Between 1991 and 1997, under the personnel leadership of George Young, the Giants did not utilize their first round picks prudently. The names are familiar for the wrong reasons: Jarrod Bunch, Derek Brown, Thomas Lewis, Tyrone Wheatley and Cedric Jones. Four of them busted out of the league, and Wheatley didn’t find success until landing in Oakland. Heck, even Ike Hilliard could be added to this catalog. He was a productive player, but drafting a slot WR at #7 overall? “Fragile Ike” was a tremendous reach.
Fortunately for the G-men, finding the hidden gem was their calling card. These 10 names helped alleviate the pain of flopped first rounders during the 90′s: (alphabetical order)
Jessie Armstead, LB | 1993 #207
An undersized backer, the Giants scooped up Armstead in the now obsolete 8th round. He ranks 4th on the all-time franchise list with 597 career solo tackles, while also recording 30.5 sacks and 12 interceptions.
Tiki Barber, RB | 1997 #36
His accomplishments don’t need an introduction. Tiki is nearly 4,000 yards ahead of the Giants second leading rusher, Rodney Hampton. He’s also 3rd in receiving yards with 5,183.
Chad Bratzke, DE | 1994 #155
The former 5th round pick assembled most of his productive years in Indianapolis, but he did sack the quarterback 11 times for the Jints in 1998. Bratzke recorded 19.5 sacks in New York spanning five seasons (56.5 for his career).
Sam Garnes, SS | 1997 #136
Now serving as an assistant coach for the Broncos, Garnes notched 259 solo tackles during his five-year stay. 1998 first round pick Shaun Williams had 312 tackles despite playing 18 more games than Garnes. Not too shabby for a 5th round choice.
Keith Hamilton, DE | 1992 #99
Hamilton spent his entire 12-year career with the Giants. He’ll be remembered as more of a compiler than a dominant force, but his 63 sacks are 5th all-time among Big Blue defenders.
Ed McCaffrey, WR | 1991 #83
Excellent pick by Young and Co. in round three, but “Easy Ed” didn’t find his niche until latching on with the Broncos. The 6’5 possession receiver caught 42 touchdown passes in Denver between 1996-2000. His best year with the Jints was 49 receptions/five TD’s in 1992.
Roman Oben, OT | 1996 #66
While his stint in New York was short-lived, he started all 48 games at left tackle between 1997 and 1999. Oben protected QB blindspots for 12 solid NFL seasons.
Michael Strahan, DE | 1993 #40
Texas Southern? Who? Right. Strahan’s single season record of 22.5 sacks has been tested in recent years by Jared Allen (22) and J.J. Watt (20.5), but he still stands alone at the top. The greatest pass rusher in Giants history is 5th on the all-time NFL sack list with 141.5.
Amani Toomer, WR | 1996 #34
A relative non-factor during his two campaigns in New York, Toomer burst onto the scene as a red zone target in 1998 and deep threat in 1999. His 668 catches, 9,947 receiving yards and 54 receiving TD’s are team records by significant margins.
Charles Way, FB | 1995 #206
“Get out of my” Way epitomized the classy, hard-nosed Giant. It’s no surprise to see him working with the franchise in a player development capacity. His career was cut short by chronic knee problems, but he delivered a ton of punishment between ’95-’99. A versatile threat, he retired with over 2,250 total yards.