When Jerry Reese took over as Giants general manager for Ernie Accorsi seven years ago he had the magic touch. It seemed Reese couldn’t miss when it came to picks in the middle to late rounds.
But in the last few years, Reese has lost his drafting mojo. The result is that the Giants talent pool has been drained and their depth diminished. It showed up last year when the team got off to a 0-6 start and finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs two years after winning the Super Bowl. You don’t have to tell Reese that he needs to find his mojo in the 2014 NFL draft, which begins on Thursday with the Giants selecting No. 12 in the first round.
“We should want to do better than we’ve done in the past, the last few drafts in the middle and late-round picks,” Reese said during his annual pre-draft press conference last week.
“There are different reasons why guys don’t make it. Sometimes you just miss on guys and we’ve done that. Sometimes there are injuries.”
The Giants current roster has no players drafted in the third round or later between 2008-10 and only one part-time starter (linebacker Jacquian Williams) who was selected in the third round or later between 2011-13.
Receiver Jerrel Jernigan, who was selected in the third round in 2011, was looking like a lost cause until he started showing flashes late last season.
Reese has been trying to find a decent starting linebacker in the draft since 2009. He’s missed on Bryan Kehl, Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard and Adrian Tracy. He also struck out with defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who was selected in the second round in 2011.
Reese will have plenty of opportunities to redeem himself in this year’s draft. The Giants have seven picks in the upcoming draft - first round (12th overall), second round (43rd), third round (74th), fourth round (113th), two fifth-round selection (152nd and 174th) and a sixth-rounder (187th). They don’t have a seventh round pick, having traded it to Carolina for linebacker Jon Beason and additional compensatory pick in the fifth round.
“Your first three picks, you want to get some guys who can come in and contribute right away,” Reese said.
The Giants definitely need help along the offensive line and they could use a game-breaking receiver to replace Hakeem Nicks. The chances are slim that the two top tackles in the draft, Greg Robinson of Auburn or Jake Matthews of Texas A&M are going to be around at No. 12. But the Giants would be overjoyed if Zack Martin of Notre Dame and Taylor Lewan of Michigan were still on the board. There is also little chance that receiver Mike Evans of Texas A&M will still be around. But you never know.
If cornerback Justin Gilbert is still on the board the Giants will be fortunate. And they will also be tempted to select him, because he is a talented, rangy cover cover with outstanding playmaking ability. With quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Robert Griffin III in the division, you can never have enough playmaking cornerbacks, and it has been an area where New York has been vulnerable in the last couple of years.
But it’s those later rounds, where Reese used to spin gold, that the Giants need Reese to work his magic. If he can hit pay dirt with that third, fourth and two fifth round picks, then the Giants will be back on their way to restocking the talent and becoming the team that has won two Super Bowl championships under Reese’s seven year watch, and not the team that has missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons.