While the lockout has altered the Giants’ normal offseason strategy regarding free agents, its draft strategy remains the same.
“As far as the draft goes we will do like we always do and try to pick the best players on the board,” general manager Jerry Reese said before Thursday’s draft. “And then when free agency comes around we’ll see what is available, what the money is, what we are working with, what the transition period is like.”
Big Blue can cross off a lockdown corner from their free-agent list. Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, dropped to them in the first round at pick No. 19. This was a big get for the Giants, who are just two years removed from the worst pass defense in franchise history.
The Giants rarely plug in rookies immediately but with many holes to fill, specifically along the aging offensive line, linebacker and secondary, New York may be forced to do so. Luckily for Reese, the draft seems loaded with defensive talent in the later rounds, so their best-player-available mind-set could fit right into their team needs.
“We’re going to pick the best player," Reese said. "You’re always cognizant of what your need is.”
In the second and third rounds, Big Blue could be sniffing around a couple middle linebackers such as Casey Matthews of Oregon or Greg Jones of Michigan State. The Matthews’ blood line has produced instant leaders and sack masters.
Reese was mindful in saying that last year they took two highly-rated defensive linemen – Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph -- despite already having top-flight players in that unit.
“If we need a running back and there is high value at defensive tackle, we are not going to take a running back just because we need a running back,” said Reese. “We are going to take that high value defensive tackle or any other position on our board. We are just trying to strengthen every position.”
The only thing that bothered Reese about all this uncertainty is that rookies will be behind the eight-ball because, as the lockout situation plays out, teams are not allowed to have contact with a draftee, can not work them out, or dole out playbooks. The burgeoning general manager said rookies already come into the league at a disadvantage because, well, they’re rookies.
“You wish there were a lot of guys that could play right away but most of the guys you draft are developmental. You hardly ever get a Randy Moss kind of rookie,” he said. “With your first three picks you want those guys to come in and contribute right away but that’s rare [because] something is wrong with all of them…the learning curve will be really quick for them because they are going to miss some time if we don’t get things squared away quickly with the rookie mini-camps and things like that.”
Reese concluded that this off-season isn’t as frustrating as people may think. He said it’s all just “different” and added that he and his staff just had to adapt.
“This league is about making adjustments and everybody is in the same boat with that respect,” Reese deduced. “Sometimes some of the adjustments you make are not popular but you have to do it. That is what we get paid for – making decisions and making adjustments.”
For Reese -- and football fans everywhere – all hope that this new ‘adjustment’ period is over rather quickly.