New York Giants 1995 NFL Draft Review
FIRST ROUND — RB Tyrone Wheatley (Michigan, 6-0, 230, 4.49): Going into the draft, we saw the Giants top needs being middle linebacker, cornerback, defensive line, and offensive line. However, once we saw RB Tyrone Wheatley start falling, we starting hoping that he would last until the Giants’ pick and that they would nab him. To us, this pick was a no-brainer. Wheatley was clearly the best player available at a position where the Giants could use some depth — although we still have high hopes for Gary Downs. We are a big Hampton fan, but we are concerned about the wear-and-tear on his body and his upcoming free agent status. We’d also like to see Hampton lose some weight and carry the ball less — he seems to have lost some of his explosiveness. Press reports indicated that the Giants were interested in Korey Stringer and Raashan Salam. If this is true, we are glad the Giants went with Wheatley (Stinger has all the physical tools to be a great lineman, but his work ethic and weight problem scares us; Salam was very productive and that cannot be overlooked, but we don’t think he is a very tough runner and certainly doesn’t have Wheatley’s explosiveness). Tyrone is big, strong RB with fine moves, quickness, and gamebreaking speed. He runs a little too upright and has had injury problems, but many thought he should have been a top-five pick. The only other players we would have considered with this pick were Brian DeMarco (who we think is going to be a great RT) and Shawn King (who we think would flourish under DL coach Earl Leggett’s tutelage). Once he learns how to pick up the blitz, don’t be surprised to see Wheatley playing a great deal his rookie season. We expect him to be the starting HB on the Giants next year.
SECOND ROUND — OT Scott Gragg (Montana, 6-8, 315, 5.45): We also liked this pick, although we did have CB Jimmy Hitchcock and OG Brenden Stai higher on our board. Gragg is a project who needs a lot of work on his overall technique, especially his footwork, but he’s a bright kid, with a great work ethic, and great tools — you can’t ask for much more in a lineman! Nicknamed “Lurch”, Scott is huge — a physically imposing presence with long arms. Not fat, he does need to spend more time in the weight room. We expect Scott to start in place of Doug Riesenberg in two years.
THIRD ROUND — SS Rodney Young (LSU, 6-2, 209, 4.59): Another good pick and only one of four safeties that we even had on our board (the others being Devin Bush, Melvin Johnson, and Orlanda Thomas). We love the fact that this kid has played corner and that the reports indicate that he is another bright guy who prepares like a pro (as a matter of fact, most of the Giants’ draft picks scored high for their intelligence). Again, Stai and Hitchcock were strong considerations here, but we were very high on Young going into the draft. Young is a good hitter and tackler and a top competitor. Young should make an impact on special teams while learning from DB coach Zaven Yaralian and starting strong safety Jessie Campbell what playing safety is all about in the NFL.
FOURTH ROUND — OG Ray Zatechka (Nebraska, 6-5, 307, 5.15): We did not like this pick. We like the fact that Zatechka is extremely bright and has a great work ethic. We also like his size. But reports indicate that Zatechka is not a good natural athlete (he tests well, but he looks very stiff on the playing field and really struggles to mirror and slide). We would have selected OG Andrew Peterson with this pick.
FOURTH ROUND — OLB Ben Talley (Tennessee, 6-3, 240, 4.81): We did not like this pick either. This guy reminds us of Kanavis McGhee. He’s cut high, he’s slow for a linebacker (we heard he was running 4.9′s before the draft), and he’s stiff. Plus he’s not very quick. We would have selected CB’s Anthony Bridges or Cedric Davis with this pick.
FIFTH ROUND — CB Roderick Mullen (Grambling, 6-2, 200, 4.56): This is a guy that we just didn’t look at enough, so we didn’t have a good feel for him going into the draft. Some reports that we saw said he had good speed and others said he didn’t. We like his size and he reportedly did well at the combine. Some reports question his instincts, but he made a lot of plays in college. The more we read about him now, the more we like him, but to be honest, we didn’t have him on our draft board.
SIXTH ROUND: This pick was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for veteran free safety Vencie Glenn. This was a great move on the part of the Giants. We have always been a big fan of Vencie — we think he is one of the best free safeties in the league. He’s an aggressive player with good range. He’s a playmaker and a superb center fielder. As long as everyone stays healthy, with Campbell, Randolph, Sparks, and now Glenn, the Giants will field one of the best defensive backfields in the league.
SIXTH ROUND — DE Jamal Duff (San Diego State, 6-7, 260, 4.85): For the end of the sixth round, we think this is a good pick, but we are not crazy about this guy. Duff is a very good athlete and has fine physical tools, but he’s a long strider and has average change of direction skills. He plays tall, but DL coach Leggett should be able to work on him with that. Also, he must spend a lot of time in the weight room. Nevertheless, this a good pick.
SIXTH ROUND — FB Charles Way (Virginia, 6-1, 230, 4.85): This pick surprised us — this guy has great intangibles but is an average athlete and we considered him a free agent-type. Plus, the Giants are loaded at FB/H-Back — and will be so for the next few years. In effect, this is a wasted pick. We would have selected OT Anthony Brown or DE Kendall Brown.
SEVENTH ROUND — P Byrne Diehl (Alabama, 6-3, 215): At first, we didn’t like this pick. But this guy seems to fit Reeves’ desire for a directional punter who can get a lot of hangtime. We like this pick now, but at the time, we were looking at DT Corey Swinson and DT Chad Eaton.
Rookie Free Agent Signings
After the draft, the Giants signed the following free agent rookies:
- QB Geoff Bender (NC State, 6-3, 210)
- FB Butch Jennings (Liberty, 6-0, 270)
- WR Curtis Thomas (Delaware, 6-2, 185)
- WR Robert Kilow (Troy State, 6-2, 190)
- H-Back Jeremy Burkett (Colorado State, 6-1, 215)
- TE Brian Saxton (Boston College, 6-6, 256)
- OG Jesse Palacios (Southeastern Oklahoma, 6-5, 292)
- OG Derek Allen (Illinois, 6-4, 290)
- DT Matt Storm (Georgia, 6-6, 306)
- DT Todd Yeaman (Northeast Oklahoma, 6-5, 280)
- DT Chris Mazyck (Penn State, 6-3, 283)
- CB Akili Johnson (Grambling, 6-0, 185)
When it comes to signing rookie free agents after the draft, the Giants usually do fairly well and it is not unusual to see a couple of them making the team. However, we do not expect any of the free agents listed above to make the team. First, the Giants have pretty good quality and depth at most positions already and second, to be honest, these guys just aren’t that good. Jeremy Burkett is probably the best of the bunch, but the Giants are loaded at H-back/FB with Walker, Pierce, and Rasheed. If one of the guards show something in camp, he may stick if Jason Winrow cannot recover from his back injury. The Giants are likely to only carry four DT’s and, unless there is an injury, they will be Hamilton, Agnew, Maumalanga, and Dillard. Probably the player with the best shot to make the team is CB Akili Johnson. Randolph and Sparks are set at CB, but depth is a concern. The only other players in camp are Willie Beamon (who will make the team), Jason Sehorn (the Giants’ second round draft pick from last year who we think is a bust), and Roderick Mullen (this year’s fifth round draft pick who was Johnson’s teammate at Grambling). Ironically (and tragically), Mullen and Johnson will most likely be competing with each other for the final CB spot. Remember, if any of these players do show something in camp, the Giants can place them on the practice squad and hope that they develop.