For about the past 45 years, I have been closely following the NFL draft, and more specifically, trying to determine the Giants annual draft strategy. The anticipation never dulls and hope springs eternal that this will be the year that the Giants make all the right choices and dramatically improve their team in a 48 hour period of calculated moves, great decisions, and a little luck.
Though I have suggested it many times in previous years, this year I am particularly intrigued with the prospect of Trading Down. How intrigued?? How about Trading Down TWICE? For me, it’s hard to recall a prior years draft that has had so much similar talent and risk from pick #20 to pick #40. I can’t ever recall even thinking about Trading Down twice in a single year’s draft, but this Saturday, I would strongly recommend such a move be made. The Giants have a good number of needs that must be addressed and I think that two draft day trades could provide the opportunity to fill those needs.
TRADE ONE – I would trade the Giants top pick (#20) to the New Orleans Saints for 3 picks (#27, #88, and #163). The Saints got the steal of the 2006 Draft with the selection of Marques Colston, but they could really use another top receiver since Devery Henderson and Terrance Cooper have been inconsistent. I think the Saints would love to get a player, especially a local player like LSU’s Dwayne Bowe.
TRADE TWO – The Atlanta Falcons are chock full of draft picks, and new Coach Bobby Petrino was a former assistant for Tom Coughlin. The Falcons have the 8th overall pick, as well as the 39th and 44th and three 4th rounders. If the Giants were to trade their newly acquired #27, it would be worth the Falcons #39, #109, and #121 picks.
Completing these two trades would leave the Giants without a first rounder, but would give them two picks in Round Two, two picks in Round Three, and three picks in Round Four. That’s seven picks out of the top 121 in the draft, and also would leave us with five picks in Rounds 5, 6, and 7.
Now what do we do with those 12 picks?
#39 – With all of our needs, someone of great value is bound to fall to us at this point. Frankly, I’d be looking at the best player available (BPA), regardless of position. Preseason favorites like FS Brandon Meriweather and WR Dwayne Jarrett could still be around, as well as some really incredible Offensive Line talent such as Justin Blaylock, Tony Ugoh, or Aaron Sears. There is also a chance that a very productive college player like SS Michael Griffin or RB Brian Leonard could be available at that point. That’s seven players I wouldn’t mind having as Giants – and you can rest assured that at least one of them will be available to us with the 39th pick.
#51 – The Giants have a strong need to add a solid corner at this point, and I would be happy to get any of either Eric Wright, Jon Wade, or Marcus McCauley. At least one of them will be available at this point in the draft.
#81 – Depending on who we take at #39 (I’m assuming it will be Brandon Meriweather), we will have a strong need for a wide receiver at this point. General Manager Jerry Reese talked about his interest in players with college production, and WR Mike Walker certainly fits that requirement. If the Giants did end up with Dwayne Jarrett at #39, I would instead use pick #81 on FS Josh Gattis of Wake Forest.
#88 – The Giants have a need for a linebacker, and I really like the way South Florida’s Stephen Nicholas reads plays and tackles. Having an extra pick in Round Three is probably the difference in getting Nicholas, since I think he will be gone by the time the Giants get to the 4th Round. I have not seen Antwan Barnes play, but all reports on him have been outstanding and his Combine results also make him a linebacker worth considering at this point in the draft.
#109 – Last year, the Giants used their 4th round picks on tackles, and I would love to follow that strategy again. With our first pick in Round Four, I’d be looking for a left tackle, and two who have plenty of big time college experience should be available in Purdue’s Mike Otto and Boston College’s James Marten.
#116 – I think the Giants need another space eating Defensive Tackle, and two very good ones should be available between Paul Soliai and Ryan McBean. Soliai is actually a former teammate and blocker (he was a Guard before switching to DT) for Brandon Jacobs in college.
#121 – The Giants need a replacement for Visanthe Shiancoe, and there should be good options available here with Matt Spaeth, Kevin Boss (I have never seen Boss play), and Joe Newton.
#153 – If the Giants could pull off the two trades I’ve suggested, it gives room to take a chance on a player. I’d like to take an offensive player here, and one that has the potential to have a huge upset and become a “playmaker.” Players like Yamon Figurs, Laurent Robinson, Jackie Battle, and even a blocking fullback like Cory Anderson all fit the bill for a player that could help make our offense special.
