New York Giants: 2014 NFL draft

Mel Kiper Jr.'s initial grades for the 2014 NFL draft are up, and he gives the New York Giants a "B." Mel gave eight teams a B-plus or better (three B-pluses, three A-minuses and two As) and eight teams other than the Giants a B, so it's a middle-of-the-road grade for what I would consider a middle-of-the-road draft.

Mel likes the second-round pick of center Weston Richburg the best, and I agree with him. He thinks first-rounder Odell Beckham Jr. "has a chance to be a really dynamic NFL player," which he'd better be, or else this draft will be graded quite poorly in years to come. And he thinks third-rounder Jay Bromley was a reach, which even Bromley thought he was.

But as we discussed throughout Friday and Saturday, after the first round, the Giants weren't trying to do anything very interesting here. They were looking in the middle and late rounds for safe, comfortable players about whose character and makeup they felt very good. They're tired of taking chances on projects and injury bargains that don't work out. And the state of their roster requires them to try and find players who can make at least some contribution right away -- whose NFL learning curve might be on the quicker side.

So the Giants' draft is loaded up with team captains who got good grades and who aren't going to need a lot of hand-holding in order to figure out what's being said in the meeting rooms and apply it on the field. The questions about the players the Giants drafted this year are questions of ceiling -- i.e. how good they can eventually be. We're not going to know that for a while, but it doesn't seem as though that was a major driving force behind any of these picks after the first or maybe the second round.

New York Giants draft wrap-up

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NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A wrap-up of the New York Giants' draft. Click here for a full list of Giants draftees.

[+] EnlargeWeston Richburg
AP Photo/G.M. AndrewsWeston Richburg, a center out of Colorado State, should be in a good position to compete for the Giants' starting job this season.
Best move: The Giants addressed an immediate and long-term need with the selection of Colorado State center Weston Richburg with the 11th pick of the second round. Richburg played multiple positions and in a variety of different offensive schemes in college, and his versatility, athleticism and intelligence make him a strong fit for the center spot in the Giants' new Ben McAdoo offense. I don't see any reason he can't beat out J.D. Walton for the job right away, and having a center who can handle a variety of responsibilities before the snap and after it should help the offensive line play on either side of him. Richburg's play can also offer the Giants a number of ways to jump-start a running game that never got going in 2013.

Riskiest move: The selection of LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with the 12th pick of the draft isn't "risky" in the traditional sense -- meaning, I don't think he's a threat to be a bust. I think Beckham is likely to be a very good player for the Giants. But passing on offensive lineman Zack Martin for a potential game-breaking receiver was a risky move. The Giants have let the offensive line decay too much in recent years, and Beckham's ability to separate from defenders isn't going to help them much if the line can't get the play blocked and Eli Manning doesn't have time to get him the ball. The Richburg selection mitigates things somewhat, but adding a first-round talent to the offensive line mix was the best move the Giants could have made in this draft, and they chose not to make it. There's a decent chance that will come back to bite them.

Most surprising move: It was surprising that Boston College running back Andre Williams was still available for the Giants in the fourth round, but it's not surprising they took him. He'll fill a role right away as a power back who can fight for tough yards in the middle of the line -- doing the dirty work while Rashad Jennings and maybe David Wilson get the highlight-reel work. The biggest surprise was the selection of Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley in the third round, with the No. 74 pick. This was a clear reach for a player who mainly had fifth- and sixth-round grades. And, although the Giants cited his 10 sacks from an interior line position in his senior season and the fact he was a team captain as support for the pick, even Bromley said he was shocked to be picked on the draft's second day.

