One of the more interesting things to come out of co-owner John Mara's season-ending press conference on Monday was Mara's blunt admission that the Giants have made some mistakes during recent NFL drafts.
"I think we have not gotten the production that we wanted out of certain draft slots," Mara said. "We have missed on some guys. We've had some bad luck with second- and third-round picks being hurt, first round picks in the case of Kenny Phillips, who I thought was going to be a Pro Bowl safety for us for years. We have missed on guys, no question about it."
Mara indicated that the Giants have, in recent years, knowingly gambled on some high-risk players with some of their early picks. He acknowledged that has, at times, backfired.
"There are a few cases where we took a chance, knowing that we were taking a chance, thinking that if we hit on this guy, maybe we'll knock it out of the park. If we miss, we miss, and we missed a few times, but that's going to happen," Mara said.
Who might some of those players be who the Giants gambled on and lost? Mara didn't name names, but we can. So, let's go back in time all the way to 2009 and take an educated guess at some of those picks that might have been considered risks. We will simply score each of them 'hit' or 'miss.'
LB Clint Sintim (Round 2, 45th) -- Miss
WR Ramses Barden (Round 3, 85th) -- Miss
TE Travis Beckum (Round 3, 100th) -- Miss
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Round 1, 15th) -- Hit
NOTE: Chad Jones was taken in the third round here, 76th overall. The unfortunate car crash that wrecked his career can't be counted against the Giants.
DT Marvin Austin (Round 2, 52nd) -- Miss
WR Jerrel Jernigan (Round 3, 83rd) -- Miss ... at least thru two seasons and 13 games
RB David Wilson (Round 1, 32nd) -- Miss ... so far
CB Jayron Hosley (Round 3, 94th) -- Miss ... so far
TE Adrien Robinson (Round 4, 127th) -- Miss ... so far
DE Damontre Moore (Round 3, 81st) -- To Be Determined
QB Ryan Nassib (Round 4, 110th) -- To Be Determined
That, to be honest, is a lot of early-round misses during the four-year period from 2009-2012. The single success of Pierre-Paul can't make up for all of them.
Has that shaken Mara's belief in general manager Jerry Reese?
"No. I firmly believe that he is the right guy going forward. I've spent enough time around him to know that he is the right guy. He is not afraid to make tough decisions and he knows what the risks are and sometimes you have to take those calculated risks," Mara said. "I still trust his evaluation skills. I like the way he deals with players. He's very honest and direct with them. He's got a very good relationship with Tom. Yes, I am convinced that he is the right guy to lead us going forward."
How about in the scouting department? Marc Ross is vice president of player evaluation and oversees the collegiate scouting. The Giants have a veteran scouting department filled with many scouts who have more than a decade of service to the Giants, in some cases more than two decades.
"I still think we have as good an evaluation system and group of people here as anybody," Mara said. "Now we may have taken some calculated risks on players in the past, knowing that they were risks thinking that maybe we'd hit big and we didn't, but that's not necessarily a function of the scouts.
"That's as much on me as anything else. I knew what the risks were in certain cases and we took them and they didn't work out, but we've had a lot of guys that have worked out, too, as lower round picks. So you take the good with the bad, but to be successful in this league, you have to do a good job in the draft, especially on those middle-round picks, and there's no question over the last few years we've missed on a few of them for whatever reason."
Reese defended his draft record.
"If you win seven games your draft isn't very good. It comes with the territory. We have really good personnel people in our building and we've drafted well enough to win a couple Super Bowls, but if we had drafted better, maybe we could have won four Super Bowls, who knows?," Reese said. "That's our goal and that's what we'll continue to do. I don't think anything's wrong with our system, how we draft players but obviously we'll evaluate that as well."
Mara did say that the Giants would "possibly" consider taking fewer of those "calculated risks."
"Certainly you want guys coming in there healthy and don't have any off-field issues, but that's not necessarily what you get coming out of the colleges and sometimes you have to take those risks," Mara said.