NFC East: Jeremy Shockey

The New York Giants hold the No. 12 pick in the first round of the NFL draft, which finally happens Thursday night. Obviously, there's no way to predict who they'll pick without knowing how the first 11 picks will go. And the only thing we know for sure is that there will be surprises in that first 11.

However, for the purposes of this Draft Eve exercise, I have identified four players I think could be there at No. 12 for the Giants. And I want to know from you guys which one you'd take if all four were available.

SportsNation

Which of these players would you most like to see the New York Giants draft with the No. 12 pick?

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    28%
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    28%
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    15%
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    29%

Discuss (Total votes: 10,099)

My hypothetical foursome includes offensive linemen Taylor Lewan and Zack Martin, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and tight end Eric Ebron. Each has been projected to the Giants in multiple recent mock drafts. Each fits a major need. Each is likely to be valued right around that No. 12 slot in the draft. That makes it a matter of preference.

As you likely know, I picked Lewan for the Giants in our NFL Nation mock draft on ESPN.com on Tuesday and on "SportsCenter" on Wednesday. As you know if you've been reading regularly, I think the Giants should and will go with an offensive lineman at this spot if one they like is available, and Lewan represents excellent value at No. 12. What I do not know is how the Giants value Lewan and Martin relative to each other, though I have heard some rumblings in the last day or so that indicate they like Martin better and would take him if presented with the choice. My sense is that Lewan will be gone by No. 12 anyway, but I personally think he's the better player and he's the one I'd take in this scenario.

If the Giants took Donald at No. 12, I wouldn't criticize the pick, because I think Donald is going to be a disruptive star in the NFL. But I do not think the Giants are going to take Donald, because I don't think he fits what they look for in a defensive tackle. The knock on him is his size, and the Giants lean more toward huge cloggers in the middle of their defensive line. I think they like him just fine, but that he doesn't fit what they look for in a defensive tackle, and at this point I'd be surprised if they took him.

I don't think they'll take Ebron either. I know, many of you want the flashy, playmaking tight end for Eli Manning to throw to. I know there's no viable tight end on the roster right now. I know other teams around the league have cool tight ends. I know. I know. I've heard it all. But I just don't think the Giants are going to use a first-half-of-the-first-round pick on this player. He's not a blocker, first of all, and those of you who bring up 2002 first-rounder Jeremy Shockey are forgetting what a good blocker he was. Shockey was a complete enough player to deserve the No. 14 pick that year, and I don't think Ebron is.

In the salary-cap era, teams have to set priorities and decide which positions are worthy of their top resources. By "top resources," I mean free-agent dollars and high draft picks. It's pretty clear that positions like tight end and linebacker aren't positions the Giants deem worthy of top resources. Shockey's draft was 12 years ago, and they've been happy to go cheap at tight end ever since he left. I just don't see the Giants holding a resource as valuable as the No. 12 pick in the draft and spending it on a position they don't value that highly.

I'm not saying there's no way they'll pick Ebron. I'm just saying I don't think they will. Frankly, if they're taking someone who touches the ball with this pick, I'd be less surprised to see them take LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., than I would to see them take Ebron.

Those are my thoughts, based on what I'm hearing and the way I've analyzed it. But I'm curious to see how you guys vote.
The awkward part of New York Giants GM Jerry Reese's pre-draft news conference Thursday came when a reporter asked him about tight end. The exchange went like this:
Q: Historically, this team has relied on the tight end quite a bit. Would you be comfortable moving forward with the guys you have on your roster right now?

Reese: Historically we've relied on our tight end?

Q: Well, they've had a prominent role.

Reese: Really?

Q: I seem to remember tight ends catching important passes.

Reese: Yeah, well, we think we've got some tight ends that can catch some important passes. But "prominent role"? We want all of our positions to be prominent roles. I'm not sure if our tight ends have had prominent roles in the past. But we want a competent tight end. We think we've got a couple of young tight ends who have been here for a couple of years who we want to develop, and we'll continue to look as we move forward.
[+] EnlargeBrandon Myers
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsIn his one season with the Giants, Brandon Myers caught 47 passes for 522 yards.
I have been on the other end of that exchange in the past. I've been the one who asked Reese a question that posited a certain level of significance for the tight end position and had him reject the premise. Obviously, this does not show Reese at his most polite, but he views this idea that the Giants' offense has relied on a tight end as an especially irksome misperception. And the numbers support his side of it:

  • Brandon Myers' 47 receptions in 2013 were the second-most in a single season by a Giants tight end since Jeremy Shockey caught 57 passes in 2007.
  • Since 2007, the Giants have employed four different starting tight ends -- Kevin Boss from 2008-10, Jake Ballard in 2011, Martellus Bennett in 2012 and Myers last year.
  • Over that six-year stretch, the Giants' leading tight end has averaged 42 receptions for 539 yards and five touchdowns per year, with Bennett's 55 catches and 626 yards in 2012 and Boss' six touchdowns in 2008 the high-water marks in those categories.

Reese is not shy about telling people he thinks he can find a tight end who can catch 42 passes every year, and this is the basis on which he rejects a characterization such as "prominent role." Yes, he could be nicer about making the point, but the Giants' offense has not, in point of fact, relied on the tight end. Shockey was an exceptional case -- an exceptional talent the Giants deemed worthy of a first-round pick. And Bennett's athleticism allowed them to use him a bit more than they've used other guys after they were able to get him on the cheap prior to the 2012 season.

