New York Giants 2004 NFL Draft Review

Draft Pick Scouting Reports
Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports
Eric’s Take on the 2004 Draft

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected
1 1 1 QB Eli Manning, University of Mississippi
2 2 34 OG Chris Snee, Boston College
4 1 97 LB Reggie Torbor, University of Auburn
5 4 136 S Gibril Wilson, University of Tennessee
6 3 168 WR Jamaar Taylor, Texas A&M University
7 2 203 LT Drew Strojny, Duke University
7 52 253 DE Isaac Hilton, Hampton University

2004 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – QB Eli Manning (6-5, 220lbs, 4.90, University of Mississippi)

Scouting Report:
As expected, the top of the draft was a strange, wild affair with the key characters being the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants. San Diego milked their 15 minutes on the clock and then selected QB Eli Manning, who made it clear both before and after the selection that he did not want to play for the Chargers. After LT Robert Gallery was chosen by the Raiders and WR Larry Fitzgerald was chosen by Cardinals, the Giants picked QB Philip Rivers with the #4 selection. There was speculation on ESPN before all this happened that the Chargers and Giants would consummate a trade after each took the quarterback that the other team wanted. And that’s exactly what happened.

However, the Giants gave up a lot to do so. They traded to the Chargers next year’s first round draft pick, in addition to the third round pick in the 2004 draft and the fifth round pick in the 2005 draft. With two #1 picks invested in one player, Eli Manning will have a ton of pressure placed on his shoulders in a city infamous for putting a lot of pressure on athletes.

But enough of that for now. Let’s look at the player, Eli Manning. Manning was widely considered the best quarterback in the draft and was expected to be the #1 pick overall for months. He has “Franchise”-ability. By that we mean he is quite capable of being a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback who by his very skill leads his team to playoff contention year-in and year-out. Manning is capable of becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a difference-maker.

Why? First of all, he has the tools. He is a big quarterback (6-5, 220lbs) with a strong arm. He can make all the throws, including the one that physically separates all quarterbacks – the deep out. While not a scrambler, Manning is a good athlete (4.90 40-yard dash) who moves around well inside the pocket, can buy time with his feet outside of the pocket, and throw well on the run. Eli is quick in his dropback, sets up quickly, and has a quick release. He is a very, very accurate quarterback, especially on short- to medium-range throws. Manning can both rifle the ball or throw with touch. Eli sells the play-action extremely well. His fundamentals are top notch, textbook really.

But what really makes him a likely impact player in the league is his head. He is a very smart and field-savvy player, like his brother Peyton. Eli is patient and does not fluster. Mistakes don’t bother him. Eli reads defenses very well before the snap of the ball and does an excellent job of quickly finding the open receiver. His field vision is outstanding. He makes good decisions. Mature for age and very intense. Eli truly lives and breathes football. And he is a very hard worker. This is what makes him so good.

Manning played on an undermanned University of Mississippi team in perhaps the toughest football conference in the country. By his very ability, he kept his team in contention in the SEC. In other words, he ELEVATED the performance of his entire team by his very presence.

The negatives? There really aren’t any other than the fact that he needs to add muscle. He also will have a ton of pressure placed on him in New York.

If Manning turns into the quarterback that most people expect, the only other quarterback who the Giants have had in their entire history (since 1925) who compares to him is Y.A. Tittle. Manning has the ability to one day become a League MVP. Will it happen right away? Of course not. He will be a rookie this year and all rookie quarterbacks struggle. However, because his fundamentals are so sound, because he reads defenses so well, and because he has been prepped for the NFL by his father and brother, he should be able to start and make an impact sooner than most.

