Dave Gettleman struck gold when he took Saquan Barkley with the second overall pick. The New York Giants hope for a repeat in 2019.
Excitement and intrigue surround the New York Giants and their two first-round selections heading into the NFL Draft.
Last year, general manager Dave Gettleman struck gold when he took running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. Barkley would go on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year and set numerous franchise rookie records.
However, Barkley’s success hasn’t been the norm in recent years for the Giants when it comes to their first-round draft picks.
One of the main reasons the Giants have missed the playoffs in six of the last seven years is their first-round picks haven’t lived up to the hype. They’ve fallen on hard times since defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 46. In the seven seasons following their last Super Bowl win, the team has posted a record of 47-65 and have parted ways with two head coaches and a general manager.
Numerous scenarios have contributed to the team’s downfall. But perhaps the biggest reason for the team’s failures in recent years has been their inability to retain first-round draft picks.
Whether it’s happened via injuries, players not living up to being a first round pick, or for one reason or another, the front office has wanted to move on from them. No franchise can achieve success in the NFL if they don’t get long term production from their first round picks, and the Giants first-round picks from 2012-2016 are no longer on the team.
Here’s a look back at the Giants first-round draft picks from 2012-2016.
2012: David Wilson, RB Virginia Tech (32nd overall)
David Wilson was a fast and elusive running back but had issues holding onto the football as evidenced in his first game when he had a critical fumble in the red zone in the Giants 24-17 season-opening loss to the Cowboys back in 2012.
Due to his fumbling issues, he only carried the ball 71 times as a rookie but he did excel as a kick returner, averaging 26.9 yards per return and was named Second-Team All-Pro. Het set a franchise record with 327 all-purpose yards in the Giants 52-27 Week 14 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
He was poised to have a huge year in 2013 as the lead back, but his season and career would come to an abrupt end in Week 5 after it was revealed he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.
2013: Justin Pugh, OL Syracuse (19th overall)
Pugh was the most versatile lineman during his five seasons with Big Blue from 2013 to 2017 playing right tackle, left guard and left tackle. He started all 16 games as a rookie.
Various injuries plagued Pugh in his final two seasons with the Giants where he missed 13 games. He was a quality offensive lineman but never a Pro Bowler. Due to this and his injury-prone nature, new general manager Dave Gettleman decided not to resign Pugh and allowed him to sign with the Arizona Cardinals
2014: Odell Beckham Jr., WR LSU (12th overall)
From the moment Odell Beckham Jr. stepped on an NFL field he showed that he was one of the best receivers in the league and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. He would be voted to the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons in which he posted three 1,000-yard receiving seasons and double-digit touchdowns.
It seemed almost every game OBJ would make a highlight reception and he quickly became a sensation with the fans. But things started to go downward in his fourth season.
He would miss the final 11 games of the 2017 season with a fractured ankle and would miss the final four games of the 2018 season with a bruised quad.
But whether it was a combination of Beckham missing 16 games over the last seasons, along with sideline and sometimes off the field distractions, the Giants traded Beckham to the Browns in March. Whether the Giants wind up regretting this move we’ll have to wait and see.
2015: Ereck Flowers, LT Miami (9th overall)
When the Giants took Flowers in the 2015 draft, they were hopeful he could protect Eli Manning’s blindside for the remainder of his career. Instead, Flowers would become perhaps the biggest bust of the Jerry Reese era.
After a decent rookie season, Flowers was consistently beaten off the edge by pass rushers, and his penalties became a huge deterrent to the Giants.
The team moved Flowers to right tackle to start the 2018 season after signing Nate Solder to a record deal to play left tackle. But the transition to right tackle wasn’t any better and the Giants cut him in October.
2016, Eli Apple, CB Ohio State (10th overall)
Apple was another misfire in the first round for Big Blue. In his two and half seasons with the Giants, Apple had just one interception. Worst of all, Apple was labeled a cancer by Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins.
Despite showing signs of improvement on and off the field early on in 2018, the Giants traded him to the Saints in October.
The jury is still out on the Giants 2017 first round draft pick Evan Engram (23rd overall) but he has shown signs of being a dynamic pass catcher and is poised to have a breakout season with the departure of Beckham.
Even with two first round picks in this year’s draft, it’s hard to fathom that whoever the Giants select will make a similar impact as the one Barkley made. But Gettleman doesn’t need to find two players that will set franchise records. He just needs them to play at a high and consistent level and have a long career with the Giants.
If he can acquire these players in the first round, and find gems in the middle and late rounds, then maybe glory days are not in the too distant future for the New York Giants.