Tag:rookies
Posted on: October 30, 2008 2:45 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2008 11:54 pm
 

Giants 2008 Draft Progress Report

"You've gotta find a way to get out of your own way so you can progress in life" - Steve Carlton

I thought a quote from a Phillies Hall of Famer would be appropriate on this day. So, in anticipation of the pain that will shoot up my spine and into the walls of my chest cavity, let me say... Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies and all their fans. You *gulp* deserve it. 

Every Giants fan knows the success the 2007 draft has afforded us. By week 15 of last season (in Buffalo) we started to see the special qualities of the players selected in Jerry Reese's first draft as General Manager, and the immediate forces they could be for this team:

1st round - Aaron Ross
2nd round -Steve Smith
3rd round - Jay Alford
4th round - Zak DeOssie
5th round - Kevin Boss
6th round - Adam Koets
7th round - Michael Johnson
7th round - Ahmad Bradshaw

Only Koets (Kareem McKenzie's backup at right tackle) has yet to have a real opportunity to play. Alford is doing a great job as the long snapper (the importance of which we now realize of due to the unfortunate injury to Greg Warren in Pittsburgh last week) and has made his presence known on the defensive line as well (remember the sack on Tom Brady during the final drive of the Super Bowl?). DeOssie and Bradshaw have been key contibutors on Special teams, not to mention Bradshaw's "Fire" as the third member of the most powerful running game in the league. Johnson and Ross are starters in the secondary, and despite Ross' up and down performance this year are better at their roles than those who previously filled those slots. Steve Smith leads the team in receptions this year, and along with Boss was a major part of Eli Manning's passing game in the playoffs last year.

So how is the class of 2008 looking so far? It's much too early to know - or predict - the impact these players will eventually have. But still, it is the half-way point of the season, and now is a good time to see where each player stands, and whether or not expectations should be high - or guarded.

 Round 1 (#32) - Kenny Phillips (FS) Miami: The only reason Phillips is not starting is because Michael Johnson has performed adequately so far this season. Johnson showed flashes of play-making ability during the playoffs last year, and has not made crucial mistakes that would force Tom Coughlin to make a permanent switch to Phillips. But Phillips was drafted for the express purpose of replacing Gibril Wilson, who was lost via free agency to the Raiders. Kenny Phillips is an extremely intelligent player; he rarely misses an assignment and seems to be in on every play. Recognizing his ability, Steve Spagnuolo has made more of an effort to include Phillips in multiple formations to get him out on the field. Week by week, Phillips is getting more playing time. He's a hard hitting safety that - at 6'2", 215 pounds - has the ability to out-muscle bigger receivers. He has shown he can cover the middle of the field, and is effective beyond his experience in blitz packages. His combination of awareness and speed to get to the ball and punish opposing players is already evident. It won't be long before Spagnuolo gives him the majority of playing time over Johnson.

 Round 2 (#63) - Terrell Thomas (CB) USC: Disappointingly, Thomas has not had much of an opportunity to show us what he's got. He was inactive for the first four games with a hamstring injury. Since joining the lineup, he's registered 4 tackles in three games. He hasn't been in the Giants defensive mix, and heading into Sunday's game with the Steelers was sitting behind Ross, Cory Webster and Kevin Dockery on the depth chart. With Dockery now out for a few weeks with a fractured vertebra, Thomas may see a significant increase in playing time - especially in nickle packages. I say "may see an increase in playing time"  because Coughlin and Spagnuolo will be looking at Thomas, as well as veterans R.W. McQuarters and Sam Madison this week in practice before determining how they'll cover Dockery's absence.

 Round 3 (#95) - Mario Manningham (WR) Michigan: The third round selection of Manningham was a gamble with the potential for enormous upside. Manningham had been projected as a first rounder at the start of the 2007 NCAA season; surgery for a partially torn MCL in 2006 and a run in with police involving vicodin pills not prescribed to him had teams concerned. After admitting to testing posititve for marijuana at Michigan just before the draft, his stock plummeted. With facing the eventual retirement of Amani Toomer, the slow progress of Sinorice Moss and the ticking time bomb that is Plaxico Burress, the Giants rolled the dice. Manningham suffered a quad injury in preseason, and one thing after another has kept him sidelined. Manningham recovered form a stomach virus just in time for the Seattle Seahawks game on October 5th - his one catch for six yards in that game is his only reception of the year. Late in the third quarter against the Steelers last week, Manningham was pegged for a bubble screen that should have gone for big yardage; Manningham dropped the pass. All in all, it's hard to determine Manningham's place in this offense; remember that last year that Steve Smith appeared in just four games and had a total of eight receptions before becoming Manning's go-to guy in the playoffs. At some point Manningham has to stay healthy and be ready to play every week. The ticky-tack injuries that are just enough to sideline him could be clouding a bigger issue - like the level of confidence his coaches actually have in him. Until Manningham is consistently available to play, we may not get a true read on Tom Coughlin's esteem for him.

 Round 4 (#123) - Bryan Kehl (OLB) Brigham Young: Drafted for his speed, agressive hitting style and instinct, Kehl started the season on special teams and shortly thereafter began splitting time on the weak side with Gerris Wilkinson. Wilkinson's ability to cover receivers brings a much needed dimension to the linebacking corps. The Giants traditionally get killed over the middle of the field by tight ends, and Wilkinson has helped soften the blow of losing Kawika Mitchell. The knock on Gerris is the same concern they had for Kehl when they drafted him - the ability to disengage from blockers. Over the last four games, Kehl's efforts to seperate from blocks is noticeable, but he seems to be relying on his instincts to be more proactive as plays develop. In other words, his understanding of where the play is headed before getting tied up is where he's finding success - his play in Pittsburgh (4 tackles, 1 INT) was evidence of that. It should be interesting to see how Spagnola handles things when Wilkinson returns from his knee injury in a week or two.

Round 5 (#165) - Jonathan Goff (ILB) Vanderbilt: Goff suffered a fractured vertebra in the preseason opener, and has seen very little action since returning for the week 6 game against the 49ers. In what little playing time he's had, Goff seems to be playing catch-up - not yet used to the speed of the NFL. The injury may still be in the back of his mind, as he seems slow in joining plays. Like Manningham and Thomas, We'll know more about Goff when he has more playing time under his belt. With Antonio Pierce and Chase Blackburn at inside linebacker, there'll be no reason for them to rush Goff into a more extensive role.

 Round 6 (#198) - Andre'  Woodson (QB) Kentucky: A three year starter and twice "All-Conference" honoree in college, Woodson was selected in the last round of the draft. He then became a casualty of the last round of cuts by the Giants in meeting the 53-man roster limit. Woodson has since been signed - dropped - and (just this past Tuesday) re-signed to the team's practice squad. Unless something were to happen to Manning or David Carr, Woodson will not see the Giants sideline this season. According to reports, Woodson - who had once been talked about as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate - has a long way to go before being considered an NFL caliber Quarterback.

 Compensatory pick (#199): Robert Henderson (DE) Southern Miss: Released on August 9th.

References: Giants.com ;  sportsline.com ;  michiganzone.com : Ralph Vacchiano - New York Daily News

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com