But the thing to remember about Bennett and Shockey is that both were excellent and willing blockers at the position. Bennett's as good a run-blocking tight end as there is in the NFL right now, and the Giants had him on the field a lot for that reason. That his size and speed enabled him to be a slightly bigger factor in the passing game than some of his predecessors were was a bonus, and the Giants were fortunate that he wasn't in demand that year due to the perception that he was a huge disappointment in Dallas. Once he played well for them, he parlayed that into a big free-agent deal with the Bears, and the Giants made no effort to spend to keep him.

So the point to be taken from this is not that the Giants don't like the tight end position but that it's not a position on which they feel compelled to spend major resources. Other than that 2002 first-round pick they spent on Shockey, they've consistently sought cheap solutions at tight end, viewing whoever plays it as replaceable from year to year. They want guys who can block, and if those guys can catch the ball, so much the better.

For that reason, it's easy to convince yourself that they won't be taking North Carolina's Eric Ebron with the No. 12 pick in the first round next week. Ebron may be an exceptional talent as a receiver, and the tight end position leaguewide may have evolved to the point where it's worth spending a No. 12 overall pick to get one who can be a difference-maker in the passing game. But Reese insisted Thursday that the arrival of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has not changed the way the Giants evaluate offensive players. And while Shockey was the No. 14 overall pick in that 2002 draft, it's vital to remember that Shockey was a good blocker in addition to a great pass-catcher. Ebron is a pass-catcher only. He'd be a liability as a blocker. So the comparison doesn't necessarily fit.

The Giants could find a tight end such as Jace Amaro or Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round if they really feel they need one, but it's possible they don't feel that way. They have 2012 fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson still on the roster and have been eager for some time to see him on the field more. They resisted putting Robinson on injured reserve all last year because they believed he had something to offer if he ever got healthy (which he finally did, only to injure himself again on the opening kickoff of the Week 16 game in Detroit). They signed blocking tight end Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells for depth at the position, and Larry Donnell has been a strong enough special-teams performer to earn more practice reps and show what he can do. That's the group Reese has, and he swears he doesn't feel the need to upgrade it in the draft. If their pick comes around and the best player still on their board plays tight end, sure, they could take him. But Reese isn't hunting for some huge solution at the position next week.

The question is whether he's right. I personally think the Giants would benefit from having a more permanent solution at this position than they've employed over the past four years. I think the way the league is going, it's more important than it used to be to have a big-time weapon at that position who can split out wide and bust matchups in the secondary. But I don't run the Giants. Jerry Reese does. And he and the Giants do things their way, and they believe in it. You can respect someone's conviction even if your opinion differs from theirs. Reese thinks he's OK at tight end -- or at least that he will be. And it's clear when he's asked about it that he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.

Cowboys name Mike Pope TE coach

January, 22, 2014
1/22/14
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have hired Mike Pope to be the tight ends coach, replacing Wes Phillips.

Pope spent the past 14 seasons as the New York Giants' tight ends coach. He worked with former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells with the Giants and New England Patriots, and has spent time with the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.

Phillips left last week to become the Washington Redskins' tight ends coach after coaching tight ends for just one season.

Pope is considered one of the best tight ends coaches in the NFL, and has developed players like Pro Bowlers Mark Bavaro, Ben Coates, Stephen Alexander, Rodney Holman and Jeremy Shockey.

He inherits Jason Witten, who is playing in his ninth Pro Bowl, Gavin Escobar, a second-round pick in 2013, and James Hanna.

Head coach Jason Garrett was a player for the Giants in Pope's second run with the team. Pope has been an assistant coach for 31 years.

“Mike Pope has been one of the great coaches in this league for a long time,” Garrett said. “I had the good fortune of being around him for four years, and his influence on me has been significant. He is an outstanding person and a welcome addition to our staff.“

Experience drew Giants to TE Myers

August, 16, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Not a lot going on here at New York Giants training camp yet today, so here's a little something I found while going through my notes from last week:

We know the Giants are going to be using their fourth different starting tight end in four years, as Brandon Myers was brought in to take over that role after Martellus Bennett left for Chicago via free agency. We know that Myers caught 79 passes for the Raiders last year. We have heard that he's not much with the blocking, which could be a problem since Bennett was and since the Giants tend to like their tight ends to be blockers first and receivers second. Bennett's 55 catches last year were the most by a Giants tight end since Jeremy Shockey caught 57 passes in 2007. Over the past five years, the Giants' leading tight end has averaged 40.6 catches.

But while he wouldn't go so far as to say that the arrival of Myers signals a potential change in the way the Giants might use the tight end in their offense, Giants GM Jerry Reese did explain what he liked about Myers when he went out tight end-hunting this past offseason.

"Myers is a veteran who knows how to play, and we've been working with kids," Reese told me during a recent practice. "(Tight ends coach) Mike Pope's been developing guys as we go. Even Martellus was kind of inexperienced, since he hadn't been the No. 1 guy in Dallas. And Brandon's a guy we feel we can just plug him in, maybe give us a guy we don't have to coach up as much. He can come in and know what to do and be a good addition for us."

