The New York Giants are one of the most-successful franchises in the history of American professional football and the history of the NFL. New York has eight league championships to the club’s name, and included among them are four Super Bowl victories. While no team hits on every draft, the Giants have located true gems in the first rounds of the annual player-selection process.
Championship quarterbacks. Hall of Fame players. Perhaps the greatest defensive player in the history of pro football. These make up just some of the first-round picks made by the Giants through the years.
Here are the top 10 first-round picks in New York Giants history
10. Mark Ingram Sr. — WR — 28th Overall in 1987
Ingram will never be in the team’s Ring of Honor. He caught only 136 passes in his six years with the Giants. He has largely made news following his playing days for his legal troubles that landed him behind prison bars.
None of that matters regarding this piece.
Ingram checks in at No. 10 on the list for one memorable moment in particular. The Giants were facing third-and-13 when playing against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV when Ingram caught a pass roughly six yards shy of the marker. He then broke no fewer than five tackles and eluded over half of the Buffalo defense en route to earning the first down and keeping what would become a touchdown drive alive.
That remains, to this day, one of the greatest plays in the history of the Giants.
9. Mathias Kiwanuka — DE — 32nd Overall in 2006
Kiwanuka has never been the best pass-rusher in the league in his eight seasons with the Giants. He has merely, when healthy, been a defensive mainstay for the team, one able to feature at defensive end and outside linebacker. There were worries back in the fall of 2010 that a serious neck injury could prematurely end his playing career.
Since then, Kiwanuka has appeared in 48 regular season games.
Kiwanuka got to quarterbacks six times in 2013, but there are, among some analysts, worries that the 31-year-old is fading. There is speculation that 2014 could be his final season with the Giants.
8. Ike Hilliard — WR — 7th Overall in 1997
The Giants are not a franchise known for having a long list of all-time great wide receivers in its history. Hilliard was overshadowed during his New York career by the fact that he played alongside Amani Toomer, the best WR to ever wear a Big Blue jersey. Hilliard also happened to be selected in the same draft that the Giants acquired running back Tiki Barber.
Hilliard currently sits fifth all-time in receptions in the history of the Giants with 368. The only player on the roster of the team close to leapfrogging him on that list is Victor Cruz. Cruz has 241 catches in three years with the Giants.
7. Terry Kinard — S — 10th Overall in 1983
Kinard is one of the more under-appreciated members of a championship New York defense. He started in 99 of 105 contests in seven years with the club, picking off 27 passes during his time spent with the Giants. Kinard was named to the Pro Bowl in 1988, and the team regards him as being part of the foundation of its first ever Super Bowl championship.
Kinard left the Giants in 1989 at No. 7 all-time in team interceptions. He joined the Houston Oilers for a single season, grabbing four interceptions in 1990. Life after football hasn’t always been kind to him, but that doesn’t affect Kinard’s standing here.
6. Rodney Hampton — RB — 24th Overall in 1990
It’s easy to forget how well Hampton played for the Giants due to the fact that, outside of his first season in the league during which Hampton had only 109 carries and the club won the Super Bowl, he featured during what was a down time for the franchise. New York made the playoffs twice during Hampton’s playing days, the second of which came in 2007 when he appeared in just two games.
Hampton rushed for over 1,000 yards in each season from 1991 through 1995. He had 45 rushing touchdowns during that period. Hampton retired having rushed for nearly 7,000 total yards, and he was a two-time Pro Bowl player.
5. Phil Simms — QB — 7th Overall in 1979
Simms’ NFL career got off to a rough start. He won just 14 games in his first three seasons in the league, and there was speculation that his inconsistent play and his being injured could result in Simms, who was rather unpopular among the New York fan base, being traded or cut by the team.
Then came 1984, when Simms began to live up to expectations. He would, along with a great New York defense, eventually make it to Super Bowl XXI, where Simms had himself a historic outing. He missed on only three of 25 passes, two of which were dropped by receivers. To this day, that is widely viewed as being one of the best games had by any NFL quarterback on any day, let alone in a Super Bowl.
4. Philip Rivers — QB — 4th Overall in 2004
It was known on the first night of the ’04 draft that the Giants were going to have to take Rivers and then trade him to the San Diego Chargers in order to land Eli Manning. Manning will forever have his critics for what have been shaky seasons, his latest coming in 2013.
The bad does not outweigh the good though, concerning Manning’s NFL career. It never will. He and wide receiver Plaxico Burress were the team’s MVPs of the Super Bowl run that occurred in 2008. Manning was the star of the team’s championship win back in February of 2012.
He has two Super Bowl-winning drives under his belt. Manning will retire as the greatest quarterback in the history of the Giants. He will, if he hoists the Vince Lombardi trophy once more, likely be enshrined in Canton.
3. Carl Banks — LB — 3rd Overall in 1984
Banks may not have been the most famous member of the New York “Big Blue Wrecking Crew,” but that does not diminish how solid of a linebacker Banks was when at his best. Banks had four or more sacks in five NFL seasons, and he thrice had over 100 tackles in a campaign. He was an All-Pro in 1987, and Banks was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2nd Team All-1980s Team.
Banks was a key factor for the Giants’ Super Bowl victories in 1986 and 1990. He was the defensive MVP for Super Bowl XXI, during which he had 14 total tackles (10 solo).
2. Frank Gifford — RB — 11th Overall in 1952
Gifford is remembered for carrying the football with the Giants, but he was far more than just your average running back. Gifford dabbled at wide receiver. He played on the defensive side of the football. Gifford even threw the football at least once in 11 pro seasons.
Gifford made eight Pro Bowl teams from 1953 through 1963, and he was a first-team All-Pro on four occasions. He had more yards from scrimmage (1,422) in 1956 than any other player, and he won multiple MVP honors for that season. Gifford was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
1. Lawrence Taylor — LB — 2nd Overall in 1981
It’s easy, because it was decades ago and also because he has gotten himself in plenty of trouble since he stopped playing football, to forget just how good Taylor was when with the Giants. Taylor was named to every Pro Bowl team from 1981 through 1990, and he was an eight-time first-team All-Pro. Taylor sits tenth all-time in career sacks, and he revolutionized the way that fans and analysts view pass-rushing linebackers.
It is often said of great defensive players that opposing offensive coordinators have to scheme against those play-makers. Putting together a game plan against Taylor when he was in his prime was an impossible task. It was a guarantee that Taylor was going to make an impact on the game, and thus surviving him was the name of the game for quarterbacks.