Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giants: looking ahead

Sorry for disappearing since the draft. I had good intentions of doing some post draft analysis but never got around to it. Then the outdoor tennis season came around and I had a real good excuse to procrastinate further on making blog entries, so I just avoided. My bad. In fact, I feel so guilty about this that I may do my penance by joining the Procrastinators Club of America. I'll probably get around to joining in a week or two. Anyway, now that we are getting closer to training camp and we have the full veteran mini camp going on right now, I thought it was time to get motivated again and start doing some insightful analysis, as only we can do here on this blog, of our beloved NY Giants.

First some thoughts on the draft:

You can look at the draft in a couple of ways. On the one hand, the Giants made some outstanding picks in LT Beatty, LB Sintim and WR Nicks. Later in the third round, they picked up WR Barden who is a wild card, not that well known or scouted and a player that has some huge upside. On the positive side, the Giants filled their main needs in the draft, without reaching for players that were not good values for the round in which they were picked. Whenever you pick for need, you are inherently compromising on the principle of taking the best athlete available. The Giants did not do that this year - their picks seemed like a perfect match of need and value. Particularly, in my opinion, the Giants may have gotten two players in Beatty and Sintim that may become 10 year starters in the NFL. That starting assignment probably will not happen in 2009, but maybe by 2010 or 2011, Danny Clark moves on and Sintim starts at LB. And maybe Kareem MacKenzie starts to decline, David Diehl moves over to RT and Beatty moves in as LT. But on the negative side, the Giants may not have reached enough and let a real good player slip past them.

I particularly like the Beatty pick. He was rated very high as LT on U-Conn, the college team that led the nation in rushing. To be honest, we all know that U-Conn did not play the same caliber schedule that other top colleges play, so that stat of leading the nation in rushing might be a bit misleading. Nevertheless, Beatty was a very effective LT, and you grab them when you can get them. He has the frame and the size; he has the quick feet, the long arms and the athleticism; and he is an intelligent, well grounded young man. Starting LT's don't grow on trees and they can have a bigger affect on an offense than any other position except qb. If you want to read about LTs, read Michael Lewis' book Blind Side. It's a great summer time read and it focuses on the development of the importance of the LT position in the NFL through reporting on the life of Michael Oher, who was drafted in the 1st round this year. Beatty may be a little bit of a project, but the Giants have one of the best OL coaches in football in Pat Flaherty and I am confident Beatty will develop. Looking ahead to training camp, there will be fierce competition among the backups in the OL, but I'll give a training camp preview in another post. Suffice it to say now that the Giants backups in the OL are all very young and inexperienced. For a team poised to reach for the brass ring this year, they might want some more experience in their backup OL-men. The Giants did bring in a 10-year pro in Tutan Reyes, but it's hard to tell how much he has left in the tank. The young Giants backups will have to show an awful lot to prevent the Giants from picking up a veteran who is released by another team at the end of training camp. This is something Coughlin always emphasizes in training camp: players aren't only competing against the 80 players that are in camp; they are also competing against every guy that gets cut by another NFL team in one of the other 31 camps around the league.

Sintim was a very highly rated LB and the Giants did very well to get him when they did. He has great speed and is a physical player. The Giants LBs were not as good last year as they were in 2007 with the loss of Kawika Mitchell, who was a solid, above average player, though surely not a star. The Giants have a lot of young, slightly raw talent at LB and I am betting someone will emerge as a real good player. Boley will turn out to be a better FA addition than the more highly regarded signing of Chris Canty. Maybe the Giants will finally have a LB who can guard a TE in space. The medium-depth middle area of the field, traditionally guarded by LBs in zone coverage has been a weakness for the Giants defense for a while now.

Hakeem Nicks is a very good WR and will be a very good addition to the young WR stable the Giants have compiled. But here's where you could definitely poke a hole in Jerry Reese's draft execution. I had forecast that the Giants would not use all their 10 draft picks, that they would trade at least one or two of them to move up somewhere, perhaps the first round and get a more highly ranked player than they would otherwise get if they stayed in their 29th slot. The Giants did that in the 3rd round and moved up to get Ramses Barden. My complaint is that even if Barden turns out to be the second coming of Jerry Rice, he was a little noticed WR on a Division II school in Cal Poly. Consequently, it is doubtful that any other team was poised to nab him and the Giants could have waited for him to fall to them. The Giants had a deal to move up and grab Jerry Maclin who they liked in the first round. But the Eagles offered a bit more, moved up higher and grabbed Maclin instead. The Giants afterwards said that they liked Nicks almost as much as Maclin and it was not worth it to throw in extra picks to move ahead of the Eagles to grab the player they really wanted. But this may be after-the-fact rationalization to make them look better. They should have pulled the trigger (sorry for the metaphor, Plax) on the trade and grabbed Maclin who is the more dynamic WR than Nicks. They were a little timid in not spending another pick to get Maclin.

That having been said, I still think the Giants have enough at WR to be really good this year. Moss will emerge as will Manningham, in my opinion. Hixon and Smith will continue to grow. If that's the case, Nicks could be a perfect fit and with his great hands, could become an excellent cold weather, Giants Stadium WR. But still.... Maclin would look good in blue, and he would not be in green in Philly. We'll see.

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