The question is not will Eli be good? He will be. The question is how good will he be? If he doesn’t become a perennial Pro Bowler, the Giants overpaid. If he does become a perennial Pro Bowler and leads this team to a Super Bowl championship, the price will have been well worth it.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “I think he’s got a chance to be a great quarterback. What I saw in Manning was a classic prospect. (He has) size, arm, tremendous athletic ability, poise, class and probably more important than the obvious physical attributes that you have is the fact that he lifted his team. I thought this year in particular he made his teammates play better and that is an element that a lot of the top quarterbacks have.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “We’re excited. When you go through this process and do all the work and put the board together, and the number one player on the board is within striking distance for you as a franchise, you exercise every option that you can to try to see if that player could possibly be a New York Giant. This is a very special football player, obviously the pedigree is excellent. His performance in the workout was outstanding, his accuracy, he carried himself with a certain dignity and class. It was a very exciting thing to witness during a live workout. All the film had been studied, Ernie (Accorsi) told you about studying him as a junior and having a very good log of information and grades to back up the fact that he was the number one player on our board…I think he’ll be ready very shortly. There’s a learning curve, there’s a process that everyone has to go through, you’re going to pay the price. You can look at all the great quarterbacks along the line, everyone has a certain amount of adjustment to this league and that certainly would take place for any quarterback. Name the quarterback and you know the history of it. It’s not an easy league to just walk right into. But the talent, the ability, the pedigree, being able to perform under pressure, all those things are there.”

What Eli Manning Had to Say: “I think as an asset I love the game of football. I am very passionate about it. I work hard and am dedicated to getting better by watching film and I try and consider myself a smart football player…(In comparison with my brother, Peyton,)

I think we’re pretty similar quarterbacks. We’re pocket quarterbacks, we’re not going to scramble around too much. We try to be very knowledgeable about the game, know your offense, know good plays, study defenses and try to be as prepared as possible. Know what to do the ball when you’re in the pocket, we don’t like to hold it too long. Try to know what you’re doing, get it to the guy, get in the athletes hand, get it to the receivers and running backs and let them make plays.”

2nd Round – OG Chris Snee (6-3, 315lbs, 5.07, Boston College)

Scouting Report:
Talk about getting back to controlling the line of scrimmage. Giants’ fans will love this guy. Snee is a junior entry who would have likely been a first round pick if he had stayed in school one more year. Snee played right and left guard for Boston College. He was a starter since his freshman year. Snee is big, powerful, and tough. Very strong. A leader. Very good run blocker who gets movement at the point-of-attack. Very aggressive, but he needs to finish his blocks better. Athletic, Snee can pull and engage linebackers at the second level. Solid pass protector who anchors well. He is aware in picking up the blitz. Snee is technically sound and plays with a mean streak. Can dominate. Competitive. Hard worker. Has Pro Bowl potential.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Chris Snee was the number one rated guard, and the number three offensive lineman, on our board. He was rated in the first round by our player personnel department. He was drafted as a good football player who has a chance to come in here and start…Chris Snee is by far the highest rated player at a need position; a critical position…He is just a tough, tough inside player with a very good athletic ability. He’s what we call an ‘I’ player, and an ‘I’ player has upside and a chance to really be good. He’s got that versatility of guard and center.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Chris Snee was listed toward the bottom of our first round, and was the top of the position board at his position. There were three players right there and they were all of outstanding value because of where they were coming from and in Chris Snee what we end up with is another player who was the highest rated at his position, who can play Center in a pinch, who is an outstanding football player, a physical football player, a guy that will probably play at 320 and be athletic and be able to pull and do those kinds of things. And fits a need for us, obviously we have some needs on the offensive line and we need to establish again some ability and some depth. This is a pick which allows us to do that.”

4th Round – LB Reggie Torbor (6-2, 255lbs, 4.66, University of Auburn)

Scouting Report: Tobor was an undersized defensive end in college, but he will be converted to linebacker by the Giants. For a linebacker, Torbor has great size (6-2, 255lbs) and athleticism (4.66 40-yard dash). Excellent intangibles – Tobor is intense and hustles all of the time. Quick and strong. Good pass rusher with a variety of moves. Can rush both inside and outside the offensive tackle. His senior season, he led Auburn in tackles for loss (14), sacks (9.5), and quarterback pressures (17). Has some experience dropping coverage but he will need a lot of technique work and reps in that department. Showed well at the NFL Combine in the linebacker drills.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Torbor, is listed on this as a defensive end, we drafted him as a linebacker. He played linebacker his first two years at Auburn, they put him down this year because he is such a good rusher. Until he adjusts to be a “sam” or a “will,” which either side he adjusts to. Right now he can line up as a pass rusher in a three point stance, because he can run and he’s got pretty good size, until he can adapt to being a linebacker again, he gives us that. So he is a real good prospect as an outside linebacker.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Reggie Torbor, who had 10 ½ sacks this year and has played with his hand on the ground. He was worked out as a linebacker. He is a guy who will give us that straight ahead speed for good special teams play, also I think good flexibility on third down is potentially a guy who can be used as an athlete in the mix to create pressure as well as drop in the path.”

