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Clayton: Giants had "intelligence failure" in first round of draft

ESPN insider critical of how the Giants handled the first round.

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants' selection of cornerback Eli Apple 10th overall might end up being a case of all's well that ends well. Certainly, let's hope so. Apple is a terrific young man, a talented player and could well end up having a fantastic NFL career. There is, however, mounting evidence that Apple was not Plan A for the Giants entering the 2016 NFL Draft. Or even Plan B.

ESPN insider John Clayton threw gasoline on the smoldering embers of that belief on Sunday, calling the first round of the draft an"intelligence failure" by the Giants.

"For the Giants, clearly it was intelligence failure," Clayton said during my radio show on 97.5 FM The Fanatic Sunday. "It wasn't intelligence as far as the selection, but the intelligence in the office, because I was hearing, like everyone else, that John Mara wanted to take Jack Conklin. He was going to try [to] push Jerry Reese to do that.

"However, Jerry and the staff were looking to take Leonard Floyd. ... Guess what, two teams jumped the Giants and now they had to reach a little bit to take Eli Apple. That kind of diminishes it a little bit."

This is further evidence of the belief many have that the Giants' targets were Conklin, the Michigan State offensive tackle, and Floyd, the Georgia outside linebacker.

It is also a fail by the Giants in doing what NFL teams try desperately to do prior to the draft -- put up smokescreens so that analysts, and more importantly NFL teams, can't read their intentions.

Clearly, mock drafters had a pretty good idea what the Giants were going to do -- moving in droves to give them either Conklin or Floyd in their final mocks.

Clearly, it appears that the Tennessee Titans, who moved from No. 15 to No. 8 to take Conklin, the Chicago Bears, who moved from No. 11 to No. 9 to take Floyd, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who moved from No. 9 to No. 11 and still got the guy they wanted, Vernon Hargreaves, knew what cards the Giants were holding.

Here is a telling quote from Bucs' GM Jason Licht:

"Our gut instinct in this case was that [Vernon Hargreaves] wouldn't go to the Giants, that we could still go back and get him at No. 11. And [by consummating the trade], it would allow us to pick up a pick that I wanted to use to ensure we got the kicker," Licht said.

If Apple turns out to be a great player then this won't matter, it will be water under the proverbial bridge. If, however, Conklin or Floyd turn out to be great players and Apple has a pedestrian career this will be pointed to as a major blunder. To use a baseball term, though, this would seem to be an indication that the Giants need to do a better job of not tipping their pitches.