File it away: San Diego State safety Nat Berhe was the Giants' pick in the fifth round, at No. 152. It's the second year in a row they took a safety with the No. 152 pick (Cooper Taylor in 2013). Berhe was also a reach but also a team captain/leader type, like almost everyone they picked. Scouting director Marc Ross said the Giants can envision Berhe as a hybrid safety in what Ross called a "Deon Grant role" in the defense. He wasn't necessarily talking about this year, but if Berhe develops, he could have a path to playing time. Taylor is the only Giants safety under contract beyond 2014 at this point. Antrel Rolle is in his final year; Stevie Brown is coming off ACL surgery; and Will Hill is facing a third drug suspension in as many years.
The pick: Bennett Jackson, cornerback, Notre Dame

My take: Jackson was, of course, a team captain at Notre Dame -- another piece of the Giants' character-driven plan for this year's draft. He's a relatively tall cornerback at 6-foot-1, but he doesn't have a lot of speed and likely doesn't project as a starter at the position in the NFL.

If it weren't already clear Friday night, it's obviously clear by now that the Giants were willing to take less-talented guys if they fit the makeup and character profile they wanted. The Giants knew they couldn't afford any "busts" in this year's draft and that they took too many "project" guys in recent years that haven't panned out. It's unlikely that any of their Day 3 picks will develop into stars. But it's reasonable to expect that they'll at least be useful, if only on special teams -- an area that has eroded significantly on their roster in recent years. Jackson lists as a cornerback, but he's unlikely to play that, especially early in his career.

Local ties: Jackson is a local kid, a native of Hazlet, N.J. and a graduate of Raritan High School.

What's next: Nothing. The Giants are out of picks. They traded their seventh-round pick for Jon Beason during the 2013 season. The rookies will now make travel arrangements to get here as soon as possible and join the veterans for workouts here in East Rutherford, N.J. next week.
video The pick: Devon Kennard, outside linebacker, USC

My take: The guy is a bit of a tweener pass-rusher who played outside linebacker in a 3-4 in college, but guess what? Yeah, that's right. He was a team captain at USC. (Time to link back to this from last night).

Todd McShay gave Kennard a seventh-round grade, and our ESPN scouts rated him the No. 16 outside linebacker in the draft. But as we discussed earlier with the Giants' first fifth-rounder, Nat Berhe, what they're looking for here are hard-working smart guys who can contribute right away on special teams and maybe develop into more useful players than that down the road. Everyone being taken Saturday is a developmental player, and the Giants are looking for guys whose makeup leads them to believe they can develop relatively quickly.

His father, Derek Kennard, played 11 seasons and started 122 games in the NFL as an offensive lineman for the Cardinals, Saints and Cowboys from 1986-96.

Injury concerns?: Kennard wasn't overly healthy in college. He had hip and thumb surgeries following the 2010 season and tore a pectoral muscle prior to the 2012 season.

What's next: Unless they trade it back to add more picks, the Giants have one pick left in this year's draft. It is the 11th pick of the sixth round, No. 187 overall. They traded their seventh-round pick for Jon Beason during the 2013 season.

Giants pick Nat Berhe in 5th

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The pick: Nat Berhe, safety, San Diego State

My take: Another senior. Another team captain. Another strong statistical performer, with 94 tackles as a junior and 99 as a senior. This is the fifth round, so it's rare to find a starter here, and the Giants' recent draft history hasn't exactly turned up many gems in this range. But if what you're looking for here is roster depth that helps bolster your special teams while you work to develop a guy into something more, you could do worse than a guy like this one. He also happens to play a position at which 2013 fifth-rounder Cooper Taylor (who was also the No. 152 overall pick) is the only player under contract with the Giants beyond 2014.

Impress your friends: His full name is Natneal Berhe, and his last name is pronounced "burr-HEY." I don't have a lot else to tell you. Todd McShay had a late sixth-round grade on him prior to the draft.

