As each pick in the 2016 NFL Draft came up the thought that the New York Giants had to select a lineman -- offensive or defensive -- seemed to gain strength. After all, they always had. In 81 NFL drafts dating back to 1936, a draft had never passed without the Giants selecting at least one one lineman. Until now.
Much to the chagrin of fans expecting/demanding/screaming on social media to get a replacement for right tackle Marshall Newhouse the never selected a lineman. An organization that still adheres to many of the philosophies of George Young, who rescued the franchise in the late 1970s and early 1980s, seemed to ignore one of Young's basic tenents. Big guys beat little guys.
How did the Giants' brain trust react?
"Alright, historic," said Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross when informed this was the first time the Giants had not selected a lineman in an NFL draft. By the way, about that, let's also remember that the draft is now fewer rounds than it has ever been. Thus, fewer opportunities.
The Giants weren't celebrating the fact that they didn't take a lineman.
Ross said the Giants "discussed some guys," but ultimately went in other directions.
"We weren't going to force anything. You always want big bodies, but you want the right big bodies. You can't just go into it saying we want an offensive lineman and they throw somebody up there or we want a D-lineman," Ross said. "We spent a lot in the offseason on the D-line. We've got some high draft picks on the O-line, so we have some good players there right now and we weren't going to force the issue at either one of those positions."
Head coach Ben McAdoo didn't know when he met the press that the Giants had made history, but said of not selecting a lineman "That's probably pretty unique."
"The last thing you want to do is reach down and reach for a guy. That's how it went this year," McAdoo added.
Informed of the history the draft had made, General Manager Jerry Reese had this reaction:
"Hmm. Interesting. We drafted the best players available for us. We have some offensive linemen and we have some defensive linemen. We'll continue to try to improve everywhere on the roster, including the offensive and defensive line."
The Giants understood, and still understand, that they could use help on both lines -- especially one more starting-caliber piece on the offensive side. Why else would Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin have been one of their two apparent first-round targets?
I repeat this all the time, but you simply can't fill every need in one draft. Or, when you have a lot of holes like the Giants did at the end of last season, in one offseason. You don't draft or sign a player at a position just so you can say "look fans, we got a lineman." In the draft, you select the player available at the time who you believe will help you the most over the long term. If you like a wide receiver, or a safety, or a corner, or a linebacker more than the best available lineman, you take that player.
"We got the best six players that we could get. We accomplished that," Reese said.
It just happened to work out that none of those players came from the "Big Elephant" category. It's ironic. It's unique. It certainly seemed inconceivable when the draft started. It probably isn't how the Giants intended for the draft to work out.
If the players in this draft class help the Giants win games no one will care about the positions they play. Let's just wait and see how it turns out.