As I said a few days ago when I answered a question about core New York Giants players, I am finding that e-mails to the Big Blue View Mailbag are providing a treasure trove of ideas for posts outside of the weekly mailbag.
Here is another question that I felt deserved more than a quick hit in the mailbag.
Chris Fiegler asks: Of all the years that you have been covering the New York Giants and Giants draft picks what do you think is the absolute worst draft picks that you have ever seen by the New York Giants?
Now, before I answer let’s establish something. Big Blue View came into existence early in 2007. I don’t feel it is appropriate as of yet to judge the Dave Gettleman era draft picks. So, that means we are discussing the Jerry Reese era of draft picks.
I know. Some of you (too many of your) are thinking “here goes Ed, taking yet another chance to bash Reese.” That’s not the intent, although the nature of even trying to answer this question means there will be some inherent Reese-bashing. Reese helped the Giants win two Super Bowls. He did a lot of things right, especially early in his tenure as GM. He did a lot of things wrong, too, which is how the Giants fell out of the ranks of the league’s top teams.
One other thing to note. I am not including picks after Round 3. Reality is those Day 3 picks are all long-range projections with lower chances of success. It’s not fair to include those in a list like this. Now, let’s discuss draft picks I see as the worst ones of his era.
Clint Sintim, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum (2009)
I couldn’t decide between these three players. All were disappointments, so I ended up just lumping all of them in together.
Reese did some good things in this draft. He grabbed Hakeem Nicks when he fell to No. 29 in Round 1. He landed the Giants a starting left tackle in Round 2 when he selected Will Beatty 60th overall.
The selections of Sintim (Round 2, 45th), Barden (Round 3, 85th) and Beckum (Round 3, 100th) were, though, in my view, the first hint of the GM going off on his own and selecting players he wanted rather than giving the coaching staff players that fit what it needed.
Sintim’s career was wrecked by injuries, but he was a conversion project who was never a fit for the 4-3 outside linebacker role the Giants wanted him to play. Barden never became the player his physical tools said he should have been. Beckum? Might have been a stud in today’s game, where move tight ends who create matchup issues are highly valued. Maybe Reese saw the game going in that direction and tried to push Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride there. The Giants, though, really didn’t seem to know how to incorporate Beckum. injuries also helped derail him.
Marvin Austin (2011)
Reese took a swing for the fences when he selected Austin in Round 2, 52nd overall.
From the NFL.com pre-draft scouting report:
“Austin has first-round talent, but he did not play football last season and there are concerns about his character and work ethic. ... Austin’s off the field issues may prevent him from being a first-round pick, but he could be a major steal in round two.”
Unfortunately, this turned into a strikeout. Austin played 8 games for the Giants and just 26 in his NFL career. He never registered a sack and had just 22 tackles. I’m not going to cherry-pick, but there were a lot of useful players selected after Austin at the tail end of Round 2.
To add to the mistake, flopping on Austin led the Giants to reach — and fail again — with Jay Bromley in 2014.
David Wilson (2012)
Wilson’s career ended prematurely after two seasons because of a neck injury, and I can hear the cries of “cheap shot” for putting him on this list. I understand them because there were occasional flashes of brilliance from the speedy Wilson in his 21 NFL games. Especially on kickoff return.
I just never thought Wilson was the player the Giants wanted with the last pick of the 2012 first round. I have always thought that was running back Doug Martin, who went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers one pick earlier.
I have always felt the Wilson pick was a bit of a panic reaction by Reese and the Giants, just taking the next running back on their list rather than a tight end like Coby Fleener or a tackle like Mitchell Schwartz or Cordy Glenn.
Again, harkening back to Coughlin and Gilbride being in charge of the offense I just didn’t see Wilson as a fit for what the Giants wanted to do on offense. There’s probably some blame here for Coughlin and Gilbride, but again I see this primarily as an example of Reese giving his coaching staff a player who was a misfit for what they wanted to do.
Jay Bromley (2014)
You remember the story. Bromley, out of Syracuse, was so shocked to be selected in Round 3 (74th overall) that he wasn’t even home watching the draft. He was out at the store renting a movie.
Thinking they saw something in Bromley that no one else saw, the Giants jumped the line and grabbed Bromley earlier than expected. That move never paid dividends as Bromley had two sacks in four seasons as little more than a rotational tackle.
Ereck Flowers (2015)
You knew Flowers would be on this list. Reality is, I thought the Giants did the right thing by selecting a tackle with the No. 9 overall pick that year. Remember how long I banged the drum for Brandon Scherff, who ended up being selected No. 5 by the Washington Redskins and got moved to guard.
I just think the Giants ended up with the wrong player. They ended up with a sullen guy who didn’t seem to like New York, whose teammates didn’t seem to like him, who wanted nothing to do with the media and barely put together complete sentences when he did speak, and who simply could never overcome the technical flaws in his game to be at least adequate as a left tackle.
It didn’t help that Todd Gurley went 10th to the Rams.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (2015)
Odighizuwa looked like a Giants’ defensive end. He was a sculpted 6-foot-3, 267-pounder who looked like an Adonis with his shirt off. He tested like a guy the Giants would covet, too.
Problem was, he couldn’t play. In two NFL seasons with the Giants, he played in 18 games with no sacks and just six tackles. For reasons that were never fully explained he did not return to the team in 2017, and he has been out of the league ever since.
The Giants had selected Odighizuwa in Round 3 with the 74th overall pick. I don’t like to cherry-pick and say “they should have taken so-and-so,” but I almost have to in this instance. The next defensive end taken was Danielle Hunter, selected 88th overall by the Minnesota Vikings. Hunter has made two Pro Bowl appearances, has two 14.5-sack seasons, and has 54.5 sacks in a five-year career.
Eli Apple (2016)
The Giants got caught flat-footed (that’s the nicest way I can put it) here.
Drafting Apple was never the plan. Problem is, everyone in the universe with even a passing interest in the draft knew what the Giants’ plan was. Holding the 10th pick overall, EVERYBODY knew the Giants wanted either Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd or Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin.
Unable to trade out of the pick at that point and unwilling to be the team that gambled on Laremy Tunsil after his gas mask video, the Giants selected Apple.
We know it turned into a spectacular fail.
The backup quarterback search
I said at the top I was only going to include picks made in the first three rounds. I do, though, have to mention the 2013 trade up to select quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round. In the grand scheme of things, getting nothing out of a fourth-round pick isn’t the end of the world.
What always bothered me about the Nassib trade, swapping fourth-round picks and giving the Arizona Cardinals a sixth-round pick, is that is was completely unnecessary, and it was the culmination of what I saw as the waste of several late-round picks.
Reese always wanted to draft and have the coaching staff develop a young backup quarterback. Rhett Bomar (Round 5, 2009), Andre Woodson (Round 6, 2008), even Davis Webb (Round 3, 2017) were examples. The Giants had Eli Manning, who never missed a game in his career that the Giants didn’t force him to miss. Rather than use draft picks to try and find a backup, why not sign a veteran and use those draft picks on guys who might play?
That’s at least five late-round picks the Giants wasted during the Reese era on young backup quarterbacks who never played — and were likely never going to play — meaningful snaps. Most of them never played at all.
They weren’t going to find contributing players with all five of those picks. It would have helped, though, if they had found two or three contributing players with the five picks they tossed away trying to find something they didn’t need.