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Picking Reese’s Brain

Who will the Giants select with their first round pick?   Attempting to predict what is on Giants’ GM Jerry Reese’s mind, we have to examine how the Giants operate as an organization. 

Back in 1979,  the Giants organization was a complete mess.  They were hapless on and off the field.  Besides not making the playoffs in 15 years,  there was chaos in the front office.  Owners Wellington and Tim Mara were feuding.  Clearly, their wrangling caused the Giants to plunge into a deep abyss which culminated with the “Fumble”.  With the Mara’s struggling to get the Giants on the right track, they sought advice from NFL Commissioner Peter Rozelle.  Knowing the NFL needed the Giants to be competitive, Rozelle suggested several canidates for the GM position which included George Young.  When the Mara’s agreed to hire Young as GM,  he became the architect of the Giants organization.  One more thing on George Young… for those of you who have read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, you will know that the great companies (/franchises) have succession plans that are built to last and not built to fail. Young hired both Ernie Accorsi and Jerry Reese. This third title has some of Young’s hand in it. Considering he drafted Strahan and Toomer, perhaps more.  

When Young took over, the Giants did not have a plan to improve. His first move was hiring a head coach who would make the players feel very uncomfortable when they lose. Ray Perkins was hired to ferret out the soft players and end the negative culture which became pervasive throughout the entire team.   Young’s first assessment of the team,  With the defense at least respectable – ”only because it spent so much time on the field,” Young said – the greater need, he decided, was offense.   ”At the time,” Young went on, ”we needed a quarterback and a pass rusher. Once you get the quarterback, you give fans hope and they can sleep better. You can also build an offense around him. Until you do, you try to get stronger on defense.

 Using the Draft to build his team as well as having the right coaches in place, eight years after he was hired, George Young had the Giants in the Super Bowl.  After 19 fruitful seasons at the helm of the Giants organization,  in 1998,  Young stepped down as GM.  Although Young was no longer the chief decision maker, his plan would remain in place.  His replacement  Ernie Accorsi has even written down much of Young’s philosophy.    Accorsi has kept a daily log since Young hired him primarily as what N.F.L. people call a salary capologist. That’s why Accorsi’s philosophy as the Giants’ general manager was basically the same as Young’s.  The belief system which was put into place by Young was:

1. Hire a first rate coach

2. Find a franchise quarterback

3. Have enough pass rushers

Ernie Accorsi  followed Young’s belief system.  Accorsi said, “It is my philosophy and is shared by the people in our organization, you never, never have enough pass rushers,” Accorsi said.  Quarterback, pass rusher, left tackle and corner – those to me are the foundations of your team. But pass rusher comes second.  And when it comes to the draft, Accorsi stated,    “I look at the draft and the offseason in one package. I think we filled needs. I really think that after the second round you can’t give up ground on grades, but all things being equal you need to address needs. I don’t think you should be addressing needs in the first and second rounds. If the need and grade match, then great.  

Speaking of great, since being hired three seasons ago,  current Giants’ GM Jerry Reese has been terrific.  In 1994, Reese was hired by Young.  Subsequently, because of his work ethic and critical decision making, Reese worked his way up to the front office. Groomed for the GM job by Ernie Accorsi,  Reese continues to use Young’s core belief system.  Another of Young’s beliefs is patience. After the way the 2009 season ended, Reese remained patient and did not discard head coach Tom Coughlin.  And he thinks with some tinkering, the Giants can be competitive in 2010.

 Needless to say, as we approach the Draft, let us see if we can figure out Reese’s thinking on the Giants first round pick. This year, Reese will be in charge of his fourth draft. If we look back on the previous three years, Reese has been selecting at the bottom of the first round.

2007: 20th pick

2008: 31st pick

2009:  29th pick

Each first round selection was both value and need. On the contrary, this year, Reese is slated to pick at 15.  This is new territory for Reese. Will he select value and need or will he pick the best available athlete?

So far this is what we know.  Through free agency, Reese addressed the safety position by signing free agents Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. And with Kenny Phillips coming back, the safety position has been upgraded.  Therefore, safety does not appear to be a grave concern. However, there are holes to fill in other areas.  Again, taking into account Young’s philosophy,  the priority is quarterback, pass rusher, left tackle, and corner.  We can deduce the Giants have their quarterback and corner positions satisfied. What about pass rusher and left tackle?  In the past few years, the Giants were tops in the league in sacks. Last year, was a different story. For whatever reason, they did not put enough  pressure on a quarterback. So finding a pass rusher at 15 would be a consideration.  Looking at Wonder’s DE analysis, there is not a defensive end deserving to be drafted at 15.  On the other hand, like Reese found Umenyiora in 2003, perhaps, there is an end the Giants may pick in the second round.

Left tackle is the other position to upgrade. Right now, the Giants have starters David Diehl and an aging Kareem McKenzie. Besides last year’s second round pick William Beatty, the Giants do not have quality depth here.  Again, looking at Wonder’s analysis of tackles, there does not look like there is a tackle worthy of the 15th pick.  Although Mike Iupati is listed as a guard, there is a possibility he can play tackle.

What will Reese do?

Unless Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain falls to 15, Reese will choose McClain as a value and need pick.  And if McClain is not available, going back to the Giants priority list, Reese will use his first round pick on an offensive lineman ie Iupati.  And his second round pick will be a pass rusher. Either he will select a pass rushing linebacker who can cover a running back or tight end or choose a pass rushing defensive end.