Giants fans have come to rely on Pope's (not to mention quarterback Eli Manning's) ability to "coach up" tight ends into productive players, even as the position turns over every year. It's possible that Myers' experience, as a relatively established player heading into his fifth NFL season, frees up Pope to spend more time working with a young tight end such as Adrien Robinson. Either way, it's clear the Giants don't expect Myers to be any kind of downgrade for them at the position.
Unfortunately for Redskins fans, still only the first round. But here's a look at who Todd McShay is picking for the other three NFC East teams in his newest mock draft Insider, hot off the presses.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama.

My take: Nothing wrong with this idea. Personally, I feel like 4 is a little high to take a cornerback. And with guys like offensive tackle Eric Fisher and pass-rusher Dion Jordan still available, I'd err on the side of the big guy. But Milliner certainly fills a crying need, no matter what they do in free agency, and would be a pick about which Eagles fans could feel good.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama.

My take: Anyone else get the sense that Alabama's running a good program these days? Anyway, this is the dream-come-true pick for the Cowboys. Some have said Warmack is the best offensive lineman, regardless of position, in the entire draft. If he's there at 18, the Cowboys run to the podium. They need to get an offensive lineman in the first round, and while people keep asking me, "Well, what if the top five guys are all gone by 18?," it's worth mentioning that only once in the past 15 drafts (2008) have five offensive linemen gone in the first 17 picks.

19. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame.

My take: A fun, new passing game weapon for Eli Manning would be a Giants-like pick, for sure. But they've de-emphasized the tight end position from a priority and resource standpoint so much since the Jeremy Shockey days that I wonder if they'd even consider using a first-round pick on one.
Washington Redskins

Tracee Hamilton wants Dan Snyder to sue the NFL over the salary-cap penalty. I know many of you want the same thing. Snyder may want it as well. Heck, he may end up doing it. I just don't see it. Yes, what the owners did would, in the outside world, have been considered collusion. But the collective bargaining agreement they have with the players contains a collusion clause that specifically defines what is and isn't collusion for their purposes. And according to that document, this isn't. I don't see the Redskins' way out of this.

Assuming they are stuck, the Redskins will need contributions from some cost-effective sources, including some of their 2012 draft picks. Rich Tandler takes a look at which of those are poised to help -- other than the quarterbacks and the running back, who have already established themselves as somewhat helpful. Not mentioned here is undrafted cornerback Chase Minnifield, who was a big offseason story before getting hurt last year and could factor into the mix if he returns healthy.

New York Giants

Former Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins will visit the Giants today. When Jenkins was cut, I wrote that either of the 4-3 teams in the division -- the Giants or the Cowboys -- would do well to take a look at him. He tailed off in 2012, but he played very well for the Eagles in 2011 and early in 2012. He's a strong locker room guy, and he can play anywhere on the defensive line. With Chris Canty gone, he's a good potential veteran solution for the Giants for 2013. We will see where it goes.

It sounds as though tight end Martellus Bennett isn't overly impressed with the Giants' initial efforts to keep him off the free-agent market. The Giants don't tend to spend significant resources on the tight end position (not since the Jeremy Shockey days, at least), so if Bennett's looking for a big payday he may have to look elsewhere. If not, I believe the Giants would like to have him back. At their price, of course.

Dallas Cowboys

A remarkably extensive day of contract restructuring saved the Cowboys about $23 million in salary-cap room and has them about $5 million under the $123 million salary cap. Now that they are under, we will see how far under they can get and if it's far enough to allow them to retain free-agent defensive end Anthony Spencer. A Tony Romo extension would still be the best way to clear enough cap room to franchise Spencer, but I think they'd prefer to sign Spencer long-term if they came up with enough room to do so. Another situation we'll have to keep monitoring in the coming days. Monday is the franchise tag deadline.

The Cowboys also signed veteran long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a five-year contract. Sounds like a minor move, but the guy doesn't have bad snaps. And until you start having bad special-teams snaps, you don't really appreciate that, do you?

Philadelphia Eagles

Another day dawns with Nnamdi Asomugha still an Eagle, and it offers Ray Didinger the opportunity to ponder how it all could have gone so wrong for a once-great player. The conclusion here, again, is that Asomugha would be best off going somewhere else. And I have to think the only reason he hasn't yet been granted a chance to do so is that it's just not that easy to find starting cornerbacks.

Can't have too many quarterbacks, I guess.

