Saquon Barkley, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, Odell Beckham Jr.
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Giants’ poor drafts have been part of the reason for their recent organizational woes. Where did they go wrong?

For the seventh time in the past eight seasons, the New York Giants will not make the postseason.

Several factors such as poor coaching, a lack of talent and lackluster free-agent signings have caused the Giants to struggle of late but poor drafting has also factored in.

While some of New York’s recent first-round draft selections have panned out, others have not. Let’s go back to 2012 when the Giants’ run of mediocrity began and see if they made the right decisions with their first-round draft choice.

2012:

  • The Pick: David Wilson, RB Virginia Tech (32)
  • Redraft: Mitchell Schwartz, OT California

Coming off their Super Bowl 46 victory over the New England Patriots, the Giants took speedy running back David Wilson from Virginia Tech with the 32nd overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft.

After his rookie season, it appeared then-general manager Jerry Reese struck gold. Wilson ran for 358 yards and two touchdowns while adding both a receiving and kick return score.

However, a neck injury would soon end his carer as he played in just 21 NFL games. While this would’ve been hard to predict beforehand, in a reflective re-draft drafting, Wilson would not be smart. Instead, the Giants could’ve taken offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz out of California who ended up slipping to the Browns in the second round of the 2012 draft.

Since 2012, Schwartz has been among the NFL’s best offensive tackles. He’s played both the right and left side of the offensive line, earned NFL First-Team All-Pro in 2018, and due to his success, earned a five-year, $33 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016.

With the Giants having had major offensive line issues during their eight years of struggles, having Schwartz could’ve helped prevent these current problems.

2013:

  • The Pick: Justin Pugh, OL Syracuse (19)
  • Redraft: Kyle Long, OL Oregon

Justin Pugh did some good things in his five seasons with the Giants. In 2013, he was named a Pro-Football Focus first team rookie and started parts of five seasons at left guard. The reason why, in a re-draft, he would not be the pick, is the injury problems that forced him out of action.

Pugh missed parts of four seasons due to numerous injuries while with New York leading the Giants to allow him to walk in free agency to the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.

Since Pugh would not be the pick, the Giants should’ve gone with a different offensive guard in Kyle Long. Long was picked just one spot after Pugh by the Chicago Bears with the 20th overall pick in the 2013 draft.

He has spent each of his first seven NFL seasons with the Bears and has been named a pro-bowler three-times and a second-team all-pro in 2014.

Long would’ve been a more effective and durable offensive at the left guard position, which, along with Schwartz, could’ve prevented the Giants from the offensive line struggles that they still have in the present day.

2014:

  • The Pick: Odell Beckham Jr., WR LSU (12)
  • Redraft: Odell Beckham Jr. WR LSU

Despite a rocky break up following the 2018 season, Odell Beckham Jr. was one of the best draft decisions Reese made in his time as Giants general manager.

In five seasons with the Giants, Beckham became one of the NFL’s top receivers. He won NFL rookie of the year honors in 2014 despite playing just 12 games as he racked in 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Beckham went on to reach three Pro Bowls with the Giants, was twice named a Second-Team All-Pro.

While Beckham had his antics on the field, the Giants don’t make the playoffs in 2016 without him or win some of the games throughout 2014 and 2015 that they were able to steal. Thus, Beckham would be the pick again in a 2014 re-draft.

2015:

  • The Pick: Ereck Flowers, OT Miami (FL) (9)
  • Redraft: Marcus Peters, CB Washington

Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers struggled mightly in his time with the Giants and would eventually lose his starting job and be cut in 2015 after just three full seasons with the team. In a re-draft, the Giants could’ve gone with cornerback Marcus Peters, who was taken 18th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Peters is a two-time Pro Bowler, was named a to the First-Team All-Pro in 2016 and won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

In 2018, Peters helped the Los Angeles Rams reach Super Bowl 53, and this season is a key part of a Baltimore Ravens defense that is one of the best in the NFL.