5th Round – S Gibril Wilson (6-0, 195lbs, 4.50, University of Tennessee)

Scouting Report: Junior college transfer who earned a starting berth as soon as he arrived at Tennessee. Improving player with a big upside. Wilson has only ordinary size for a safety, but he has the frame to add more muscle. Wilson is an athlete who runs in the 4.45-4.50 area. Faster than most safeties – he has good range. Instinctive and aggressive against the run. Normally tackles well, but needs to breakdown on a more consistent basis. Big hitter. At this point, Wilson is better against the run than the pass. Like most safety prospects, he lacks ideal agility in pass coverage. Not overly instinctive against the pass and needs to work on his pass coverage technique and recognition skills. Excellent work ethic and character. Team leader.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Wilson, there were other safeties up there, but he was the fastest. And because of that, our big question with him is, “can he track the ball.” Because we can see him as a weak or strong safety. We were not looking for an “in the box,” “play close to the line of scrimmage” run defend only safety. That’s not what we were looking for. We were looking for someone that can do that but who also had the ability to play free safety and play centerfield. And because of his speed, we picked him. He also played “slot” corner for them, so he has that kind of athletic ability.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “I think that one thing, which is quite obvious, is that we gained – in a number of these picks on the second day – speed and special teams help. Wilson for example is a guy who has a legitimate 4.4 speed, a guy who has amassed a lot of tackles coming out of the safety position in the South East Conference, has excellent special teams ability. However you want to use him as a gunner, however you want to use him on coverage teams, I think that was a big factor.”

6th Round – WR Jamaar Taylor (6-1, 197lbs, 4.45, Texas A&M University)

Scouting Report: Taylor slipped in the draft because he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the middle of his senior year. Has made a faster-than-expected recovery to perform for scouts before the draft. Productive receiver with good size and good speed. Has a burst and can get deep, but he is not really a consistent deep threat. Fluid athlete with good body control. Quick and agile. Needs route-running refinement – crisper and sharper cuts. Decent, but not great hands. Tough runner after the catch. Needs a lot of technique work, but he has an upside.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Taylor was probably was probably the most intriguing pick for us, and the one that we sort of marked early on. I can’t predict what he was on other boards, but I feel pretty confident he was on other clubs boards where he was on ours, which was a high second round pick. He tore his ACL in October, which usually takes ten months to a year for a full recovery to be able to play. He worked out for us, and his agent told us that he would not change direction; he would just prove that he had a good repair, which he proved in our physicals in Indianapolis. He would just run for us at half speed, he actually ran a pretty good time; not as fast as he can but he also did “COD” (change of direction) work for us in our workouts. Ronnie (Barnes) feels that he had a great repair and it’s just a matter of waiting for him. He should be participating in training camp before we leave Albany. That’s someone we decided to pick who has a chance to be a much better than a sixth rounder. We were going to wait a little bit, but we started to get concerned when a couple of players in that category, injured players who were highly rated, starting to get picked by other clubs and then we decided we better pick him and not wait until the seventh round.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Jamaar Taylor is an outstanding receiver who was injured – as you know – this year. (He) had the ACL surgery in October and he actually worked out, which was real interesting, and ran a 40 time. At this stage in his recovery he was not supposed to do any maneuvering, but he did give us straight ahead speed which was a very acceptable speed for a lot of people who are healthy. I would be excited about his continued progress and to be honest with you, the value of this young man in terms of how he was evaluated prior to the injury is substantial. He is very well thought of. We are counting on a full recovery and I think that he will be a guy that can push people out of there from the standpoint of a wide receiver. He will be a deep threat and also can give us special teams help.”

7th Round – LT Drew Strojny (6-7, 325lbs, 5.36, Duke University)

Scouting Report: Left tackle. Starter since his freshman year. Huge prospect who actually needs to add more muscle and has the frame to get even bigger. Needs to get stronger. Despite his size, he is not a mauling run blocker. Works to sustain, but does not get a lot of movement. Good athlete for his size. Can engage linebackers at the second level. Good footwork in pass protection. Sets up quickly. Not real strong in his anchor. Needs better pass blocking technique. Improving, but needs to be more aggressive. Will play hurt. Intelligent – rarely misses assignments. A team leader who works hard. Has an upside and could develop if he gets stronger.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “The Duke tackle, Strojny is just a big athletic left tackle with very good feet. He needs to get up here and get stronger, and he is very, very smart as you can expect; considering where he went to school.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “The big tackle from Duke – Strojny – good feet, big man, obviously (in a) very competitive league; we watched him against all the top people in the league and he faired very well. We are excited to have a big guy at that point of the draft who does have good athleticism.”

