Reese Leads Off With Home Run

By now you know that Jerry Reese made a smashing debut in the 2007 draft, where seven of his eight draft picks played significant roles as the Giants captured the Super Bowl title. While we're all well aware of this fact, TGI decided to take a closer look at exactly how and why Reese's rookie draft was such a success.

Of course, the humble Reese refused to take any credit for any of it.

"Our scouts did a real nice job of identifying the super class of rooks who came right in and filled some holes for us," Reese told TGI. "Our coaches also did a tremendous job getting them ready to play and they made strong contributions to our Super Bowl run. Hopefully we can duplicate that same kind of production in this year's draft."

But since we have the final say here at TGI, we're giving him all the credit. Of course the scouts do their very important part, but Reese ultimately pulled the trigger on all of these rising stars. Here's a closer look.

Aaron Ross – He certainly didn't play at all like a rookie in 2007. It took a few games for Ross to work himself into the starting lineup, but once he arrived he wasn't going anywhere. New York's first-round pick started nine games and finished with three interceptions, 53 tackles and 1.5 sacks. By the time the playoffs rolled around the league was already well aware of his ability and didn't throw his way too often. Ross' most memorable moment came on Oct. 7 against the Jets. He was benched for the first half after missing curfew, but responded by picking off Jets QB Chad Pennington twice in the fourth quarter, including a 43-yard touchdown return that salted away Big Blue's victory. To borrow an overused cliché that actually applies here, the sky is the limit for Ross.

Steve Smith – Same goes for New York's second-round pick. He showed just exactly how talented and dangerous he was from the offseason mini-camps on through training camp. However, his season was cut significantly short during New York's second game against Green Bay when he broke his shoulder blade. That unfortunate injury cost him 11 games, limiting him to only eight catches for 63 yards in the regular season. But he exploded in the postseason, catching 14 passes for 152 yards. He was a third-down specialist, moving the sticks on key plays during all four games. His 12-yard catch on third-and-11 set up Eli Manning's Super Bowl game-winning pass to Plaxico Burress. He'll be heard from this coming season and countless more to come.

Jay Alford – The rookie stepped right in as the short-snapper for field goals and did a very solid job. He finished the year with eight tackles and recorded his first career sack on Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia on Dec. 9. Alford's playing time steadily increased as the year went along. His rookie year will always be remembered for his huge sack of Tom Brady that stunted New England's final desperation drive in Glendale. He figures to earn more and more playing time going forward.

Zak DeOssie – Like Alford, his biggest contribution came as the long-snapper for punter Jeff Feagles. Unlike Alford, he didn't record one of the bigger sacks in Super Bowl history. He participated in every game and also chipped in heavily on special teams, posting six tackles during the regular season and five more during Big Blue's Super Bowl run. He doesn't appear to have much of a role as a linebacker – yet.

Kevin Boss – Talk about finishing fast. Boss played so well in crunch time that he had Giants fans talking sacrilege – calling for him to replace Jeremy Shockey. In place of an injured Shockey, Boss started the six biggest games of New York's season – the final six. He finished the season finale with four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. In the postseason he caught a huge third-down pass in Dallas and then made the second most famous catch in the Super Bowl when he posted a 45-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter. While he still needs work as a blocker and the Giants have no plans of trying to move Shockey any time soon, Boss proved to his entire team and the entire league that he can play in a big way.

Adam Koets – Poor Koets will always be the answer to a trivia question: who's the only guy among the Super rookie class of '07 not to make an impact? Well, at least he got to suit up once last season, seeing time on special teams in the playoff win in Tampa Bay. It's hard to tell what the future holds for the 6-5, 300-pounder from Oregon State, but it's safe to say he'll play more in 2008 than last year. But make no mistake about it; he gets a Super Bowl ring just like everybody else.

Michael Johnson – Perhaps New York's unlikeliest rookie hero, Johnson played in all 20 of New York's games and started five during the regular season. He played very aggressively, often making plays, but occasionally finding himself out of position due to his aggressiveness. Johnson displayed excellent ability on blitzes. He broke up four passes during the regular season and three more during the postseason. MJ shined brightest in back-to-back road starts in December when he posted a combined 16 tackles in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Ahmad Bradshaw – After a slow start to his rookie year, Bradshaw delivered the shot heard round the world for Giants fans when he busted loose on an 88-yard touchdown run to clinch New York's playoff-clinching victory in Buffalo. Bradshaw's 151 rushing yards in that game were the most by a Giants back other than Tiki Barber in more than a decade. Bradshaw stepped up his game in the playoffs, rushing for 63 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay and then leading the Giants with 45 rushing yards in the Super Bowl. He also chipped in heavily in the kickoff return game, breaking free on a 68-yarder in Detroit, while averaging 24.2 yards per return.

Aaron Ross – He can already flat-out play, and is still learning.

Steve Smith – The perfect guy to replace Amani Toomer, whenever that is.

Jay Alford – His last play of the season was his biggest.

Zak DeOssie – Solid snaps and even better downfield coverage.

Kevin Boss – Superb stretch run, but not ready to replace Shockey just yet.

Adam Koets – Still waiting for a shot; it might be a while.

Michael Johnson – There's a starting safety spot just waiting for him.

Ahmad Bradshaw – Provides not only lightning but a little thunder as well.


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