NFL Draft grades. Everybody hands them out, even though it's really meaningless since it's impossible to judge players before they have played. Since everyone is handing them out, let's take a look at the 2013 NFL Draft Grades for the New York Giants. We will start with mine, and then move on to rounding up how other analysts graded the Giants' selections.
In the immediate aftermath of the draft on Saturday I posted a 'Kudos & Wet Willies' draft review, and gave the work done by general manager Jerry Reese 'Kudos.' With time to reflect, see what other analysts whose opinions I value believe, and learn more about the Day 3 selections I am sticking with that opinion. Reese did not necessarily follow the script , but he did select good players and get good value.
The first-round selection of offensive lineman Justin Pugh surprised fans, but most analysts -- including guys like Mike Mayock and Bill Polian -- love the pick and think the guy will be a good player for a long time. That's good enough for me.
I gave the second-round selection of Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins 'Kudos,' but it is still the one pick I undoubtedly would have made differently if it was my decision. No question here that I would have taken Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown. Yet, the Giants are an organization that believes the most important defensive players are the ones with their hand in the dirt. They stuck with that philosophy. grabbed a player who could become a dominant run-stuffer, and I will give them credit for sticking to what they believe in and not going with the 'popular' choice.
Final Thought: You can't address every need in a single draft. The Giants came out of the weekend with some good players, including some intriguing Day 3 selections. The only negative has to be that someday, somehow the Giants need to bring in a play-making linebacker rather than simply piece that unit together. With Brown sitting there in the second round the Giants had an opportunity to try and do that. They didn't, and as we watch Brown's career unfold with the Baltimore Ravens it might be the one regret from this draft class.
Now, let's look at the draft grades from some of the other analysts around the Inter-Google.
Summary: I had linebacker as a big need for them, but the Giants haven't drafted a linebacker in Round 1 since Carl Banks … in 1984. No surprise they didn't take one, but I'm pretty surprised they didn't take one at all. Justin Pugh is a pretty good player, and will start at guard. From there, the Giants fell in love with value over need in Rounds 2 in 3. In Round 2 they got Johnathan Hankins, at one time a likely Round 1 pick. Hankins runs hot and cold, but is a pretty good depth addition on the D-line. Then they got Damontre Moore, who had one of the biggest falls of the evaluation process we've seen in a few years. He had a great year, but tested out very poorly. They needed a defensive end and Moore could end up a steal. Where I question this draft is I'm pretty surprised they didn't get a corner or a linebacker. I really like Cooper Taylor, and you get a nice backup commodity in Ryan Nassib, I just hope they hold up at linebacker and on the edges. But these are smart evaluators and good coaches.
Best pick: Second-round defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was dominant at times in college and fills a major need.
Questionable move: It's their first-round pick of tackle Justin Pugh. I think there were better options on the board.
Third-day gem: Hard to call him a third-day gem, but getting quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round to develop makes sense.
Analysis: The pick of Pugh in the first round was a bit high, I thought. One pick that could make this draft is third-round defensive end Damontre Moore. He was once thought of as a potential first-round pick. The Giants do know defensive ends.
Sports Illustraded (Chris Burke)
New York Giants They took G/T Justin Pugh higher than I expected him to go, though he might pan out to be worthy of that spot. DT Johnathan Hankins and DE Damontre Moore both were typical Giants picks and should pitch in on defense. The trade up for QB Ryan Nassib was a classic Giants value pick, too — though, if Eli Manning sticks around for a few years, Nassib will either sit on the sideline or be traded. Lots of upside here. We’ll have to see how much immediate impact the Giants get.
New York Giants: With GM Jerry Reese, the Giants tend to draft for beyond the current year, but they ended up with three strong, athletic linemen who can make an immediate impact. Syracuse first-rounder Justin Pugh is too smooth not to win a job at guard or tackle in '13. Defensively, they got a needed run-stuffing tackle (Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins) and pass-rushing end to help replace Osi Umenyiora (Texas A&M's Damontre Moore). Also watch out for Richmond's Cooper Taylor, a big linebacker-like safety with the speed to develop into a big playmaker.
Overview: Much like Ted Thompson in Green Bay and Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore, Giants GM Jerry Reese is a best-available drafter. If he'd have selected his first three players in January and you didn't know the rounds, you would've figured he traded up for three first-round picks. Each player has a flaw -- short arms for Pugh, motor for Hankins, and translatable production for Moore -- but they're all great football players. Moore dominated in the SEC; 8.0 of his 12.5 sacks last year came versus conference opponents. Pugh permitted a half-sack of Nassib and otherwise didn't allow a single hurry. Hankins offers elite potential as a 4-3 nose guard. Nassib was a sheer value pick, while Taylor, Herman, and to a lesser extent Cox offer versatile, "multiple" skill sets and plus measurables. This draft gives the G-Men a needed infusion of young talent, even if only Pugh and perhaps Hankins are surefire first-season contributors.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: The Giants, like the Steelers, are a smart organization that catches falling prospects. Look for them to take the best players available to bolster their roster. They don't need to do anything specific, outside of finding help for their linebacking corps.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Like the Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Baltimore general managers, Jerry Reese is usually patient and lets top prospects fall to him. He changed his plans in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, however, reaching for Justin Pugh at No. 19 overall. It wasn't nearly as egregious of a reach as Dallas with Travis Frederick, but the Syracuse lineman was selected too early nonetheless.
Reese seemed to snap out of it after that, as his next three selections, Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore and Ryan Nassib, were all picked later than they were projected to go. The middle choice is especially interesting, as Moore was once projected to go No. 2 overall to the Jaguars. His stock plummeted because of a terribly slow 40 and some character concerns, but the Giants will get the most out of his natural ability.
Outside of taking Pugh, the one thing I'd change about this solid draft class is the Giants' refusal to take a linebacker. Instead of Hankins at No. 49, I would have opted for Arthur Brown. He would have been a tremendous boost in a weak linebacking corps.
GM Jerry Reese generally ends up looking pretty smart, though it currently appears that DE Jason Pierre-Paul (2010) was his last home run. DE Damontre Moore, this year's third rounder, could fall into that category even though his market tanked in recent weeks. Round 1 OL Justin Pugh seems close to "can't miss"; Round 2 DT Johnathan Hankins, not so much. It's doubtful QB Ryan Nassib will play, but he's the kind of guy who could bring a second- or third rounder in the future.