This time of year there isn’t much New York Giants news to discuss, and frankly, that’s a good thing. The late spring and early summer is a time when the saying “no news is good news” is practically gospel, and any time you hear a player’s name in a news report it is almost always accompanied with an “Oh no. What now?” feeling.
The upside is that it gives us an opportunity to tackle projects that get set on the
CBS Sports recently went through the massive undertaking of comparing the first 256 picks of every NFL draft for the last 50 years. They then created one draft with the best player selected at each draft slot. The Giants had a very respectable showing on the list with 12 draftees, five of whom are in the top 100.
Giants on the list
- Lawrence Taylor, LB, North Carolina (2nd overall - 1981)
- Tiki Barber, RB, Virginia (36th overall - 1997)
- Michael Strahan, DE, Texas Southern (40th overall - 1993)
- Osi Umenyiora, DE, Troy (56th overall - 2003)
- Ed McCaffrey, WR, Stanford (83rd overall - 1991)
- Harry Carson, LB, South Carolina State (105th overall - 1976)
- David Diehl, OL, Illinois (160th overall - 2003)
- Dhani Jones, LB, Michigan (177th overall - 2000)
- Perry Williams, CB, NC State (178th overall - 1983)
- Jesse Armstead, LB, Miami (207th overall - 1993)
- David Tyree, WR, Syracuse (211th overall - 2003)
- Billy Ard, OG, Wake Forest (221st overall - 1981)
My best Giants by round
Rather than just talk about the CBS Sports piece, I decided to take the next step and give my picks for the best picks from each round for the Giants. For simplicity’s sake I am limiting myself to the Giants’ drafts since 1994 for the middle and later rounds, as that was the first one that was limited to seven rounds. While the 207th overall pick (where Jesse Armstead was selected) certainly exists today, he was drafted in the eightth round, which doesn’t exist today. For our purposes this is just more practical than trying to account for compensatory picks, expansion teams, and changes in rounds.
Round 1 - Lawrence Taylor
How could I go anywhere other than LT? There are very few players you can honestly say are a steal with the second pick in the draft, but LT has to be one of them. Taylor is one of the players who are in the conversation for “greatest defender of all time” and is one of the best at any position. LT changed the way the NFL plays offense and defense, creating the archetype for defenders that teams still follow today.
Round 2 - Michael Strahan
As with LT, Strahan is one of the greatest of all time, and not only does he hold the single-season sack record, he is one of the best defensive ends of all time. Leading the defense to stomp out the undefeated Patriots to win a Super Bowl is the kind of cherry on top of a career that every player dreams of, but very very few manage to get.
Round 3 - Justin Tuck (2005, Notre Dame)
There seems to be a bit of a trend forming here ... Once again I couldn’t go anywhere but with a great defensive player who helped lead the Giants to a Super Bowl win. Two of them, in Tuck’s case. Tuck didn’t take to a leadership role with the same gusto as Strahan or Antonio Pierce, and injuries kept him from being even more productive. But he was a great Giant and came through to help lift the Giants’ defense when they needed him.
Round 4 - Brandon Jacobs (2005, Southern Illinois)
I’ll freely admit a soft spot for the big guy. He is one of my favorite players of all time and watching clips of him trucking linebackers will always bring a smile to my face (as will Jacobs saying that Rex Ryan is “big mouth, big belly coach and it’s time [for him] to shut up” after the win on Christmas Eve in 2011). Jacobs finished his career leading the Giants in rushing touchdowns and was fourth in rushing yardage.
Round 5 - David Diehl
Diehl occupies a strange place for Giants’ fans. On the one hand, he was heavily criticized for his play at the tail end of his career. But on the other hand, he was a reliable starter for a long time, a good teammate, and versatile enough to play wherever he was needed. Diehl was a valuable member of the Giants’ offensive line when it was arguably the best in the NFL from 2007 to 2010 when the lineup was finally broken up by a series of injuries. While Diehl was never a great lineman, I don’t think any team would turn down a “David Diehl” in the fifth round.
Round 6 - Dhani Jones
I was a little apprehensive about putting Jones on the list. After all, he was only a Giant for three seasons, was a Philadelphia Eagle for as long as he was a Giant, and his longest stint was with the Cincinnati Bengals. That being said, he was a 10-year veteran who started 131 games and had four 100-tackle seasons. That’s a great career for a sixth-rounder.
Round 7 - Ahmad Bradshaw (Marshall, 2007)
Bradshaw might be one of the Giants’ best picks ever. Selected from a relatively small school and with character concerns, the rookie From Marshall introduced himself to Giants fans with an 88-yard touchdown run (the longest run of the 2007 season) against the Buffalo Bills to help secure the Giants’ wild card berth in 2007. From that point on he became a fixture in the Giants offense, first as the “fire” in the “Earth, Wind, and Fire” trio along with Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, and later as the Giants’ lead back as Jacobs declined with age and injury. Together the Giants’ running back duo played large roles in helping the Giants win a pair of Super Bowls against the New England Patriots.