John Fennelly, Lead Writer
What I liked about this draft: They covered a lot of needs with quality young men who are mature enough to step right into NFL life. Favorite pick was center Weston Richburg in Round 2.
What I didn’t like about this draft: They whiffed on getting a big, pass-catching TE, an OT to push Will Beatty and reached in Round 3 with DT Jay Bromley.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.: I spoke with NBCSports’ Josh Norris before the draft and we talked mainly about Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin and Beckham. We liked all three and Josh expounded on the virtues of Beckham. He is a Hakeem Nicks-type that plays more like Victor Cruz. At the same time, Gil Brandt was saying that he thought Beckham could end up being the most productive WR to come out of this draft. That is not as crazy as it sounds, because the two wideouts taken in front of him — Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans — will be playing in offenses headed by young QBs, neither who has played a full season in this league.
Beckham will do several things for the Giants. He will line up in Nicks’ old spot and make play after play. He will push the newly-signed returners to the limit, if not take one of their jobs. His presence keeps Victor Cruz — in my opinion the best slot receiver in the game — in the slot, while taking the pressure off Rueben Randle on the other side.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen the Giants land OT Taylor Lewan, who went to the Titans the pick before the Giants took Beckham. He has an edge to him and would bring an intelligence and toughness to the Giants’ offense they haven’t had here in awhile. But, Beckham brings some positives too. I’ve never heard anyone say a player stretches the field “both ways” until this season when listening to the scouting reports on Beckham.
C Weston Richburg: I was reminded this week that the center touches the ball before the QB on every play. He gets everyone lined up and sets the tone and timbre of the offensive line. All winter long, Giant fans were wondering what the plan was at center. They can wonder no more. The plan is this: Weston Richburg. I know they signed JD Walton this offseason, and by admission Jerry Reese said Walton was looking good at OTAs, but make no mistake — Richburg will be running the Giants’ O-Line before long.
He was the highest-rated center in this draft by many and the first one selected. I love this pick and no one can knock me off my pins about it. I think he is the best part of the Giants’ 2014 draft class.
DT Jay Bromley: There were at least three rounds worth of draftable DTs left when the Giants called Bromley and interrupted his Friday movie night. Even Bromley was taken aback when the Giants called. He was watching the film “Gravity” with his girlfriend when he picked up the phone and thought he was being punk’d. I thought I was being punk’d, too.
Bromley will not be asked to hold back all waters on the DL, but there were some better options at DT and other positions at Pick 74. Notre Dame’s Louis Nix and UNC’s Kareem Martin were still on the board. So was Miss State’s Donte Moncrief, a big, vertical receiver that will now catch passes from Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. Either way, Bromley is a leader and a hard-worker and that is what the Giants are willing to sacrifice by prioritizing character over talent.
RB Andre Williams: The Giants got the BC star in Round Four, and no one around me or whom I spoke with had a problem with the pick. Nobody really sees him as the feature back he was in college, but he will not turn down carries and will persistently pound away between the tackles as well as look to bust a long run. Much has been made of his lack of receiving skills, but the Giants will look to get him up to speed on that. Williams was eyed by the Giants ahead of LSU’s Jeremy Hill, who many see as a star in the making. I personally would have preferred Hill, but since the carries are going to be split between 3-4 backs here this season, there’s not much of a difference.
Tom Coughlin and the rest of the front office decided to go with the BC legacy pick and the cleaner player. Williams comes highly accompished as the Doak Walker winner and let us not forget, he led the nation in rushing, gaining 2177 yards while scoring 18 TDs. Nice job by the Giants here.
DB Nat Berhe: A bit of a surprise at the time, but not so much now that we know what the Giants were looking for in their draftees. Another team captain who is mature and understands the role he will play. He’s a bit smaller than you would like, but has a great motor and uses his intelligence to get by where his physical attribute come up short. He’s a box safety at this level because of his height and may not be able to cover receivers downfield. Not sure who’s spot he takes on the roster. Giants will likely use Berhe as a backup safety and in sub packages as well as hope he can develop into a special teamer as a gunner although he does not have a lot of experience on special teams. On the surface, Behre appears to be a more refined version of Jayron Hosely rather than a replacement foe Will Hill.
LB Devon Kennard: Many were wondering when the Giants were going to address LB or DE in the draft. They did both with this pick in the fourth round. Kennard is another high-character, team captain that can play all three LB spots, DE and special teams. Another quality athlete coming out of the dumpster fire USC became in the wake of the the Lane Kiffin era. He is the son of former NFL offensive lineman Derek Kennard and will have no problem acclimating to the pro atmosphere.
His physical skill set is not what you would prefer for an NFL OLB and his pass rush game needs work, so he’s sizing up to be a STer at first. Consistent with the trend in this Giants’ draft class, but we’ll have to wait and see how the Giants plan to use him.
CB Bennett Jackson: A former WR that was converted to corner at Notre Dame. Considered a “long” corner at 6’0″, 195. Still developing as a defender but can play a role in special teams coverage and return teams. Also served as a team captain. The Giants are looking to catch lightning in a bottle here. With few roster spots available this summer, not sure if he makes the club. May end up as a practice squad player.
Overall Grade: B-
No TE, no OT and did little to help the pas rush. Yes, they covered several needs, but the team had fallen fallow in so many areas, one draft just wasn’t going to cover all the. Given the full-throttle effort by Jerry Reese in free agency, there are very few openings on the roster and the players selected in this draft – outside of the first two picks – are all at positions where the team employs a rotation.
Beckham and Richburg are projected to be starters but the rest look to be simply part-time players , STers and general depth. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but other teams in the league managed to fare much better in the draft than the Giants did this weekend. They are bringing in quality human beings, and I respect that, but I can’t help thinking of the words of Leo Durocher (“Nice guys finish last”) and Vince Lombardi (“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”)