 
Thoughtful piece here from Paul Schwartz, with the help of former New York Giants tackle Luke Petitgout, on the Giants' preference for parting ways with players before those players lose their effectiveness. At the end of the week in which the Giants cut two-time Super Bowl-winning running back Ahmad Bradshaw, as well as linebacker Michael Boley and defensive tackle Chris Canty, Petitgout remembers his own experience and sees it reflected in what's going on now:
“The Giants are a family,’’ Petitgout said. “It’s something tough to accept, like when a girlfriend dumps you. They know when your time is up. Some guys may buck the trend and have a good couple years after that but if you’ve been there a long time, they know your medical history, they know your aches and pains, they usually make the right decision. I basically had a time bomb in my back and when I went to Tampa it went off. The Giants knew what they were doing.’’
[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants parted ways this week with Ahmad Bradshaw, who was their leading rusher the past three seasons.
It cannot have been easy for GM Jerry Reese to say goodbye to Bradshaw, who played through significant pain to help deliver the team's Super Bowl title last year. But between Bradshaw's salary and the chronic foot injuries that kept him from practicing during the week or playing at full strength on Sundays, the Giants believed it was the right thing to do. It's not the first time they've cut a player while he was still an effective producer for them, and if Bradshaw's best days are behind him, it won't be the first time the Giants cut a still-productive player just in time:
Reese is rarely wrong. As a former scout, his eye for talent isn’t confined to youngsters. Steve Smith and Kevin Boss haven’t done a thing and haven’t stayed healthy. He traded away Jeremy Shockey. He did not re-sign Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward or Amani Toomer. He cut Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie. He didn’t think Antonio Pierce's neck was sound enough to continue playing. He passed on bringing back Plaxico Burress. In the same purge that caught Petitgout, Reese also jettisoned Carlos Emmons and LaVar Arrington. Did any of these players prove Reese wrong?

Pretty amazing list. Combine this idea with what we wrote about here Thursday -- the Giants' organizational belief in developing young players in their system so they're ready to take over when it's time for the veterans to go -- and it's easy to see that Reese has a definite plan and is sticking to it. Will it work? No way to know. If the Giants are in something of a rebuild mode, they're going to need many of their young players to be as good as the team thought they'd be when it drafted them. And not even Reese, with all of his track record, can predict how players are going to play. The point is, even as things change with the Giants and people come and go, it's still easy to see the consistency with which they operate, and it has served them well.
We had our chat Tuesday. We have it every Tuesday at noon ET, and if you didn't know that you really should drop by one of these Tuesdays. The chats are one of my favorite parts of the week, and I like to help myself get to sleep at night by believing my regular readers feel the same way. In order to accomplish this, I make it a rule never to read the comments at the bottom of the transcript of my chat.

Anyway, some highlights from this week's edition:

Dr. King from Dallas is one of these "Tony Romo can't perform in big spots" people and asked me why the Dallas Cowboys "waste time with a QB like Romo just because he has sexy stats, when you can find a lot of QBs who win when it counts?"

Dan Graziano: Because that's a bunch of garbage, "can win when it counts." Too much goes into that other than QB performance. Did Romo fail to win the Week 17 game in NJ because he's not a good clutch player, or because the defensive players kept letting fullbacks jump over them? These arguments get too simplistic. Give me the excellent quarterback and I'll take my chances that eventually things break right in the clutch.

Steve from Delaware cited some mock drafts that have Stanford's Coby Fleener going to the New York Giants at No. 32 and asked whether I think the Giants really would take a tight end in the first round.

DG: I do not, Steve. They did take [Jeremy] Shockey in the first round once upon a time, but that was because they believed him to be a special case. It's possible they feel that way about Fleener, but I'd be surprised.

Steve from Bristol asked about the Washington Redskins' free-agent approach. Steve is of the opinion that, looking at the players they've signed at wide receiver and the secondary, that the Redskins are taking a quantity-over-quality approach, hoping competition will make some of these guys better.

DG: I can see where you're coming from, but they actually targeted Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan as guys they believed could grow and thrive in their system. So it's not just that they were trying to build up quantity, play the percentages and hope something came of it. I think they really see those guys as good fits for the offense they plan to run with RG3. And as guys who can grow with him.

*Editor's note: I do agree with Steve that the quantity/competition idea is at work in their plans for the secondary, where they didn't really get any of their top choices.

And Phil from Hauppauge, N.Y., asked this: "Given Michael Vick's age, history of injury, and failure to develop the analytic part of his game, have we already seen the best he has to offer the Eagles?"

DG: Yes, it's possible that we might have. It's possible -- even likely -- that he'll never again approach his 2010 production. But that doesn't mean that analytic part can't improve, or that he can't protect the ball better this year and play better than he did in 2011.

Check out that link up there for the whole transcript, and feel free to drop by next Tuesday. We'd love to have you.
Continuing our team-by-team series on the history of the specific draft picks each NFC East team has this year, we take a look today at the Dallas Cowboys, who have eight picks in this year's draft.

Turning up some interesting trivia in these. For instance, the Cowboys have the 186th pick, which produced Deacon Jones, and the 152nd pick, with which the Houston Texans last year took a quarterback who a few months later started their first two playoff games in franchise history.

PICK 14 (14th pick, first round)

Last five players taken

2011 -- Robert Quinn, DE, Rams

2010 -- Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks

2009 -- Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Saints

2008 -- Chris Williams, T, Bears

2007 -- Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets

Cowboys' history of No. 14 picks

The Cowboys have never had the No. 14 pick.

