There is a lot of buzz around the internet praising the New York Giants for having a great draft. The surprise, for many, is how a player that was so highly ranked and regarded like Prince Amukamara ended up wearing a Big Blue uniform given the fact that the Giants had a second half pick in the first round.
The fact of the matter is that it was virtually impossible for the G-Men to have a bad prospect in the first round, regardless if Prince was available come the 19th selection or not. Of course, that is not to say that the Giants could not have SELECTED poorly. Clearly they did not. What the Giants did was pick the highest ranked player that was available at the 19th selection when their turn came around. He just happened to play a position that the Giants needed reinforcement in. He also happened to be the second smallest athlete, (6′ 0″ 206 lbs) that was selected in the first round, Mark Ingram being the smallest (5′ 9″ 215 lbs).
Exactly one week ago today marked the start of the 76th NFL Draft. The first one was in 1936. With the 8th selection (last) of the 1936 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Art Lewis, a Tackle out of Ohio U. It was held at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia, PA, pretty swanky for that day and age. However, nothing can compare to what the draft has evolved into now. It is a star studded event that the even fans can participate in. The NFL Draft really has its act together.
The red carpet was outside of Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue in the heart of New York City. The big, black GMC Yukons began to arrive right out front, dropping off all of the first round attendees for the first night. The first to arrive was Cam Newton. The cameras started flashing. The crowd across 6th avenue cheered and the, much anticipated, 76th NFL Draft was underway. Now that we’ve painted a mental picture and laid down a little history lesson, let’s get to the nitty gritty of the draft.
I should elaborate on a comment I made earlier. As previously mentioned, it was virtually impossible for the Giants to end up with a bad pick in the first round. The reasons being – the selection that they were dealt and the amount of talent that was available. There were 24 players who were graded at 8.0+. Therefore, at selection #19 of the first round, it was just a matter of simple math.
Now, was Prince Amukamara the guy that the Giants had their eyes and hearts set on? I am prone to think not. My gut, and months of analysis, led me to believe that Mike Pouncey and Nick Solder were the two candidates that Tom Coughlin and co. would have selected if they had their druthers. I still maintain that it was no coincidence that Bill Belichik and the New England Patriots traded up ahead of the Giants to grab the 17th selection of the first round. I think it is safe to say that they weren’t trying to pull anything over on the San Diego Chargers, who had the 18th selection. Who did the Pats take with the 17th selection? None other than Nate Solder. What a coinkydink.
Let’s get back to this “math” thing. The four highest graded players (8.6) in the draft were selected in the first five rounds. Cam Newton, who was the 1st overall pick of the draft, was graded at 8.1. The next grade down was 8.5. There were three players with that grading, Robert Quinn, Nick Fairley and our very own, Prince Amukamara. Fairley and Quinn were picked up in the 13th and 14th rounds, respectively.
Many speculate that the primary reason that Big Blue wound up with Amukamara is the fact that four teams used up their first round picks on 4 different quarterbacks. To some extent that is true. But it is certainly not the end all reason. The Detroit Lions were tagged as needing a cornerback as their primary need in this years draft. With their pick of DT Nick Fairley, they showed the football community otherwise. However, the cornerback and safety positions DO need to be addressed and it looks as if the Lions plan on doing this in free agency, if there is one this year. The point being, they had a shot at the Prince and they passed.
The shocker of the first round has to be the Minnesota Vikings selection of Christian Ponder. There were certainly better prospects at the QB position available at pick # 12, Ryan Mallett for one. The Vikings organization must have some insight that the rest of the world doesn’t. That still does not explain the awful report card marks that they received for their draft overall. The choice of Ponder in the first round definitely brought their marks down, way down.
The Houston Texans could have used Amukamara but they opted to build themselves a defensive line. With 8 selections in the entire 2011 draft, the Texans picked 6 defensive linesman. They picked up QB Taylor Yates in Round 5 and OL Derek Newton in Round 6. Surprisingly, they received a good draft report card grade, B.
One other team who could have used a CB was the Washington Redskins. The Prince was available but the Skins selected DE Ryan Kerrigan. This seems to be an odd choice seeing as how the general consensus was that Washington had other, more pressing holes to fill. That just goes to show you the accuracy of the general consensus.
With that, the general consensus on what pick the Giants would make was pretty unanimous. Most believed that the OL was going to be the first pick. The linebacker position was another heavily speculated position for first round selection. Jerry Reese may have surprised but he certainly didn’t disappoint, or so it seems.
There is plenty of conjecture about Prince Amukamara. Many think that he wasn’t selected earlier in the draft due to his Nigerian background, claiming that Nigerians are not “tough enough” for the NFL. Others surmise that he has short arms and hands. Do any of these claims hold water? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, there will never be any shortage of scrutinization come draft time.
Giants fans should feel relatively comforted, not just because we had a very strong draft but because of the man behind the draft, Jerry Reese. This is Reese’s 5th NFL Draft, and year, with the New York Giants. His record speaks for itself. But how has he done with the draft in his tenure thus far? Here is Jerry Reese’s New York Giants/NFL Draft resume by year:
- #1 CB Aaron Ross
- #2 WR Steve Smith
- #3 NT Jay Alford
- #4 LB Zak DeOssie
- #5 TE Kevin Boss
- #6 T Adam Koets
- #7 S Michael Johnson, RB Ahmad Bradshaw
- #1 FS Kenny Phillips
- #2 CB Terrell Thomas
- #3 WR Mario Manningham
- #4 OLB Brian Kehl
- #5 LB Jonathan Goff
- #6 QB Andre Woodson, DE Robert Henderson
- #7 WR Marcus Monk
- #1 WR Hakeem Nicks
- #2 LB Clint Sintim, T William Beaty
- #3 WR Ramses Barden, TE Travis Beckum
- #4 RB Andre Brown
- #5 QB Rhett Bomar
- #6 CB DeAndre Wright
- #7 CB Stoney Woodson
- #1 DE Jason Pierre Paul
- #2 DT Linval Joseph
- #4 LB Phillip Dillard
- #5 G Mitch Petrus
- #6 LB Adrian Tracy
- #7 P Matt Dodge
- #1 CB Prince Amukamara
- #2 DL Marvin Austin
- #3 WR Jerrel Jernigan
- #4 OL James Brewer
- #6 LB Greg Jones, SS Tyler Sash, LB Jacquain Williams
- #7 RB Da’Rel Scott
Excluding the class of the 2011, there are currently 22 active players out of a total of 31 draftees since Reese was named General Manager of the New York Giants. Most of them are instrumental players today. Jerry Reese has definitely earned the trust that Giants fans have placed in him. He has earned the respect of his piers and it looks like he has pulled off another great draft for the New York Giants.
At the press conference, after Prince Amukamara was selected to the Giants, I jumped right in and kicked the presser off:
"“How does it feel to be the Prince Of New York?”"
"“It feels amazing. I wouldn’t actually call myself the Prince Of New York yet but I’m definitely glad I landed here in New York City.”"
I think it is safe to say…so are we!
Here we are, one week later. The draft has come and gone but it has left us with many memories. Who can forget Von Miller being named the 2nd overall pick and the tremendous gratitude that he exhibited on the stage of Radio City Music Hall? That’s the kind of thing that makes it all worthwhile. The NFL Draft is truly a place where dreams come true. It is where the hard work of the past meets the promise of the future. It is where a trifecta of hope connects the fan, player and owner alike. It is the NFL Draft and it is not to be missed!
A special thank you to our friends at GMC and Radio City Music Hall. We’ll see you next year!
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