What's next: The Giants have another pick coming up in the fifth round -- No. 174 overall, a compensatory selection three picks from the round's end -- and then the 11th pick of the sixth round (No. 187 overall). They have no seventh-round pick unless they trade that No. 187 back and pick one up.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The pick: Andre Williams, running back, Boston College

My take: Not a surprise. The New York Giants crave depth at running back and love guys who (a) perform at a high level statistically in college and (b) went to Boston College. Williams led the NCAA with 2,177 rushing yards on 355 carries in 2013 and was one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy. He's a big, downhill power back who doesn't catch the ball out of the backfield, and if he makes a contribution this year, it's likely to be as a short-yardage guy or maybe at the goal line.

The Giants signed Rashad Jennings and Peyton Hillis in free agency and expect to have 2012 first-round pick David Wilson back from neck surgery to go with 2013 seventh-rounder Michael Cox. But they can't count on Wilson, and even if they could, he and Jennings are guys they'd like to use in space. Williams gives them a guy they can use to soften up the middle -- assuming he's ready to play right away.

Nothing not to like about the kid or the pick. This is a fourth-round pick, and obviously the Giants are leaning toward solid guys they believe have shown an ability to handle a lot of responsibility and perform at a high level prior to entering the pros.

Alma mater: The addition of Williams gives the Giants four former Boston College players. He joins 2004 second-rounder Chris Snee, 2006 first-rounder Mathias Kiwanuka and undrafted Mark Herzlich as BC alumni. Which is good, because it was starting to feel as though they preferred Syracuse or LSU all of a sudden. Balance is key.

What's next: The Giants have two picks in the fifth round -- Nos. 152 and 174 overall -- and a pick in the sixth (No. 187 overall). They traded their seventh-rounder for Jon Beason during the 2013 season.

Giants Saturday draft reset

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An hour from now, the fourth round of the NFL draft will begin. The draft will conclude sometime this afternoon or evening once through seven rounds. The New York Giants have the following four picks remaining, barring any trades today that change the number:
  • Fourth round, No. 13 (113 overall)
  • Fifth round, No. 12 (152 overall)
  • Fifth round, No. 34 (174 overall)
  • Sixth round, No. 11 (187 overall)

The Giants do not have a seventh-round pick, because they traded it to the Carolina Panthers for Jon Beason during the 2013 season. Their extra fifth-rounder is a compensatory selection that resulted from free-agent activity during the 2012 offseason. Compensatory picks cannot be traded.

Obviously, there's no way to predict with any accuracy who the Giants will take with any of these picks (though you are welcome to go through the list of best remaining available players and find the ones who were team captains in college). But here are some thoughts on positions the Giants may or may not address on the final day:

Safety. Antrel Rolle is entering the final year of his deal, Stevie Brown is coming back from ACL surgery and Will Hill is facing a third drug suspension in as many years. Cooper Taylor is the only safety they have locked up beyond 2014 right now. Minnesota's Brock Vereen and LSU's Craig Loston are the two highest-rated available safeties right now according to our scouts.

Running back. They always seem to take one somewhere, and they don't believe they can have enough depth at running back. Florida State's Devonta Freeman and Boston College's Andre Williams are the top two left on this board.

Pass rusher. Seems weird they haven't taken one (though they'd happily tell you that third-rounder Jay Bromley got 10 sacks from the defensive tackle position last year at Syracuse), but this isn't a great draft for pass-rushers. Not too many inspiring names left on this list or this list.

Tight end. I don't see it. If they really felt they needed a tight end, they'd have taken one already. At this point, why take a fourth-round tight end when you already have one of those, in Adrien Robinson, who's been in your building for a couple of years already and you want to see what he's got? But if you really want the list, here. Fresno State's Marcel Jensen and Oregon's Colt Lyerla are the top names left on it.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The fast and furious action in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft Friday night didn't leave us much time to delve into the New York Giants' second-round pick, but Weston Richburg is worth some Saturday morning delving. So let's delve, shall we?

Richburg was the 43rd pick in this year's draft, and there is little doubt he'll be expected to compete for (and likely win) the starting center's job this spring and summer. His top competition right now is free-agent addition J.D. Walton, who hasn't played since September of 2012 due to an ankle injury.

