The New York Giants went into the 2014 NFL Draft looking to add a few things: a playmaking WR to help QB Eli Manning, depth along the offensive and defensive lines, a tight end, a weak side linebacker and a potential difference maker at RB. Consider most of those things accomplished.
Odell Beckham (WR, LSU) at no. 12 was a solid value. That’s right in the range most were projecting him to go and with Eric Ebron (TE, UNC) off the board a few slots earlier, this just made a whole lot of sense. With the inconsistent Hakeem Nicks gone via free agency, Beckham will complete a good triumvirate of receivers with Victor Cruz and Reuben Randle. My only question is if the G-men could’ve traded down a couple slots with someone willing to move up for DT Aaron Donald (who went 13 to the St. Louis Rams), and taken Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State), who has a very similar skill set to Beckham and is comparable in talent.
Weston Richburg (C, Colorado State) wasn’t a popular pick by the fans, but those in the industry thought this pick made sense. The value was right on and the Giants had little depth or potential on the interior of the offensive line. Richburg is a classic Giants linemen: athletic, tough, versatile, smart and armed with a blue collar work ethic. Plus he can play both center and guard and has good mobility and athleticism. He could very well be the starting center by week one.
Jay Bromley (DT, Syracuse) in the third was the biggest head scratcher of the class, mainly because most were anticipating him to go in the 6th or 7th round, if even drafted at all. Still, he offers good upside as an interior pass rusher even though he needs to get stronger at the point of attack. I actually think undrafted free agent signing Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina) could be the best addition to the group long term.
With the turnstile at running back last year most were anticipating the Giants to finally find a reliable 20-carry per game back who can hold on to the rock. Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams (RB, Boston College), who ran for 2,177 yards last year, looks like he could fill that void. He offers good size (nearly 6-feet, 230-pounds) and sneaky speed. He won’t burn you on the outside, but is a strong one-cutter who can get upfield. His hands and blocking need work to help out on third down, but between he and Rashad Jennings, who just signed via free agency two months ago, expect a physical and powerful interior run game.
Nat Berhe (S, San Diego State) and Devon Kennard (OLB, USC) were the teams two fifth round picks. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Berhe pick, mainly because he’s a borderline draftable talent, is limited athletically and doesn’t offer much long term upside. He’s decent against the run, but the Giants stable of safeties are all strong against the run.
I’m a fan of the Kennard pick, though I don’t see his ceiling being maximized at OLB. I think the Giants should move him down inside to his more natural edge rushing DE spot where his pass rush skills can be capitalized. He offers a heck of a lot more long term upside than recently signed backup Robert Ayers and would form a good edge rushing rotation of Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore and Mathias Kiwanuka.
Bennett Jackson (CB, Notre Dame) was the seventh round pick, and while he’ll be a longshot to make the team out of camp, he’s a schematic fit for DC Perry Fewell’s preference for zone coverage.
All in all, another good haul for the Giants. I’m surprised TE and a pure weak side backer weren’t truly addressed, but this team has a good track record for draft day decisions. The offense made some big strides with Beckham, Richburg and Williams, and the defensive front continued to stockpile athletes who can get to the QB.