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New York Giants 2011 NFL Draft Review - Scott Wright

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New York Giants 2011 NFL Draft Review - Scott Wright

Post  Big_Pete on Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:20 am

July 25, 2011
New York Giants 2011 NFL Draft Review
Scott Wright
President, Draft Countdown

As a perennial contender with a well-stocked depth chart, the Giants are one of the few organizations fortunate enough to be able to keep one eye on the future. New York once again took advantage of that luxury in the 2011 NFL Draft, loading up on prospects with the intention of bringing them along slowly. That’s not to say this class lacks for talent though. In fact, while many of their new additions would be competing for starting jobs as rookies with most teams their greatest contributions in New York may be one, two or even three years away. Will good things come to those who wait?

The Giants weren’t planning on selecting a cornerback in round one but when Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara inexplicably fell into their laps it forced a change in strategy. Considered to be one of the 2011 NFL Draft’s top senior prospects throughout the entire process, Amukamara possesses the prototypical physical tools and top-notch intangibles that you look for in a stud cover guy. In fact, nobody would have batted an eye if Amukamara had come off the board as early as #7 overall to San Francisco and it was nearly impossible to envision a scenario in which he got past corner-needy teams such as Houston (#11) and Detroit (#13). Anything can happen on Draft Day though… For one reason or another Amukamara slipped all the way to #19 and the Giants were more than happy to take advantage of the situation. New York now has arguably the deepest group of corners in the league, with as many as four starting-caliber talents. However, they lack a true shutdown type and in time Amukamara has the potential to be that guy. In the meantime Amukamara will be worked in slowly, competing with Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross for snaps. Don’t be surprised if Amukamara is starting opposite Corey Webster sooner rather than later though.

Despite spending big on free agents Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard in recent years and also investing a second round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on Linval Joseph the Giants had a hole to fill at defensive tackle since Barry Cofield was expected to depart via the open market. Few prospects saw their stock fluctuate as much as North Carolina DT Marvin Austin. A highly-touted recruit coming out of high school, Austin was considered to be an underachiever throughout much of his college career but was still regarded as a potential first round pick heading into his senior campaign. Unfortunately Austin didn’t play at all last year after being suspended for violating NCAA rules against accepting extra benefits from agents. It appeared as though that layoff, along with maturity issues, would lead to a precipitous drop on draft boards. However, Austin did an excellent job of rehabilitating his stock with a dominant performance at the East / West Shrine Game and impressive showings in workouts. By the time Draft Day rolled around there were many who felt Austin was going to sneak into the first round. As it turns out there were still enough concerns around the league to push Austin down about a round further than expected. A classic Boom or Bust prospect, Austin could turn out to be a steal if he keeps his head on straight and plays up to his talent level but whether or not that will ever happen remains to be seen. Austin will likely begin his pro career operating in a backup capacity, competing for snaps with the aforementioned Canty, Joseph and Bernard, but he profiles as an eventual starter. In round three New York added some depth at wideout when they chose Troy’s Jerrel Jernigan, although his greatest contributions will likely come on special teams. In fact, Jernigan’s ability to be a dynamic return man likely played a bigger role in the Giants selecting him than his pass catching prowess. Jernigan is shorter than you’d prefer but he is compactly built and a terror in space due to his athleticism, elusiveness and vision. Jernigan doesn’t profile as anything more than a backup / slot receiver in the pros but he will give the Giants return games the shot in the arm they so desperately needed.

The Giants landed their future left tackle William Beatty in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft and this year they may have found an heir apparent at right tackle in round four. Indiana’s James Brewer is a massive physical specimen but the former high school basketball star is also a better athlete than you’d expect. Brewer is still raw and too inconsistent but with proper development he could be a perfect replacement for the aging Kareem McKenzie in a year or two. In round six the Giants addressed their need at linebacker with Greg Jones of Michigan St. An extraordinarily productive veteran of the Big Ten wars, Jones was never the top pro prospect that his college press clippings might have led some to believe and a disappointing senior season didn’t do his draft stock any favors. With that said, the middle linebacker position has been a problem area in New York for years and neither Jonathan Goff nor Phillip Dillard has solidified themselves as a top-end starter. If everything breaks just right Jones could compete for major minutes as a rookie but he should at the very least be a quality backup and special teamer.

The Giants actually had three picks in round six and they used the second on Iowa S Tyler Sash. The next in a recent string of top Hawkeye safeties, Sash will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Bob Sanders, Charles Godfrey and Amari Spievey but Sean Considine is probably a more apt comparison. The type who does everything well but nothing great, Sash projects as a backup in the pros and will replenish the depth the G-Men lost when last year’s third round pick Chad Jones suffered what will likely be career-ending injuries in an automobile accident. The last of those three sixth rounders was spent on South Florida OLB Jacquain Williams. An undersized but very fast and athletic ‘backer, Williams will compete for the backup job on the weakside. With their final selection the Giants are hoping they found the next Ahmad Bradshaw in Maryland RB Da’Rel Scott. An underachiever with good size and terrific speed, Scott was a seventh round pick just like Bradshaw. Scott will compete for a roster spot as the third or fourth running back but he definitely has the talent to be much more if given the opportunity.

Unlike most teams the Giants didn’t have many glaring weaknesses to address, which is a testament to their scouting prowess, and thus their class must be judged through a different prism. When it comes to immediate impact this class may be a bit lacking. While almost all of their draftees will see plenty of action as rookies none of them have an obvious path to the starting lineup in 2011. However, in a few years Amukamara, Austin and Brewer may be starting at pivotal positions while Jernigan, Jones, Sash, Williams and Scott could all be contributing as valuable backups. On Draft Day the Giants are always looking two steps ahead and one must take that same approach when evaluating their efforts. Other teams may get more bang for their buck initially, but in the long run this latest Giants class has a chance to be as good as any in the league.

GRADE: B+
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Big_Pete
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