Hall of Famers picked No. 14

Jim Kelly (1983), Gino Marchetti (1952), Len Ford (1948, AAFC)

Other notables

Jeremy Shockey (2002), Eddie George (1996), Dick Stanfel (1951)

PICK 45 (13th pick, round 2)

Last five players taken

2011 -- Rahim Moore, DB, Broncos

2010 -- Zane Beadles, G, Broncos

2009 -- Clint Sintim, LB, Giants

2008 -- Jordon Dizon, LB, Lions

2007 -- Dwayne Jarrett, WR, Panthers

Cowboys' history of No. 45 picks

1968 -- Dave McDaniels

Hall of Famers picked No. 45

Dave Casper (1974)

PICK 81 (19th pick, third round)

Last five players taken

2011 --DeMarcus Van Dyke, DB, Raiders

2010 -- Earl Mitchell, DT, Texans

2009 -- Roy Miller, DT, Buccaneers

2008 -- Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals

2007 -- Jay Alford, DT, Giants

Cowboys' history of No. 81 picks

1984 -- Fred Cornwell

1982 -- Jim Eliopulos

1981 -- Glenn Titensor

1977 -- Val Belcher

Hall of Famers picked No. 81

None, though Art Shell was the 80th pick in 1968 and Joe Montana was the 82nd in 1979.

PICK 113 (18th pick, round four)

Last five players picked

2011 -- Chimdi Chekwa, DB, Raiders

2010 -- Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots

2009 -- Vaughn Martin, DT, Chargers

2008 -- Dwight Lowery, CB, Jets

2007 -- Brian Smith, DE, Jaguars

Cowboys' history of No. 113 picks

1989 -- Keith Jennings

1984 -- Steve Pelluer

1975 -- Kyle Davis

Hall of Famers picked No. 113

None. But Steve Largent was picked 117th in 1976 and George Blanda was picked 119th in 1949.

PICK 135 (40th pick, fourth round)

Last five players picked

2011 --Ricky Stanzi, QB, Chiefs

2010 -- Dominique Franks, DB, Falcons

2009 -- Troy Kropog, T, Titans

2008 -- Josh Sitton, G, Packers

2007 -- Joe Cohen, DT, 49ers

Cowboys' history of No. 135 picks

1983 -- Chuck McSwain

Hall of Famers picked No. 135

None. Closest were Jackie Smith and Roger Staubach, who were picked No. 129 in 1963 and 1964, respectively.

PICK 152 (17th pick, round 5)

Last five players picked

2011 -- T.J. Yates, QB, Texans

2010 -- Otis Hudson, G, Bengals

2009 -- James Casey, TE, Texans

2008 -- Letroy Guion, DT, Vikings

2007 -- Antonio Johnson, DT, Titans

Cowboys' history of No. 152 picks

1984 -- Eugene Lockhart

1969 -- Rick Shaw

Hall of Famers taken No. 152

None. Closest I found was Arnie Weinmeister, No. 166 in 1945.

PICK 186 (16th pick, round 6)

Last five players taken

2011 -- D.J. Smith, LB, Packers

2010 -- Clifton Geathers, DE, Browns

2009 -- Robert Henson, LB, Redskins

2008 -- Colt Brennan, QB, Redskins

2007 -- Thomas Clayton, RB, 49ers

Cowboys' history of No. 186 pick

2003 -- Zuriel Smith

1976 -- Greg Schaum

Hall of Famers picked No. 186

Deacon Jones (1961)

PICK 222 (15th pick, round 7)

Last five players taken

2011 -- Anthony Gaitor, DB, Buccaneers

2010 -- Marc Mariani, WR, Titans

2009 -- Pat McAfee, P, Colts

2008 -- Chester Adams, G, Bears

2007 -- Derek Schouman, FB, Bills

Cowboys' history of No. 222 picks

1984 -- Mike Revell

1978 -- Homer Butler

Hall of Famers picked No. 222

None. Closest was Andy Robustelli, picked 228th in 1951

War of words! Toomer vs. Shockey

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
11:12
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This has little to do with free agency, except that Jeremy Shockey is a free agent and there was a story in the New York Daily News on Thursday that raised the possibility of a return to the New York Giants. But that story led to a strong Twitter reaction from former Giant and former Shockey teammate Amani Toomer. And that led into an extremely nasty reaction from Shockey on Twitter. Let's take a look.

It began when Toomer (@AmaniAToomer) tweeted to the writer of the Daily News story: "No!!Shockey'I will never play4 you again!'he yelled at jerry Reese in 08. Let him keep his word. Bad teammate, worse person."

And when the comment got noticed by some other members of the media, Toomer tweeted to them: "don't worry about it. My tweet is not going anywhere. I stand by what I say."

So, well, Shockey (@JeremyShockey, with a Twitter bio that says "Life Coach" for some presumably hilarious reason) saw the story and reacted thusly: "It's funny how the Ny media still try's to make money off me! Can anyone find a quote from me on me wanting to play for the GAINTS?"

Good thing the bio doesn't say "Spelling Coach," right? Also, it's unlikely that Gary Myers made any extra money as a result of his story this morning, but we can give Shockey a pass for not understanding how that works.

Anyway, Shockey also noticed Toomer's reaction, and decided to shoot back with a flamethrower.

First: "Amani Toomer on Jeremy Shockey: Bad teammate, Haha. Well he was the lazy one that broke my leg!!"

Next: "yes remember when his ex divorced him and he urinated on a her cloths I guess he's the good person"

And finally: "Go get a bucket of rocks and start throwing them at your glass house"

Toomer's reaction to the leg thing: "I did, but I under Stand now that I was getting old. A tough pill to swallow.I got over it. Still a gman 4 life."

