Archive for April, 2009

2009 Draft Preview

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I haven’t written a post since I’ve been vacationing in Southern California for 10 days, but I’m back at the perfect time: the NFL draft. But much has happened over the last two weeks, and two months for that matter.

First, the big news is the demise of Plaxico Burress. It’s a real shame, because the guy is so talented and never realized what he could probably have fully attained. He was one of my favorite players (the man had a place on this website’s main banner!) and the Giants wouldn’t have won the big one without him, but it’s obvious Plax no longer wanted to be a Giant. He wasn’t going to change his ways, clearly demonstrating that with his lack of communication to the Giant brass who through this entire ordeal supported him and said the right things. This behavior and the uncertainty of his trial pushed the Giants into a corner and they decided to cut their losses and move on. Burress may have been upset with the Giants trying to deny him his roster bonus and withholding game day checks, but clearly the man in the mirror was the problem.

In between that entire fiasco, the Giants had a great free agency period, but also lost some players. Gone are WR Amani Toomer, RB Derrick Ward, and S James Butler. Time to replenish via the draft. Admittedly, I do not watch a lot of college football, so I get most of my info on the draft by scouring the Internet, and watching NFL Network. In particular, I enjoy the combine. Who am I kidding? I just like NFL Network.

But I do know the Giants and have a good feel of how they draft. Going into this weekend’s crap shoot, the organization is in a great position. The only glaring weakness is the obvious number one wide receiver position, courtesy of Plax. A lot of teams would love to be in the shape the Giants are, but then again, the bar is raised now. Four straight playoff appearances. A Super Bowl title. A young and deep team. Another Super Bowl is the immediate goal. Back when the 2007 playoffs started, I just wanted Eli to get a playoff win under his belt. Times have indeed changed.

With a total of 10 picks (including five in the top 100), the Giants will surely trade a few of those for choices next year. While conventional wisdom would say drafting 10 players gives you the best chance, percentage wise, to get a hit on blue chippers, I’m not sure exactly how many roster spots the Giants will actually have. The team is very deep. Conversely, if the Giants are to pull off some draft day trade (Braylon Edwards’ rumors were prevelant by now have died down) for some of those picks, you’ll want to keep what’s left over to fill out the draft. As I have said in different posts, the Giants have options.

While best available athlete is the Giants’ way, I think they will focus on a few areas. Obviously wide receiver is on their radar. A few names I like are Hakim Nicks and Kenny Britt. Britt is particularly interesting being from Rutgers. Nicks might not be there, but I think Britt will be. But I will say first round picks on receivers scare me, as they seem to be boom or bust. Another area is depth on the offensive line. The Giants have been fortunate not to have any serious injuries the last few years. I admittedly cringe every time Kevin Boothe came in for Kareem McKenzie last year. I can see him at guard, but not tackle. Similarly, Adam Koets and Guy Whimper continue to be prospects who haven’t proven anything. A name I like is AZ tackle Eben Britton who probably would be there at #29. I also like the versatility of Oregon’s Max Unger, who can play all three line positions. He could be a second round selection.

With the linebackers, I’d like to see someone drafted to push and eventually replace (next year) Danny Clark as the SAM. Backup TE Darcy Johnson has talent, but the Giants won’t wait for it to translate onto the field and could grab one of a variety of pass catching TE’s in round two or three. As always in today’s NFL, don’t pass on a good corner. The Giants go four deep there, but injuries can happen and it wouldn’t surprise me if they grab something they like fairly early, especially with Kevin Dockery operating on a one year deal.

I think the most interesting selection could be a running back. With all the success the Giants have had with backs since Coughlin’s arrival, you begin to wonder how much it has to do with the offensive line? Right now, it’s Jacobs, Bradshaw, and the unproven Danny Ware. Many people are high on Ware. But I pose this question: if either Jacobs or Bradshaw got hurt, are you confident in Ware stepping up? Derrick Ward came from equal obscurity and we saw what he did here. But I think if a good running back is sitting there, particularly one that is well rounded (can run and catch) I think the Giants would bite. Remember, a playmaker doesn’t necessarily need to be a WR or TE. I want to see the Giants make the swing and screen pass part of this offense. That’s been missing.

I guess the point of all this analysis is, when it’s the Giants turn to pick, they will look at their draft board and ask themselves “who is the best player out there?” And that’s who they will probably take.

Becoming Bleak For Burress?

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Plaxico Burress’ trial date was pushed back to June 15, which doesn’t bode well for the Giants’ enigmatic WR. My initial thoughts on this were Plax would get probation and then deal with the bigger hurdle of convincing the Giants, and Tom Coughlin, he was ready to come back and be a team first guy. But news of this adjournment tells me both sides can’t come to an agreement on a plea.

Burress obviously wants probation, or at most three months I would think, so he can get back to playing football ASAP. The prosecution is probably looking more at six months to a year which is very consistent with similar plea bargains. Which side will blink first? I distinctly believe now if Plax doesn’t play this year with the Giants, his career in New York will be over.

This new date hurts the Giants from the perspective that the draft, and potential draft day trades, will (probably) be completed by the time Burress’ fate becomes fact. Surely the Giants had prepared for this and will act accordingly.

There have been Braylon Edwards rumors circulating, but I wonder why the Browns would deal him after already trading their other blue chip receiver, Kellen Winslow Jr. Are the Browns going into complete rebuild mode? Edwards is intriguing because he is the closest thing to a Plax clone out there. He’s got size, commands a double team, and can make catches despite being covered. But he has led the league in drops the last two years. If you were going to make a case for Edwards, it’s that a change of scenery could do him good. Edwards would be a free agent in 2010 so making a trade would require you sign him first, and the Giants are not in a position to give Edwards a decent contract considering their cap number. Edwards would be hitting his first free agency and want to cash in. An Eli Manning extension could, however, buy the Giants some more cap room this year. Rumors had the Giants giving draft choices and a player, but I hope the dangling of Dominik Hixon was untrue as I have high hopes for him as a key contributor in both the passing and return game.

Boldin is in the news it seems every other week, but I contend the Cards won’t deal him. That’s unless of course you consider the rumor of the Giants offering this year’s one and three, and next year’s number one as bait. That rumor was complete crap. Boldin hasn’t played a full season in the last four years and plays the game in too physical a way that, IMO, will shorten his career. On top of all that, the number one reason Boldin wants out is, surprise, money!! Succumbing to Boldin would mean making him one of the top three paid wideouts in the league, and as I said, his injury history to me says it’s not worth it.

I still feel the very best option, sans Plax, is getting Tony Gonzalez from the Chiefs. He’d be less costly in terms of trade value than either Edwards or Boldin, and would give the Giants that unique look of two TE’s I have been talking about for over a year now. And you could still draft a WR prospect and hope for Manningham to step up this year, resulting in a “by committee” effort at wide reciever. Alas, salary cap issues could come into play here too with Gonzo’s contract.

So what will Reese do? The good thing is the Giants as a team right now will do two things very well: run the ball and play defense. That wins football games. They’ve got plenty of draft picks, now five in the first three rounds after getting a comp pick for Gibril Wilson. I suspect that drafting is the route they are going to take.