NFL Draft – Day 1 Wrap-up

Day one of the draft is over, and the Giants got their man in TE Jeremy Shockey, the impact player they were looking for. But did they blow an opportunity to get another impact player?

Despite the best intentions of the Giants to put a Clinton-esque ‘spin' on being caught with their pants down when all the decent OLT prospects were chosen yesterday, the fact is they blew it. Plain and simple. Few believed that Chris Bober would be looked upon post-draft as the starting OLT but now it looks as if that is most certainly the case and no amount of PR can change that fact.

The Giants rightly felt that they had to trade up in the first round to take TE Jeremy Shockey when WR Donte Stallworth was chosen 13th overall by the Saints – the Giants would have been satisfied with either and stayed at 15 had the Saints chosen another player – and the Titans were being offered a trade by Seattle specifically to get in front of the Giants to take Shockey. Most people were amazed we traded up to go only one spot but what exactly was the alternative? Let a potential Pro Bowler get ahead for want of a 4th round pick and take someone much lower rated on the draft board? No way. Shockey was a top 5 choice on the Giants draft board and you don't lose an opportunity to draft someone rated that highly with the 14th pick. Ernie Accorsi and the coaches did the right thing in making the trade and I think history will prove that over the next decade.

The 2nd round, they had OLT Mike Pearson as their primary target but he was taken by Jacksonville a heartbreaking 5 picks in front of the Giants and though the team discussed other options at the position, they felt that none of the players available rated highly enough on the value board to be selected with the 46th choice overall. It was pretty obvious that Pearson was going to be taken by either the Chargers or Jaguars – the two teams most mentioned as taking an OT in the first round but who chose prospects at another position in the top 10 – and the Jaguars are renowned for chosing ‘local' talent and it doesn't get much more local than right on their doorstep! Should the Giants have traded up? Probably, but then having given up a 4th round pick to draft Shockey, they didn't have the ammunition to do so unless they traded a player – Hilliard – away pretty quickly and that never happened.

That's why I can understand the choice of WR Tim Carter instead of a lesser OLT prospect, not condone it as I felt there were better players still available at other positions – and some were receivers – but understand it. He's fast. He's a ‘player' as opposed to being an ‘athlete'. He has little experience of a big-time passing offense (the Tigers offense is both simplistic and plagued with poor QB play) but when he gets the ball in his hands he makes things happen, he just never got the ball that much. He returns kicks explosively, can run by any DB with his 4.32 speed and he comes from a family of star athlete's so he knows what it takes to prepare for action. He stepped up at the Senior Bowl when he went in a virtual unknown and came out a major talking point of the practice week. Ron Dixon he ain't. There is nothing in Carter's background to suggest he can't find the classroom, won't study on the rare occasion he stumbles upon it, falls asleep in meetings and can't remember the playbook. Any comparison between the two can therefore safely be limited to their both having blinding speed and come from Florida. Will he be the deep threat the team has been missing so badly? He certainly has a chance. Can he step up this year to start? If the Giants believe so, Ike Hilliard could find himself cut in camp for his cap value even if they can't find a way to trade him today to get back into the 4th round.

As far as I'm concerned the third round choice of OT Jeff Hatch (Penn) was nothing more than panic setting in along with the realisation that Chris Bober is not going to be able to handle blindside pass protection against the likes of Hugh Douglas, Bruce Smith and Ebenezer Ekuban. Don't even think about it – neither can Hatch, especially not as a rookie. There is a reason 71% of all starting OLT's in the NFL were drafted in the 1st round – you need an awful lot of talent to be able to play there so teams have come to the realisation that they have to spend a high pick to find someone that can do the job. We didn't do that so why should we expect to find one of the 29%?

So what attracted the Giants to Hatch other than the fear of having to explain to the fans, media and most of all QB's, why they ignored the most important position on the OL despite a serious need two years running? Well, Accorsi says "Hatch has talent, intelligence, toughness and size, and he was the very last left tackle available in the draft. There just weren't a lot of them this year." Well, most of that is true. I just think he's stretching the truth on the talent part! Hatch fits the height requirements of the Giants (he's over 6'6", just like they prefer) but he's not particularly big at 307lb's and teams thought so much of him they forgot to invite him to the Combine in February. Hmmmm.

In truth, their doesn't appear to have been many alternatives to Hatch at the time of his selection with other NFL teams falling over themselves to ‘reach' badly for players like Chester Pitts and Langston Walker earlier on that won't help them anytime soon. Hatch may create some competition in camp but if the Giants expect us to believe that an Ivy League player can make the step up to starting OLT in the NFL as a rookie – if ever – they have another thing coming. From GM Ernie Accorsi's own lips came confirmation that Hatch ‘didn't get to the highest level of competition' but ‘more than held his own' at the Blue-Gray game. That game has few good NFL prospects yet he didn't dominate in it. It spells mediocrity. I hope I'm wrong but I think this guy is Accorsi's usual 3rd round bust, another misguided attempt to outsmart the rest of the NFL and then convince everyone by media manipulation that what quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and looks like a duck is in fact a superior football prospect.

Anyone still wandering about the identity of the Giants offense can now see it clearly. We are the wanna be Rams. We want to be a downfield passing team who creates mismatches in coverage and scores quickly, we just forget that having a sturdy line to keep the QB upright is a prerequisite to that. Does this style of play fit in with the cold and blustery weather, the grass field and the smash-mouth beliefs of the fans? No. But that's the way it is. This is fast becoming a finesse team offensively and every player the Giants have picked offensively the last few years is fast for their position, not just for their size.

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