7th Round – DE Isaac Hilton (6-3, 265lbs, 4.57, Hampton University)

Scouting Report: An undersized defensive end who may project to linebacker, but he has the frame to carry more muscle mass and could stay at defensive end. Very productive player. Excellent athlete with superb speed and good quickness. Plays relatively stout at the point-of-attack against the run, but needs to play with leverage more consistently. Penetrates. Disruptive. Sometimes gets fooled by misdirection. Needs to locate the ball better. Could be tougher. Good pass rusher with a fine combination of power and athleticism. Can rush outside or inside the tackle. Can blow by the offensive tackle. Closes on the quarterback well. Very raw and will need a ton of technique work, especially if he is moved to linebacker, but Hilton has a huge upside.

What Ernie Accorsi Had to Say: “Isaac Hilton is a speed pass rusher. He can really give us pressure. The guys we picked today were athletes, and that was really our objective.”

What Tom Coughlin Had to Say: “Issac Hilton has in my opinion nothing but upsides. He is a big man who has progressively gained in weight each year, good speed off the edge and can give us some pass rush ability as well.”

Rookie Free Agent Signings

QB Jared Lorenzen (6-3, 288lbs, 5.20, University of Kentucky): Offered a contract by the Giants, Titans, Bills, and Bengals. Absolutely huge quarterback. Known as the “Hefty Lefty” due to his girth and being left-handed. Strong arm and has decent touch. Good field vision. Not overly accurate. Not very good at reading defenses – forces too many passes into coverage. Comfortable on the move, but not real mobile. Tough to sack and a tough runner when scrambling due to his size. Obviously needs to lose weight. Needs to improve his work habits. Played better as a junior, but part of the regression may have been due to a new offense and injury problems his senior season. Interesting prospect.

HB Chris Douglas (6-0, 200lbs, 4.55, Duke University): Douglas ranks first in Duke history in both career rushing yards (3,122) and all-purpose yards (5,655). As a senior in 2004, he picked up 1,138 yards on the ground en route to earning First Team All-ACC honors. In addition, Douglas became just the third player in ACC history to rush for 500+ yards and catch 20+ passes in four consecutive seasons. Quick and elusive back who does very well as a receiver out of the backfield. Not an instinctive runner and lacks power between the tackles. Needs a lot of work on his blocking. Smart and hard-working.

HB Derrick Knight (5-9, 205lbs, 4.70, Boston College): Knight was originally signed by the Carolina Panthers as a rookie free agent after the 2004 NFL Draft. At Boston College, Knight became the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,725 yards. He averaged 5.3 yards a carry and scored 25 touchdowns. As a senior last year Knight led the Big East in rushing with 1,721 yards, an average of 132.4 yards a game. He also set a school record with 321 rushing attempts. The Panthers waived him in June and the Houston Texans claimed him off of waivers. The Texans then waived him in late July. Knight lacks size (5-9, 205lbs), but he is stocky and runs with a low center of gravity. Shifty and patient; reads blocks well. Runs with good pad level. Tough runner who breaks some tackles, but not very powerful. So-so receiver. Good at picking up the blitz.

HB Jermaine Green (5-10, 221lbs, 4.60, Washington State University): Big halfback who runs better between the tackles than outside. Runs with good pad level and is tough to tackle. Not very elusive, fast, or quick. Good receiver out of the backfield.

HB Keylon Kincade (5-11, 204lbs, 4.80, SMU): Extremely productive player on a terrible football team. Rushed for 1,280 yards as a senior and 1,279 yards as a junior. Lacks ideal size and speed, but plays bigger and faster than his measurables. Tough and durable. Has good vision. Instinctive. Runs with good pad level and body lean. Cuts back well and gains yards after contact. Powerful for his size. An between-the-tackles runner who struggles running to the outside. Does not catch the ball very well. Could develop into a solid, situational player as a short-yardage back.

