Thursday, May 8, 2014
Giants drafted for love, not need or value
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jerry Reese is a scout, and not afraid to admit it. The New York Giants GM has a scouting background, and even in the era of advanced analytics he remains an unabashed fan of the profession's role in NFL roster-building. Last week, Reese called the draft "game day for the scouts" and said it's "fun to see them rewarded with players they feel like are good players."
A fine sentiment. Scouts work extremely long, hard hours, live on the road away from their families and should be rewarded. But when you're the GM, charged with the dispersal of your franchise's most precious resources, it has to be about more than rewarding the scouts.
It was clear after the Giants picked Odell Beckham Jr. with the No. 12 pick in the draft Thursday night, that they had fallen in love. They loved their interview with him at the combine. They loved his speed. They loved that he can return kicks and punts.
Odell Beckham Jr. caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards and 8 touchdowns last season for LSU.
"You're getting a guy who can score touchdowns in three different ways for you," Reese raved. "No way we were going to pass him up."
The Giants never lack conviction. The issue is whether this is the right way to handle the draft, and specifically a pick as high as No. 12. If you're going to lock in on one player you love, and there's "no way" you're going to pass him up, then you're not really maximizing the value of your resource.
If your draft strategy is to scout players and pick the one you love the best, then your entire draft rests on the development of that player into a great one. If you miss, it's a total miss, with nothing to mitigate it. This is the problem with the Giants' recent drafts -- not just that they've consistently missed in the third round and later (and a few critical times in the second), but that they haven't done enough to protect themselves against poor evaluation. They almost never maneuver to amass more picks and play the percentages. They lock in on a guy they and their scouts like and they take him, believing he'll be great, totally hanging themselves out to dry if he's not.
So Beckham may well become a transcendent, No. 1-type wide receiver, worthy of the No. 12 pick. But the way the board went, they could have gotten him or a comparable player later. The draft is deep with wide receivers, and only one more was taken in the 15 picks that followed theirs.
The Giants would tell you they didn't think there were comparable players, that this was their guy and they're sold on him. And it's perfectly understandable that a scout who loves scouts and scouting would choose to run his draft that way. It's just not the best way to maximize the value of your draft picks. When you fall in love with a player, you take on too much risk. You need to be right, or you're left with nothing.