Some who are quick to praise New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese forget that many parts of the team's two title runs since February 2008 were acquired by the Giants before Reese was given his current gig. Yes, Reese has had a hand in every draft since joining the team's scouting department two decades ago, but it must, for the purposes of this piece, be pointed out that Reese was named Giants' GM and Senior Vice President on January 16, 2007.
The foundation of a Super Bowl champion is built through the draft, and the record books say that Reese built multiple title-winners in five years. You do have to go back and examine those draft classes round by round to appreciate just how much Reese and his staff got right through the years.
As you'll see, however, the Giants have also been responsible for a good amount of draft flops in recent history. Follow along as we grade each Giants draft class since Reese officially became the team's GM and Senior Vice President in 2007.
7 New York Giants 2007 Draft Class
20th pick overall - CB Aaron Ross: What were arguably Ross' best seasons coincided with those two New York Super Bowl champion sides. He picked off three passes as a rookie, and Ross then had 60 tackles and four interceptions in 2011 before cashing in on a big deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars following his earning a second ring. Ross, who rejoined the Giants in 2013, could be replaced via a future draft pick this coming May, but his importance to those two championship teams can't be overstated.
51 - WR Steve Smith: A torn ACL ended Smith's New York career and his NFL career far too early, but that hardly means that Smith was a bust. He caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns, his best season as a pro. Only diehard fans of the club give Smith credit for his main contribution to the team's win in Super Bowl XLII.
81 - DT Jay Alford: Alford helped the Giants turn the undefeated Patriots into an 18-1 side with this hit. That's good enough from a third round pick, at least it is for me.
116 - LB Zak DeOssie: DeOssie molded into a pretty good long snapper, he is a team captain, and he has won two championships with the Giants. It just keeps getting better.
153 - TE Kevin Boss: Boss was responsible for a 45-yard reception in Super Bowl XLII, and he was a solid, yet never great, option for quarterback Eli Manning. The tight end left the Giants after the 2010 season, and concussions have since forced him to retire. Still, he was a great value-get for the Giants in '07.
250: RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw could go down as Reese's best ever pick. He averaged 8.3 yards per carry in his rookie season. Bradshaw never ran for fewer than 659 yards in a season from 2009 through 2012. He twice went for over 1,000 rushing yards (2010 and 1,015). His best days, and perhaps his playing days, are behind him due to a series of foot injuries, but that doesn't eliminate just what a steal Bradshaw was for Reese and for the Giants.
Others: T Adam Koets (190), CB Michael Johnson (224).
Grade: Best class of the bunch.
6 New York Giants 2008 Draft Class
31 - S Kenny Phillips (31) / 63 - Terrell Thomas: I purposely linked these two together because their stories are very similar. Both showed plenty of promise and talent when on the field, but neither could stay healthy for long stretches of time.
Patellofemoral arthritis discovered in 2009 ended Phillips' season after only two games. He flashed moments in brilliance in 2010, and he had four interceptions in 2011. Phillips appeared in only seven games in 2012, however, and he hasn't played in a regular season contest since.
Thomas seemed to have the goods to develop into a shutdown corner. He had five interceptions in both the 2009 and 2010 campaigns. Multiple torn ACL injuries kept him off the field through the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons. He did play in all 16 regular season games in 2013, winning a Defensive Player of the Week Award in the process. It is believed that he and the Giants will part ways this spring.
95 - WR Mario Manningham: After a relatively quiet rookie season, Manningham exploded for 99 grabs in 2009 and 92 catches in 2010. He had 77 receptions the following season, and then, in Super Bowl XLVI, Manningham made a catch that will be remembered so long as the NFL exists.
The Giants let Manningham join the 49ers via free agency in 2012, where the WR has never enjoyed the success he did while wearing New York Big Blue.
Others: LB Bryan Kehl (123), LB Johnathan Goff (165), QB Andre Woodson (198), DE Robert Henderson (199).
Grade: Oh, what could have been.
5 New York Giants 2009 Draft Class
29 - WR Hakeem Nicks: A laundry list of injuries that have prevented Nicks from ever surviving a full NFL season will likely keep him from being a great WR. He caught 27 touchdowns from 2009-2012, but he didn't find the end zone once in 2013. Nicks is expected to leave the club and soon.