FB Edgar Cervantes (6-1, 250lbs, 5.00, University of Iowa): Former linebacker who was switched to fullback in 2001. Still learning the position. Looks the part. Has excellent size. Very good blocker. Can catch the football. Decent short-yardage runner. Good special teams player. Has good intangibles – a competitor with a strong work ethic. Plays with a fiery attitude. Has an upside, but may take some time to develop.

WR Chris Davis (6-0, 182lbs, Southern University): Davis led the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2003 in receptions (56) and receiving yards (897). He scored eight touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for 27 yards.

WR Andrae Thurman (5-11, 192lbs, 4.51, Southern Oregon University): Thurman caught 55 passes for 845 yards and 4 touchdowns his senior season after transferring from the University of Arizona (lost academic eligibility). Also returned 8 punts for 105 yards and 15 kicks for 330 yards and a touchdown. Thurman has average size and good speed. Quick. Runs good routes and sets up defenders well. Accelerates well out of his cuts. Has good hands. Runs well after the catch. Needs to work on his blocking. Played well at the Blue-Gray Game and Hula Bowl.

TE Beau Fullerton (6-2, 247lbs, 4.68, Tennessee Tech University): Teams interested in signing him included the Giants, Jets, and Eagles. Caught 17 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns as a junior and 12 passes for 205 yards as a senior. Receiving-type tight end who lacks ideal size. Run well. Has good hands. Better athlete than player at this point. More of an H-Back, position-type blocker. Not strong blocking at the point-of-attack as an in-line blocker. Very raw.

OT/OG Greg Walker (6-5, 341lbs, 5.50, Clemson University): Walker started 26 consecutive games at Clemson, playing right tackle in 2003 and right guard as a junior in 2002. Last year, he was voted second-team All-ACC by the Associated Press. He was a reserve in each of his first two seasons after redshirting in 1999. Walker was not drafted this year and signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions on April 30. The Lions released him on May 6 and the Giants signed him in early June.

DE Khaleed Vaughn (6-4, 276lbs, 5.01, Clemson University): Three-year starter with very good size for a defensive end. Credited with 50 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 17 quarterback pressures as a senior, and 3 pass breakups as a senior. Has long arms. Good intangibles – smart, tough, and hard-working. A leader. Inconsistent motor. Not that athletic – not very quick or fast. Does not stand out as a run defender or pass rusher.

SLB Jim Maxwell (6-4, 242lbs, 4.55, Gardner-Webb University): Small school prospect with excellent size and speed. Maxwell was highly sought after by NFL teams after the draft. He received contract offers from the Giants, Lions, Falcons, Redskins, Seahawks, Titants, Ravens, Dolphins, Jets, and Eagles. Maxwell had his best year as a senior, registering 116 total tackles (70 solo), 15 tackles for loss, 10 pass break-ups, 16 quarterback pressures, and three forced fumbles. He was named first-team “All-Big South” and was also selected Division I-AA first-team All-East Region by The Football Gazette.

MLB Lewis Moore (6-1, 247lbs, 4.80, University of Pittsburgh): Has experience at both strongside and middle linebacker. Started at middle linebacker his senior season and registered 137 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and 1 interception. Good intangibles – tough, competitive, and instinctive. Solid character and plays hard. Good run defender who plays well at the point-of-attack. Sheds blockers well. Has good lateral quickness and is a good tackler. Lacks ideal athleticism, which hurts him in pass coverage. Not overly agile or quick. Stiff in the hips and lacks ideal range. Plays better in close quarters than he does in space.

MLB Robert Peace (6-2, 237lbs, 4.60, University of Tennessee): Peace’s development has been slowed by a broken foot suffered in 2002. Good run defender. He has good size and speed for a linebacker, but he needs a lot of technique work – especially in coverage. Peace started all 13 games as a senior and was named second-team All-SEC after posting a career-high 103 tackles (72 solo), two sacks and 12 tackles for losses. His career totals were 162 tackles (110 solo), three sacks and 19 tackles for losses.

WLB T.J. Hollowell (6-0, 235lbs, 4.55, University of Nebraska): Lacks ideal height, but he is an athlete who has good speed and range. Can get engulfed at the point-of-attack by big blockers. Makes plays in space and can cover backs. Good tackler. Good intangibles – good motor and work ethic. Has special teams experience. Has been somewhat injury-prone with numerous ankle and shoulder injuries.

