Written by Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
The NFL Draft this weekend was filled with plenty of surprises and trades to catch headlines. One team that did not make many headlines was the New York Giants, who went about their business and followed the plan they put forth prior to the draft. It may not be the flashiest of draft in terms of players, but the Giants came away with a strong group of players.
Odell Beckham Jr. was the Giants first round selection. The wide receiver out of LSU was a surprise pick to some, but one that the Giants should benefit from right from the start. This is the first legitimate move the Giants have made to replace the departed Hakeem Nicks, unless you count Mario Manningham.
Beckham Jr. will bring the vertical passing game back to the Giants offense, something that has lacked since Nicks injured his foot prior to the 2012 season. He is an explosive athlete that plays bigger than his 5-foot-11 in frame. He should step right into a prominent role in the offense, giving Eli Manning another weapon at his disposal. He can also be used as a weapon in the return game for the Giants.
In the second round, the Giants shored up their offensive line selecting Weston Richburg. The center from Colorado State has a chance to come in and start right away. He adds youth and athleticism to an offensive line in desperate need of it. Like Beckham Jr., he should add instant impact, possibly being the starter the opening week of the regular season in Detroit.
The remainder of the draft, GM Jerry Reese changed his strategy. In recent drafts the Giants had selected raw players with high ceilings. More often than not, that strategy did not work out; leaving the Giants in the hole they are currently in with the talent pipeline rather dry and with plenty of holes on the roster. So the rest of the way, Reese and the Giants looked hard and long at players that were high character, many of which were team captains in college.
The first was defensive tackle Jay Bromley from Syracuse. The third-round selection was considered a stretch by many ‘draft experts’ but the Giants liked him enough to draft him 74th overall. His stats speak for themselves, and he has a chance to join the defensive line rotation this season, as the Giants did little to replace Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph in free agency.
In the fourth round the Giants got quite a steal in Heisman finalist running back Andre Williams. Williams was the first, second and third option for the Boston College offense last season, putting up a staggering 2,177 yards on 355 carries. He is a bruising, downhill running back that will add a dimension to the Giants offense. Williams handling business between the tackles will soften things up for free agent addition Rashad Jennings and David Wilson to do their damage in space.
Williams received a second-round grade from the Giants, so they could not pass him up when he was available in the fourth round with the 113th pick. His style of play is something no other running back really has on the roster. If given the opportunity, he will lead the Giants in rushing touchdowns this season. He does need to improve in the passing game, as he only had 10 receptions his whole career at BC.
The Giants had two more picks in the fifth round, and again used it on players with productive college careers and are high character. First, they selected safety Nat Berhe of San Diego State. He is undersized, but had a productive career with the Aztecs, registering at least 90 tackles the last two seasons. He was also a team captain, showing the high character the Giants were looking for. He has received pretty high praises from people, and could eventually fill the “Deon Grant” role when defensive coordinator Perry Fewell goes with a three-safety look.
The other selection was Devon Kennard, a hybrid defensive lineman/linebacker out of USC. He had some durability issues in college, but produced when he was on the field. He also was a team captain, with good measurables and top-end speed. He flashes some positives as a pass rusher, probably what drew the Giants to them.
With their final pick of the draft, the Giants selected Bennett Jackson, corner back from Notre Dame. Wouldn’t you know it; Jackson was also captain of his team in college. He was a vocal leader in the locker room with strong work habits. Jackson is willing to play against the run, and has the skills and range to excel in the type of zone scheme the Giants run. He began his career at Notre Dame as a wide receiver, so the fact he was able to get drafted as a defensive back with only two years of experience is impressive. He comes with solid measureables as well, and has a chance to grow into a solid rotation player.
This is a draft that could really help them get back on track. Each player is high character and can help the team right away. They may not be starters right of the gate, or at any point in their career, but they can help make a print on the Giants through special teams.
If these guys can come in and help out on special teams right away, this will be considered a strong draft for the Giants. They have not received much production from drafts recently, but this one has a chance to make a name for themselves right from the start. If they are willing to do the dirty work, which they all seem willing to do from their college experiences, they will help immensely this season and could grow into bigger roles in seasons to come. It was not the flashiest of drafts, but one that looks like it could be solid for the Giants.