#163 – Many years ago, I ran a Father/Son Ecumenical Breakfast with the Giants’ Chad Bratzke. Chad told me how he thought he was going to get cut in his rookie season, and tried to impress Giants Head Coach Dan Reeves by performing a standing back-flip. Coach Reeves was impressed, and would later tell Bratzke that he might have made his team because of his showing of athleticism that day. Fast forward to 2007, and we have the much talked about DT Walter Thomas. Thomas was heavily recruited by many schools and originally attended Oklahoma State, before leaving because of poor grades. I couldn’t believe it when I watched the tape of Thomas performing the same stunt as Bratzke – a standing back-flip. The only difference is that Bratzke did it at 275 lbs, while I saw Thomas do it at 375 lbs. Thomas, at 6’5″, has the DT height that Coach Mike Waufle loves and is a risk I would take on this unique specimen of an underclassman who has entered this year’s draft.
#189 – The Giants have moved to a power running game, and one of my favorite power running backs in this draft is former Rutgers player Justice Hairston. Hairston has never seen a linebacker he didn’t enjoy trying to run over, and he adds more of the same to our 2007 pounding running attack.
#224 – Many Giants fans have really come to enjoy the tough play of linebacker Chase Blackburn, and a faster version of Blackburn is available in Matt Muncy of Ohio. A very sure tackler and special team’s demon, Muncy is the type of player that makes your team because of his consistency and never-say-die attitude.
#250 – Since Tom Coughlin joined the Giants, the team has had a Boston College draft connection. This year Boston College played Maine, and I’m certain that the Giants have plenty of information on two outstanding Maine defenders SS Daren Stone and DT Mike DeVito. Stone has the size and speed to succeed at the next level.
So there you have it, my 2007 Draft Wish List.
However the draft turns out, it will certainly be another draft weekend of multiple TV’s, multiple computers, and, hopefully, multiple cheered selections for our newest Giants.
********** A FEW DRAFT NOTES AND OPINIONS*********
- I think the Giants will stay away from DT Antonio Johnson and TE Martrez Milner – since both players are represented by agent Bus Cook
- I wasn’t thrilled with the interference of Archie Manning in our draft a few years ago, and I hope the Giants don’t select WR Craig Davis of LSU this year in a similar fashion. I have nothing against Davis, who is actually a very fine player. Manning has had Davis work at his Manning summer football camps for years, and Archie has become a close personal friend and huge advocate of Davis. I’d rather see the Giants use their best internal resources to find a wide receiver, and hope the strong opinions of Archie have no bearing on our selection. If we select Davis, I will always think the decision was influenced by Archie.
- My favorite player in this years draft is LB Patrick Willis.
**********The hours after the draft are a critical time to sign undrafted rookie free agents, and I hope the Giants consider the following ten players:
Rutgers CB Joey Porter: Perhaps the fastest player in this years draft and a local kid worth a shot.
Clemson CB Duane Coleman: Coleman messed up big time when he was suspended before his Bowl Game, but he is an experienced player that worked under former Defensive Coordinator John Lovett – a close personal friend of our new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who may have an inside perspective on his potential.
Connecticut FB Deon Anderson: One of the hardest hitting fullbacks you will find that has a legitimate chance to make a final roster.
Cal Poly LB Kyle Shotwell: Anyone that can make over 350 tackles in a college career is worth a shot, regardless of the level of competition.
Harvard RB Clifton Dawson: New Giants Offensive Quality Control Coach Sean Ryan was the running backs coach at Harvard last year. Nobody knows more about Dawson than Sean Ryan, and he should have the inside track in convincing him to sign here.
Stanford FS David Lofton: The son of the great James Lofton has been a late bloomer in his football career. He had been a favorite of Coach Tom Quinn at Stanford, and Quinn is now the Special Teams Coordinator for the Giants.
South Carolina C Chris White: A massive center that was recruited by current Giants coach Dave DeGuglielmo, White will need to show he has the speed to play at the next level.
Nevada TE Anthony Pudewell: The Giants don’t throw much to their second tight end, and Pudewell best attribute is his run blocking.
Jacksonville State CB Montae Pitts: A huge corner with great speed, Pitts is a small school project with a lot of tools that can be developed.
Boston College S Ryan Glasper: Anyone that has won the Jay McGillis Scholarship Award has a chance with Tom Coughlin. Glasper has had some tough injuries, and hurt himself greatly with a recent arrest outside a bar, but is still considered a great leader and high character guy.