WLB Levi Madarieta (6-3, 241lbs, 4.80, BYU): Madarieta began his career at the University of Washington before transferring to BYU, where he played for three seasons. In 32 games, he had 117 tackles (61 solo), two sacks, and five interceptions.

CB Dewitt Ellerbe (6-0, 190lbs, South Carolina State University): Ellerbe was a fourth-year starter at South Carolina State. As a senior he had 50 tackles (37 solo) and two interceptions for 78 yards. Ellerbee also blocked a field goal attempt and a punt.

CB Charles Jones (5-10, 182lbs, 4.50, University of Alabama): Jones started every game for Alabama the last two seasons. As a senior, he had a career-high 91 tackles, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Jones had 15 tackles against Tennessee.

CB/S Jamaine Winborne (5-10, 204lbs, 4.55, University of Virginia): Winborne started the final 27 games of his career and 33 overall for the Cavaliers, finishing with 168 tackles (127 solo), five interceptions, 12 tackles for losses, and two sacks. As a senior in 2003, he was an honorable mention All-ACC selection after starting seven games at cornerback and six at safety. Winborne had a career-high 69 tackles (51 solo), two interceptions, eight tackles for losses, and two sacks.

CB/FS/Punt Returner Curtis DeLoatch (6-2, 217lbs, 4.48, North Carolina A&T University): Has experience at both cornerback and free safety, but most likely projects to safety at the pro level. Excellent size and athletic ability. Lacks quickness and agility to play corner. Not very instinctive in coverage. Not a good tackler or hitter in run support. Needs to become tougher and more physical. Excellent punt returner with some experience returning kick-offs. Returned five punts for touchdowns in 2001. In 2003, he returned 28 punts for 269 yards (9.6 yard average).

P Mark Gould (6-2, 214lbs, Northern Arizona University): Gould received offers from the Giants and Dolphins. Gould averaged 44.8 yards a punt in his career, the best mark in Division 1-AA history. His 48.2-yard average as a junior in 2002 was also a division record. In the last two years, 71 of Gould’s 123 kickoffs (57.7 percent) were touchbacks.

Eric’s Take on the 2004 Draft

As always occurs when a pro sports team makes a dramatic decision such as when the Giants spent two 1st rounders on QB Eli Manning, controversy ensues. Most “experts” and fans contend the Giants paid too step a price for Manning. But before we get into all of that, I do have one serious bone of contention to pick. This issue has dominated sports talk for days, yet no one seems to focusing at all on the fact that the Ravens gave up a future 1st rounder for QB Kyle Boller and the Bills gave up a future 1st rounder on QB J.P. Losman. And yet those two quarterbacks are far less-talented prospects than Manning. Does this make sense to anyone? I guess the media just loves to bash the Giants.

This was a risky trade for the Giants. They gave up two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder, and a 5th rounder for Manning – that’s four picks right there. Plus, the Giants had a deal in place with Cleveland where they could have traded down to the seventh spot and picked up another 2nd rounder. That’s five picks, including two 1st rounders and a 2nd rounder.

With the seventh pick in the 1st round, the Giants would have drafted QB Ben Roethlisberger. The big question is this: will Manning be a dramatically better quarterback in the NFL than Roethlisberger? Only time will tell. If they are comparable, then the Giants obviously made a big mistake. If Manning turns out to be an elite quarterback, the Giants made the right move.

Some fans argue that the Giants could have picked Rivers at the seventh spot, made the same deal with the Chargers, and had that extra 2nd rounder. However, the problem with that scenario is that each team is allocated a rookie salary cap based on where their picks fall, especially in the 1st round. If the Giants took Rivers at the seventh spot and then traded him to the Chargers, the Giants would have been forced to try to sign Eli with the money a player picked at the seventh spot receives. General Manager Ernie Accorsi also said he did not want to take a risk that another team would make a deal with the Chargers before the seventh pick. Accorsi felt that whoever drafted Rivers was going to have the most important playing card in obtaining Manning because it was Rivers who the Chargers wanted most of all and everyone knew that. There was a fear on Accorsi’s part that Cleveland would use the #4 pick to obtain Manning themselves. Now you can argue about the latter point, but the former one regarding the economics of the selection process are pretty much set in stone.

