I was a little underwhelmed with what the New York Giants did in the draft to be honest, but it was clear they had a well-thought out plan -- and that's all you can really ask from your favorite team's front office in the draft. Even though we (and I'm definitely included) fall in love with particular players throughout the process the truth is the draft is an art not a science and often times comes down to how well a player fits in with the culture/city/environment/schemes they are drafted into coupled with their work ethic -- all things that are impossible to predict from your mother's basement.
Most players drafted will turn out to be non-factors in the NFL, but if you can get a star with the first-round pick (Beckham Jr.), two solid starters (Richburg and Bromley or Williams) and some good special team guys for a few years (the Giants Day 3 picks) it will be looked at in retrospect as a great draft. I think the Giants have every opportunity to do that with the guys they picked this year and perhaps even more so in a few years. Down the road we may look back at this draft and we see a very 2007-like draft where it may have lacked the lon- term potential impact players, but everyone helped the team for a few years.
Let's re-draft for the Giants in each spot. The picks below are what I would have done for the Giants in each round. I made these picks live (OK, not specifically live on all the days ... I was tape delayed on Day 3), but still before the Giants picked on the TV clock ,so here's what I would have done.
Round 1 -- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
I have said many times that I think there were eight blue-chip guys in the draft, and the NFL obviously agreed with me because they were all gone by the time the Giants picked. Then it came down to a number of different players. I liked C.J. Mosley, Cyrus Kouandjio and Marqise Lee, but none of those guys had what Beckham Jr. had,. Beckham Jr. was my prediction for the Giants in my final mock draft. Since I felt that players 9-25 were all essentially on the same level I was just hoping to be right for the Giants pick!
In all seriousness -- Beckham Jr. wasn't super-high on my initial big board before I had more time to dig into him. The more you see the more you like. I think he's a better version of Kendall Wright coming out of college -- and some people describe him as a Desean Jackson type player (also compared to Greg Jennings/Marvin Harrison). I don't love the lack of size, but the important thing to me was to get a guy who can play outside to make sure that Victor Cruz will play permanently inside. I'm also hoping that Beckham Jr.'s character is as high as all the reports say it is and that he will push Rueben Randle to be the very best he can be. The Giants have said they think Beckham is an outside receiver and now Cruz will not be. I never thought Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald would be in serious consideration for the Giants and I'm not sure that Zack Martin can play left tackle and it wouldn't make sense to me to take offensive linemen two years in the row in the first round who can't play left tackle -- so I think they made the right choice here.
And how about the over-kill on the upgrading the return unit this off-season?
Meet the Giants 2014 NFL Draft Class
Everything you need to know about all of the players selected by the Giants in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Round 2 - Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Considering I had Jace Amaro as a top 20 prospect on my personal big board and as the No. 1 tight end this pick would have been easy. I also would have seriously considered Kouandjio but once he fell out of the first round it was clear that the long-term prognosis on his knee couldn't have been great, otherwise it's highly unlikely he would have gotten past the Miami Dolphins at 19. Amaro has a knock as a guy who can't block, but was only blocking about seven plays per game in college. How can you know if a guy can block with his limited opportunities?
I should point out that in one of the many things I've read during the pre-draft process that there was a report (I think from one of the NFL.com guys but can't remember) that Amaro didn't come off all that well in interviews. Whether or not that is true could be a reason the Giants weren't terribly interested. But Giants Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross did this say in regards to the tight end position: "Even with a couple of the guys there are things that to the outside eye you don’t know about some of these guys that devalue them even more." Which would fit if that was about Amaro (pure speculation).
With that being said, Amaro to me is a bigger version of Jason Witten in the NFL and I would have loved to have him.
Round 3 - Kareem Martin, DL, UNC
He wasn't the highest-rated player on my board at that point -- Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson was -- but again the fact that he kept sinking was an indication that even though he may have only been playing at 65 percent last year teams were concerned he might not get back to 100 percent anytime soon.
Martin fits the Giants prototype at defensive end very well. He's long (35-inch arms), has big hands (10 inches) 272 pounds, fast (4.72 40-yard dash), and an overall good athlete. He was very productive in college 82 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks in 2013. I thought he would have been terrific value there, and it's hard for me to figure out why he wasn't more coveted. He has size, speed, and production.
Round 4 - David Yankey, OL, Stanford
I mentioned in a few threads before the draft that the buzz was that media liked Yankey much more than the NFL did and that turned out to be true. I still think the fourth round is good value here. He's a guy who has tackle size (6-foot-6 315 pounds, 34-inch long arms) but doesn't possess great feet. I don't know exactly how offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will want to use his offensive linemen so that could affect the Giants grade on him because he isn't a great athlete, but I think he starts in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings and could have been Chris Snee's replacement (or the left guard) next year.
But with Weston Richburg the Giants are now hoping that he or Brandon Mosley can start if need be at left guard. I still like Mosley, so we'll see.
Round 5 - Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
Turns out I would have "reached" for Jones here, but the more you follow the draft the more you realize that the difference between fifth-round picks and undrafted free agents is really minimal. I think Jones has the physical abilities to play either WILL or SAM and offers potential as a pass rusher because of his length. He's a better athlete than a football player, but reports are that he is a guy who loves football and I'll take my chances with talented hard workers even if they don't have great instincts.
Round 5 (compensatory) -- Dion Bailey, S, USC
Can't figure out what kept him from being drafted. He lacks top end speed , but was a top performer in the agility drills at the combine (20-yard shuttle, 3-cone, and 60-yard shuttle). Was also productive (five INT, six passes broken up, 6.5 tackles for loss). Is a bit of a linebacker/safety 'tweener, but good speed, should help on special teams and could develop into a starter at the position. Two picks in a row that I take, though, end up going undrafted.
Round 6 - Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford
Gaffney is a good athlete and has great size (5-11, 220 pounds). He is a solid pass protector already and had one of the best 3-cone drills for all running backs and ran an official 4.49 at 220 pounds. He also had 1717 yards rushing this year with 21 touchdowns. An effective inside runner who can pass protect, catch a little bit (15 receptions), and run. He's very good value here in the sixth round. One of the questions with Gaffney is does he love the game enough to stick with football if things get tough as he was previously in the minor leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals.
My draft didn't end up selecting a center or a defensive tackle though Martin can slide inside on passing downs, and it's also clear that I myself gravitate a little bit more towards higher upside players than the Giants did this year.