6 New York Giants Middle Round Draft Picks Face Uncertainty
New York Giants: Past Middle Round Picks Face Uncertain Futures
Two New York Giants Super Bowl victories in four years make Jerry Reese’s record nearly unassailable. For that first Super Bowl winning season, Reese hit a home run in the draft. All seven of his picks made regular season contributions during that year, including a seventh-round running back named Ahmad Bradshaw.
Since assuming the role of Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Giants in 2007, Reese has had a good record with his first-round picks.
Admittedly, though, Reese has been hit and miss with his middle round picks (the second, third and fourth rounds). Injuries claimed a majority of those picks: Terrell Thomas (second round, 63rd pick – 2008), Chad Jones (third round, 76th pick – 2010) and Clint Sintim (second round, 45th pick – 2009), to name a few. Two were complete misses altogether: Ramses Barden (third round, 85th pick – 2009) and Phillip Dillard (fourth round, 115th pick – 2010).
In fact, the jury is still out on his 2011 middle rounders, along with Prince Amukamara. Those class members find themselves on the verge of being left off the regular season roster when the season opens in September.
Late-round draft picks from the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds generally don’t stick, much less become dependable NFL starters. So, it’s imperative for general managers to hit on those middle-round picks because that’s where they earn their keep. Seattle Seahawks General Manager John Schneider is still basking in the glow of his 2012 third-round pick, quarterback Russell Wilson. You already know the story. Wilson won the starting job in camp and led his club to the NFC divisional round of the playoffs.
Evaluating talent is a crapshoot. The Giants' shiny, new middle-round picks from this weekend, Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore and Ryan Nassib, are not going to start right away, but Hankins and Moore are expected to make contributions. They won’t face the pressure that six middle-round picks on the Giants’ official roster will see.
Depending on training camp performances, four of these guys could find themselves on the street or in the jerseys of other teams. All are at critical junctures in their careers. Without further ado, here are the uncertain six from the last two draft classes.
Marvin Austin, Defensive Tackle: second round, 52nd pick (2011)
Austin is in danger of losing his roster spot, thanks to the Giants’ acquisition of established veteran Cullen Jenkins and the second round drafting of Hankins, a mammoth defensive tackle from Ohio State University.
The 6-foot-2, 312-pound Austin brings excellent athleticism for a man his size. He ran a 4.8, 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225-pounds an astonishing 38 times in 2011, the year he was drafted. When the Giants got Austin, the team envisioned him as an explosive, pass-rushing force who would anchor the middle of its defense for years.
The University of North Carolina product was a first-round talent who slipped to the second round after being suspended for his entire senior season for receiving improper benefits. There were questions, however, about his work ethic and thus far, those concerns have borne fruit. To be fair, Austin lost his entire rookie season after tearing his pectoral muscle. When he returned in 2012, he hardly made it onto the field: eight tackles in eight games with zero sacks.
Bottom line: Austin finds himself fighting for a roster spot against six other tackles (potentially) when camp opens this summer.
Jerrel Jernigan, Wide Receiver: third round, 83rd pick (2011)
Jernigan’s speed is tantalizing. Before the Giants selected the Troy University receiver with the third round pick in 2011, he blazed his pro day with a 4.32 40-yard dash. It was him, not Victor Cruz, who was seen as the long-term solution at slot receiver. Plus, he brought added value as a special teams returner. But so far, Jernigan has been barely able to get on the field. In his two years with the Giants, Jernigan has amassed – gulp – three catches for 22 yards. Yes, you read that right.
Jernigan may be down to his last chance with Big Blue. The Giants' depth chart at receiver is stocked with talent. Cruz is expected to sign a long-term deal with the team, and 2012 second-round draft pick Rueben Randle showed enough promise to be slotted in as the team’s third receiver (behind Hakeem Nicks and Cruz).