Who blinked first on this trade? In addition to swapping the 1st round picks, the Giants offered the 3rd rounder in 2004, the 2nd rounder in 2005, and a player. The Chargers asked for the 2nd and 3rd rounders in 2004 plus DE Osi Umenyiora, who was a 2nd rounder in 2003. The Giants managed to hold onto the 2004 2nd rounder and Umenyiora, but they threw in the 1st and 5th rounders in 2005.

Confused? In effect, the Giants could have given San Diego the 2nd rounder in this draft plus Umenyiora instead of the 1st and 5th rounders in 2005. Obviously, the Giants felt the 2nd rounder in this draft was an extremely valuable commodity. And they certainly did not want to part with Umenyiora. But losing the 1st rounder was a steep price to pay.

Was it still too much? Should Accorsi have held his ground and insisted the 2nd rounder but not the 1st rounder in 2005 be included? Would the deal have fallen apart or were the Chargers bluffing? How good will Manning really be? I can’t answer those questions.

But one thing is 100 percent clear. This was not just an Accorsi pick. It is readily apparent that Tom Coughlin was as enamored with Manning as Accorsi, if not more so. All you have to do is listen to Coughlin talk about Manning. It also says a lot about what Coughlin felt about QB Kerry Collins. If you blast Accorsi for this trade, you have to blast Coughlin as well. Coughlin signed off on the cost of trading up and felt that it was worth it.

Now let’s get to Manning the prospect. I am going to let you in on a little secret. While some scouts think he won’t be quite as good as his brother Peyton, there are some that actually think he will be better. The two quarterbacks are practically clones of each other. Eli has a little stronger arm and is more willing to take chances and throw the football down the field. Eli has good tools, but like his brother, it is his head that really sets him apart. He doesn’t get flustered. Pre-snap, he reads defenses well and will make the correct audibles. And Eli sees the whole field. These attributes allow him and his team to beat the blitz or whatever else the defensive coordinator may throw in his direction. Obviously, college defenses are not NFL defenses, but these cerebral skills should translate to the NFL.

It will be fun to watch Head Coach Tom Coughlin, Offensive Coordinator John Hufnagel (a former quarterbacks coach), and Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Gilbride develop Manning. He will have very good teachers. The big unknown is how well will Eli deal with the pressure of being a high-priced quarterback in New York City? Will he just be good, or will he be an elite quarterback? How soon will he be able to produce at a high level? Should the Giants get him onto the field immediately, or should they groom him a bit from the bench? Stay tuned.

Let’s move on to the rest of the draft.

Another issue that is pissing me off with the media is the assertion that the Giants’ offensive line is still in a state of chaos. Nothing irritates me more than the statement that Luke Petitgout is best suited for right tackle. The fact is that Luke Petitgout played his best season in the pros in 2002 as a left tackle. Last year, he struggled with a back injury that eventually cost him most of the season. He’s back now. The other top offensive lineman on the Giants, Rich Seubert, is ahead of schedule on his rehab. If both of these guys stay healthy, the left side of the Giants’ offensive line is a real strength. I have been told that the new coaches love David Diehl as much as the old coaches. Plus, both coaching staffs seem to think that his final destination may be right tackle. That will be determined in camp. The Giants added Shaun O’Hara at center and Barry Stokes as a tackle/guard swingman. O’Hara was displaced in Cleveland by a #1 draft pick. Stokes was forced to play left tackle for the Browns in 2003, but proved in earlier seasons that he is a decent guard. He also can play right tackle. Depth? Wayne Lucier looks like a player at center/guard and the Giants added another veteran in Ed Ellis at tackle.

Then there is Chris Snee. When talking about Manning, those looking at the draft say the Giants ignored the offensive line. What?!? I had Snee as the third best offensive lineman in the entire draft behind Robert Gallery and Vernon Carey. He is a big, tough, powerful guard in the Alan Faneca mold. He has Pro Bowl potential. “This guy is a darn good player,” said a general manager from another team. “In a lot of years, he would have been taken in the first round. He’s a bargain where they got him.” So to say that the Giants ignore the offensive line is beyond incompetence. Last year’s starting offensive included Ian Allen, Jeff Roehl, Wayne Lucier, David Diehl, and Chris Bober. This year’s offensive line will likely be Luke Petitgout, Rich Seubert (or Stokes), Shaun O’Hara, Chris Snee (or Stokes), and David Diehl (or Stokes or some yet-to-be signed veteran). See the difference? Morons!

