As we get closer to this years’ draft, let’s take a look back at some Giants’ history. The past decade had a lot of ups and downs. Such as a Super Bowl win and a fun 2016 playoff run, as well as underwhelming outputs and bad coaching. Let’s apply that spectrum to the NFL’s building block, it’s draft. I want to examine some of the best and worst draft selections for Big Blue over the past decade.
RB Saquon Barkley: Penn State, 6-0 234 lbs, 2018
While the 2019 draft class had very positive rookie campaigns the jury is still out on anything career-wise, so we won’t touch them in this article. However, it’s difficult to not think to just a year prior when discussing slam dunk pick for New York. Barkley is only entering his third season. Yes, Quenton Nelson and Sam Darnold were on the board, but with the context of the past two years combined with his skill, it’s safe to say he’s made a positive impact.
Plus, most of the guys on this list will be graded on short term impacts anyway. Barkley’s made the biggest one with his elite lateral speed, vertical escape and vision contributing to just over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, 11 rushing touchdowns and 91 receptions in 2018. Despite a high ankle sprain that hindered his performance and affected explosiveness for the remainder of 2019 he still mustered 1003 rushing yards. Considering the injury, his downturn in production can be shelved in favor of his rookie year, enough to call the pick a good one at least.
DL Dalvin Tomlinson: Alabama, 6-3 320 lbs, 2017
Coming into 2020 the former Alabama product is entering his third year. Tomlinson translated his speed, explosiveness, drive on the line and diagnosis in run-defense, inside a big body for the record into a breakout year in 2019. He is one of the bright spots on a shining Giants defensive line. Especially in run defense, Tomlinson racked up 49 tackles, one forced fumble and some interior pressure with 3.5 sacks. But the box score doesn’t tell the story. His proficiency in the run game can be shown by his PFF grade of 78.1, highest of a Giants defender. It additionally ranked 11th among interior defensive linemen with at least 500 snaps. I’d say that’s a success.
DE Jason Pierre Paul, University of South Florida, 6-5 275 lbs, 2010
Pierre-Paul was the first explosive, strong edge rusher of this generation. The NFL has seen them before in the forms of Charles Haley or Reggie White but not in the iteration the wave of 2010’s guys brought it. “JPP” came onto the scene in 2010 without much of an impact but really shined in his sophomore campaign with a huge 16.5 sacks.
2011 was undoubtedly his peak with not only the high sack numbers but a high tackle volume. He had 66 solo tackles and 86 combined. During the height of Pierre-Paul’s Giants stint, he used length, good drive, and agile footwork with pivots to get pressure in the backfield. On July 4th, 2015 he suffered a serious hand injury by way of fireworks. He soon after had his right index finger amputated. The Giants re-upped with JPP in October of that year, but it wasn’t the same.
His main calling card was the hand placement and fight up top built upon his lower half driving and being so quick. That calling card dissipated when Pierre Paul’s right hand was, unfortunately, cast up in a club-like mechanism. The production in-turn in pass-rushing decreased and his time with the Giants dwindled. In 2017 Jason Pierre-Paul took his remaining talents to Tampa Bay.
His career had been on the uptick. Since then he had 8.5 sacks last year and 12.5 sacks in 2018. He also was spending time in the open field as a linebacker as well as a defensive end. As for the period with the Giants, it is untapped potential and a half-full prime because of the career-altering injury. He made an excellent impact on the defensive line, contributed to a defensive heavy Super Bowl XLVI. As well as set a precedent for the modern pass rusher.
In the second part of this article, we’ll discuss the blunders of the Giants front office in some of the drafts from 2010-2018. We’re looking at you, Jerry Reese.