New York Giants: Grading the Giants 2016 Draft
By Michael Stewart
GM Jerry Reese entered the 2016 draft with the possibility that it could be his last with the Giants. With only 6 selections, each one needed to be special with the hopes that at least 3 will be starters or major contributors.
It’s been 4 straight seasons now that the Giants have missed the playoffs and since that time; Jerry Reese has had very marginal drafts in terms of overall talent. Free agent additions of CB Janoris Jenkins, DT Damon Harrison, DE Olivier Vernon, MLB Keenan Robinson, ILB Kelvin Sheppard along with a few other players was a good start in providing this team with play makers and depth on each side of the ball. It’s been said that “Championships are built through the draft” and GM Jerry Reese must find a way to return the Giants as playoff contenders.
Grading the draft:
1st Round: Eli Apple (CB) Ohio State (10th overall): Apple possesses several traits for the cornerback position that translate well to the next level with his size, length and athleticism. Apple isn’t afraid to be physical and contest at the top of routes, but he’s still learning what he can get away with and what will draw flags – desired length for the position, but the Giants will be forced to live and die with his hands-on contact while he figures it out.
He is an aggressive run defender, but needs to be more measured with his breakdown mechanics as a tackler. Apple is still very young and with that comes discipline issues, but he consistently stays in phase in press or off-man coverage. Despite my evaluation on Apple, I believe he was a reach with the 10th overall pick. Reese could have traded back several spots for an additional pick and still have gotten Apple if this was his target. GRADE C
2nd Round: Sterling Shepard (WR) Oklahoma (40th overall): Shepard is a nightmare to cover because he possesses the straight-line speed to beat defenders over the top, as well as the quickness and balance to change directions in a flash. He shows soft, reliable hands to pluck the ball outside of his frame, as well as the awareness and toughness to “body catch” when necessary to protect the ball. Shepard also could be a weapon on special teams. GRADE B+
3rd Round: Darian Thompson (FS) Boise State (71st overall): Thompson has the anticipation and ball-skills to read quarterbacks and make plays on the ball, but he also guesses too much and lacks the same cover skills once asked to turn and run. His inconsistencies make it tough to trust him as the last line of defense, but his playmaking instincts and toughness could turn him into a downhill safety. GRADE B
4th Round: B.J Goodson (ILB) Clemson (109th overall): He is a magnet to the ball in the run game with the take-on skills to stack the point of attack, using his strong hands and low pad level to shed and find the ball carrier. Goodson is a balanced athlete and limits his wasted motion, but his range is based more on his instincts, lacking ideal play speed and explosive traits for the position. Although not a dynamic mover, which especially shows in coverage, Goodson plays a physical brand of football and always seems to be in the vicinity – quality depth player, who will push for starting reps by year two. GRADE B+
5th Round: Paul Perkins (RB) UCLA (149th overall): The most consistent running back in the Pac-12 over the past two seasons, Perkins is a classic slasher with the vision and burst to project well in any NFL offense which allows him to simply plant and go. He has the hands and toughness to remain on the field on third down but a relatively spindly frame raises concerns about his ability to remain durable if featured in the NFL as he was by the Bruins. GRADE B+
6th Round: Jerell Adams (TE) South Carolina (184th overall): Long and rangy tight end prospect who runs well. He starred as a power forward in high school and still looks the part with his frame and build. Adams is deceptively fast for his size because of long stride. He’s already tall (6-6) but even a bigger target because of his outstanding length. Does a good job at the point of attack in the run game; not necessarily a powerful drive blocker but he does a nice job of moving his feet and using his big body to steer defenders away from the action to create a running lane. GRADE C-
Final Thoughts: After round 1 selection of Eli Apple, Jerry Reese rebounded well through rounds 2-5 with Grades of B or better. I believe in a couple of years, the players from this draft who will have productive NFL careers will be Shepard, Perkins, Thompson and Goodson over Apple and Adams. Furthermore, with the NFL draft completed, Reese and the Giants are not finished searching for talent as they will now begin the process of signing a number of UDFA players over the next couple of days. Historically; Reese has done well with this signings over the past several years. Final Grade B