New York Giants: Inside Look at GM Reese's Draft Philosophy
To predict exactly who the Giants will draft is nearly impossible. In terms of football being a chess match, Reese is looking at a game that has not yet even started. Only Reese knows which of his free agents he is going to retain and which he will not. This assessment will help determine what Reese might do in the draft.
Many sports writers, along with mock drafts has the Giants coveting a LB in the 1stround; However; Reese might feel that the crop of rookie LB’s from last year, along with the return of Jonathan Goff will be efficient. Although we can use his previous drafts to explore his tendencies; or does he draft the best player available, or by need; or a mix.
Generally, defensive backs have a short shelf life in the NFL. Injuries have been a problem in the Giants secondary this past season as Terrell Thomas was a major cog entering the 2011 season before suffering a season ending injury to his knee. Along with Thomas; Aaron Ross, Bruce Johnson, Michael Coe, Deion Grant, Will Blackmon and Justin Tryon are all free agents. So to say that defensive backs are always a need for every single team in the NFL would be an understatement.
This is why 4 of 10 of Reese's 1stand 2ndround picks have been DBs. Aaron Ross, Kenny Phillips and Prince Amukamara have all been 1strounder’s, and Terrell Thomas was a 2ndrounder who has developed into a solid CB before going on season-ending IR last season.Over the last several years, the Giants have built their defensive unit around being able to pressure opposing QBs by rushing just four. So it's not surprising that pass-rushers are always a need. This is why 3 of 10 picks in the first and second rounds have been used to draft more pass rushers. With that being said, a perfect example of this was in the draft of 2010, when the Giants selected Jason Pierre-Paul when they already had Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka on the roster. Also throw in that Sean Weatherspoon (OLB) was still on the board and was regarded one of the best linebackers in the draft and a desired need for the Giants and still Reese went with the BPA.
In hindsight, Reese might have known that contract talks with Umenyiora were pending and also Kiwanuka did suffer a neck injury and his return was questionable. There was an outside chance that, had Reese not drafted JPP, the starting DE's in Week 1 could have been Justin Tuck and Dave Tollefson, who is a great backup and rotational player but a huge drop-off from JPP, Osi or Kiwanuka. Reese has a way of replacing one need with another as proof of adding 2nd rounders in Marvin Austin and Linval Joseph, who were also a mix of best available and need, as the Giants needed to replace a mostly ineffective Jay Alford and an aging Fred Robbins. Again, these selections were disguised as best available talent picks, but in reality, they were also needs. Joseph had a solid season last year as Barry Cofield’s replacement; and at times showed flashes of brilliance. Austin spent the year on IR, but in limited preseason action, looked like an animal that will eventually stand alongside Joseph as the future of the Giants interior defensive line.
In the 2nd round of Reese's first draft, he picked up Steve Smith from USC. Known for being sure-handed, a good route runner and with high football intelligence, it was a pick to provide Eli Manning with a stable receiver with which to grow. His role grew the closer the team got to the Super Bowl that year. Smith became Eli’s go to guy the following season and along with starters Amani Toomer andPlaxico Burress; formed a triple threat throughout the league. Also waiting in the wings was Mario Manningham, who would eventually replaced Amani Toomer.
In 2009 and for a third year in a row, Reese again drafted a WR in the first three rounds. This time in the 1st round, he selected Hakeem Nicks. A very dynamic, talented need pick. Burress was now in jail, Manningham was still slow in learning all of the offense and Toomer was on his way out. It could be said there were other positions that the Giants needed more than WR at the time. Looking back, though, it's hard to imagine Reese drafting any better than Nicks, and Smith before him.