The New York Giants have hit on many late round, value draft picks in their long history. Here’s a look at our top 10 (in the third round or later) over the last 20 years.
First round draft picks give a franchise the opportunity to transform themselves. A Lawrence Taylor or a Saquon Barkley can bring a skill set to a team that immediately elevates everyone around them. However, it’s the later round picks (third and on) where a team can build a championship nucleus. Later round picks like Tom Brady, Terrell Davis and Russell Wilson greatly accelerated their franchises’ drive to a title. While the Giants certainly have had quite a few misses in the draft in these rounds over the last 20 years, they have also had some huge successes. Here are our top 10 Giants draft coups.
10) Gibril Wilson, safety, Tennessee (2004, 5-136): Wilson’s time with the Giants was short but while he was here he started 51 of 52 games, recording 360 tackles, 6 sacks and 11 interceptions.However, it was the last play of Super Bowl XLII where he made his biggest impact. On the final play of the game, Patriots QB Tom Brady threw a desperation pass to Randy Moss in the end zone that had a chance to end Giants’ dream of a championship but it was Wilson who broke up the pass, thus clinching the title.
9) Dhani Jones, linebacker, Michigan (2000, 6-177): For a 6th round pick, Jones made a nice career in the NFL playing 11 seasons, the first three with the Giants. His best season with Big Blue was 2003 when he started all 16 games and recorded three sacks, 120 tackles and one fumble recovery, He soon left as a free agent in 2004, cashing in while having some continued success playing for the Eagles and Bengals.
8) Kevin Boss, tight end, Western Oregon University (2007, 5-153): Boss was drafted as backup to Jeremy Shockey, but an injury in November of 2007 thrust him into a starting role. He caught nine passes , two for touchdowns, to finish the regular season but it was his one catch in Super Bowl XLII that made all the difference. In the fourth quarter, with New England up 7-3 , QB Eli Manning completed a pass to Boss for a 45 yard gain. Five plays later Manning capped off the drive with a five yard TD pass to David Tyree. Boss went on to play three more seasons with the Giants, leading them in touchdowns in 2008. He left for the Raiders in 2011 but injuries sharply curtailed his career.
7) Barry Cofield, defensive tackle, Northwestern ( 2006, 4-124): This enormous man came to the Giants in 2006 and immediately established himself as a starter, leading the defensive line with 67 tackles. In 2007 he started every game and during the Giants’ postseason drive to a Super Bowl XLII recorded 41 tackles, a sack, six QB hurries, four QB hits and a pass defended. He went on to play three more seasons with Big Blue before departing in 2011 as a free agent, signing with the divisional rival Redskins. He had several more productive season with the Redskins before coming back to the Giants in 2015. Sadly, his post-career has been full of drama as drugs and other issues leave him facing a prison sentence.
6) Mario Manningham, wide receiver, Michigan (2008, 3-95): Drafted in 2008, Manningham really started making his impact the following season in 2009, when injuries to starter Domenik Hixon thrust him into a starting roll. The former Wolverine finished the season with 822 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. 2010 was his best season when he recorded 922 yards and 9 TD’s. It was, however, his jaw-dropping catch in Super Bowl XLVI where with 3:46 left in the game and trailing two points that put him in the upper echelon of Giants post season heroes.
Manningham pulled down a toe tapping 38-yard reception in between two defenders to just stay in bounds by a fraction of an inch. Seven plays later, including two more receptions by Manningham, running back Ahmad Bradshaw punched the ball into the end zone to give the Giants the lead and their second title in four years. After that season, Manningham left for San Francisco in free agency but injuries derailed the rest of his career and he retired in 2014.
5) Brandon Jacobs, running back, Southern Illinois (2005, 4-110): ‘Earth’ of the Giants “Earth, Wind, & Fire” running back corps, Jacobs came into the league as a battering ram, establishing himself as force at the goal line. His rookie year he only rushed 38 times but made the post of those rushes scoring seven touchdowns. In 2006, he added another nine TD’s on only 96 carries. Tiki Barber‘s retirement in 2007 gave Jacobs a huge opportunity to step up and he made the most of it. From 2007-2011 he rushed for 4327 yards and scored 40 touchdowns, the highlight being 2008 when he finished 3rd in the league with 15 rushing TD’s.
The 265 pound Jacobs was a huge contributor during both the Giants Super Bowl runs, combining to 361 yards while scoring four TD’s. The Giants released Jacobs in 2012, after one unproductive season in San Fransisco he came back to Big Blue and scored four more TD’s in 2013. It was easy to see his talents eroded, and Jacobs retired before the start of the 2014 season.
4) Ahmad Bradshaw, running back, Marshall ( 2007, 7-250): ‘Fire’ of the “Earth, Wind, & Fire” running attack, Bradshaw is the very definition of a value pick. Drafted with a compensation pick in the last round of the 2007 draft , Bradshaw made an early impact with the Giants in Super Bowl XLII where he was the leading rusher with 45 yards and even recovered an Eli Manning fumble. He moved to lead back responsibilities during the 2009 season and became a force in 2010 when he tallied 1249 all-purpose yards and eight TD’s. In Super Bowl XLVI he once again lead all rushers with 71 yards, also scoring (or falling into) the winning touchdown. 2012 would be his last productive year with the team, and following that season he would be a salary cap casualty. Injuries took their toll after that campaign and he was out of the NFL by 2015.
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3) Zak DeOssie , long snapper, Brown ( 2007, 4-116): the younger member of the only father-son connection to win Super Bowls with the same team, this two-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion has been the epitome of consistency and reliability during his time with the G-Men. Only once, in 2015, has he not played all 16 games in a season. He has been a special teams captain since 2011.
The importance of a reliable long snapper cannot be understated. Just ask any lifelong Giants fan what the name Trey Junkin means to them.
2) David Diehl, left tackle, Illinois (2003, 5-160): This fifth round pick immediately established himself as a starter his rookie season and became the first Giants rookie to start all 16 games since Mark Bavaro. In 2005, he moved to left guard and helped anchor a line that allowed Tiki Barber to rush for a team record 1860 yards. He was selected to a Pro Bowl in 2010 and it was his excellent work in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI that allowed QB Eli Manning to win two Super Bowl MVP’s.
Diehl’s verstitility helped coach Tom Coughlin work around numerous injuries over the years, as he was adept at just about every position along the line. Staring 156 games while being a key cog on two Super Bowl winning teams it’s hard to get more bang for your buck than the Giants did out of the durable lineman. Diehl announced his retirement after the 2013 season .
1) Justin Tuck, defensive end, Notre Dame (2005, 3-74): Former legendary Giants GM Ernie Accorsi only had four picks in the 2005 draft but boy did he maximize them. Corey Webster and Brandon Jacobs certainly were great picks in the second and fourth rounds but it was his third round selection of Tuck that was the real game changer.
Many have rightly argued that the true MVP of Super Bowls XLII and XLVI should have been Tuck. His four sacks and one forced fumble in the two games certainly back up that argument as he made Tom Brady‘s life miserable in both games. During his time with the Giants he was voted to two Pro Bowls and selected first-team All-Pro in 2008. He finished his Giants career with 60.5 sacks ,18 forced fumbles and 318 tackles. He left after the 2013 season for Oakland, but was not nearly the force he was with Big Blue. He retired after the 2015 season and has since been inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor.