The Giants have always been known as a team that finds the little gems in the later rounds. But this year may be different.
The ones making the real impact this year, at least from rookie standpoint, are the picks that came in rounds 1, 2 and 3. The others? Developmental or, in the case of seventh-round running back Da'Rel Scott, a total flier.
That's the way things usually go for most of the NFL. But the Giants have historically found productive players in the later rounds. However, the last positive there came in 2008, when current middle linebacker Jonathan Goff joined the team. Last year's seventh-round punter, Matt Dodge, has been a disaster so far, so Jerry Reese really could use a surprise contributor among fourth-round tackle James Brewer, sixth-rounders Greg Jones (LB), Tyler Sash (SS), and Jacquian Williams (LB), or the seventh-rounder Scott.
The guy with the best shot at that, of course, is Jones. The All-America middle linebacker was once regarded as a first-round possibility, but a bad combine performance sent his stock plummeting. Still, the Giants had a high grade on him and were delighted when they saw he was still around at the 185th pick overall.
He can play strongside, which has a glaring opening right now unless second-round bust Clint Sintim steps up bigtime. Or he can go in the middle. And he could play a mean special teams.
"(Jones) has been incredibly productive over his time at Michigan State," Reese said. "One of the things that the late Tom Boisture taught me is when you scout guys, you respect production. This guy has tons of production. This guy has sacks. He has tons and tons of tackles. He's played at a high level, very instinctive player.
"Another guy who's going to come in with a chip on his shoulder because I'm pretty sure he feels like he should've been picked a lot higher than where he got picked. He'll come in here with something to prove as well, along with Marvin Austin."
The top three picks have a chance to be outstanding, barring injury. Cornerback Prince Amukamara has outstanding coverage abilities that have been compared to those of Darrelle Revis, which is saying a lot. DT Austin, who didn't even play in 2010 because of a year-long suspension, has run-stopping and pass-rush ability in the middle. And the Giants may have found a returnman to complement Domenik Hixon in Jerrell Jurnigen.
On the surface, not a bad draft at all. But if one recalls, last year's draft wasn't considered bad, either. Until, that is, second-round DT Linval Joseph couldn't get a uniform on gameday, S Chad Jones wrecked his car and himself, LB Phillip Dillard couldn't cut it at MLB, and LB Adrian Tracy got hurt in training camp.
Fifth-round G Mitch Petrus did look good in limited playing time, but we still need to see more of him.
We don't even need to talk about Dodge. Frankly, it's surprising the Giants took that seventh-round flier on a running back rather than a punter to at least provide training camp competition for the likeable but ineffective Dodge.
For his own sake, Reese needs this draft to work out if only to make up for last season's flop. The bar is set low, though. If Amukamara and Austin contribute significantly, that's twice as much production as the Giants will have gotten from the last class.
And a late-round surprise wouldn't hurt, either.