[+] EnlargeWeston Richburg
AP Photo/G.M. Andrews"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of second-round pick Weston Richburg.
"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "The center position here for us is one of responsibility in terms of dictating to the rest of the offensive line exactly how the scheme is going to go. This guy will fit right in in terms of that."

Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese both said the center's responsibility for handling line and protection calls will increase under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross said Richburg scored an impressive 31 on the Wonderlic test and impressed the Giants in his combine interview with his intelligence. The idea that they're excited about Richburg as a potential starter says less about Walton, who himself was a not-too-shabby 80th overall pick in the 2010 draft and would have projected as the Giants' starting center if they hadn't addressed the position in the draft, than it does about Richburg himself.

The decision-makers raved about Richburg's athleticism, which apparently also will be an asset in the new McAdoo offense, and his durability. Coughlin couldn't wait to tell the story of how Richburg broke his right hand in 2012 and played the final game snapping with his left hand while his right was in a club cast.

"Yeah, that's something I take a lot of pride in," a proud Richburg said when asked about that story. "You don't see a lot of guys who can do that."

The Giants' execs pointed out that Richburg was a team captain who didn't miss any games in college. Richburg said it was important to him to be the first center taken in the draft (as he was). And in general, there's nothing not to like about the guy at this point. Even if the Giants really were comfortable with the idea of Walton as their starting center, they recognized that they needed to re-stock with top talent on the offensive line. Richburg helps them do that, and at a position where there may be an opportunity to start right away.

"Last year, we had a couple of injuries early on the offensive line and it was pretty devastating," Reese said, accurately. "We had to bring in some guys that struggled some at those positions, so we're trying to make sure we have enough depth at every position. This guy will help provide that for us."

The Giants have overhauled the interior of their offensive line, which was extinction-level bad in 2013. Left guard Kevin Boothe signed with the Raiders, right guard David Diehl retired and they released center David Baas. They signed free agent Geoff Schwartz to start at left guard, Walton for center and John Jerry for a reserve role, and they're hoping Chris Snee can make a healthy return from hip surgery at right guard. Richburg is the latest move in their effort to make sure they don't get caught short with underprepared guys at those spots if injuries happen again.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' pick of Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley in the third round felt weird even to Bromley, who was pulling a "Gravity" DVD out of a Redbox machine at his local grocery store when he got the call.

"Honestly, I didn't expect a call at all tonight," said a giddy Bromley, who grew up a Giants fan and played college football with two of the players the Giants drafted last year.

So why, then, did the Giants spend the No. 74 pick in the draft on a guy who was mainly projected to go somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds? Well, he was a team captain at Syracuse. Second-round pick Weston Richburg was a team captain at Colorado State. First-round selection Odell Beckham Jr. was a team leader at LSU.

"We like captains," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "Most of these kids are developmental, let's face it. But in this day and age, there aren't a lot of guys you can let sit around and redshirt. These guys, we think they're more mature, and that's attractive for us."

The point is that the Giants, even after the biggest free-agent spree any team went on this offseason, entered this draft with so many needs that they can't afford to draft guys who aren't going to perform right away. And they have decided that the smartest way to speed up the learning curve of their early picks was to seek and draft smart, mature, high-character guys who might not need as much hand-holding as some of their more raw recent early-round picks. (Think: Wilson, David, 2012.)

It's a plan. And it appears to be a well-thought-out one by a team that's admitting to itself that the amount of work it has to do to repair all of its holes is more than will fit into a single offseason. The Giants had a lot to say about the many reasons they liked Beckham and Richburg. And they had a few about Bromley, too. But by the time they were explaining Bromley, the real outline of their 2014 draft plan had come into focus.

"These guys are high-character team captains, hard workers, smart, competitive guys with no issues whatsoever," vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. "All three of these guys, we felt, were at the very highest in terms of character."

