Grading the New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft
The Giants had seven picks in the draft and used them to fill holes all over the roster, including two from the secondary, one at running back, one wide receiver, one linebacker and one player apiece on each side of the line.
While it’s impossible to fully gauge how successful a draft really is until at least two years after the fact, it should be noted that Big Blue added players widely thought of as among the best at their respective positions, based upon where they were drafted.
About the only knock on the Giants’ draft was they didn’t add another pass-rushing defensive end to fill the void left by Justin Tuck’s defection to Oakland. But the Giants may be confident Jason Pierre-Paul is fully recovered and should return to dominant status. Tight end was another position many thought was a pressing need, but the Giants have consistently said they are not worried about the position right now. They like unproven players Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell, veteran castaways Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells and even newly signed undrafted free agent Xavier Grimble from USC.
Perhaps an unintentional byproduct of these picks is that all seven were team captains last season — a leadership quality head coach Tom Coughlin likes to have in his locker room.
The following is a breakdown of Metro’s grades based on overall talent of the player, the spot he was picked and whether he can fill an immediate hole:
Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, LSU — Beckham can contribute in three different ways for the team, as he is a polished route runner and can also return punts and kicks. Beckham is coming off of a record-setting year with the Tigers in which he had 59 catches for over 1,000 yards and accrued over 2,000 total yards. He should be the perfect complement on the outside, while Victor Cruz works the slot. He will also boost the Giants’ pedestrian return game. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will enjoy having such a versatile player who comes in pro ready and itching to fill the void left by Hakeem Nicks’ departure to Indianapolis. Grade: A
Weston Richburg, center, Colorado State — An intriguing selection to some because of the financial commitment to former Broncos center J.D. Walton (two years, $5 million), but Richburg was rated among the best centers in the draft. The assumption is both will battle in training camp to take over for the soon-to-be departed David Baas, with the loser likely swinging between backup center and guard. Last season, quarterback Eli Manning recorded career highs in interceptions (27) and times sacked (39). The Giants have not had a truly consistent man snapping Manning the ball since Shaun O’Hara’s departure after the 2010 season. Richburg could be the long-term solution Baas never was. Grade: B+
Jay Bromley, defensive tackle, Syracuse — He’s a questionable selection considering many mock drafts had Bromley ranging between the fourth and sixth rounds. The Syracuse product, by way of Queens, is an athletic inside disruptor, but when the Giants lost Linval Joseph (6-foot-4, 330 pounds) to Minnesota, it seemed logical his successor would also be a space-eater. Bromley, at 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, is definitely not the wide body they need to fill that void. Grade: C+
Andre Williams, running back, Boston College — Williams may end up being the most important pick for the Giants going forward considering he has the talent to step in and immediately improve a unit that was arguably the team’s worst last season. Williams’s arrival may also mean the end — or at least the minimalizing — of former first-round pick David Wilson, who is recovering from neck surgery last season. Williams, who led the nation with over 2,100 yards last season and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, will likely team with free-agent signee Rashad Jennings and allow Big Blue’s rushing attack to get back to its once-vaunted status. Grade: A-
Nate Berhe, safety, San Diego State — Berhe is an instinctive and fluid athlete, but may have some trouble immediately cracking the lineup – even with the likely loss of safety Will Hill to yet another suspension. Berhe is 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds and runs a respectable 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash. And despite being at a disadvantage against the taller wideouts in the NFL today, he has great coverage range and instincts. He once led the Mountain West Conference in tackles with 94. Grade: B
Devon Kennard, linebacker, USC — A supplemental selection, Kennard is an underrated athlete and comes from one of the country’s elite football factories. What helps Kennard’s case to make the roster is his versatility to play all three linebacker positions, as well as some rush-end in certain packages. Perhaps his only knock is his ability to stay healthy, but if he does, he could be a nice late-round steal. Grade: B-
Bennett Jackson, cornerback, Notre Dame — The Hazlet, New Jersey native is an aggressive man-to-man cover corner, but may have trouble making the roster. By the time sixth and seventh rounders are selected, there isn’t much difference from that status or an undrafted free agent. And with the Giants’ revamped cornerback stable, Jackson will have to impress the coaching staff in OTAs and camp to stand out amongst the crowd. Grade: C+
Overall grade: B
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.