(On a side note, the other player the Giants were very interested in drafting in the 2nd round was LB Carlos Dansby. Both Accorsi and Coughlin said as much in recent radio interviews. I am glad they took Snee because I personally consider him the far superior player. Dansby isn’t physical enough in my opinion.)

The Giants also added LT Drew Strojny in the seventh round. He’s a project. He needs a ton of work in the weight room and he has to become more aggressive on the field. But he is huge and he has good feet for the position. It will be a matter of time and attitude for him, but keep in mind, he’s a 7th rounder.

The other offensive player (four of the seven picks were on offense) is WR Jamaar Taylor, a guy who the Giants had rated as a second rounder before he tore his ACL in October. The ACL is apparently healing very nicely and Taylor is already running (as evidenced by his sub-4.5 40-yard dash time recently). Another NFC general manager told Jay Glazer the following about Taylor, “He has a knee injury that will probably make him iffy for camp, but he has a heck of an upside. We had him rated as a second-round talent. They may have to sit on him for a year, but that was a great value at that spot. Based just on talent, he’s a terrific prospect.”

Some have asked why another wide receiver? Because the Giants have Amani Toomer and a bunch of question marks. Ike Hilliard and Tim Carter can’t stay healthy. And no one really knows all that much about Willie Ponder or David Tyree.

Let’s look at the three defensive guys. I’m kicking myself because I came very close to putting LB Reggie Torbor on my draft preview. Each year, I look at the defensive ends who I think may project to linebacker. I had Torbor circled, but for some reason I didn’t put him in my write-up. Contrary to what most are saying, I don’t think the Giants see Torbor as strictly a 3-4 situational linebacker. I am pretty darn sure they see him as an eventual starter at linebacker in a 4-3 defense. He probably will replace Carlos Emmons or Barrett Green one day. Torbor is huge, physical, athletic, and he can rush the passer. The big question for him is how well will he be able to play in reverse when dropping into pass coverage? The good news is that he did very well in the linebacker agility drills at the NFL Combine. Accorsi said that one of the teams that called the Giants trying to trade up for their 4th round pick were trying to do so in order to take Torbor. The Ravens said Torbor was the highest rated player on their board after the first day.

Safety Gibril Wilson is the guy I really have the least amount of info on. And I am always misjudging safeties. Heck, I thought Adrian White and Greg Lasker were terrific picks. The Giants seem to like Wilson because he is physical and he can run. Most draft reports say he is a good run defender, but that he struggles a bit in coverage despite his athleticism. The Giants themselves haven’t really said yet whether they will first work him out at free or strong safety.

The only reason DE Isaac Hilton fell until late in the 7th round was off-the-field concerns. In terms of talent, some teams had him rated as a third or fourth rounder. He was the fastest defensive end in the draft and shows a lot of pass rush potential. If he can keep his screwed on straight, the Giants really got a steal because Hilton has tremendous ability.

So to summarize, I really like most of the selections. Manning was clearly the best quarterback in the draft and I feel strongly that Snee was the best guard in the draft. Torbor has the size, attitude, and production you look for in a linebacker and the agility drills seem to suggest he could handle the transition. Taylor and Hilton fell farther than they should have and were very good value picks. Strojny is a good gamble for a 7th rounder. Wilson is the guy who I am most unsure of. My biggest concern? Giving up that #1 pick in 2005. What if the Giants, as most people expect, finish last in the NFC East next year? That pick could be a very high selection.

Final point on Manning: I am sick to death of the national media, non-Giant players on the NFL Network, and non-Giant fans knocking the Giants for this pick. The competitive side in me wants nothing more than for Manning and the rest of the Giants to beat up on the rest of the league this Fall and rub their faces in it. I am ready to start football right now. And I’m angry about it.

As for the rookie free agents, it is interest to note that the Giants signed five linebackers and no offensive linemen. Competition for the back-up spots at linebacker is going to be fierce. Both middle linebackers are interesting prospects and Jim Maxwell was pursued by 10 NFL teams after the draft. Edgar Cervantes will compete with Jim Finn for the fullback position and Jared Lorenzen has a real shot to be the #3 quarterback. WR Andrae Thurman has talent and one of the two halfbacks could bump someone off of the roster. Chris Jones is a direct threat to Delvin Joyce and Jermaine Greene is a tough inside runner. Punter Mark Gould has an NFL-caliber leg and has experience kicking off.