The 2014 NFL Draft may be over but none of us are ready to move on just yet.
The New York Giants continued their big offseason with a draft class heavily focused on improving the offense. While draft grades immediately following are generally meaningless, it’s still fun to evaluate the job done by general manager Jerry Reese and company.
With that in mind, here’s what the top draft experts had to say about the Giants’ 2014 class…
Top needs: TE, WR, OL, DL
Summary: Odell Beckham Jr. has a chance to be a really dynamic NFL player, a reliable pass-catcher with both the quick-twitch explosiveness to make plays after the catch, and the straight-line speed to run away from defenders. I thought Eric Ebron could be in play at No. 12, but Detroit took him at No. 10. Eli Manning gets a needed weapon in the passing game. The Giants then got more physical. Weston Richburg was a solid Round 2 value, a very good blocker with the chance to be a solid center for the next 10 years. I think it should be his job to lose. Jay Bromley was a reach for me — I had a number of defensive tackles rated higher — but “DT” doesn’t do justice to the different kinds of fits you’re looking for in a system, and I can see how Bromley makes sense there. Andre Brown led the Giants with 492 rushing yards last season and he’s no longer around. Andre Williams gives the Giants a bruising runner to strengthen the depth chart. Devon Kennard and Bennett Jackson both have ability and provide needed depth. I had tight end as a need, but adding a weapon in the passing game was the real impetus there, and Beckham does that. Richburg will be a good one. I think the D-line needs more help, so Bromley will be a key.
The Giants started off their 2014 class with a surprise in playmaker Odell Beckham and the year’s top center in Weston Richburg, each of whom should be able to help Eli Manning return to form. Three of their next four picks were spent on instinctive, passionate defenders with underrated athleticism in defensive tackle Jay Bromley, safety Nat Berhe and pass-rusher Devon Kennard. Running back Andre Williams is a no non-sense grinder who could give Tom Coughlin the featured back that David Wilson has failed thus far to become. Each of the four comes with question marks, however, as Bromley and Berhe lack ideal size, Williams has only average top-end speed (despite a solid 40-yard dash time) and Kennard has struggled with durability. Other than Beckham, this wasn’t a flashy draft for the Giants with some luck it could be very effective in restoring Big Blue pride.
NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade
Goals Entering the 2014 NFL Draft: It’s all about bolstering the trenches. Multiple upgrades should be obtained on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Giants can also look at the receiver, running back and safety positions, but all of that is secondary when it comes to improving the fronts. The Giants can nab a left tackle at No. 12 and then snag defensive ends and tackles a bit later.
2014 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Giants came into the draft needing to improve both fronts, but they passed on Zack Martin and Aaron Donald at No. 12 for Odell Beckham. The pick made sense though, given that Hakeem Nicks defected for Indianapolis. Eli Manning will enjoy airing it out to the speedy wideout.
New York did manage to address the trenches a bit later by adding Weston Richburg and Jay Bromley. However, the latter was a huge reach, as was fifth-round safety Nat Berhe. In total, the Giants added just one blocker and one defensive linemen prior to the sixth round. They just didn’t do enough to improve the lines, but I understand that they had other needs, including running back (Andre Williams).
The Giants just had a so-so draft. What they really should have done was move back from No. 12. They had so many options that made sense at that point, so acquiring an extra pick would have made sense – and I’m sure they would’ve been able to add another lineman with that choice.
Overview: GM Jerry Reese’s recent drafts have received effusive praise, but on-field results have disappointed. My guess is this draft won’t earn a ton of national praise. So perhaps that’s a good thing. Beckham is a great fit for new OC Ben McAdoo’s offense. McAdoo hails from Green Bay and may envision Beckham as his version of Greg Jennings. The Packers run lots of zone blocking, a schematic fit for likely Week 1 center Richburg. Bromley generated little pre-draft buzz, but is a quality three-technique prospect. Williams has hands of stone and can’t move laterally. I still think Tom Coughlin could see Williams as a Michael Turner-type back. Berhe is a immediate core special teamer with more potential to contribute on defense than his slow forty time suggests. Kennard can get after the passer situationally. Jackson will be a gunner. This is an interesting draft on paper. Reese hit on needs, though not in the order people anticipated. I thought he came away with a lot of good football players and at least two instant-impact starters.
My take: Overall, most of these guys had the same thing to say about the Giants’ draft and I can’t really disagree. While they needed to do some work in the trenches early on, it’s hard to argue with the selection of Odell Beckham to retool the receiving corps. Eli Manning will now have 3-4 dependable targets, three of which are dynamic playmakers in Beckham, Victor Cruz and Mario Manning, and a solid red-zone target in Rueben Randle who led the team with six receiving touchdowns in 2013.
I thought Richburg was a slight reach, but they got their got when they had to get him and that’s all that matters. He will be a valuable asset along the offensive line for years to come. Bromley was a reach as well, was someone I graded as their “worst” pick in the class, but that’s only because I had to name someone as the worst pick. He’s raw and the Giants probably could’ve added another player in the third round or waited for the Syracuse to slide. Ultimately, however, the pick could really pay off as he’s a hard worker and high character prospect.
Round 4 was a slam dunk for the Giants, who snatched Boston College running back Andre Williams. He’s likely not an All-Pro feature back, but he’s going to be a key factor in the running game, perhaps in a similar role to Brandon Jacobs as part of a backfield tandem.
As for the final three picks, I take them with a grain of salt. None of the three are guaranteed a roster slot and at the point, the Giants were simply looking to add depth with players who could have some potential in certain packages and most importantly, on special teams. Kennard, Berhe and Jackson will all have to earn their keep on special teams if they’re going to stick with Big Blue.
They left Radio City Music Hall having added a dynamic playmaker, a long-term solution at center, a defensive tackle with great upside and leadership skills, a hard-nosed, grinder-type back with great production in college from a school the Giants trust and three young athletes who will look to fight their way onto the roster in 2014.