In the days following the draft, we all get a kind of empty feeling (empty for me as I think of chicken wings taken down as draft picks were made). Empty also because of pundit/expert draft grades, the uncertainty of holes filled (like in the middle of the Giants defense), and gulp, anticipating which rookie doesn’t make it out of training camp because of a freak injury (last year’s winner, 4th Round running back Andre Brown, tore his achilles heel and went straight to I.R.). Let’s hope these guys stay healthy enough to be labeled a “steal” a year or two from now (Dillard, this means you). Here’s is our draft recap for Rounds 4-7.
Round 4: Nebraska LB Philip Dillard
Ahh yes, the middle linebacker position is finally addressed with the selection of Dillard in Round 4. Dillard has some past injury issues (knee and ankle), but finally put it all together last year for the Huskers, playing behind the man they call Suh. Dillard is expected to compete with holdovers Goff and Blackburn to fill the middle linebacker spot left vacant with the release of Antonio Pierce. Dillard is not a sexy name and Giants fans grew a bit impatient waiting for a linebacker to be added, but he plays smart, is aggressive, and looks to be a great fit for Perry Fewell’s defense.
Round 5: G Mitch Petrus
Many of us surmised big changes on the Giants offensive line, most notably, David Diehl either moving inside, taking Rich Seubert’s spot, or to right tackle, pushing Kareem McKenize out of that role (with 2nd year man Will Beatty taking over at left tackle). Petrus is a nice prospect, he is strong and plays with a real mean streak, nice grab by Jerry Reese to grab a player with starting potential in Round 5.
Round 6: LB Adrian Tracy
Not sure what to make of Tracy, who dominated division II competition at William & Mary, picking up 20 sacks over the past two seasons. A pure pass rusher, Tracy is a bit of a tweener project, but could surprise and add to special teams, if he makes it through training camp.
Round 7: Matt Dodge
This would have been a curious pick had long time punter Jeff Feagles not called up Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin and advised them that he is likely retiring. The Giants had Dodge as the highest rated punter in the draft and he will be given every chance to beat out free agent signing Jy Bond (of Australian rules football fame) for the starting gig in training camp.
Lingering Roster Questions/Further Giants Draft Discussion:
No running backs drafted (nor any additions via undrafted free agents), a bit of a gamble/show of faith to Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who have both proven to be injury prone and are coming off of off-season surgeries. Would have had no argument if the Giants tabbed the explosive C.J. Spiller in Round 1, but glad the Giants didn’t give away any picks to move up and take him in the top 10 of round 1. Jacob’s struggles could be traced to a decline on the offensive line and little nagging injuries, he gets another shot in 2010 after getting his big money deal in 2009. A motivated Brandon Jacobs in 2010 will be nice for this offense.
Offensive Line: Lots of speculation that the Giants are looking to revamp their offensive line, most looking at G Rich Seubert and RT Kareem McKenzie as the obvious targets. Still, the Giants went defensive until Round 5 when they added Mitch Petrus to the mix, a young, powerful guard out of Arkansas. Love the pick, but many Giants fans would not have minded Mike Iupati, who was on the board for the G-men in Round 1. Regardless, give Reese kudos for picking JPP and not looking back, pure pass-rushers with star potential (I don’t care how raw JPP is) are much more valuable than interior offensive line (don’t tell Eli we said that, also please don’t mention that to Rich Seubert or Chris Snee either). Either way, there will be a nice little training camp competition on the offensive line, which we haven’t seen in some time. Beatty is going to get his shot and if he shows strong, the domino effect will be seen with Diehl, Seubert and/or McKenzie (Petrus is nice depth and his addition along with undrafted free agent Penn State alum Dennis Landolt could spell doom for former mid-round picks Adam Koets and/or Guy Whimper.
Defensive Tackle: Rumor has it that Barry Cofield almost became and ex-Giant (and a new Saint) for a second day pick, likely a 3rd round choice. The Giants have not offered (and are likely not going to offer) Cofield a long-term deal, but he provides a nice presence inside and is expected to return to pre-knee injury (yes, a confirmed microfracture) surgery and should again be stout against the run. Rumors are also flying that the Giants almost traded for big DT John Henderson (Jaguars) during the draft, but compensation could not be worked out. Henderson was released yesterday, if Henderson is brought on board, Cofield may be on the way out (either way, we think Rocky Bernard’s stint in blue is likely over after one year with the addition of big Linval Joseph and the return of Jay Alford).
Program Alert: Yours truly will be interviewed tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern time on The Sports Docket, a popular sports show that covers NY sports on Blog Talk Radio, we’ll be talking Giants draft and all things New York Giants, tune in and cause a little havoc, it could get rowdy!