As the 2010 NFL season began I wrote that it looked possible that New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese had gone just 1-for-9 in the 2009 NFL Draft. Here is part of what I wrote:
You know, I take a mulligan every so often when I play golf. Unfortunately, you get no mulligans in the NFL. Mistakes in the draft, especially in the top half of the draft, can haunt teams for a long time. I am not writing Beatty, Sintim, Barden and Beckum off as busts at this point, but they need to step up and justify Reese's faith.
Unfortunately, with 2010 in the books it still looks like Reese might have gone just 1-for-9 in that 2009 Draft. It generally takes three full years to judge a draft class, and I still hold out some hope for a couple of the players in this class -- especially Will Beatty and Ramses Barden -- but right now things simply do not look good for the Class of 2009.
I still believe Reese is a terrific general manager, and a top-notch talent evaluator. This simply does not look like his best work. If I was going to give Jerry any advice -- not that he needs any or would listen to me -- it would be stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes. No matter how talented or athletic a player is if he does not fit what your team does, or what the coaching staff wants, he is not right for the Giants.
Round 1 (29th overall) -- Hakeem Nicks
A bona-fide star. Nicks caught 79 balls in 13 games in 2010 and, if he can stay healthy, is on his way to a tremendous career. I don't know if this is the receiver Reese really, really wanted in 2009 or just the guy he had to take because he was the one left on the board. Either way, this pick is working out quite nicely for the Giants.
Round 2 (45th overall) -- Clint Sintim
I like Sintim. I have had the opportunity to speak with him and he is a well, spoken, intelligent, likeable young man. He is also the poster child for why the Giants have had trouble drafting productive linebackers in recent years. Sintim is a 3-4 outside linebacker/defensive end trying to become a 4-3 strongside linebacker. Through two unproductive seasons in which he has rarely seen the field it is just not working.
The Giants need to draft players who fit the system they run, not simply grab impressive athletes and assume they can teach them how to play the position.
There are several early-round linebackers in the 2011 draft class who fit the 4-3 system. I would love to see the Giants grab at least one of them.
Round 2 (60th overall) -- Will Beatty
Beatty is a guy I still believe has a future at one of the two tackle spots for the Giants. Depending on how the 2011 NFL Draft turns out, Beatty could wind up as the starting left tackle in 2011. Of course, that is what we said heading into the 2010 season.
Beatty lost a competition for the starting left tackle job last training camp, then lost much of the season to a broken foot. He has the size and all of the physical tools to play the left tackle position. The Giants are still waiting, I believe, for him to show the toughness and to simply grab the job and not let it go.
Of all of the players other than Nicks in this draft class I still believe Beatty could wind up being the best player. He is going to have to prove it in 2011, though.
Round 3 (85th overall) -- Ramses Barden, WR
Philadelphia traded this selection to the Giants for their third- and fifth-round selections (91st overall, traded to Seattle, who selected Deon Butler, and 164th overall, traded to New Orleans, who selected Thomas Morstead).
Barden had his opportunity this season when a rash of injuries made the Giants turn to him. He suffered his own season-ending injury, though.
Barden could still be a productive third or fourth receiver, but I don't think he will ever be more than that with the Giants.
This turns out to be a classic example of why I hate the practice of trading up in the middle rounds. The Giants gave up two picks -- albeit in a draft where they still had nine selections -- and took a player who has yet to help them after two years.
Round 3 (100th overall) -- Travis Beckum, TE ... final compensatory pick of 3rd round
A bad fit with the Giants. Blame whoever you want, the Giants just do not have a role for this guy. How the traditional Giants would use a very un-traditional player was the question as soon as Reese drafted him. Two years and just 21 catches later that is still the question. How will the Giants use a guy who can't block and hasn't really shown the speed to get open in the slot?
To me, this is a case of Reese possibly out-smarting himself. He loved Beckum's skills, and still does, but this is a classic case -- like Sintim -- of a player who just does not fit what the Giants do.
Whether that is Reese's fault, Tom Coughlin's, Kevin Gilbride's, Beckum's -- or a combination of all of them -- is really beside the point. Right now that it how it looks.
Round 4 (129th overall) -- Andre Brown, RB
Brown could have been a terrific pick and could have helped the Giants -- or so it appeared before he tore his achilles tendon in the 2009 training camp. The Giants cut him before the 2010 season and now he has bounced all over the league trying to stick somewhere. Currently a Washington Redskin, he has been through Denver and Indianapolis multiple times, Carolina and now Washington.
For the Giants, this was just pure bad luck.
Round 5 (151st overall) -- Rhett Bomar, QB
Other than giving us fodder for some great comments, a wasted pick.
Round 6 (200th overall) - DeAndre Wright, CB
Another wasted choice. Did not make the team and has bounced around the league ever since without finding a home. He has had opportunities with Cleveland and Minnesota, and is currently without a team.
Round 7 (238th overall) -- Stoney Woodson, CB
Obviously, Reese was looking for one of his last two picks to provide cornerback depth. Neither one ever did, as Woodson also got cut before the start of the season. He has been out of the NFL since being waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last April.