John Fennelly, Lead Writer
I’m not much for these “draft needs” pieces, unless they comprehensively address needs that can be filled by a can’t-miss rookie in that coming season. My philosophy is fill your immediate needs in free agency and build through the draft.
If you’re a GM and you draft based on immediate needs, you’ll always be relegated to doing so. Your team will lose and you will be fired.
Many people forget, these guys are rookies, kids. They will have so much on their plate at the beginning, it’s almost impossible to ask them – and expect them – to solve your problems out of the gate.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t draft out of need and hit on player here and there. It does happen. You just better have a backup plan, that’s all.
Here’s the reality…the Giants have had only four players start every game in their rookie season in the past 33 years: Lawrence Taylor (1981), David Diehl (2003), Barry Cofield (2006) and Justin Pugh (2013).
Taylor, of course, was an anomaly – nothing like him before, nothing like him since. Diehl was 6th-rounder who got it from Day One. Cofield was the same – a mid-round overachiever, a gamer.
Pugh is perhaps the best example of what the Giants are thinking in this draft: a player that can walk right on to field and play. Not many wanted the Giants to take Pugh. NFLN’s Mike Mayock and yours truly were the only two saying they would be satisfied with the pick.
A year later, it’s hard envisioning the Giants not taking Pugh. He wasn’t the best player on the board, but he was the right one. A team player that will give you 110% every day. He got better as the year went on, and he’ll continue to improve.
This year, I expect the Giants to do the same. It is a bit different since they are selecting 12th overall. Last year, they had the 19th pick. At 12, you can fall for some fool’s gold instead of sticking to the plan.
As a result, they may not take the most talented player in Round One. The player they pick will be one they feel is best for them, not what mock drafters see as filling an open need.
The fact is, all your draft picks should fill needs. It may not be this season’s needs, but the next season’s and beyond.