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In defense of Jerry Reese, and the Giants' draft philosophy

There are, believe it or not, other fine New York Giants' fan blogs on the Internet besides Big Blue View. One of the best is UltimateNYG, run by the hard-working and knowledgeable Andrew Furman.

Andrew and his crew often provide thoughtful, informative analysis. Today, though, I have to take issue with my Ultimate NYG blogging brethren.

So, what has me all worked up? A post headlined 'The 2010 NFL Draft is the future. Are the Giants still living in the past?' It suggested that since he did not pull the trigger on any trades during the three-day draft that the whole process has somehow passed Giants General Manager Jerry Reese by.

Here is some of 'UltimateNYG's' argument.

"34 trades were made DURING the draft. And when you consider that it takes TWO to tango, that means that 68 'teams' made trades. The Giants were NONE of those 68 team-trades.

You can argue that all of this trading is inefficient and wasteful energy. You can argue that these are petulant ADHD children in need of activity. But maybe not. In every trade there is someone moving up and someone moving down. The two teams who traded the most (New England and Philadelphia) are the ones who are always busy warehousing picks. The Eagles had 10 picks coming in and ended up making 13 selections. The Patriots made 12 selections this year including THREE second rounders. Next year the Patriots have two 1's and two 2's awaiting them.

Is quantity quality? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Are we just nervous Nellies trembling with fear about the neighbor's grass being greener when it really isn't?! There is more to success in the NFL than making trades. ... To be fair, the Colts do not trade either, and look at them. So we understand that trading during the Draft does not mean in and of itself that you are better off. The message here is that it has to be a tool in your toolbox. Sometimes you need to move. 100% of the time you need to be FLEXIBLE and WILLING TO MOVE.

Trading is not evil. It is a tool. It is currency. The best argument you can make for the Giants is that by remaining put, they are consistent and disciplined. But the mounting evidence of the 21st Century is that it looks more like intransigence and denial.

OK, so that's the crux of the post. And it's full of holes, from my point of view. Including some of the facts it presents, some of the assumptions it makes and the fact that it completely ignores that you can make an argument no general manager has drafted better during his time than Reese.

Just because JR did not make any trades this time around doesn't mean he has suddenly morphed into old man Jed Clampett, unable to do anything right unless it happens completely by accident. Or, worse yet, insane Al Davis.

Have we already forgotten all the success Reese had in his first three drafts? Let me reference a piece written by Judy Battista of the New York Times shortly before the draft. Here is what she said about the Giants' GM.

[Gil] Brandt, an analyst for, keeps track of how drafts pan out. The Giants have had 24 picks in the last three years — Reese’s tenure — and by Brandt’s count, seven of them are starters, nine are backups and just one is out of the N.F.L. The Patriots, considered astute drafters, have had 28 picks in that time. Four are starters and eight are backups. Seven are out of the league.

That's one player out of the league in three seasons worth of drafts. One! Just because you know how to move all around the draft board and acquire picks doesn't mean you know how to use them. And, while we know he isn't perfect, Reese knows what to do with a pick when it is his turn. To use Reese's own analogy, he has not always hit home runs. He rarely, however, strikes out.

I love acquiring extra picks, too, and I'm all for trading down and grabbing an extra pick when you think you can get two good players instead of one. In the end, though, what I am really for is acquiring good players who can help the Giants win championships. By whatever method.

I need to address UltimateNYG's assertion that "In Reese's 4 years as Giants GM, there have been ZERO Draft Day Trades."

  • In 2008, the Giants swapped their fourth-round pick (#130 overall) and a sixth-round pick (#194 overall) to Pittsburgh to move up to #123 in the fourth round. What did they do with the pick? Took Bryan Kehl. Think maybe they would like a do-over on that? That sixth-round pick, by the way, had been acquired from Green Bay in a pre-draft deal involving Ryan Grant. Maybe the Giants would like to have that one over, too.
  • In 2009, the Giants dealt third- and fifth-round selections to Philadelphia to move up a few spots in the third round and select Ramses Barden. I love Ramses, but has that paid any dividends yet? Think maybe the Giants could have used that fifth-round pick last year to bolster the defensive depth?

My point is two-fold. First, the assertion that the Giants have NEVER made draft-day trades with Reese at the helm is incorrect. JR is willing to move around. Just because he did not do it this time does not mean he did not try. We weren't in the draft war room, so we have no idea what conversations took place. Secondly, moving all around the board is NOT the key to draft-day success. Especially when all that moving costs you picks. Scouting well, and taking good players whenever your turn comes, is.

Remember that in 2006, pre-Reese, the Giants traded their second- and third-round picks to Baltimore to take Sinorice Moss in the second round. That hasn't worked out, has it? Yes, they also traded down with Pittsburgh in the first round and ended up with Mathias Kiwanuka (1st round) and Gerris Wilkinson (3rd).

When you fall in love with one player you absolutely have to have, then you surrender picks to move up and get that player, it had better work. If it doesn't, you hurt yourself in multiple ways. In the Moss trade, for example, the Giants could have had a chance to draft two good players had they stayed put. Instead, they traded up and wound up with zero. Moving up is always a risk. Moving down, of course, carries the risk that you move too far and don't get a player you really wanted.

I am just not buying the argument that the Giants missed out on something simply because they did not get involved in the chess games and move pieces all around the board.

Let's wait a couple of years, see how all the players Reese selected pan out, and then make a judgment. If history tells us anything, I suspect we will see that JR did just fine.