The new names have new numbers. The 2016 New York Giants draft class have all been assigned their jerseys for the upcoming year. As a draft pick, you already have high expectations pressed upon you, but nothing compares to the weight of history. With every number comes a lineage of players who have worn it before you. In anticipation of rookie training camp, we give you a quick rundown on what numbers the rookies have chosen, and who has worn them best for the Giants over the years.
Disclaimer: It's important to note that all numbers are subject to change. Some guys may not have gotten their desired number, but may have their eye on it as another player lurks on the cliff of roster-bubble life. Make sure to save that precious jersey money a little longer and not to buy any rookie jerseys until the regular season rolls around. Nothing is set in stone until opening day, and every year some fans get disappointed when they realise their brand new gear is already out of date. Don't be that fan!
Eli Apple (CB) - No. 28
Most recently, this was worn by former third-round draft pick, Jayron Hosley. Both he and Apple are cornerbacks, and the Giants are hoping Apple's career plays out a little differently. Hosley appeared in 43 games during his recently expired rookie contract, with 15 starts and two interceptions. Obviously, not ideal.
Prior to him, it was used by short-yardage shotgun draw specialist Danny Ware, and then Gibril Wilson before him. Wilson gets bonus points for wearing it during the 2007 Super Bowl season, as does Everson Walls in 1990, though he was coming off nine years as a Dallas Cowboy.
Another former Cowboy, Beasley Reece, may be the best to have worn the No. 28 for Big Blue. He was drafted by Dallas in the ninth round of the 1976 NFL Draft and played both corner and wide-receiver for them, but was waived after just one year. The Giants pounced on his rights, and he had a strong seven years for them, starting 69 games once he was trained up as a safety.
Overall, it's an interesting number. The benchmark for the greatest to wear it is relatively low, especially with its most recent few holders. If Apple performs at an above-average level for a long time, he has a good chance to be the best of the bunch.
Sterling Shepard (WR) - No. 87
This is a doozy. This is a really poor number. The second best player to wear it was Domenik Hixon. That's how low the caliber of history is for the No. 87. It's also quite aesthetically off-putting. It's a clunky, unbalanced asymmetrical disaster. I like the idea of fast players wearing fast-looking numbers. In college, receivers can wear single digits, and I like that. It suits their frame in the same way No. 99 looks great on a big lump of defensive tackle meat.
There was one guy who gave this number some juice in the history books. You might remember him. Goes by the name of Howard Cross. He holds the record for playing more games as a New York Giant than anyone in history, with a total of 207 game appearances spanning 13 years. He was on both the 1990 Super Bowl team, and the 2000 Super Bowl team.
Yet, even then, Cross is remembered as a blocker rather than a receiver, and his prominence for the number comes from longevity more than anything else. Shepard is set up well to really make this his own. There's only one man who really posed a threat, and their on-field skills couldn't be more different.
Darian Thompson (FS) - No. 27
Much like Shepard, Darian Thompson doesn't really have a memorable guy at the same position to compare to. Stevie Brown a few years ago had a good -- but brief -- spell with the Giants. Last year's fifth-round pick, Mykkele Thompson was assigned the No. 27 originally, but made a switch when some new numbers became available this year.
If you want to see any memorable No. 27's, you have to look at the running backs, Rodney Hampton and Brandon Jacobs. Hampton was a 1990 champion, but he was a rookie, and his playoff totals amounted to two carries for three yards. Hardly a massive influence. But Brandon Jacobs on the other hand, now that's a man who is loved by Giants fans.
Two Super Bowl rings, 5,000 rushing yards and a 15-touchdown season? Yeah, that will get you noticed. Sure, he wasn't his former self in the later years, but who cares. Jacobs was an old-school throwback whose bruising playing style was never meant to hold up long-term. Thompson would likely need a Hall of Fame career to unseat Jacobs as the best No. 27 in Giants history.
B.J. Goodson (LB) - No. 93
I'm looking at B.J. Goodson's choice of No. 93 as a very good omen. The last linebacker to wear this jersey was Chase Blackburn, and in his last game, we saw him jumping in front of Rob Gronkowski for an unlikely interception in the Super Bowl.
Now, this number is more often seen on defensive linemen, but and there's no doubt that's where the 90's belong, but I think given its iconic nature for Giants fans, it's a strong choice for Goodson. Up until last year, linebackers were only allowed wear 90's and 50's but a rule change added the 40's to the mix.
Other than Blackburn, the No. 93 was worn by 1990 champion defensive tackle Mike Fox, third-round bust Jay Alford, and most recently by one-year wonder George Selvie.
Paul Perkins (RB) - No. 39
No. 39? Nuh-uh. Don't like it. This is a fail-grade from me. Paul Perkins did not choose wisely here, though in fairness, there may not have been a lot to choose from. There are three retired numbers he would have been eligible for (No. 32 - Al Blozis, No. 40 - Joe Morrison, No. 42 Charlie Conerly), and the team is also currently carrying too many running backs. I'd put Perkins up there as a prime candidate to change numbers once the preseason wraps up.
Perkins' competition with No. 39 includes fullback Madison Hedgecock and early nineties corner, Corey Raymond. That's about it. Of those two, you even probably give the nod to Hedgecock for memorability thanks to the 2007 Super Bowl. Raymond played for the Giants for three years, and only started 20 games in that span. Others of note include NFL Network's Mike Mayock, the late Tyler Sash and Hall of Famer Larry Csonka.
It's just a bad number for the Giants. Perkins isn't touted as a speedy back, and a slow number like 39 is only going to make the emphasize those problems. He wore No. 24 in college, and while Bennett Jackson holds that number now, he could easily be an odd-man out in roster cuts. I suspect Perkins would pounce on the opportunity to switch.
Jerrell Adams (TE) - No. 89
Any Giants fan worth their salt knows that this is a big number for Giants history. Jerell Adams has chosen the number of arguably the greatest tight-end in franchise history; Mark Bavaro. These are big shoes to fill, and for a sixth-round rookie, that's a lot of pressure.
Then there was also Kevin Boss, another tight-end who is fondly remembered for giving everything to the team during a single rookie contract, and whose place has been permanently filled since his departure in 2010. After Boss, it's been a haphazard bunch of low-cost veterans and undrafted contributors, none of which saw more than a year as a starter.
For the historians out there, and I know there are a few, the first great No. 89 for the Giants was Cliff Livingston. He played linebacker for eight years between 1954 and 1961, a fruitful era for the Giants with five NFL championship appearances during that period (though only one win).