Lookin' Forward, Lookin' Back

Jerry Reese and the entire Giants organization were on top of the world following his first season as New York's general manager. With practically every member of his initial draft class of 2007 contributing to the Giants capturing Super Bowl XLII honors, unfortunately for Reese, there was really nowhere to go but down.

A disappointing first-round playoff exit in '08 was followed by a disastrous 2009 season, after which New York fired its first-year defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan almost immediately.

That brings us to the 2010 NFL Draft, which will serve as the fourth with Reese at the helm. New York's man in charge made a solid jump into free agency earlier this month by signing star safety Antrel Rolle during the first day of the open market. Make no bones about it, Reese and his staff knows the Giants need to improve the roster significantly – and fast.

"I think there are some holes we need to fill defensively," Reese said just prior to the start of free agency. "Are there some guys on the roster? I hope there are, but we're still going to try to go out and fill some spots.

"If there's a guy on the roster that we don't see yet that emerges, fantastic. But we're definitely not going to depend on that. We're going to try to bolster a lot of positions offensively and defensively."

While free agency presented Reese and Co. the first opportunity, they very well know that they need to mine plenty of talent in the upcoming draft in order to make the return to glory they're seeking this season.

"It's a little different this time, but there's a lot of time during free agency, so you can get things done before the draft," Reese said. "It takes a little bit of pressure off the draft and you can be more conscious of picking valued players than trying to reach for your needs in the draft."

It sure didn't seem like Reese did much reaching last season, when New York collected plenty of offensive talent. While most of the rest of TGI's predraft issue focuses on the 2010 draft and how New York can continue to improve, especially defensively, we'll now take a quick look back at how Reese's '09 crop of draftees are looking heading into the offseason workout program.

Hakeem Nicks – It's certainly not too early or presumptuous to declare that Hakeem Nicks is the real deal. Everyone had their thoughts and opinions on what New York should do in last year's first round (and let's be honest here, maybe they should have overlooked Percy Harvin's injury/off-field concerns, huh?). But Nicks proved himself to be a future NFL star pretty much right from the get-go. He carries himself like a veteran on and off the field and clearly wasn't fazed in the least by being the top pick of one of the NFL's flagship franchises. Nicks finished third on the team with 47 receptions, doing so in only 14 games. However, where he proved the most valuable was with his ability to gain yards after the catch. Nicks led the Giants WRs, including Pro Bowler Steve Smith, with a 16.8 yards per catch average. He also chipped in six TDs and turned in many of New York's offensive highlight plays throughout the season. He'll start the 2010 season as a starting WR for sure.

Clint Sintim – For as impressive as was Hakeem Nicks, Clint Sintim was nowhere nearly able to contribute as much or make as big of an impact. Injuries and inexperience led to him playing in only 11 games. And he fared decently in that playing time, posting 20 overall tackles and a sack in that time. But with the Giants linebacker situation deteriorating into the awful category as the year wore on, Sintim was unable to help out all that much. Sintim's versatility and ability to play both outside backer and defensive end are expected to pay off for him and the club. He's likely going to have another high draft pick from this draft with which to compete this summer in training camp.

Will Beatty – Like Nicks, another rookie that made the most of his playing time last season. Beatty clearly looks to be very much in New York's plans going forward. While there haven't yet been any major decisions regarding the makeup of the offensive line, it wouldn't be surprising in the least if Beatty is given a chance to win a starting OT spot, most likely at right tackle. The gentle giant off the field has already proven plenty tough enough physically and mentally to succeed on this level.

Ramses Barden – The big question mark from last year's crop. No one could really put a finger on exactly why he didn't get more of an opportunity to contribute. Barden had an impressive showing in training camp and also seemed capable of helping, if nowhere else than in the green zone, where the offense could take advantage of his size.

Travis Beckum – One member of the Giants organization said before last season that he wouldn't be surprised if Beckum caught 50 passes as a rookie. Yet he only caught eight. Tom Coughlin has already said that one of the club's goals is to find a way to get the athletic tight end more involved in the offense.

Andre Brown – An unfortunate injury in training camp ended his rookie year before it began. With plenty of uncertainty at the RB spot, Brown will certainly have a good opportunity to grab some carries in 2010.

Rhett Bomar – He didn't make the roster out of summer camp last season, but he did stick around on the practice squad all year. While it might be far-fetched to envision him rising to second-string this season, a strong offseason will likely force the Giants to keep three QBs, which they haven't often done the past few seasons.

DeAndre Wright – Wasn't able to catch on in New York's secondary; was last seen with the Vikings.

Stoney Woodson – Same deal here, except Woodson landed with the Bucs.

2009 Draft Glance
WR Hakeem Nicks – The real deal will surely start in 2010
LB Clint Sintim – Jury still out on athletic, soft-spoken defender
OT Will Beatty – Don't be surprised at all if he joins starting lineup
WR Ramses Barden – They have to use him more this year, right?
TE Travis Beckum – Coughlin admits they need to work him in more
RB Andre Brown – Looking to pick up where he left off last summer
QB Rhett Bomar – Definitely has good chance to stick in third QB role
CB DeAndre Wright – Never really had much of shot in crowded secondary
CB Stoney Woodson – Faded fast after a strong start to training camp

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