Since entering the league in 2009, Hakeem Nicks has been one of General Manager Jerry Reese's best draft picks. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
New York's General Manager began hitting his stride in 2009 with the selection of a top-flight wide receiver.
Jerry Reese and the New York Giants can't keep it up, can they?
Since taking over as General Manager in 2007, Reese has overseen several of the most productive drafts in Giants history. His predecessor, Ernie Accorsi, might've drafted franchise quarterback Eli Manning and a bevy of the team's cornerstone pass rushers, but Reese has brought a previously unseen level of draft consistency to New York.
Short-term evaluation of those drafts is somewhat of a picky science, considering the majority of the players selected are still playing. Prince Amukamara, the Giants' 2011 first-rounder, remains a highly intriguing and exciting prospect -- but given his injury-shortened rookie season, hardly any concrete assessments can be made on Reese's decision. The same can be said for other recent draft picks like William Beatty, Ramses Barden and Marvin Austin, among several others.
With that said, three years is typically regarded as a fair length of time for draft evaluation. Reese's 2009 draft yielded the Giants' current No. 1 wide receiver, Hakeem Nicks, as well as Beatty, Barden and six other players. Nicks seems well on his way toward a standout NFL career, though legitimate verdicts on the other eight are yet to come.
Round 1, pick 29: WR Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
After a stellar three-year career at North Carolina, Nicks departed the Tar Heels as the program's all-time leader in receptions (181), receiving yards (2,840) and receiving touchdowns (21). Several draft pundits pegged him as a Greg Jennings-type of player, while many pegged him as merely a No. 2 receiver.
Three seasons later -- two of which ended with Nicks as a thousand-yard receiver -- Nicks has found himself in a situation to surpass the great majority of those draft expectations. Much of his success is undoubtedly due to a Giants offense that has blossomed over the past several seasons thanks to Manning, the emergence of fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz and the steadying presence of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
In 2011, according to ProFootballFocus.com, Nicks finished the regular season as the ninth-best receiver in the league with a plus-12.7 grade. Nicks was 12th in the league with 1,192 receiving yards and tied for 18th with 76 receptions. In the postseason, Nicks was even better, leading all playoff contributors with 28 receptions for 444 yards and four touchdowns.
The Giants' offense did lose a significant contributor this offseason in Mario Manningham, but the duo of Nicks and Cruz has proven to be more than enough for Manning. With the emergence of one more receiver -- perhaps Barden or 2011 third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan, or even a rookie this year -- New York's offense will be in prime position to pick up where it left off last year, with Nicks as an impressive No. 1 receiving option.
Round 2, pick 45: LB Clint Sintim, Virginia
When discussion turns toward the few high draft picks that haven't worked out for the Giants under Reese, Sintim nears the top of the list. The popular draft website WalterFootball.com, along with others, compared Sintim pre-draft to Julian Peterson as a linebacker that can player in a variety of spots and excel as a pass-rusher.
Yet, two right ACL tears (as well as one patellar tendon tear last season) in two years have marred any Sintim might've made in adjusting to pro football. Sintim is unsure if he'll be ready for the start of training camp, but with his contract at $565,000 for the season, he can be a bargain contributor to a linebacking core that got significantly younger in last year's draft.
Round 2, pick 60: OT William Beatty, Connecticut
Beatty has started 16 of the 34 games he's played in since entering the league, though injuries have also stunted his development. After playing in 16 games as a rookie, Beatty was expected to compete for the starting left tackle job in 2010. However, a Week 1 foot injury sidelined him for eight weeks and limited him to just eight games. Last season, Beatty started all 10 games he appeared in, ending up on injured reserve by November 30 with a detached retina.
Depending on how the Giants approach this weekend's draft, Beatty could enter camp as the team's starting left tackle. The team has shown several signs of commitment to Beatty, and though he has occasionally struggled in pass protection, he remains on track to justify his second-round pick.
Round 3, pick 85: WR Ramses Barden, Cal Poly
After Plaxico Burress' Giants tenure ended in 2008, the 6-foot-6 Barden was widely perceived as his successor. Since he did come from a Division II school, though, Barden was pegged as a more developmental prospect.
In the three seasons since, Barden's caught just 15 passes for 174 yards -- and no touchdowns, perhaps the most alarming considering his potential as a red-zone target. An ankle injury limited him to just eight games in 2011, though that was the most he's been active for in a single pro season.
Again, depending on this year's draft -- and his health, for that matter -- Barden could be given a grand opportunity to grab the No. 3 receiver spot next season. IF he can, it would be yet another addition to the list of home runs Reese has hit as General Manager.
Round 3, pick 100: TE Travis Beckum, Wisconsin
As the fourth offensive player drafted among the Giants' first five picks in 2009, Beckum was taken almost exclusively as a pass-catcher. Never much of a blocker at all, Beckum had an up-and-down career at Wisconsin that at one time pegged him as arguably the top tight end in college football.
Since becoming a Giant, Beckum's progression has adopted an incredibly slow pace. He's played in plenty of games -- 15, 16 and 13 apiece in his three seasons -- albeit sparingly. Beckum's best statistical season came in 2010, when he caught 13 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. But last year, Beckum's yards-per-catch average rose to 18.6 from 8.9 in 2010.
Then the Super Bowl came, and with it, a torn ACL for Beckum in the first half. He's likely to begin 2012 -- his contract year, with a cap number of $615,000 -- on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, though he's reportedly farther along in his rehab than fellow tight end Jake Ballard, who also tore his ACL against the Patriots.
Round 4, pick 129: RB Andre Brown, North Carolina State
When Brown was drafted, he was seen as an intriguing pick with the potential to factor into the running back picture behind Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. , In his first training camp, however, Brown suffered a ruptured Achilles. Since then, he's hopped around the league with stops in Indianapolis, Carolina, Denver and Washington.
The Giants brought Brown back into the fold last August and he enjoyed a successful training camp, though he was waived again in September and sent to the practice squad.
Then in late March, news broke of a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing substances. Consequently, what once seemed like a promising opportunity for Brown to steal some No. 3 running back duties from D.J. Ware has evaporated, making him a longshot to stick around New York in 2012. Talk has also been gathering recently of the Giants taking a running back in the first round or two this year, potentially Boise State's Doug Martin at No. 32.
Round 5, pick 151: QB Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State
If the Giants hadn't traded for Sage Rosenfels shortly before the 2010 season, Bomar might have been able to justify his fifth-round selection. After off-the-field issues forced him out of Oklahoma and to Sam Houston State, Bomar was drafted in the fifth round, waived later that September and sent to the practice squad. In late December, he was promoted to the active roster, but September 2010 saw him waived again and even more expendable when Rosenfels was brought in.
Round 6, pick 200: DB DeAndre Wright, New Mexico
On the list of 2009 draft strikeouts that began with Bomar, Wright didn't even make it past final cuts in 2009. In between two subsequent stints with the Vikings, Wright spent the first half of the 2010 season with the Cleveland Browns.
Round 7, pick 238: DB Stoney Woodson, South Carolina
The second of two seventh-round defensive backs drafted by the Giants in 2009, Woodson suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the preseason and received an injury settlement that September. He then bounced from the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Indoor Football League. Last season, he played for the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League.