Archive for April, 2008

2008 Draft Preview

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Unfortunately for the Football Giants, they’ll be picking last in every round of the ’08 draft. But the good news is they are picking there because they claimed the Lombardi Trophy in 2007.  More good news is in the state of the current roster. With no glaring weaknesses, the Giants will be in a position to pick the best available player, regardless of position, which I have pointed out before is always the best drafting policy. Free agency brought a backup QB (David Carr), some insurance at linebacker (Danny Clark), and the resigning of RB Derrick Ward to the deepest backfield in football. Still, there are obviously a few positions where the Giants will look to improve and upgrade, so let’s take a look.

Last year’s first pick, Aaron Ross, was really a nice selection by Jerry Reese. Not only did he take over starting duties by the fourth regular season game, but Ross played like he belonged. The Giants, I believe, would love to select a corner that could team with Ross over the next several years. That’s not to say savvy Sam Madison is out by any means, but the Giants need to think about eventually replacing 34 year old vet. While Corey Webster played extremely well in the playoffs, I am not ready to concede anything. Plus, in this age of four and five WR sets, you can never have enough cover guys. I certainly expect a corner on Day One.

Safety is an interesting position. The Giants have a player that seems more suited for a backup role (James Butler), a stop gap veteran presence (Sammy Knight), and a player (Michael Johnson) that could be ready to take over a starting spot based on what he showed last year as a rookie. Johnson is really the key here. If he can make the jump to full time starter, then being paired with either Knight or Butler would be an adequate tandem. But the Giants still need depth here, and a safety on Day One makes more and more sense.

Linebacker, a Giant tradition. Not anymore. We hear more and more that linebackers aren’t that important in Steve Spagnulo’s schemes. Poppycock. Give me an athletic linebacker that can blitz and cover and tell me Spags can’t use him?  Thing is, the Giants feel they have that, namely third year man Gerris Wilkinson. The Giants let Kawika Mitchell walk in free agency because they think Wilkinson is ready to start, and shine. We’ll find out. Kiwi, Pierce, and Wilkinson is solid corp, and Steve DeOssie hopefully can take the next step and start getting snaps in a relief role. I’d still like a Day One pick to be spent on a linebacker, either inside or out.

Do the Giants shock everyone by taking a DE with their first pick? Remember how we all fell out of our seats when Kiwi was picked in ’06? Here’s the deal. While we want Strahan to come back, any good football team starts preparing before a player retires. And  here is the perfect time to draft an end who can absorb Stra’s wisdom, much like Stra did when drafted back in 1993 (remember, Strahan wasn’t an instant star by any means). Plus, with the rumor of Osi potentially holding out this summer, the Giants may want to be proactive and protect themselves. I do think a DE will be picked in this draft. The Giants will also be on the watch for a DT.

See a trend here? I’ve written about nothing but defense, but then again I am old school. The Giant D was good last year, but they can be very good. While I don’t want them reaching for defensive players, that side of the ball is still the area to build upon.

Offensively, the Giants scored 30 or more points six times. The have a QB who is just hitting the cusp of his prime, playmakers at multiple positions, and very good line play. Mostly everyone is young. They are extremely deep at RB and TE (barring a trade of Shockey, a rumor that appears to be picking up steam).  I don’t really see a lot of weaknesses here that need to be addressed in this draft. Two areas I could see picks being spent on: offensive line and WR. With the former, you can never have enough big bodies and a pick here seems likely, perhaps even in the first round. With the latter, I can only see taking a WR if the player on the board is simply the best player available.

Reese will have eight picks, including three in the sixth. I’ll have a recap a week after the draft. Good night, good drafting.

Shock It To Me

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

The rumors that have been circulating for the last month involve Jeremy Shockey to the Saints for safety Roman Harper and their second round pick (40th overall). The trade on the surface appears to have some validity. Shockey had his greatest success under Saints HC Sean Payton when he called the plays in New York. Plus, for different reasons, Shockey is not the focal point of the Giants offense (in fact, he greatest contribution currently may be his blocking in the running game). And when you consider that the Giants most pressing need is at safety, the trade makes even more sense (Harper started every game for the Saints last season). However, in my opinion, the trade should be avoided by both teams, and here’s why.

First, from the Giants perspective, Shockey is a proven commodity in the NFL. While he may not be the dynamic player he was early in his career, he still draws the attention of defenses and as mentioned above, really is a fine blocking TE.  Combined with the emerging Kevin Boss, the Giants have great depth at this position (something that proved invaluable last year). With Boss, Shockey’s role may not be that prominent anymore, but he can still be very effective.  Shockey doesn’t have to be the superstar TE, just a good TE. That old adage applies: less is more. Furthermore, Shockey is signed through 2012, making him even a more attractive asset. There are of course the well known negatives. Shockey is way too animated on the field, and frankly doesn’t back it up anymore. He doesn’t appear at times to be on the same page as Eli Manning (whose fault that is debatable, but it’s Shockey who doesn’t show for voluntary workouts). He still suffers from the occasional drop, and is constantly hampered by nagging injuries. I feel these negative, however, will be squelched due to the fact that this is now a football team, and it’s Eli’s team. That mark was stamped with the performance in the playoffs. Shockey will have little option but to follow marching orders.

From the Saints perspective, this player and a high pick is too much to give up and why would you be willing to give up a young defensive player when your main weakness is on that side of the ball? Harper was a high draft choice in 2006 who has started every game when healthy (21 games total), putting up nice stats. There definitely appears to be more upside to Harper’s game. Would Shockey enhance their offense? Surely. But you’d have to wonder about the baggage mentioned above that he would bring. The Giants can minimize this because Kevin Boss can take some of the focus away. With the Saints, Shockey would be front and center, and you’d be giving up a second round pick for a player that you can make the argument for is on the decline. But a change of scenery could just be the tonic needed for Shockey.

So is this truth or rumor? Would Jerry Reese really pull the trigger on this deal? Remember, Reese is playing with house money – he won the Super Bowl last year doing it his way. He rid the team of constantly injured players such as Pettigout, Emmons, and Arrington. Is Shockey next? Harper solves the safety issue, but immediately opens a hole at tight end, not a very strong position in this year’ draft. In all honestly, the trade makes more sense from the Giants perspective, as they’d be trading a player they don’t get max performance out of in return for more youth.  In the end, though, I’m biased. I like Shockey, despite all his faults and believe that the combination of him and Boss will be dynamite. If it were next year, I’d be more tempted to make the trade. We’ll see if it happens, but I hope Shock stays. But I am not Jerry Reese.