How New York Giants' Eli Apple has fared against classmates
Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Maurice Harris (13) is tackled by New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple (24) in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Giants won 19-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Drafting cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft worked out for Jerry Reese and the New York Giants this season.

It’s almost funny how New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese has gone from villain to hero in a couple of months.

Back when he was a villain, Reese was being chastised for his rather poor drafting. There was a large contingent of the fanbase clamoring for his firing, hoping that he’d never make another draft selection again.

Well, ownership decided to retain him for another season, and his squad hasn’t disappointed. Here’s how he did with his first-round pick:

The pick …

New York Giants – Eli Apple, CB (70.6 Pro Football Focus; 701 total snaps)

Most considered the Giants’ selection of Eli Apple to be a reach. After all, he wasn’t even the top cornerback left on the board, experts claimed. That being said, fans have voiced their satisfaction with the pick in recent weeks.

It’s hard to understate the impact of his counterparts in the secondary; he’s certainly benefited from budding superstars like Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins. That being said, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.

Apple was hampered by an early-season hamstring injury and couldn’t surpass Trevin Wade on the depth chart. He committed two costly mistakes in a loss to Philadelphia. He got burned a couple of times throughout the season.

But, he was also really good at times. His breakout performance against the Lions, when he posted seven tackles and a pass defended against a top offense, highlighted his tremendous ceiling.

It’s important to note that most cornerbacks face a steep learning curve when entering the professional ranks. Boys like Apple go from primarily covering slot receivers to big-bodied professionals with loads of experience.

He looks like he’s going to take a big step next season. In the meantime, he’s still a serviceable cornerback at the game’s highest level.

The others …

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB (52.6; 1038 total snaps)

Like Apple, Hargreaves steadily improved as the season progressed. He was one of the main catalysts of the Bucs’ well-documented five-game winning streak. But he also allowed more receptions and passing yards than any other cornerback in the league.

The Dirt: Jordan Raanan of New Jersey Advance Media believed that Hargreaves would be the Giants’ selection. He argued that Hargreaves is a “clean prospect” and all-around playmaker.

The Verdict: It’s hard to compare first-year cornerbacks, but it seems like Reese’s staff rightfully picked Apple over Hargreaves. The later is constantly being baited by double moves and owns less-than-ideal height for the outside position. Meanwhile, Apple has thrived in press coverage and has complimented the team’s other secondary players.

Minnesota Vikings – Laquon Treadwell, WR (55.7; 79 total snaps)

Treadwell’s rookie campaign was nothing short of a disappointment, as he snagged just one pass and appeared lost on many instances. He’s hoping to rebound next season, but if he doesn’t, his career will be over before it even really started.

The Dirt: Rotoworld‘s Josh Norris believed that Treadwell would have been a great fit for Big Blue. He argued that the big-bodied receiver has a terrific frame and is willing to fight for the ball in any situation.

The Verdict: The Giants landed wideout Sterling Shepard in the second round, and haven’t regretted it. He’s been a bigger threat than Treadwell, despite being drafted twenty-nine picks later. Still, the Giants’ passing attack has been underwhelming this season.

Cincinnati Bengals – William Jackson III, CB (N/A)

Jackson missed the season with a torn pectoral.

The drafted …

It was rumored that Reese was pursuing tackle Jack Conklin, who had one of the most stellar rookie seasons in recent memory. However, Conklin was selected two picks earlier by the Titans, as was fellow lineman Ronnie Stanley, who’s also been impressive this season. The Giants could have used another tackle with Ereck Flowers‘ struggles in pass protection, but like many analysts have said, it’s tough to win without three legitimate cornerbacks.

There were also whispers that the Giants were looking at linebacker Leonard Floyd, but that miss won’t leave Reese staying up at night. Floyd has displayed his immense talent on numerous occasions, but had many mishaps as well.

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.