As the draft drew near one thing was clear; the New York Giants were in no man’s land with the 19th pick. Speculation was rampant as to which direction they would go once called to the clock. Much of this was the result of not knowing who would be available to them.
Justin Pugh/OL/Syracuse, (Round 1, pick #19): Days before the draft we reported the biggest beneficiary of four offensive tackles and two guards being selected during the draft’s initial 12 picks would be Justin Pugh. The Giants proved this report correct when they made Pugh the 19th pick of round one. We were never very high on Pugh and think the middle of round one was early for his talents. I struggle to believe he’ll hold up at right tackle in the NFL and feel his best position will be inside at guard. While Pugh is a solid line prospect in the end we feel tight end Tyler Eifert was a better choice for Big Blue.
Johnathan Hankins/DT/Ohio State (Round 2, pick #49): There was speculation the Giants could take a defensive tackle in round one, specifically Sylvester Williams of North Carolina. In the end they filled the position with Hankins a frame later, a choice that could bring great value. Hankins offers terrific size and movement skills. At the top of his game he’s much more than a space eater rather a nimble lineman with the ability to chase the action and make plays in pursuit. Its a matter of Hankins properly conditioning himself then playing hard on every down. Hankins was worth the risk in round two and could return big dividends to the Giants.
Damontre Moore/DE/Texas A&M (Round 3, pick #81): The Giants selection of Damontre Moore in round three could turn into the biggest steal of the draft. Moore menaced opponents in every way possible for two seasons while he was at A&M. He was a terrific pass rusher and easily made plays in pursuit. Immaturity and poor workouts devalued his draft stock almost two rounds. Moore was unable to break 4.85-seconds prior to the draft and looked unathletic during combine and pro-day workouts. Sources told me he never took pre-draft training seriously and as one person close to the situation said, Moore “botched the entire process.” Still, watching the game film then seeing what Moore went through the three months prior to draft day I can’t help but remember the tribulations of Terrell Suggs in 2003.
Ryan Nassib/QB/Syracuse (Round 4, pick #110): The selection of Nassib in round four was an interesting one. I never bought into the hype the Buffalo Bills seriously considered Nassib is round one and reported during the Senior Bowl it was false speculation. The day prior to round one I then reported the team preferred EJ Manuel over Nassib. Of course I never expected Nassib to slide out of the second round. He’s a terrific game manager who plays smart football yet does not possess the physical traits of a franchise quarterback. For the Giants this was a smart choice. In a best case scenario they have a future replacement for Eli Manning. At worst they could have future trade bait.
Cooper Taylor/S/Richmond (Round 5, pick #152): We reported the Giants interest in Taylor several times in the weeks prior to the draft. The small school safety plays big and comes with first round measurables. He’s a smart defender who does not make mental errors and comes with a good degree of upside. With 30-year old Antrel Rolle in the twilight of his career, Taylor is well positioned to compete for a starting position down the road.
Eric Herman/G/Ohio (Round 7, pick #225): Herman was a player we noticed during his sophomore season of 2010 and someone we always considered draftable. He’s a good fit for the Giants offensive line which historically prefers nasty, maulers up front. Herman lacks great upside yet gets everything from his talent and plays hard every down. With two aged veterans starting at guard, Herman is the perfect player to have waiting in the wings.
Michael Cox/RB/UMass (Round 7, pick #253): Cox was a surprise draft choice and a running back we did not rate. He’s a nice sized interior back yet shows little in the way of speed and just average power running the game.
Grade: C+. The Giants did a terrific job in the middle rounds but Pugh in the first frame is a head scratcher. Granted, there was little choice at pick 19, but in our opinion Eifert was a better fit and filled a need. In many ways this is a boom or bust draft; if Hankins plays to his potential, if Moore gets serious about football year round, if Nassib displays starting potential and if Taylor can make the step up in competition it will be a strong result. Otherwise there may be limited productivity from this class.