a first- or second-round pick in that time). Coughlin will need to do his best leading and teaching of his career in 2014, as the Giants signed 15 UFAs this offseason because of the overall draft failures. Manning also will need to get comfortable with a new offensive scheme engineered by McAdoo. -- Louis Riddick
I certainly read "The foundation of this roster is weak, and that can be attributed entirely to the fact that, since 2007, the front office has been unable to draft and develop high-impact players on a consistent basis, particularly in Rounds 1 and 2" as being a direct condemnation of Reese and the college scouting department led by Marc Ross.
Whether that is ultimately on Reese, or more likely Ross since he in command of the scouting of college prospects, it is hard to argue that since the banner year of 2007 the Giants simply have not drafted well enough to remain a championship-caliber team.
I do believe the 2013 and 2014 draft classes have the potential to be excellent, but we can't prove that yet. The drafts from 2008-2012, however, undeniably have not produced enough. Largely, that short-coming is what led to the 2014 free-agent frenzy.
The Giants are trying to do something in 2014 that is very difficult -- make the playoffs while installing an entirely new and vastly different offensive system and, more or less, gutting the roster and starting over. Getting this team to function smoothly, especially early on, and make the playoffs will require all of Coughlin's skill.
As for the long-term, the futures of Coughlin and Manning are up in the air at this point. As well, the quality of the young talent on the roster really has yet to be determined.
All of that leads me to think the opinion that the Giants are not, as we sit here today, well-constructed for long-term success is probably correct. A playoff berth in 2014 and the emergence of some of the young players from the last two, and maybe three, draft classes would go a long way toward changing that thinking.