The last time the New York Giants had the second pick in the draft, the franchise changed forever when they took Lawrence Taylor.
History has a way of repeating itself and the New York Giants are hoping history repeats itself similar to the way it did 37 years ago when they drafted Lawrence Taylor out of North Carolina with the second pick in the 1981 NFL Draft.
Not only is Taylor the greatest player in Giants history, but he is considered by many as the greatest defensive player of all-time.
Taylor’s arrival immediately changed the Giants fortunes forever as he showed that he was the best player on the team the moment he stepped on an NFL field.
He would be named Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Most importantly he helped the Giants to a 9-7 record and a berth in the playoffs. Prior to his arrival in 1981, the last time the Giants made the playoffs was 1963.
Not only did he lead the Giants into the playoffs as a rookie, but they upset the defending NFC Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, in the wildcard round by a score of 27-21.
Five years later he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and led the Giants to their first Super Bowl title when they defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl 21. He helped the Giants win their second Super Bowl in 1990, besting the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl 25.
When Taylor retired following the 1993 season, he was the NFL’s all-time sack leader with 132.5 and helped establish the Giants as one of the game’s elite teams.
Now it would be delusional to expect whoever the Giants take with the second pick in this year’s draft to come close to accomplishing what LT accomplished. It would also be a huge burden to put on a young player.
But the Giants do expect whoever they take at number two to be a perennial Pro Bowl player and to be one of the faces of the franchise for the next decade.
It’s imperative that the Giants draft a stud with the second pick after coming off a 3-13 season, especially since they don’t figure to pick this high in the draft anytime soon.
That’s why general manager Dave Gettleman and the Giants scouting staff has spent endless hours evaluating all of the top college prospects, to find out which player has the biggest upside and the least potential to be a bust.
At his pre-draft press conference last week, the shrewd Gettleman did not give any indications who the Giants may take at two. He also said that he’s open to the possibility of trading down in the draft.
Despite not keeping his lip sealed on who he’ll take, the consensus belief is that the Giants will take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley if he’s still on the board. He was even seen wearing a Giants sweatshirt at a barbershop last week.
Barkley is considered the best offensive player in the draft and a can’t miss prospect. He’s one of the highest graded running backs coming into the draft over the last 15 years.
In his final season at Penn State, he rushed for 1,271 yards and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground. He also had 54 receptions for 632 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
He would give the Giants an explosive every down back they haven’t had since Tiki Barber, and while it’s a huge stretch that he can be a game-changer similar to LT, of the players coming out of this draft he does seem the closest to having Hall of Fame potential.
Whether it’s Barkley or another player, the Giants hope that, just like Taylor, they’ll be wearing a gold jacket one day after a long career resulting in multiple championships.
Gettleman knows who he selects will go along way in defining his legacy with the Giants and the teams’ immediate future. We’re just two days away from finding out who the pick will be.