The Giants just signed three-year veteran Louis Murphy, who brings both speed and size to its receiving corps (plus he had a respectable 2010 season, catching 41 balls for 609 yards). Unless Jernigan is able to bring his dynamic speed and big-play ability to the field on Sundays, he could find himself left off of the regular season roster.
Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver: second round, 63rd pick (2012)
One of the offensive weapons poised to make a big jump in 2013, Randle is a do-everything receiver. He’s a big, fluid athlete who can get separation down the field and make plays after the catch. He showed some flashes last season, particularly in that Week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He grabbed four balls for 58 yards and snagged two touchdowns. Scouts believe he could stand to be a more complete route runner.
Randle's not the most explosive receiver, but he can be a capable vertical threat. The sky is the limit for this kid, especially in the eyes of Giants nation. Many expect him to be a more than capable replacement for the long-departed Mario Manningham.
James Brewer, Offensive Tackle: fourth round, 117th pick (2011)
Who? Exactly. When you’re asking that question in 2013 about a guy who was drafted two years ago to be David Diehl’s replacement, you know there are issues afoot. When the Giants drafted Justin Pugh with its 19th pick this weekend, it was a referendum on what the team felt it had with the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Brewer.
Giants’ fans and football experts alike are not quite sure what Brewer can bring to the field. When the Indiana University player was drafted, he was seen as a project with intriguing size and quickness, but needed more polish and technique. The Giants believed it could make him into a player. So far, everyone is left waiting – and waiting some more.
Adrien Robinson, Tight End: fourth round, 127th pick (2012)
Perhaps Reese set the bar too high when he proclaimed Robinson the J-P-P of tight ends after he selected him in the fourth round last year. J.P.P. represents the initials of Giants All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, an athletic “freak.”
Yes, Robinson brings tantalizing athleticism; the 6-foot-4, 264-pounder was clocked at 4.56 in 40-yard dash at his pro day – an impressive time for a TE. At the University of Cincinnati, his alma mater, Robinson was underutilized in the offense, grabbing just 12 balls in his final season. He was seen as a product that lacked polish. Big Blue believed it could make Robinson into a player.
When the Giants lost Martellus Bennett to the Chicago Bears, many thought that Robinson would be the heir apparent. Then the team signed unrestricted free agent Brandon Myers, a sure-handed tight end who had a banner year for the Oakland Raiders (79 receptions, 806 yards in 2012). What’s more, the Giants passed up the opportunity to draft blue-chip Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert, who was on the board when the team made its first-round selection. Big Blue believes in Robinson.
Can he live up to the hype and make a contribution on the field as a No. 2 tight end? So far, nobody knows.
Jayron Hosley, Cornerback: third round, 94th pick (2012)
Hosley had a respectable rookie season, playing in 12 games and starting six of them. He made some plays too, snagging an interception, deflecting five passes and making 40 tackles.
Hosley is a blazer, with impressive ball skills and coverage ability (he clocked a 4.38 40 at last year’s NFL combine — unofficially). It didn’t help that he reportedly tested positive for marijuana at last year’s combine, either. That incident and concerns over his small frame led to his draft slide. The 5-foot-10, 178-pound corner was available toward the end of the third round for the Giants last year.
But just when the Virginia Tech product thought he was done with school, he was taken back there a few times last season, thanks to some veteran receivers. He was burnt by Santana Moss for a 30-yard touchdown in Week 7 against the Washington Redskins, for example. Hosley also made other mistakes, like getting whistled for drive extending penalties in games against the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to a report from the Newark Star-Ledger, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell suggested that Hosley keep a notebook on the different receivers he’s faced, recording their tendencies and tactics. While Hosley’s place on the roster is secure, the Giants expect him to challenge veteran corner Corey Webster for the starting job opposite Amukamara.
Hosley faces considerable pressure entering this season. Still, the Giants brass hopes he can step up and dish out his own lessons along the way.
Tacuma R. Roeback is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+