New York Giants GM Jerry Reese is known for struggling when making draft selections, but by the look of this class, it looks like he pushed all the right buttons.When Tom Coughlin was fired by the New York Giants — I mean, mutually agreed to part ways — one of the biggest problems with the roster was the lack of depth at basically every other position.
While free agency is a component to stockpiling talent, the key way to have organizational depth is through the draft.
And when it comes to General Manager Jerry Reese, he’s had trouble finding success in that category.
ESPN’s Mike Sando conducted research on Jerry Reese’s draft history, and it’s safe to say the results were troubling.
“The players the Giants drafted since Jerry Reese became GM in 2007 combined to play a league-low 10,767 offensive and defensive snaps in the NFL this season. Other teams’ picks over the same span averaged 16,448 snaps per team, or about 53 percent more snaps than the Giants’ selections.”
The first round hasn’t been much of a problem for Reese. Ever since becoming the Giants leading man in the front office, he’s selected quality talents like Aaron Ross, Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Pugh, and that guy named Odell Beckham Jr.
Hell, he’s even had success in the second round. Weston Richburg, Landon Collins, and Johnathan Hankins are all a part of the Giants young core while Linval Joseph, currently of the Minnesota Vikings, is arguably the best defensive tackle in all of football.
But it’s the latter rounds where Reese has seen most of his failures.
From 2007-2013, long snapper Zak DeOssie and quarterback Ryan Nassib stand as the only player drafted by the Giants between the fourth and seventh rounds that are still on the roster. In addition, a grand total of zero players that were selected over that span are currently in the NFL.
With Coughlin now out of the picture, there were no more excuses for Reese. The 2016 Draft was do or die for the General Manager. Sure, it’s hard to judge the selections after one season; but if there was little production from the most recent rookie class, it would be hard to imagine Reese at the helm of player personnel past the end of this season.
Fortunately, however, it looks as though Reese has struck gold with the latest infusion of talent.
In what was a surprise to many, Reese took Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple with the tenth overall pick. Although many believed there were bigger positional needs that had to be filled, Reese stuck with his “best player available” mantra — and so far, it has paid off.
Working solely on the outside, Apple has had his raw tools on full display. Although he’s dealt with some injury issues, he’s started every game that he’s been fully healthy for. Not only has he been strong in man-to-man coverage, but he’s shown no reservations in coming up to the line of scrimmage and making strong tackles against running backs. So long as he stays healthy, Apple has the opportunity to become one of the most well-rounded cornerbacks in the NFL.
While the first-round selection was considered a reach, Reese’s choice of wide receiver Sterling Shepard was seen as a huge steal.
The former Oklahoma Sooner has made a huge impact in the Giants passing game and has cemented himself as the number two option next to Beckham. Spending a majority of his time in the slot, Shepard has hauled in 34 receptions for 384 yards and three touchdowns. If Week 9 was any indication, it looks as though he will be a bigger part of the offense going forward — and that’s going to cause a lot of matchup problems for opposing defenses.
Suiting up for the Boise State Broncos, Thompson set a Mountain West Conference record with 19 interceptions in his senior season. Considered another steal, many expected the ball-hawk to be the perfect complement next to Collins. Unfortunately, however, a foot injury has limited Thompson to just two games. Either way, team brass considers him a vital part of the team’s future.
Goodson, a team captain and leading tackler with Clemson, is an athletic linebacker that the team believes could be their MLB of the future. When dressed, Goodson has found some time on special teams as he’s adjusted to reading NFL offenses. What’s a good sign is the fact that he saw his first real game action in Week 9 as he spent some time on the field in running situations. As he adjusts to the professional ranks, Goodson could become a force to be reckoned with.
The latter rounds have proven to be valuable as well. UCLA running back Paul Perkins, who was selected in the fifth-round, is emerging as the Giants’ lead back due to his elusiveness, vision and ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Jerell Adams, the team’s sixth-round pick, is now the second tight end on the depth chart. While he came into the season with raw talent, his hands are starting to catch up to his blocking ability. While they’re both still inexperienced, their increased playing time in the coming weeks will prove to be vital.
Thus far, the draft choices that Reese has made have all looked strong.
But it doesn’t stop there. Another underrated part of this offseason was the moves the Giants made on the undrafted free agent market. Those youngsters, too, are helping out.
Two of the best UDFA signings were safety Andrew Adams and wide receiver Roger Lewis. After both Thompson and Nat Berhe went down with injuries, Adams was thrust into the starting free safety role. After weeks of learning the defense in real game time, he had his best performance against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday (nine tackles, one interception).
Although Lewis hasn’t started as many games as Adams, two of his three career catches have gone for touchdowns. And if Sunday was any indication, he seems to have surpassed veteran Victor Cruz as the team’s third receiver.
Again, it’s hard to say these rookies will be keeping up their trends of success.
But nine weeks into the season, it looks as though Reese has finally made some right choices in the draft.