General manager Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin deserve a great deal of credit for building and maintaining a Giants team that has won two of the past five Super Bowls, each of which they won after entering the game as the underdog to the New England Patriots.
And yet, while there is no question that these two men are the decision-makers in New York, the philosophy they followed in the 2012 draft is a long-standing one with the Giants that existed long before either joined the team.
One could have made the argument that entering draft weekend, the Giants' top priority was to address an aging offensive line. Long-time starting right tackle Kareem McKenzie was not re-signed. The Giants love William Beatty's athleticism at left tackle but he missed the second half of last season with a torn retina and hasn't been able to participate thus far in OTAs due to a back injury. David Diehl has been serviceable operating on the blindside when needed but is better suited inside. Journeyman Sean Locklear was signed via free agency but at this stage of his career he's viewed as more of a stop-gap starter rather than a building block.
Despite the questions on the offensive line, the Giants elected to fill other areas of concern with their first three picks, saving the developmental picks for the Day Three developmental rounds -- just as Big Blue has been doing for years.
While the Giants boast some of the better skill position talents in the league in quarterback Eli Manning and wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, few might realize that this offense finished fifth in the NFL a year ago in the passing game, considering the shuffling they had on the offensive line. The fact that the Giants finished dead last in the league last season running the football (regular season) better demonstrates the troubles New York had up front in 2011. And yet, seemingly as an organizational philosophy, the Giants elected to focus elsewhere than the offensive line in the first round -- just as they have virtually every draft for the past quarter century.
One has to go back all the way to 1999 when the Giants last used a first round pick on an offensive lineman (Luke Petitgout, Notre Dame). Prior to that, the Giants hadn't used a first round selection for another ten years, selecting center Brian Williams out of Minnesota in 1989.
In an age when most NFL teams are making offensive linemen -- especially offensive tackles -- a significant draft day priority, the Giants are bucking the trend and reaping the benefits of developing their "big uglies."
Fourth round offensive tackle Brandon Mosley fits in precisely with this strategy.
Mosley signed with Auburn after a successful junior college career on the defensive line and at tight end. Frankly, he wasn't expected to emerge as a starter as a junior with the Tigers but out-worked some of Auburn's more high profile signings and emerged as a standout at right tackle. Scouts who went through the program to watch Cam Newton and Nick Fairley more than a year ago left noting that if Mosley had the tenacity, toughness and work ethic to emerge as a top-end starter in his first season at the position against SEC competition that he'd likely be able to help relatively early in his NFL career despite his inexperience.
Mosley, 6-5 and 318 pounds, has the length, strength and physicality the Giants prefer up front but there is no denying he is a project who'll have to adapt to New York's driving blocking scheme after playing in Auburn's spread attack. He's already been singled out by Coughlin, however, as a candidate who could see time at not only right tackle but guard, as well. In many ways, Mosley is similar to Diehl, a former University of Illinois guard, who the Giants selected in the fifth round of the 2003 draft.
As the season nears, expect the media's focus to land on the Giants' first two selections -- and for good reason. While Virginia Tech's David Wilson was a bit of a surprise in the first round, the Giants needed help at the position considering how much they struggled running the football a year ago, as well as the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw is coming off of a down season after a breakout 2010 campaign and that Brandon Jacobs signed as an unrestricted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers. Wilson is similar to Bradshaw in that he's a hard man to bring down cleanly. Wilson, not Trent Richardson, led the Class of 2013 running backs in terms of yards after contact.
Similarly, with the loss of Super Bowl st
Skill position players are always going to get the hype. In terms of "finding the fit," however, the Giants may once again have found a terrific match for their offensive line by simply waiting until Day Three.
The rest of the Giants' picks:
1st Round - No. 32 overall - David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
2nd Round - No. 63 overall - Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
3rd Round - No. 94 overall - Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
4th Round - No. 127 overall - Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati
4th Round - No. 131 overall - Brandon Mosley, OT, Auburn
6th Round - No. 201 overall - Matt McCants, OT, Alabama-Birmingham
7th Round - No. 239 overall - Markus Kuhn, DT, North Carolina State
Read more about all of the Giants' draft picks here.