45 - LB Clint Sintim: Sintim had 33 tackles and one sack in his NFL career. He has retired from playing pro football. It's a swing and a miss here for Mr. Reese.
60 - T William Beatty: All of the good that Beatty achieved with the Giants in the first four seasons of his career was undone by his having a terrible 2013 season, one that came after he signed a new and expensive contract. He then suffered a gruesome leg injury in the final game of the year.
85 - WR Ramses Barden: The lengthy wide receiver never became the red zone threat New York hoped he would be. This is a miss.
129 - RB Andre Brown: Brown has appeared in only 18 games with the Giants, and those came in 2012 and 2013. It's not yet known if he'll be with the Giants next season.
Others: TE Travis Beckum (100), QB Rhett Bomar (151), DB DeAndre Wright (200), DB Stoney Wilson (238).
Grade: Not as good as once thought.
4 New York Giants 2010 Draft Class
15 - DE Jason Pierre-Paul: JPP looked like one of the best pass rushers in all of the NFL in his first two seasons, and he had 16.5 sacks in 2011. He has since been slowed by back problems, however, and some football insiders wonder if Pierre-Paul will ever again be the same.
46 - DT Linval Joseph: Joseph has, in his four seasons, been a middle-of-the-road player. He's accumulated nine sacks and 167 tackles in the past three years, which are solid but not elite numbers. Joseph's status with the Giants remains a mystery, as he is currently out of contract.
Others: DB Chad Jones (76), LB Phillip Dillard (115), G Mitch Petrus (147), DE Adrian Tracy (184), P Matt Dodge (221).
3 New York Giants 2011 Draft Class
19 - CB Prince Amukamara: Amukamara was thoroughly disappointing in his first two seasons, so much so that some were already labelling him a “bust” last summer. The Nebraska product then played well in preseason games, and he had his best regular season to date. Time will tell if 2013 was a one-off, or if the former first rounder will prove to be worth such a high selection.
52 - DT Marvin Austin: Austin played eight games with the Giants. He has had short stints with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Not good.
83 - WR Jerrel Jernigan: Jernigan never really a chance to do much of anything in the New York offense until late last fall. He had 19 catches in the team's final three games of the 2013 season. The idea is that Jernigan will have a bigger role in the offense beginning this summer. We shall see.
202 - LB Jacquian Williams: Williams forced the fumble that helped the Giants win the 2012 NFC Championship Game. That's good enough for me.
Others: OG James Brewer (117), LB Greg Jones (185), S Tyler Sash (198), RB Da'rel Scott (221).
2 New York Giants 2012 Draft Class
32 - RB David Wilson: Wilson has struggled with holding onto the football during his pro career. He underwent neck surgery in January, and it isn't known if he'll be ready for training camp. He hasn't yet been cleared for football activities.
63 - WR Rueben Randle: Randle was, according to many analysts, on the cusp of a breakout season last summer. That didn't happen, but he did reel in 41 of 80 targets, and he found the end zone on six occasions. Reese recently stated that the Giants are expecting “a significant jump” from Randle this coming season.
94 - CB Jayron Hosley: Like others before him, Hosley has not been able to remain on the field. He played in just 23 games in his first two seasons in the league.
Others: TE Adrien Robinson (127), OT Brandon Mosley (131), OT Matt McCants (201), DT Markus Kuhn (239)
Grade: Alarms are sounding
1 New York Giants 2013 Draft Class
19 - OT Justin Pugh: The offensive line of the Giants was downright dreadful for the first six games of the 2013 season. Pugh could not be blamed for it. He started all 16 games at tackle, he allowed only five sacks, and he was only penalized on three occasions. Pugh could be moved to guard depending on who the Giants sign and/or draft this spring.
49 - DT Johnathan Hankins / 81 - DE Damontre Moore: Hankins had 16 tackles in 11 appearances in his rookie season. Moore finished the year with 11 tackles and having played in 15 games. We need to see more from both.
110 - QB Ryan Nassib: Nassib could prove to be New York's quarterback of the future. I highly doubt that future begins anytime soon, though, so he remains a project.
Others: S Cooper Taylor (152), OG Eric Herman (225), RB Michael Cox (253).
Grade: OK so far.