In the past, the Giants might have used second-round and third-round picks on projects with question marks and upside. Their roster had more depth and they could afford to do that. They can't anymore, so it appears they decided to prioritize present-day makeup, maybe even at the expense of high-ceiling talent. The end result was that they targeted certain specific players and picked them whether they represented value at the pick or not.

"We just sat where we were and made good picks, I think," Reese said.

The final grade on this draft will depend on the extent to which he's right.
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The pick: Jay Bromley, defensive tackle, Syracuse.

My take: A puzzler. I think a lot of people were surprised that Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III was still available here and that the Giants didn't take him. Bromley is a pure run-stopper and a huge defensive tackle in the mold the Giants like at defensive tackle, whereas Nix is more of a traditional nose tackle. And Bromley did go to Syracuse, which as everyone will point out is Tom Coughlin's alma mater. Feels like a reach to me, but obviously there's something about him the Giants saw and liked. We'll go talk to them and find out what it was. This is the third player the Giants took in the first three rounds who seemed as though he could have been taken later.

Stats: Bromley did lead Syracuse in sacks (with 10) and tackles for a loss (with 14.5) as a senior. The Giants like that kind of college production, and cited (much better) college production as a reason for taking third-round pass-rusher Damontre Moore last year. I'm sure they'll say this is an experienced guy who's versatile and played all over the line in college, and I'm sure they'll point out the stats.

What's next: That's it for the Giants for Friday night, unless they trade back up into the back end of the third round. Assuming they don't, they hold the 13th pick in the fourth round, which starts at noon ET on Saturday, two picks in the fifth round and one pick in the sixth. They traded their seventh-round pick for Jon Beason during the 2013 season.
video The pick: Weston Richburg, center, Colorado State

My take: It's good that they took an offensive lineman. It would have been irresponsible and negligent for them not to do so. They should have taken one in the first round and chose not to, and with Richburg, they get a center with whom they spent a great deal of time prior to the draft and whom they likely think can start for them early in his career, possibly right away.

As we discussed Thursday, the Giants lock in on a player they like and they take him. That's how they do business. And this is a pick that fills a short-term and long-term need. He's a good player who can help them. However, was he the best offensive lineman available here? Could they have moved down and still drafted him? Could they have waited until the third round? You'd like to think so, and if tackles Morgan Moses and Cyrus Kouandjio were better players, I'd have advocated taking them even though they play tackle, which is not as obvious an immediate need. The point is to improve the overall talent level on the line with elite players or close-to-elite players, and they can sort them out later. They might have reached a bit here, but as was the case Thursday with Odell Beckham Jr., they found a player they liked and grabbed him.

Path to playing time: The Giants released center David Baas earlier in the offseason and signed former Broncos center J.D. Walton, who was projected as the starting center prior to this pick. I'd have to think the Giants would give Richburg a chance to win the starting job in camp, though they did go into this draft thinking they could go with Walton if they didn't find anything better, so they could also give him time. The Giants generally don't like to throw rookies right into starting roles, but last year's first-round pick, Justin Pugh, started 16 games at right tackle as a rookie and performed well.

What's next: The Giants hold the 10th pick in the third round (No. 74 overall) later tonight and could still find good value on the offensive or defensive lines, where they continue to need to stockpile talent. I don't expect them to hunt for a tight end or a running back tonight. Safety is a possibility if they find one they like at the spot. They have four picks tomorrow -- a fourth-rounder, two fifth-rounders and a sixth-rounder.
So far in the 2014 NFL draft, the New York Giants have made one pick. I have spent some time over the past 16 hours or so analyzing that one pick, which is my job. Many of you have responded to my analysis by informing me that there are still six more rounds to the draft and that the Giants have six more picks (two in the fifth, none in the seventh, as it turns out). I sincerely appreciate your help in this regard.