Toomer's reaction to the ex-wife thing: "Shockey,Thanks 4 proving my statement about being a bad person. Lieing about my EX.Low blow.Enough said.Have a nice day& good luck as a FA"

Bottom line, I'd think the chances of Shockey returning to the Giants are about the same as the chances of either of these dudes getting work as high school writing tutors. But this was fun!
Day 1 of free agency was all about the Redskins around these parts. Day 2 saw the Cowboys get busy and the Eagles make a surprising splash with one of their own players. What does Day 3 hold? All I know is it starts with links.

Dallas Cowboys

Todd Archer offers some examples of reasonable possibilities for Laurent Robinson's replacement, and he barely even scratches the surface. He's right that the Cowboys would have had no business trying to keep Robinson for the money he got in Jacksonville, and his partial list of options proves the key point -- that there will be many names available to the Cowboys as No. 3 receiver options at the level of the market at which they found Robinson a year ago.

The Cowboys signed one guard Wednesday and are bringing in a guy Thursday who's been a regular starter at the position for the past two years. Why two? Well, this post raises the intriguing possibility that Kyle Kosier could move to center, which is where the Cowboys had their biggest problems last season.

New York Giants

Martellus Bennett says he "only played like 30 percent of the snaps while I was in Dallas. I think, in a larger role, I can do so much more. I think the sky is the limit. I don’t think anyone has really seen who I am as a player and what I have to offer." His estimate isn't awful. A quick scan of the ProFootballFocus.com stats shows Bennett played about 42 percent of the Cowboys' offensive snaps over the past four years. His premise, however, is that he can be a great player if he plays more than that. We shall see. Injured tight end Jake Ballard played 75 percent of the Giants' snaps last year, so there's opportunity for Bennett to prove it.

The Giants still might look for another tight end, and old friend Jeremy Shockey wouldn't mind being considered, according to Gary Myers. Hey, don't laugh it off. They brought in Plaxico Burress and tried to sign him last year. Giants management is all about bygones if the value is right.

Philadelphia Eagles

Marcus Hayes writes of the Eagles' efforts over the past few days to lock up their young core long-term, and why it's a rare opportunity they have with a young core that appears ready to win now. His points are all well-reasoned, of course. But a lot of this is going to come down to a 32-year-old quarterback and whether Michael Vick is ready to win now.

Jeff McLane writes that the next big internal move could be a new contract for running back LeSean McCoy. Apparently, talks are under way and have been for a while now, and the sense in Philadelphia is that it could be done in short order. Somebody asked which team in the division is having the best free agency right now. And while I like what all four teams have done so far, you can make a strong case that the answer is the team that's signing its own stars to below-market deals while the market goes bonkers.

Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III says he's not yet willing to concede that he'll be a Redskin for sure. It appears as though he believes he can still convince the Colts to take him with the No. 1 overall pick. Which, good for him. If I were in that situation and had confidence in my ability, I wouldn't be conceding anything to Andrew Luck. It wasn't Luck who won the Heisman Trophy, remember. Anyway, the Redskins surely don't care. If the Colts took Griffin at No. 1 overall, they'd run to the podium to draft Luck with the second pick. That's why they paid so much to move up to No. 2 in the draft -- so they'd be guaranteed to get one of the two guys in the draft who looks like a franchise quarterback.

With their wide receiver pursuits nearly complete, the Redskins have turned their free-agent attention to defensive backs and offensive linemen. According to this story, that includes a pursuit of free-agent guard Ben Grubbs, who's drawing interest from many teams.
Good morning, friends. I was away for a couple of days. Osi and Shady still fighting? That might be a good Fired-Up Friday topic this week: Which two NFC East players would you most like to see fight, either on Twitter or in real life? "Twitter gangster." That's still making me laugh.

Anyway, new week, new links:

Dallas Cowboys

We're not the only ones who like to do the rankings/comparisons thing during this lockout-imposed downtime. The DCFanatics blog was mulling the relative rankings of Chargers QB Philip Rivers and the Cowboys' Tony Romo in the NFL Network's player-voted top 100 and tweeted receiver Patrick Crayton (who's played with both) to ask him who's the better team leader. Crayton's response was what you'd expect, since he's a current teammate of Rivers' and since this isn't really a close call. I've said a few times here that I put Romo in or right on the edge of the top 10 QBs in the league. But Rivers is top five, and right now I don't see any comparison. Good for DCF, though, for thinking to ask someone with firsthand knowledge.

And while we're on the topic of the NFL Network's list, Nick Eatman muses on the idea that the Cowboys' most-talented player might not even be on it.

New York Giants

The Osi Umenyiora stuff still had some legs Friday night and into Saturday, and Ralph Vacchiano drew an interesting comparison to past Giants malcontent Jeremy Shockey while raising the specter of a Umenyiora holdout. I'm interested (as Ralph apparently is) to see how far Umenyiora wants to push this. Because when things have flared up with him in recent years, they've been able to talk to him and mellow him out before it became a real problem. Right now, his GM and his coaches can't talk to him. So all he can do is stew and talk to the media. By the time there's anything resembling a Giants training camp, this could be a pretty serious brush fire.

If you still care at all about Tiki Barber, you can apparently catch an interview with him Tuesday night on "Real Sports" on HBO. You'll have to tell me how it was. "He now needs football more than it needs him?" No kidding.

