The New York Giants faced a good amount of criticism last April when they selected Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th pick of the NFL Draft. Most considered Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III the best available CB, after the Jacksonville Jaguars took Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey at number five.
Apple Grade: C. They need linebacker speed. He’s their third corner. Plus, I like William Jackson more— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) April 29, 2016
Pro Football Focus tracked the performance of each rookie taken in the first round of the 2016 draft and it turns out the Giants, all along, knew something most did not. Here is Vice President of Player Personnel Marc Ross after the Apple selection:
“We’ve heard it before. We’ve taken other players that [were called] a reach. Nobody knows. If you get a dime for every expert, I could retire. Come on. Experts? People analyze. People have opinions. What’s it based on? Nobody has seen the tape. Nobody goes to practice. Nobody puts in the work like the scouts do.”
Apple (71) grades out higher than Hargreaves (62.3) and has been tougher to complete passes against. Opposing quarterbacks have a 92.6 rating and complete 60.7 percent of their throws when targeting Apple. Their rating against Hargreaves is 100.4 and they’re completing roughly 72 percent of their passes.
His game has also benefited from the pieces around him — he’s learning the NFL game in a secondary which features Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Landon Collins. For that reason, as well as an early-season hamstring injury, Apple (646) has seen far less defensive snaps than Hargreaves (968).
It hasn’t been a perfect rookie season for Apple by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been generally more good than bad.
On the season, Apple has recorded 50 tackles, one forced fumble and fumble recovery, seven passes defensed, an interception and four run stuffs