Tonight offers us the second and third rounds of the draft. The Giants hold the 11th pick of the second round and the 10th pick of the third. Those are the 43rd and 74th overall picks in the draft. Good picks. Picks that should produce important, helpful players that develop into backbone types for good teams. The kinds of picks on which the Giants have missed too many times in recent years with guys like Marvin Austin (No. 52 overall, 2011), Clint Sintim (45, 2009), Ramses Barden (85, 2009), etc.

The jury's still out on some of the more recent second- and third-rounders. Last year, the Giants picked Johnathan Hankins 49th overall and Damontre Moore 81st, and the year before that they took Rueben Randle 63rd. The ultimate judgment of their 2012 and 2013 drafts will rest in large part on the performance of those players in the next couple of seasons.

So yeah, it's fair to call this a big night for the Giants. They need to maximize the value of tonight's picks. They need to come up with good players that help them restock their talent pipeline in key spots. Fortunately for the Giants, this is a deep draft that offers them good choices in tonight's rounds, or possibly the chance to move back and add picks if they don't like those choices.

Let's look at some of the players who could be available for the Giants tonight and would be helpful to what they need to do long-term:

Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada. The Giants spent time with this player before the draft and like him a lot. He's the pick for them in our second-round mock draftInsider put together by Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl. Todd McShay ranks Bitonio as his second-best remaining available offensive linemanInsider, behind Virginia tackle Morgan Moses, whom Todd mocked to the Giants in the first round of the mock draft that was based on what he'd do if he had the pick. Obviously, this indicates that Moses also would be a strong pick here if he's available. Other still-available, highly-rated offensive linemen include UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and centers Marcus Martin of USC and Weston Richburg of Colorado State. The Giants should have their choice of quality offensive linemen in the second round, and as I'm sure you know by now, I think they'd be foolish not to grab one here. It's not crazy to think that a center they take at 43 could start for them right away, given what they have at the position right now.

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. Lots of you wanted Eric Ebron in the first round, but he went No. 10 to the Lions, and honestly I don't think the Giants were going to take him if he was still there at 12 anyway. I don't think they're motivated to take a tight end in the second round, either, be it Amaro or Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Sure, it's possible they like one of those players more than I realize and could take him for that reason. But I don't believe the Giants are going into Friday night thinking they need to pick a tight end. They don't value the position that highly and I believe that they are willing at this point to give the guys they already have a shot at more playing time.

Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame. Unlike Pitt's Aaron Donald, who went to the Rams one pick after the Giants took Odell Beckham Jr. on Thursday night, Nix has the kind of size the Giants look for in a defensive tackle. Same could be said for Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman, who's also still around, if the Giants decide to use one of tonight's picks to beef up in the middle of the defensive line.

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame. They also could use pass-rush help, and you know they're always looking for it anyway. Missouri pass-rusher Kony Ealy is also still on the board.

Just a few names to whet your appetite. Round 2 starts at 7 p.m. ET. On ESPN, of course.
After the New York Giants took LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with the No. 12 pick in the draft Thursday night, I wrote this about the risks inherent in falling in love with a player and trusting your own evaluations. This was a very specific, 500-word analysis about the Giants' methods, and it had nothing to do with the player himself or what the Giants liked about him.

But they obviously like him a great deal and for a number of reasons, many of which they went into Thursday night after making the pick.

"He's a dynamic receiver, dynamic punt returner and a dynamic kickoff returner," GM Jerry Reese said. "You're getting a guy that can score touchdowns in three different ways for you. There's no way we would pass him up."

Three different ways is a pretty cool concept, especially if you're picking someone to replace Hakeem Nicks, who scored touchdowns in no different ways in 2013. The Giants clearly fell in love with Beckham's ability as a player who can help them score points. Picking him sends a clear message that they're more concerned with exciting playmakers than with rebuilding the foundation of their crumbled offensive line. Not the way I'd have gone, as you know, but they believe this guy will be enough of a difference-maker to justify the decision.

