Now that the dust has settled on the season, and we all have had time to digest the thrills and -- well, mostly -- spills of the 2015 New York Giants, it's time to take a look at our end of year rookie report card. From the first-rounder to the undrafted, how did the newcomers fare in their initial NFL seasons?
The grades chosen for each player reflect their playing time and on-field production in relation to where they were drafted. For instance, a first-round pick is expected to perform well and play a high number of snaps, but a fifth-rounder would have much lower expectations in both areas. These grades work on this principle and you should keep this fact in mind throughout the rest of the article.
Flowers is widely panned around media circles and subjective grade-based metrics like Pro Football Focus. They don't like him. Most consider him a liability in pass blocking. They're right, but that did not stop him from having a great year.
In fairness to the player, he was a rookie left tackle on a team that drafted him with a development year in mind. This was not how it was supposed to go. An inexperienced 21-year-old should not have been pushed into the most important spot on the line. Yet he was, and not only that, he did it while injured and missed just one game -- a fact that places like PFF cannot quantify.
While his performance was sub-optimal in many games, the mere presence of Flowers on the field meant that the Giants didn't have to force yet another game of musical chairs with the offensive line. An injured developmental rookie left tackle on a pass-happy team? Context is everything with this situation.
Cards on the table; I love Collins. This extends back to pre-draft articles last year when I mocked him to the Giants in the first round. It goes back to the mid-season rookie report when I gave him an [A-] and I suffered the heckles and boos that went along with a grade that high. Well, guess what? I still stand by that grade. I have bumped him down ever so slightly after further review, but I still think that -- given his price-point -- it's hard to argue that Collins wasn't an excellent pick.
Now, the further review aspect of it comes down to the fact that I forgot to account for the trade-up in the mid-season grade. Collins was a second-round pick, but he cost the Giants a second and a fourth-rounder to actually select him. This extra pick should reduce the grade to less than the assigned [B+], but the progress made by Collins in the second half of the year almost negates that.
Many will point to low moments like the dropped interception at the end of the New England Patriots game, but you also need to realize how odd it would be for a rookie safety to be in a position to catch a Tom Brady pass in the first place? Brady doesn't often make those kinds of mistakes. Collins is better than he gets credit for, and his surrounding cast -- a job-sharing scheme of lackluster names at free safety, and a coordinator who is still figuring things out -- let him down. Collins isn't perfect but focus on the positives. The Giants should be very happy they nabbed this guy where they did.
The Giants drafted Odighizuwa knowing that he was an injury risk. He fell to the third round not because of promise, but because of a double-hip surgery in college. At the halfway point, I gave this pick an incomplete grade, because we had seen just four games from the player and it didn't seem fair to judge the situation harshly as there was still so much of the season left. Odighizuwa didn't play in the second half of the year. He was placed on injured reserve with a designation of possible return that would have kicked in had the Giants made the playoffs. They did not.
For some reason, the front office seems content to take problem players in the mid-rounds because they believe that at some point they'll hit on a superstar who just had some bad luck. This hasn't been the case with guys like Marvin Austin or Adrien Robinson and it isn't the case here. I'm harsh on this pick because Jerry Reese has repeatedly taken the risky option at a time when the safe pick would have produced a better result. Odighizuwa played just 126 defensive snaps and recorded two tackles in 2015. That's not acceptable. This grade isn't so much an indication of a bad player as it is a criticism of a dumb decision by management. Damn shame.
Not much to say here. The guy had a freak season-ending injury in training camp and we never saw him in the regular season. Can't judge a guy we never saw play.
There were plenty of times this season when the Giants needed a receiver to step up. Davis was not the guy. The team doesn't trust him right now and instead opted to roll with Myles White and the ghost of Hakeem Nicks. The biggest indication of this came in the Minnesota Vikings game when Davis was a healthy scratch despite Odell Beckham's absence due to suspension. Not sure if he has a place on the team going forward.
Hart played in five games as a rookie, all of which were a result of injuries to other guys at his position, though it is fair to say the seventh-round pick held up better than many would have expected. In three of those games, he played a considerable amount of snaps, and it's not crazy to think he did a better job than the man he was replacing; Marshall Newhouse. Hart was a good late-round flyer who did everything that was asked of him. I'd feel comfortable about him heading into next year as a swing lineman or immediate backup.
What do we say about this guy? Despite going undrafted and only playing in 13 games, Tye led all rookie tight ends in yards, receptions, and touchdowns in 2015. That's no mean feat. After the Giants lost Larry Donnell to injury, Tye not only stepped up as the immediate replacement but now appears to have supplanted the injured veteran as the top guy heading into next season.
He may not be as much of a mismatch in the receiving game as Donnell, but Tye also has the upper hand in physicality. Donnell has the most bizarre series of falls by any player in the sport. He is the Building 7 of NFL players. Just look at him and he'll crumble to the ground in a confusing manner. Donnell may show flashes of a higher ceiling, but Tye is the rock-solid option that Eli Manning needs.
Unga started out as this whirlwind playmaker. He was a pre-season sensation, and after the opener in Dallas -- where he lead the team with 10 tackles, two assists, and an interception -- everyone thought the Giants had found a suitable counterpart to Devon Kennard. This wasn't to be. Unga struggled through the rest of the season in a rotational role that exposed him as a liability more than a star. He may progress with a season of experience under his belt, but the possibility of a new defensive coordinator next year could halt any future with the team.
In conclusion, it was another mixed bag for the Giants rookies. Collins and Tye are proof that you can find top-level talent outside of the first day of the draft, but apparent misses like Odighizuwa and Davis push the G.M. into questionable territory once more. I think the Flowers pick at the top looked better as the year progressed, but as the team struggled to close out so many games and the losses piled up, it became evident that the team lacked the depth necessary to compete for a full 60 minutes.
Draft Class 2015
Overall composite grade: B-
If the lowlights can give the team something in 2016, then this draft will look like a winner, but when we average out the scores after one season, then the draft class as a whole scores a [B-]. Lots of room for improvement, but it shows promise. We can work with this.