Was Kiwi correct choice for Giants draft-day?

Paul Schwartz and Ken Palmer discuss the Giants' picking of Mathias Kiwanuka with their 1st pick of the 2006 NFL Draft.

Paul Schwartz: In my draft-day story in the New York Post I tried to cover my bases by listing the names of 15 players the Giants might take late in the first round of the NFL Draft. If I had listed 50 players I wouldn't have written the name of Mathias Kiwanuka, and not only because I was afraid my spell check wouldn't bail me out. A pass rushing defensive end never popped up on my radar screen, which doesn't mean it's not a good pick or that Kiwanuka won't develop into a big-time player. There was no need for the Giants to reach for a player in one of their "need spots'' – cornerback or nose tackle – if they did not consider the player to be worthy of a first-round pick. But the Giants made a big point of saying they are a team in a win-now mode and they wanted their top pick to be able to contribute right away. I'm sure they can get Kiwanuka on the field, but where and how often? The adage that GM Ernie Accorsi used about a team never having enough pass rushers might be valid, but I would counter that a team first and foremost had better make sure it has more than enough run-stoppers. Did you see what happened to the run defense last season when Antonio Pierce went down and out? In two years, Kiwanuka might be the logical replacement for Michael Strahan, making this pick a case of forward thinking, but getting him on the field in a meaningful role as a rookie is a task that will surely tax the creativity of defensive coordinator Tim Lewis. Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and promising second-year end Justin Tuck give the Giants three players who can get after the quarterback and that's also the best attribute that linebacker LaVar Arrington adds to the mix. In time, this pick might look great but for the immediate future I'll forgo the stamp of approval.

Ken Palmer: You're still just seething because you've never heard of the guy. No, the Giants didn't necessarily need another pass rusher, but what exactly did you think was a pressing need? This team has plenty in its starting lineups and plenty more to offer from a depth perspective. I wouldn't have minded a running back or a DT myself, but please, everyone that's jumping off a bridge because they took another DE needs to relax. This team and its GM, who's almost definitely in his final season, aren't looking to groom eventual replacements. With the clock ticking on the careers of guys like Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber, this team is ready to win now. The Giants staff believes that Kiwi can come right in and contribute defensively this season. If that's the case, that's sure better than a running back receiving three carries a game behind Barber. And as for DT, I think everyone's underestimating what they have there. As much as it pains me to say, William Joseph is developing nicely and they'll surely come up with someone out of the rest of the bunch. Perhaps last season has served as a wake-up call to Fred Robbins, or maybe the rookie Barry Cofield will be the real deal right out of the gate. We're all talking about Kendrick Clancy as if he was Randy White in his prime. He was a nice player, but certainly replaceable without the use of a first-round pick.

PS: I have a feeling we're not going to see eye-to-eye on this one, either. I like the selection of Sinorice Moss in the second round, like it a lot. A real speed receiver was a position of need, pure and simple, and there's no one in the draft who can out-run Moss. He'll fly by defenders the way the Mets have flown by your pretender Phillies. Tim Carter was supposed to be that home run threat the offense was missing but through injury and inconsistency he can't be counted on until he does it on the field. Sure, in a perfect world the 5-8, 185-pound Moss would be four inches taller and 15 pounds heavier. If he were, he'd have gone in the top 15 picks. The Giants did a great job of trading down in the first round, enabling them to trade UP in the second round to nab Moss at No. 44. He wasn't as productive at Miami as big brother Santana but he also played in a fairly feeble passing offense. Sinorice Moss can be the perfect complement to big targets Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. Think Az-Zahir Hakim back when the Rams were the Greatest Show on Turf. Moss cutting and darting and taking off on slip screens can do damage getting his hands on the ball only a handful of times in a game. He adds a dimension the Giants lacked and, within this offense, doesn't have to emerge as a big star. This was one of the worst draft classes for receivers in years and the Giants still managed to get someone who can make a difference.

KP: It's hard to argue with a Miami receiver named Moss, but the logical concern – only logical to me, obviously – is whether or not he'll even ever be a starter. The Giants have been looking to establish the replacement for Amani Toomer, and there's really no reason to believe that Moss is that guy. As good as Hakim was, he was always just a number three. And let's not kid ourselves – Plax and Toomer are hardly Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. The Giants would have been better served by sitting tight at 25 and taking either Santonio Holmes or Chad Jackson. Those are guys that are going to be big-time starters for years in the league. Good receiver crop or not, you only need to get one to consider your draft a success. Those two both have a much bigger upside than Moss. And there's no way I'm the only one thinking that Jackson is headed for stardom, if for no other reason than the Giants passed him up and the Patriots then traded up to get him, right? And by the way, wasn't that two out of three in Philly's favor in mid-May?

PS: I love it how the draft ends and two minutes later people are grading how the teams did. I have to admit I wasn't thinking the Giants made out like bandits a few years ago when in the second round they took Osi Umenyiora out of Troy State. Experts say it takes three years to truly rate a draft yet we often do it in three hours. Having made that disclaimer, it looks as if the Giants did fairly well this time around, considering they were selecting near the end of every round. In a best-case scenario, Gerris Wilkinson is a jack-of-all-trades linebacker at the start and eventually replaces Carlos Emmons on the weak side. The Giants would love Barry Cofield to move in as a nose tackle and if he gains some bulk he might do just that. The big project here is Guy Whimper, who on the fourth round out of East Carolina is the hoped-for replacement for Luke Petitgout at left tackle as early as the 2007 season. That's quite a leap of faith for a kid who hasn't even been an offensive lineman very long. Of the top five picks, I have a feeling three of them will work out quite well. For now, it's a B-minus for this draft, a grade Kenny Palmer aspired to at Penn State but rarely attained.

KP: Like you basically said, only a fool would grade a draft immediately…then you go and dish out a grade. Why is it that I'm not all that surprised? Of course, I'll take the intelligible route and grade the draft from three years ago, like we both know is the correct way to go. Of course, it looks like the Giants came away from this year's draft with some hidden gems, but I can remember Paul being all high on the likes of Visanthe Shiancoe and Rod Babers from the 2003 draft and look what happened to those guys. In addition to Osi and David Diehl, who are spectacular and solid, respectively, and William Joseph, whom I begrudgingly must admit once again has a future here, the Giants also unearthed Pro Bowler David Tyree with their third pick in the sixth round. Have to give them a B+ for their '03 efforts. Paul's efforts this issue? Incomplete, and that's being generous.

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