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Giants' mid- to late-round draft picks: No, they haven't been good enough

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The general manager asked for the research, so here it is.

Brandon Mosley is one of those fourth-round picks by the Giants that just didn't work out
Brandon Mosley is one of those fourth-round picks by the Giants that just didn't work out
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

During his Tuesday press conference New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese challenged a reporter who questioned him about a perceived lack of success in the middle to late rounds of recent draft classes.

"Have you researched that? Do you know that for a fact? Till you know that for a fact, I don't think you should say that. That's just my opinion. If you know that for a fact, you can tell me about that. But give me the facts on that," Reese demanded.

Since the general manager asked for the facts, Big Blue View went in search of them. There aren't a lot of statistical tools to go by in an effort to determine team-by-team draft success in a specified round. What I chose to do is study rounds 4-7 of Giants drafts from 2010-2014 using a stat from Pro Football Reference called DrAV. That is a player's Approximate Value during the time he played for the team that drafted him. PFR does not list Approximate Value for players drafted in 2015.

I figured out the average of the Approximate Value (AV) for each round in a given year and compared that to the AV for the player selected in that round by the Giants.

For example, the average AV for all players selected in Round 4 of the 2010 draft was 8.0. The Giants' fourth-round selection that season was middle linebacker Phillip Dillard, who lasted only one season in the NFL and had a career AV of 0. That would mean Dillard did not meet the expectations of his draft slot.

Overall, 17 of the 21 players selected by the Giants in rounds 4-7 from 2010-2014 have an Approximate Value below the median for players selected in the same round of their draft class. By that measure, and yes, you can certainly argue that it is a flawed or incomplete measure, 17 of the 21 picks would be considered below average. That's 80.9 percent of picks performing below the standard set by their classmates.

2010

Round Average AV Giants' pick
4 8.0 LB Phillip Dillard (AV of 0)
5 5.3 OL Mitch Petrus (AV of 4)
6 4.0 LB/DE Adrian Tracy (AV of 1)
7 2.8 P Matt Dodge (AV of 1)

2011

Round Average AV Giants' pick
4 7.2 OL James Brewer (AV of 4)
5 5.8 No selection
6 10.7 S Tyler Sash (AV of 1)
LB Jacquian Williams (AV of 13)
LB Greg Jones (AV of 3)
7 1.7 RB Da'Rel Scott (AV of 1)

2012

Round Average AV Giants' pick
4 5.5 OL Brandon Mosley (AV of 2)
TE Adrien Robinson (AV of 0)
5 2.7 No selection
6 3.3 OL Matt McCants (AV of 0)
7 2.1 DT Markus Kuhn (AV of 3)

2013

Round Average AV Giants' pick
4 2.8 QB Ryan Nassib (AV of 0)
5 3.5 S Cooper Taylor (AV of 1)
6 1.7 No selection
7 0.67 RB Michael Cox (AV of 0)
OL Eric Herman (AV of 0)

2014

Round Average AV Giants' pick
4 1.9 RB Andre Williams (AV of 4)
5 1.3 S Nat Berhe (AV of 1)
LB Devon Kennard (AV of 4)
6 0.92 DB Bennett Jackson (AV of 0)
7 0.5 No selection

From 2010-2013 only two of the 17 players selected, Jacquian Williams and Markus Kuhn, have accumulated a value above the average for the year and round in which they were drafted. There was an uptick in 2014, with Andre Williams (Round 4) and Devon Kennard (Round 5) both having an Approximate Value above where they were drafted.

As stated above, Approximate Value data is not yet available for 2015. The Giants did not have a fourth-round pick, fifth-round pick Mykkele Thompson spent the year on IR, and sixth- and seventh-round picks Geremy Davis and Bobby Hart made limited contributions.

Looking at the big picture, co-owner John Mara was absolutely correct in his assessment of the draft in recent years.

"The last couple of drafts have been much more productive. But we had a few in there where we just haven't seen the production. Your core players are your third, fourth, fifth-year players. If you look back at those draft classes, there's not a lot of them that are playing right now," Mara said.

From 2010, the Giants have only Jason Pierre-Paul and from 2011 only Prince Amukamara. Both are free agents who may not be Giants in 2016. From 2012, Rueben Randle, Jayron Hosley, and Kuhn. Again, there is a possibility none will be retained next season.

"Sometimes you just miss on guys. Everybody misses on guys," Reese said.

That is true. And let's be fair to Reese. I have always maintained that players drafted in rounds 4-7 should never be referred to as "busts." Players taken in those rounds are developmental guys, project players, guys with limitations who are still available because they are looked at as flawed prospects who don't have the upside of players chosen in the first three rounds. There are exceptions like Tom Brady (Round 6) and Richard Sherman (Round 5), but they are few and far between.

"Mid to late rounds, you have lesser talent in the mid to late rounds. We've missed on some guys. Gotten good players out of mid to late rounds. You have lesser talent, to be frank, from mid to late rounds," Reese said.

FiveThirtyEight did an exhaustive study a couple of years ago showing that the draft is indeed an inexact science. There is no magic formula for getting it right every time. FiveThirtyEight also used the AV state from Pro-Football-Reference to show that Reese is correct that there is lesser talent, lesser value available later in the draft.

draft pick value

Teams need their early draft picks to perform up to expectations in order to maintain success. They also, however, need to get something from their late-round picks and occasionally to uncover a diamond in the rough.

The research Reese asked for shows clearly that for an extended period of time Reese was unable to do that. It is, undoubtedly, one of the reasons there is a talent deficiency on the Giants' roster.

-- Kudos to Jordan Ranaan of NJ Advance Media for asking the question that prompted Reese's answer.