Apr 30, 2008

The Giants' Draft

I haven't yet touched on the crop of players the Giants drafted over the weekend, but here goes -

Getting Kenny Phillips from the U with the last pick of the first round was fantastic. He's probably better than either James Butler or Michael Johnson right now, and I could see him starting at free safety as early as week one. It also gives us great safety depth: Butler was the starting FS for the Super Bowl champs (who will probably be the backup), and Johnson is capable of starting on some teams right now. I didn't watch many Miami games last year, but from watching highlights and reading up on him, Phillips is a tremendous talent who was projected to go in the top 15 heading into his junior year - he slipped to the bottom of the first round after an inconsistent year. It's hard to characterize his biggest strength because he is solid in every aspect: he has prototypical size (6'2", 208), runs a sub-4.5 40, is a good tackler and blitzer, and played in one of the toughest college football conferences. I'm very excited to watch him, especially with our incredible pass rush - it could be easy pickings in the secondary for the good safety tandem of Phillips and Sammy Knight. After all, the pass rush made a sub-par secondary look good last year; imagine what a good secondary would look like.

- Terrell Thomas, a cornerback from USC, was taken in round two, followed by Mario Manningham, a high-upside Michigan wide receiver in round three. This will create some interesting roster battles in training camp as the Giants have seven corners and seven receivers. At least one from each group will be either cut or assigned to the practice squad.

- The givens at WR are Plax, Toomer and Smith. Moss, Manningham, Tyree and Hixon will all compete for the last few spots. I'm pulling for Manningham mostly because I want to hear announcers say "Manning to Manningham!" Hixon has a lead over the others because he's a very good kick returner, while Tyree is an excellent gunner on special teams. Moss can also return kicks but has very limited experience in that area (10 kick returns in his pro career, the last coming in 2006). My best guess is that Hixon is assigned to the practice squad, allowing Moss and Bradshaw to return kicks. Don't get me wrong, Hixon is a very good kick returner, but Bradshaw is just as good and you can't cut Tyree (the team's best gunner).

The cornerback depth chart is a bit easier to predict. The givens are Ross, Webster and Madison. That leaves Thomas, McQuarters, Dockery and Pope to fight for spots. Pope was last on the depth chart in '07 so he's most likely to be cut/reassigned. McQuarters is old (32) but is still a serviceable corner and punt returner. Dockery is very solid as a 4th corner, and usually lines up against the opponent's small, speedy receiver. Thomas is big (6'1", 202) and at the very least should be an excellent special teams gunner and occasional blitzer. My guess is Pope gets assigned to the practice squad, allowing McQuarters or Ross to return punts.

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