Philadelphia Eagles

Mark Eckel says the key to the Eagles' 2011 season will be the offensive line. Specifically, he says the season will be determined by new line coach Howard Mudd and guard Todd Herremans. And he wonders if the Eagles would be better off moving Herremans to right tackle, where uncertainty surrounds the Winston Justice/King Dunlap combo. I got nothing on this. Your thoughts?

And a Michael Vick autograph signing in New Jersey brought into focus once again two the unavoidable truth about Vick: There are people who will never forgive him for what he did, and people who just don't care anymore because he's so good at football. I'm not big into extremes either way, and this I guess is kind of why. There's more nuance to the Vick story than most people want to bother with. Most people, it seems, aren't really into nuance.

Washington Redskins

Bruce Allen says he'd trade for Donovan McNabb again. This seems foolish to me, and not just because McNabb is already on the team. (bah-dum-bump!) Seriously, though, I don't see what's so bad about saying, "Hey, it looked like a good move at the time and it didn't work out." Guess maybe they need to maintain some shred of leverage in negotiations when the lockout ends and they need to trade him, but I don't think they're kidding anybody.

I got a kick out of the idea that LaVar Arrington devoted a portion of his DC-area radio show last week to disputing his placement on Redskins.com's list of the top five Redskins draft picks of the 2000s. Here is the writer's defense of that ranking, which seems very logical. I just happen to like LaVar a great deal personally and wish I'd been listening when he was arguing for his right to the top spot.

Enjoy these tasty morning morsels to get a new week off to the right kind of start here on the NFC East blog, and I promise I'll be back soon with much, much more.

NFC East High Energy Player of the Week

November, 30, 2010
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NFC High Energy: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 12.

The New York Giants were missing star receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks in Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they desperately needed someone to fill the void. But in the first half, one of their prime candidates, tight end Kevin Boss, was costing his team with penalties and drops. A holding call on Boss nullified a Mario Manningham touchdown catch and the Giants were down at halftime 17-6.

[+] EnlargeKevin Boss
Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesKevin Boss made a play when the Giants needed him most in Sunday's win over the Jaguars.
But late in the third quarter, Boss started atoning for his errors with two catches for a combined 42 yards. With 3:24 left in the game, Boss and quarterback Eli Manning made a sight adjustment at the line of scrimmage. Boss found some open space and Manning unloaded the ball against the Jags' blitz. Boss broke Courtney Greene's attempt at a tackle and raced 32 yards for the game-winning touchdown. That's why he's our High Energy Player of the Week.

Justin Tuck, a daily reader of this blog, will surely inform Boss of this high honor when the players return to practice Wednesday.

"It's important to be on the same page as the quarterback, and Eli and I were both able to see the pressure coming," said Boss, who finished with 74 yards receiving on three catches. "I was able to read it hot, and he threw me a pretty easy ball and I had some room to run."

The emergence of Boss in 2007 made it possible to trade Jeremy Shockey, but he has had an up-and-down career since his performance in the Super Bowl. On Sunday, he made huge plays for the Giants when they needed him the most. We'll see what he does for an encore against the Washington Redskins.

What can Brown do for Skins?

June, 20, 2010
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It wasn't long ago that Jammal Brown was a borderline elite left tackle in this league. But when he missed '09 with hip and sports hernia injuries, the Saints didn't appear to miss him on their way to a Super Bowl title.

Now, the Washington Redskins will provide Brown an opportunity to re-set his once-promising career via Saturday's trade, which was reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brown wanted a long-term deal with the Saints, but that wasn't going to happen because of his injuries and the club's excellent depth at offensive tackle. Washington doesn't have that luxury, so it should be a tremendous opportunity for Brown.

[+] EnlargeJammal Brown
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesBy acquiring Jammal Brown, the Redskins showed they are serious about winning now.
If first-round pick Trent Williams looks ready at left tackle during training camp, Brown will likely start on the right side. That's not Brown's preference because he'll have a harder time justifying a lucrative contract extension at right tackle. But I guess it's better than backing up Jermon Bushrod in New Orleans.
"I just think coming here, playing for Coach [Mike] Shanahan -- I watched him in Denver -- I like the scheme of offense that he runs. The zones, things like that," Brown told the Post on Saturday. "I'm gonna come in; they want me to play right tackle.I still think I'm a left tackle, but I'm going to do what they want me to do. I know they got my college teammate Trent [Williams] on the left side. We'll see how that all plays out. But I'm going to play wherever they want me to play. I'm just excited to be here and to be a part of a first-class program."

Here's what NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas thought about the trade. I don't think Saints fans are broken up about losing the 29-year-old Brown. But the tackle could be an excellent fit in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. If he's 100 percent healthy (as he claims), Brown immediately makes this a better offensive line. I don't think Donovan McNabb was thrilled about having an inexperienced player in Williams matched with a journeyman in Hicks as his bookends. Now, Hicks can compete for the starting job at right guard, where the enormous Mike Williams currently resides. As I've said before, I don't think Mike is a good fit for the Skins' new blocking scheme because of his lack of athleticism at this point in his career.

Shanahan's shown that he's not worried about acquiring players who've been labeled as "disgruntled" while with other organizations. Veteran running back Larry Johnson certainly comes to mind. Shanahan also values veteran players who've started a lot of games -- and Brown fits that description.

