We will look at each pick individually, but first I have some general comments.
The Giants lie when they claim that they don’t base anything on needs. Their preference is for the best available player but only if it lines up with a need. In the first round we get example number one.
Justin Pugh OT – Syracuse
A huge percentage of how well someone does in the draft is luck. It is based on how the needs of the teams picking ahead of them play out relative to your team’s needs. The reality is for all the weakness in the secondary and at linebacker, the biggest team need relative to what could be signed is at right tackle. On his best day David Diehl is now serviceable and on most days he is a liability. The Giants were materially better with Sean Locklear in the lineup last year. He was injured last year and is still recovering. It would have been great if D.J. Fluker was available for the Giants at 19, but he wasn’t. There was a sizeable drop off to Pugh. But this was a real need so they took a guy who likely would not have been picked for another 10-15 spots. That makes it a bad pick, but it was such a hole they didn’t have much choice. The Giants went for need because OT was a big need. They may have felt it was too risky not to have a tackle available if they traded down. Given the need for the team behind them and the fact that a few offensive linemen did go soon after, you can conclude that the Giants did not get great value in the first round but needed to make that pick. Reese has earned a benefit of the doubt so we will give it to him.
Johnathan Hankins DT - Ohio State
I like this pick. I don’t think DT is a huge area of need right now but DTs that control the line of scrimmage on runs are very valuable especially for a Giant defense that has been especially porous against the run this was a need. Additionally with Linval Joseph a free agent at the end of the coming year, this makes sure the Giants are not held over barrel next year, especially since most of the others at the position are on one year deals. This was an excellent value pick, as some thought he could be a first round talent. The criticism of his not always working hard is unfair, given that at 320 pounds he was generally on the field for almost the entire game. The Giants are very good about rotating their linemen and keeping them fresh, ensuring this won’t be an issue.
Damontre Moore DE – Texas A&M
Moore was considered a potential late first round pick until the combine. He has a horrible 40 time, which caused his stock to plummet. However some of his other measurables were actually quite good and more relevant. When is the last time a lineman had to run 40 yards on a play? How quick they are over the first 10 years is much more important. He is young, still 20 years old, so he should grow out of the immaturity he has been accused of. The guys were highly productive for a big time college team, with one of the highest combined TFL and sacks last year. DE was absolutely not an area of need, as I am high on some of the backups (Ojomo and Tracey) but you can’t pass up on this kid of value. That was the same thought process that brought JPP to Y a few years ago.
Ryan Nassib QB – Syracuse
The Giants actually traded up to get him. They gave up a 6th round pick to get him. Time will tell if he ever gets anywhere, but those in the know say it was too good of value to pass up. He clearly does not fit a need, as Reese stated he hopes the guy never plays (given the implication to Manning). Manning can’t keep the games played streak going forever, so developing a quarterback makes some sense. I would have still rather seen a good middle linebacker taken but the reality is that most starts don’t come out of the 4th round, and giving up a 6th rounder is really not a big deal.
Cooper Taylor S – Richmond
This may be my favorite pick of the draft. He is a classic tweener. HE is too big for safety but too small for linebacker. That is true for all teams other than the Giants. When the Giant defense was successful it was playing a three safety look on passing downs where one stays in the box for potential runs. This has become a passing league, so for the same reason Jacquian Williams will be a good linebacker, Cooper Taylor will fit this rare third safety role, once played by Deon Grant very well. It’s hard to play the 3 safety without this guy. You saw this last year when Kenny Phillips was injured. Will Hill, Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown are all too small to be effective as a quasi-linebacker at the line of scrimmage.
Eric Herman OG – Ohio
I think he actually has a chance to make the team given his size and production in college. He doesn’t seem very athletic, but a guard on running plays doesn’t necessarily need to be, and the Giants have a very effective line coach who will teach him well. That being said he was available in the 7th round for a reason.
Michael Cox RB – Massachusetts
I don’t like this pick. I assume he will be on the practice squad. I don’t think this was at all a position of need. Column readers know I’m high on Da’Rel Scott, who I hope takes the 3rd running back role. So unless he, David Wilson, or Brown get injured, I don’t see him making the 53 man roster.
The Giants have been criticized for not taking a CB or a linebacker. MY suspicion is that they would now try to sign Karlos Dansby. Not too many MLB positions are available and some of those that were, were filled in the draft. HE will have to lower his asking price significantly but it could happen.
Regarding cornerback: it’s not clear that cornerbacks taken after the third round could at all be counted on and tackle was a bigger need in the first and they couldn’t pass the value of the second and third round picks. Additionally, CB was not a bigger need than DT anyway. Amukamara is solid and taking one year to see if Thomas still had it, if Webster can make a comeback, or if Holsey can develop, makes sense. If one of those things works out, a later round pick would not have helped this year and they can take a high pick next year or sign a good free agent next year, same thing with linebackers. I’m actually a Rivers fan if he can stay healthy and a fan of Jacquian Williams. Paysinger is not a horrible back up and Dan Connor is not very good, but neither was Blackburn.