"We're talking about the quarterback needing help, and this guy is a weapon," Reese said. "We need a weapon on the outside. Victor [Cruz] is more of an inside receiver. Victor can't play on the outside. We have Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and we got Mario Manningham back, so we're trying to get the quarterback some weapons. You need weapons in this league. We think this guy is a weapon."

Everything you hear about Beckham as a player backs up the evaluation. High-end speed, showcased at the highest level of college football in the SEC. Can take the top off a defense, force safeties to play deep, open things up underneath for Cruz and others. Reese described Beckham as "almost pro-ready," which indicates they expect a contribution at some point during his rookie season. And coach Tom Coughlin pointed out that Beckham's learning curve may not be that significant, given that the veterans, too, are learning a new offense this offseason under new coordinator Ben McAdoo.

"I think a young man of Odell's skill and his level of intelligence will pick this up relatively quickly," Coughlin said.

And good for the Giants if he does. They also raved about his abilities in the return game, which struck me as kind of odd after they spent free-agent money on return men Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday. But when asked about potential redundancies there, Reese bristled a bit.

"It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter," Reese said. "The more return guys you have in the building, the better. We haven't had any in the building in some time. So the more the merrier. We have some options there, and whoever wins the job, it's fine with me. Holliday is a fast guy. This guy is a fast guy. Speed kills."

The Giants really do get the benefit of the doubt a lot, though given Reese's draft track record I continue to fail to see why. When the Dallas Cowboys or the Oakland Raiders ignore long-range offensive line needs in favor of fun, speedy skill position players, they get ripped for it. Yet that's exactly what the Giants did Thursday and people seem OK with it. Yes, there are some offensive line options still available Friday night, but there are wide receiver options still available, too, so that argument doesn't really mitigate anything.

The Giants like a lot of things about Beckham, and he's put a lot on film for them and everyone else to like. If he's the player they imagine he'll be, then they'll be happy with the pick. The inherent flaw in the draft is that everyone imagines these best-case scenarios and they don't all come true. In the case of the Giants and Beckham, the excitement of what's imaginable carried the day.
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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.

[+] EnlargeOdell Beckham
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsOdell 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.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The pick: Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, LSU

My take: I don't like it, honestly. And this is nothing against the player, who's superfast and might well turn out to be a star. This isn't about predicting how these guys will play, because we can't. It's about assessing what kind of job the team did in maximizing the value of its pick. And in a draft like this, with so much talent at wide receiver, I don't see why a wide receiver under 6 feet tall is worth the No. 12 overall pick. I think the Giants could have addressed offensive line here with Zack Martin and figured out wide receiver later on. And as you know, I think improving the overall talent level on the offensive line should have been priority No. 1.

The ones that got away? A lot of Giants fans had been hoping for tight end Eric Ebron or tackle Taylor Lewan, who went Nos. 10 and 11, respectively, to Detroit and Tennessee. I do not believe the Giants would have picked either of those players over Beckham. Based on conversations I had in the days leading up to the draft, the Giants came out of their pre-draft interactions with Lewan with enough questions about his makeup to push him off their board. And Ebron plays tight end and doesn't block, and since the Giants don't value the tight end position enough to merit spending a pick this high on it, I do not believe he was in consideration for them here. I thought they'd take Martin, but there were a lot of people in this team's draft room who thought Beckham was a difference-maker, and they think they can get their offensive line help later.

What's next: The Giants hold the 11th pick in the second round (No. 43 overall), which is likely too far down to allow them to trade back up into the first, and they hold the 10th pick in the third round (No. 74 overall). So those are two pretty good picks Friday night that should allow them to address the interior of the offensive line. Look for them to look at a center in the second round, and keep an eye on Colorado State's Weston Richburg if he doesn't go tonight. They also hold a fourth-round pick, two fifth-round picks and a sixth-round pick Saturday. They traded their seventh-round pick for linebacker Jon Beason early last season.

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