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Philosoraptor's Corner - The Kids Are Alright

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The Giants future is taking shape before our eyes.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know if these will always come with a sound track, it kinda depends on how things go.

So, what's been on my mind this week?

Pretty simple: The Kids.

Well, okay, they're not kids, but the young men who are forming the nucleus of the next New York Giants team.

Sunday, as the Giants were playing the Rams, I remarked that I just couldn't understand how any Giants' fan could watch that game and not be excited. I just don't see how anybody can see their team's young players playing like that, making plays, and grouse that the team is winning.

But since the Giants started their winning streak, that's been happening. Some are getting so caught up in trying to gleam some positive from a lost season that they're missing a positive developing right in front of their noses. What is more important, a marginally better draft position, or the development of your young players?

And I say "marginally better" because there is no guarantee that rising or falling a position or two will really affect your draft that much. Would the Giants have taken Odell Beckham at 10th overall last year? Probably. It seems now that he was 'Their Guy' all along. Having Taylor Lewan on the board might have made the decision a bit harder, but I think they would have gone with Beckham.

But what has this "meaningless" win streak netted the Giants? Personally, I think something so much more valuable than a slightly different lottery ticket.

Everybody knows about Odell Beckham Jr. He has rewritten record books over the last eight games, and is playing like one of the, if not the, best receivers in the NFL. But what about the others? There are a bunch of young players with significant roles for the New York Giants, and they are developing into the core of a good, deep, roster.

Down in the trenches, Justin Pugh has had a rocky year. He's fought through injury and adversity, but he has also shown why he was a first round draft pick in 2013. Chris Long is one of the more talented and certainly most dangerous right defensive ends in the lague, but did anybody hear his name called in the game against the Rams? For that matter, J.J. Watt, who probably should be the NFL's MVP, made hardly any noise against Pugh. Certainly there have been highs and lows, but part of the nature of development is that these things get smoothed out, and hopefully the average play gets elevated.

On the other side of the ball, Johnathan Hankins has been simply dominant this year. He has already doubled his pass rush production from his most productive year in college, and nearly his entire college career, and has been a rock against the run. The Giants third round pick that year, Damontre Moore, has been distinguishing himself as a disruptive presence on the defensive line. He brings an energy and fire to the defensive line like no other player. He still needs to work on his maturity, but his presence has helped to ignite Jason Pierre-Paul.

Of the rookies, Beckham is in a class by himself. Weston Richburg has come on since his benching. He is still on the light side for a guard, but he is using the tools that will make him a good center, and using them well. For a rookie interior lineman who is playing out of position, unremarkable is good enough.

Likewise, Andre Williams has come on strong in recent weeks, and he is developing incredibly quickly. At the start of the season he was sledge hammer. Rashad Jennings did most of the work, and Williams' job was to spell him, and pound on the defense for a while. He had very little clue of what to do in pass protection, or when the football was thrown his way. Now, he is a reliable pass protector, and can actually make a play or two when the ball is thrown to him. You can also see his vision and patience as a runner developing. He has a ways still to go, but he is coming along, and quickly.

And that brings us to Devon Kennard. He was a fifth round compensatory pick, fully expected by the fan base to be yet another JAG linebacker. Now, he is being called the future of the Giants' linebackers by Carl Banks -- who might know a thing or two about playing the position.

Kerry Wynn is another one. He has seemingly come out of nowhere to make losing Robert Ayers much less painful than it could have been. He has taken on the same role that Strahan, Tuck, and Ayers excelled in, that hybrid end/tackle position, and is playing better there than anyone could have predicted.

And all of those guys are just the ones who have visibly developed this year. That's not including other young guys like Larry Donnell, who is frightening to watch play, but has some of the most reliable hands in the league, or Cooper Taylor who was injured for the season, but was one of the top safeties in the league in pre-season. Or even young players who have shown promise like Jay Bromley, Nat Berhe, Corey Washington, or Orleans Darkwa.

I could even include Prince Amukamara or Jason Pierre-Paul in the Giants emerging nucleus of young players. Both are established NFL veterans, and among the best at their positions, but both are also only just old enough to get half-decent rates on their car insurance.

Final Thoughts

But that brings me right back to my original wondering, is the Giants' success worth their draft position? Well, let me ask it this way:

Is the development of the 16 or so young players who are responsible for the Giants winning, or at least have shown promise before getting hurt, worth seven draft picks that might just mean picking the same prospect a couple picks sooner than otherwise?

For me, it's not even a question. Guys like Wynn are getting priceless experience they wouldn't be getting otherwise. They're honing their skills and with each play made, and each win, gaining confidence. If the Giants were in a position like Atlanta, where a win or loss could move them from the top-10 in the draft to outside the top-20 -- with slim hopes of winning that playoff game -- my feelings might be a bit different. But as it stands, seeing the future of the team take shape, grow up, and play well before our eyes is worth so much more than draft position, I'm not sure how to even quantify it.

And that is coming from somebody who starts his draft homework almost as soon as the current draft is over.

The future of the Giants is growing up before our eyes, and I for one am excited.

(Note: I suppose I could have gone with Timbuk 3's "Classic" 'The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades', but I wouldn't want to catch the same kind of grief I once gave Ed for picking an Abba song as the anthem for the Giants' playoff run back in 2011.)