In a long run of atrocious drafts, former New York Giants GM Jerry Reese’s 2015 class stands out as especially lousy.
It was February 5, 2012. For the second time in four years the New York Giants had beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Up on the winner’s podium were Giants owner Steve Tisch and team General Manager Jerry Reese. At that pinnacle moment, there probably wasn’t a person in Lucas Oil Stadium who would have believed that just a short four and a half years later, Reese would be fired with the team in a total rebuild.
Reese had a played such an important role in building the team that won two titles in four years. Stalwarts such as Aaron Ross, Ahmad Bradshaw and Jason Pierre-Paul were brought in under the Reese regime.
The NFL is a tough league to remain competitive in and the wheels soon came off the bus after the win in Super Bowl XLVI. 2012 first round pick David Wilson, while showing promise in a dynamic rookie year was soon sidelined with a career ending injury. 2013 first rounder Justin Pugh was solid on the offensive line, but also struggled, fighting the injury bug while missing 17 games in four years. The 2014 class showed some promise. First rounder Odell Beckham Jr. was an absolute steal at 14, becoming one of the league’s premier players, but the rest of the class contributed partially or not at all.
2015, however, was the draft that greatly accelerated the decline of the Giants and hastened the end of Reese’s career with the team. Pundits were all over the board graded the Giants on this draft. NFL.com gave them an A-. However, the correctly Bleacher Report gave them an F.
Let’s go back and look at this draft class, understanding hindsight is always 20-20:
1st Round (9): Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami-169 pressures his rookie year led to him being rated the 54th best Offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus. Not much more has to be said to any even casual Giants fan about just how bad this guy was. A holding machine, by 2018 he was accused of quitting on the team and was finally released.
2nd Round (33): Landon Collins, S, Alabama- The Giants gave up a 4th and a 7th to move up one spot for this pick and for a while were very happy to have done so. Collins enjoyed a breakout year in 2016, helping the Giants to a 11-5 record and making the first of his three Pro Bowls while finishing fifth in interceptions and second in solo tackles. Injuries shortened his 2017 season and ended his 2018 season. He controversially left in free agency this past offseason to sign with the divisional rival Redskins, after famously not even being given an offer by Dave Gettleman.
3rd Round (74): Owa Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA- Comparisons to Justin Tuck quickly ended when injuries forced him to miss his rookie season and a 4-game suspension for performance enhancing substances led to his release in 2018. To say this guy did nothing in his Giants career would be a slap in the face to people everywhere that actually do nothing.
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5th Round (144): Mykkele Thompson, S, Texas- The most head-scratching pick of the litter, Thompson was initially thought to go undrafted before Reese used a worthwhile selection on him. Injuries limited Thompson to one game in his Giant career, he is currently playing in the CFL.
7th Round (226): Bobby Hart, OT, Florida State- For a seventh round pick Hart is actually putting together a decent NFL career. While he was always a huge negative force on the Giants offensive line, he did start 13 games at right tackle in 2016. He began 2017 as a starter, but injuries limited his availability to play and was released in February of 2018. He is now with the Bengals.
It is often said that it takes five years to be able to fully evaluate the quality of a draft class. Other than Collins, it is easy to see why Jerry Reese became replaceable. Hopefully current GM Dave Gettleman will learn the mistakes of the past. The Giants have zero of their first round picks from 2012-2016 on their current roster, not a recipe for success. 2017 and 2018 first rounders Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley are rising stars. If the trio of first round picks Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence and Deandre Baker can join them in success, we might very well see the Lombardi Trophy being hoisted once again in New York (Jersey).