This is further proof that general manager Bruce Allen and Shanahan don't have any interest in a three-year plan. They're trading and signing for players who will contribute immediately. And if Brown's truly interested in salvaging his career, he couldn't have found a better destination.

I'm sure his ego's bruised by the fact the Saints achieved so much without him (think Jeremy Shockey with the Giants in '07), and he's anxious to show that he's still a talented player. Asked by the Post if he feels like folks have forgotten about him, Brown said, "If they have, I can easily remind them this upcoming year. They won't forget about me for long."

And in an unrelated note, Happy Father's Day!

Anyone remember the Giants?

April, 15, 2010
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Tom Coughlin Jerry ReeseAP Photo/Bill KostrounUnlike their NFC East counterparts, Giants GM Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin have not made any splashy moves this offseason.
I was just thinking about the good ol' days of the '07 offseason, when Jeremy Shockey was shouting at new general manager Jerry Reese and Michael Strahan was threatening to retire to a life of football analysis and sitcom appearances. Three years later, the Giants have become the shrinking violet of the Beast compared to their counterparts.

It's gotten to the point where it's nearly impossible to get co-owner John Mara to say anything to a secretly placed cellphone camera. And while the Eagles and Redskins pulled off the trade of the past two decades (at least), the Giants have signed a couple of safeties and quickly put the kibosh on Osi Umenyiora's brief retirement threats.

"We're flying under the radar," a high-ranking club official told me Thursday afternoon. "And that's exactly how we like it."

Other than a mild coin flip controversy, not even New Meadowlands Stadium is getting any burn. Like it or not, the Jets have surpassed the Giants in terms of compelling storylines -- and for the time being -- in the overall NFL hierarchy. If we conducted a pre-draft power rankings report, which I'm sure will happen any minute now, the Giants would likely be in the middle of the pack. And there are those among us (John Clayton) who think the Redskins leapfrogged both the Giants and Eagles with their bold trade for Donovan McNabb.

So where's the panic? When will Reese pull the trigger on an intra-division trade? At least sign former Cowboys Pro Bowler Flozell Adams to be your left tackle. It would be intriguing to watch Adams and the man he tripped on national television, Justin Tuck, bond as teammates. But apparently the Giants are embracing their relative anonymity in relation to their NFC East foes.

I'm even told that Tom Coughlin has suspended his motivational T-shirt operation. In the past, he's introduced us to XXLs with catchy messages such as "Talk Is Cheap" and "Our QB Is Less Interesting Than Yours." Coughlin is now going with a simple "It's about the team" message during interviews and family meals.

The biggest offseason story outside of Umenyiora's bellyaching is the arrival of new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, formerly of the Bills. No one has been really clear on what changes Fewell will make, but he's apparently much more aggressive than his predecessor, Bill Sheridan. In two separate conversations this offseason, Reese has told me how utterly disappointed he was in the team's safety play. And that's why the Giants aren't waiting around to see if Kenny Phillips makes a full recovery from microfracture surgery. Reese made Antrel Rolle the wealthiest safety in the league early in free agency and he later signed journeyman Deon Grant, whose best trait is that he rarely misses games due to injury.

Now that we're a week away from the draft, everyone pretty much assumes the Giants will select a linebacker No. 15 overall. In a perfect world, Reese would select Rolando McClain and mock drafters across the nation would be very supportive. But I think McClain's way too good of a player to last until No. 15, so the Giants will have to be ready for Plan B. I'm pretty sure they have one.

[+] EnlargeJoe Haden
Jeremy Brevard/Icon SMIIf Florida cornerback Joe Haden lasts until the No. 15 pick, the Giants will have an interesting decision to make.
"I think we could improve our team at every position probably; so not just linebacker, any other position," said Reese, who tried desperately not to say anything Thursday afternoon during a pre-draft news conference -- and succeeded . "We are looking for seven good players who can give us depth or maybe be a starter at any position -- not necessarily linebacker."

In an upcoming mock draft that I was asked to participate in, Idaho guard Mike Iupati will go to the Giants at No. 15. Iupati would immediately replace Rich Seubert at left guard, and David Diehl could stay at left tackle. Of course, everyone thinks the Giants will take a defensive player, so this won't be a popular prediction. If Florida cornerback Joe Haden somehow slips to No. 15, I think Reese would have an interesting decision to make. And I almost think he'd have to take him despite the Giants' depth at that position. Actually, Reese addressed this very topic.

"Back when we drafted [Mathias] Kiwanuka we had [Michael] Strahan, we had [Justin] Tuck, and we had Osi," said Reese. "But he was the best guy on the board right there at that time. There was no way we were going to pass him up. So it doesn’t preclude us from drafting even if we have depth at a position; if he is the best guy up there, it is going to be hard for us to pass him up."

So basically we spend two or three months discussing a certain player such as McClain, and then the Giants don't have an opportunity to draft him. Reese was very up front about the fact that he hates picking this early in the draft. It's a sign of what type season the Giants had.

But don't expect the Giants to miss on the pick. They've connected late in the first round in the past (Hakeem Nicks, Phillips), and now the odds get even better. The Giants continue to fly under the radar. And that may just be a position of strength.

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