Now that there has been ample time since the draft to digest the Giants picks, let’s rank their best selections and discuss the impact they might have this year.
Shepard could end up being one of the steals of this years draft. Shepard is a polished route-runner who excels in the slot. Former Pro Bowler Victor Cruz should be back this season, but at this point no one knows what to realistically expect from him. If Cruz is either still not healthy or just not the same caliber of player he used to be, then Shepard can fill in and thrive in the important slot role in Ben McAdoo’s offense. Shepard is one of the best route runners in the class and Pro Football Focus gave him a +27.8 receiving grade which ranked second among all wideouts in the draft. He’s a shifty slot receiver, though he’s capable of winning on the outside to keep cornerbacks honest. Shepard is an excellent complement to Odell Beckham on the other side, and should make an immediate impact in year one.
2. Paul Perkins
Perkins was a fantastic value pick in the fifth round. Perkins dropped on draft weekend largely due to the perceived value of the running back position in the current NFL. However, Perkins is an exceptional runner who arguably was among the top running backs in the draft. Pro Football Focus gave him a +29.0 rush grade and 114.7 elusive rating, which were both the best among all running backs in the class. His 73 missed tackles forced ranked second to only Derrick Henry’s 76, and he did so on 160 less carries. Perkins should not have trouble surpassing Rainey or Andre Williams on the depth chart, while Shane Vereen continues to be an asset in the passing game and should still be utilized primarily in that role. Rashad Jennings has been an effective runner when healthy and given the opportunity, however he has missed time due to injuries multiple times in the past, and just turned age 31 last month. Perkins should see work as a change of pace back throughout the season, and he has a legitimate shot to challenge Jennings as the primary ball-carrier as a rookie.
3. Eli Apple
Apple possesses the size (6’1) and speed combination that NFL teams look for. His 40 yard dash time of 4.40 was the 7th fastest among 48 defensive backs at this year’s NFL combine. Apple projects to be an excellent man coverage corner, capable of locking on to opposing receivers as well as any player in the draft. This is undoubtedly Apple’s biggest strength, as his speed allows him to follow receivers all over the field. Apple is only twenty years old, and he will likely be a project during his first few years. He was inconsistent at times at Ohio State, but he has the upside and potential to develop into a high quality starting cornerback.