If the Giants had drafted in Peters in 2015, they could’ve avoided spending big money on Janoris Jenkins, who, outside of 2016, never lived up to his contract and also could’ve avoided the mistake they made in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

2016:

  • The Pick: Eli Apple, CB Ohio State (10)
  • Redraft: Sheldon Rankins, DT Louisville

By drafting Marcus Peters in 2015, the Giants could’ve avoided the mistake that was drafting cornerback Eli Apple 10th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Apple had a solid rookie season in 2016 helping the Giants reach the postseason, but in 2017, his relationship with the team went sour as he was benched for several games. In 2018, he returned to the lineup but was traded to the New Orleans Saints after just six weeks.

If the Giants had passed on Apple, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins should’ve been their guy. Rankins was selected 12th overall by the Saints and has a great start to his carer. He played in just nine games as a rookie in 2016, but still recorded four sacks and forced a fumble.

Then in 2017, Rankins played in all 16 games and had two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. In 2018, Rankins had a career-high eight sacks and again forced a fumble.

Rankins was held to just 10 games in 2019 due to a season-ending injury, however, he still has proved to be a solid defensive tackle, which would’ve been an important addition to a Giants franchise that has struggled to generate much of a pass-rush the last handful of seasons.

2017:

  • The Pick: Evan Engram, TE Ole Miss (23)
  • Redraft: T.J. Watt, LB Wisconsin

While Evan Engram has been an explosive playmaker when healthy, he has had a lot of trouble staying on the field.

Over the course of his first three NFL seasons, Engram has never played a full season due to numerous injuries. So far in 2019, he has played in just eight and may not return again.
While he’s among the NFL’s top tight ends while healthy, the Giants would’ve benefited more from a player who’s emerged as one of the top outside linebackers in the sport, T.J. Watt, who was picked 30th overall by the Steelers.

Brother of J.J. Watt, T.J. recorded seven sacks as a rookie in 15 games in 2017, 13 in 2018, and so far in 2019 has recorded 12.5.

The Giants have not had an elite pass-rusher since the Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora days, and with Watt, they would’ve had that. This would’ve been worth passing on Engram, who has not played nearly as many games as the Giants would’ve hoped.

2018:

  • The Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State (2)
  • Redraft: Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville

While 2019 has been a disappointment due to a high ankle sprain, Saquon Barkley is still among the NFL’s elite and was a smart draft choice. However, with how the 2019 season has played out, quarterback Lamar Jackson would have to have been the pick in a re-draft.

Jackson was taken 32nd overall by the Baltimore Ravens. As a rookie, Jackson took over the starting job mid-season and guided the Ravens to an NFC North Championship.

This season, however, has been Jackson’s coming out party. Jackson is the clear MVP favorite as he’s led the Ravens to an 11-2 start and division title.

Jackson has thrown for 2,889 yards and a league-high 33 touchdowns while adding an NFL record 1,103 rushing yards from his quarterback position with seven rushing touchdowns.

There’s no player more feared than Jackson in the NFL right now and the Giants would be much closer to relevancy with him under center than they would with Barkley in their backfield.

2019:

  • The Picks: Daniel Jones, QB Duke (6), Dexter Lawerence, DT Clemson (17) & Deandre Baker, CB Georgia (30)
  • Redraft: Josh Allen, OLB Kentucky (6), Dexter Lawerence, DT Clemson (17) & Deebo Samuel, WR South Carolina

In 2019, the Giants had three first-round draft selections. The sixth overall pick, which was their own, the 17th which came from the Browns in the Beckham trade and 30th, which came in a draft-day trade with the Seattle Seahawks.

At six, the Giants took quarterback Daniel Jones, who has shown signs that he can be the Giants franchise quarterback; but since Jackson would’ve been the pick in a 2018 re-draft, Jones would not be the pick here.

Instead, it would’ve been Kentucky’s Josh Allen, who, as a rookie, has recorded nine sacks for the Jacksonville Jaguars, setting a franchise record for sacks by a Jaguar rookie. An edge rush combination of Allen and T.J. Watt would be downright scary.

At 17, the Giants seemed to have gotten it right. Dexter Lawerence has been among the NFL’s top defensive rookies this season with 2.5 sacks, 34 total tackles and a forced fumble from his nose guard position.

Then at 30, cornerback Deandre Baker has looked like a complete bust meaning the Giants should’ve gone a different route.

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