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Stonewall Reese

On Thursday, Giants’ GM Jerry Reese held the annual “Seinfeld” pre-draft  press conference.  Did this press conference about “nothing” reveal any clues on who the Giants will draft?

 Here is the pertinent Q and A from the presser:

Q:  One part of the pre draft is always is beyond physical – like the mental side and the personality tests and the psychological evaluations – how critical are those in finding a player that might fit into your team concept?  And also you store that information.  Is it valuable four or five years when you are looking at free agents?

JR:   We have physiological inventories and we do a lot of interview stuff.  That is just part of the puzzle.  We put all of the information in our data base and it could help us down the road – how a guy’s interview was, how his personality profile was.  We always look back on those things.  So we take that into account as well, yes. 

The Giants value personal character. In fact, former draft guru Gil Brandt said this about former GM Ernie Accorsi and current GM Jerry Reese, “Both place an emphasis on intelligence and character when evaluating players.” 

Furthermore, the Giants use the Wonderlic exam and their own exam to further evaluate a player. From the book, The Draft, written by Pete Williams,  the Giants are most notorious for their three hundred-plus question test.  Therefore, when players make their pre-draft visit to the Meadowlands, they want to find out if a player is smart enough to play in their system. 

Q:  Does it make for more in-depth work on those top guys?

JR:  No, not really.  We look at everybody.  We start out with the guy who we think is going to be the first pick. We talk about him just as much as we talk about the guy who gets picked at 32.  So we go through the whole process just as if we were picking 1, yes.

Although the Giants are slotted for the 15th pick, they scout each and every player including the top picks.  If a purported top notch player falls into their laps, they do not want to be unprepared.  

Q:  There has been a lot of talk about the linebackers.  You spent a lot of money on the defensive line.  Do you still think that is an area that needs to be improved across the board there up front?

JR:  Again, I think every position on our football team – I think there could be some improvement in every area – defensive front, the linebackers, secondary, offensive line, running backs, receivers, quarterbacks – it really doesn’t matter.  We are looking for good football players.  And really that is what is important to us.  We try to stockpile good players and try to create competition.  That is what is important to create competition. 

Reese has been a strong proponent about competition.  Speaking of the linebacker position, who is going to challenge Michael Boley for the starting weak side linebacker job?   With Gerris Wilkinson moving to middle linebacker, who else on their current depth chart can challenge Boley?  Kehl?   My guess is the Giants use their second round pick on a weak side linebacker to add depth to their roster.

Q:  Last year you drafted a receiver, but you had a lot of faith in some of the young receivers on this roster.  Do you have any of the same level of confidence in your group of young linebackers who might be thrust into a middle linebacker job if you can’t get one of those in the draft?

JR:  I think there are some linebackers on our team that need to prove that they can do it.  Just like last year, I thought there were some receivers – I do have some confidence in some guys on our roster that haven’t played a lot.  I want them to step out of the shadows and show us what they have.  I do expect that.  But that won’t preclude us from continuing to look to upgrade that position. 

Last year, with the loss of Plaxico Burress, the wide receiver position was the major focus.  Before last year’s draft, Reese did down play the position. 
“I think people are panicked a little bit about receiver,” Reese said. “I don’t think we’re panicked about it. We have good players that we can win football games with.”  Subsequently, he drafted a wide receiver with the Giants first and third round picks.  This offseason, starting middle linebacker Antonio Pierce was released.  The Giants do have to add depth to the middle linebacker position.  Again, I think Reese will add a middle linebacker with his third round pick.

Q:  Who are you speaking about specifically?

JR:  All of the guys that haven’t played a lot – Kehl, Wilkinson, Jon Goff played a little bit at the end of the season – those kind of guys.  There is another name it seems like I’m forgetting.  But anyway – all of the guys haven’t played a lot.  I expect those guys – this is their opportunity to step out of the shadows and show us what they can do.

Q:  Sintim.

JR:  Sintim hasn’t played a lot.  He is a second round pick.  You expect those guys to come in and play.

Last year, second round pick Clint Sintim did not see much playing time. Some people think head coach Tom Coughlin was the reason Sintim did not see much action. On the contrary,  Sintim was not physical enough.  From Pro Football Weekly,   So what was Sintim’s biggest impediment of getting on the field as a rookie?He knows a little bit more about the pro game now and what is expected of him, the physical aspect of the game that we expect him to be (at)and also taking full advantage of him as a pass rusher,” Coughlin said. 

Q:  I hear what you are saying about improving at all positions.  But when you reflect on last season and the breakdown on the defense over the second half, how will that affect your thinking as far as what you have to achieve in this draft?

JR:  Well, again, last season I thought we had a lot of depth going into the season.  And we had some injury issues.  When you don’t rush the passer up front real well it affects the back end.  I don’t care who you have back there.  Then we had some injuries in the secondary.  Kenny Phillips and Aaron Ross, their season was basically a wash.  They didn’t play much.  In the linebacker situation Boley had two surgeries during the season.  You guys bang on me, but the injuries are what they are.  When I say some of that kind of stuff – I’m not using that for an excuse.  It is what it is – that is what happened.  And I hope they stay healthy.  Depth is always important.  If you can get depth at every position, that is important.  Because I’m telling you, this is a physical, physical game and you are going to have injuries.  That is just a part of it.  But when you don’t have enough depth to overcome that, it makes it difficult for everybody involved. 

On Saturday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen  reported  there is a 60-40 chance the Giants would trade DE Osi Umenyiora for a draft pick. According to Mortensen, three teams  supposedly interested are the Rams, Dolphins, and Panthers.  The cornerstone of the Giants defense is their defensive line and secondary.  Reese said,  “When you don’t rush the passer up front real well it affects the back end.”  Indeed,  in 2009, the Giants did not do a good job of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  They accumulated just 32 sacks in 2009. This is down from 42 in 2008 and a league leading  53 in 2007.  Is it time to replace Osi?  If the Giants can get a second round pick,  I think the Giants should trade Osi. Why?  Historically, the Giants have done very well in the second round.  Here is a list of second round picks from 1979 to 2008:

1979 WR Earnest Gray
1980 No pick
1981 TE Dave Young
1982 RB Joe Morris
1983 DT Leonard Marshall
1984 DT James Robinson
1985 WR Stacy Robinson
1986 DB Mark Collins
     DT Erik Howard
     LB Pepper Johnson
     DB Greg Lasker
1987 DB Adrian White
1988 T Jumbo Elliot
1989 No Pick
1990 DT Mike Fox
1991 LB Kanavis McGhee
1992 DB Phillippi Sparks
1993 DE Michael Strahan
1994 DB Thomas Randolph
     DB Jason Sehorn
1995 T Scott Gragg
1996 WR Amani Toomer
1997 RB Tiki Barber
1998 WR Joe Jurevicius
1999 RB Joe Montgomery
2000 DT Cornelius Griffin
2001 No pick
2002 WR Tim Carter
2003 DE Osi Umenyiora
2004 G  Chris Snee
2005 DB Corey Webster
2006 WR Sinorice Moss
2007 WR Steve Smith
2008 DB Terrell Thomas

Q:  You drafted Will Beatty rather high on offensive line.  You have had continuity at that position for a couple of years now.  Is that something that you want to continue to build on?  You mentioned the word stockpile earlier. 

JR:  Are you asking me if we are looking at more depth on the offensive line?  Every position – offensive line – defensive line – every position – we are still trying to look for depth.  We drafted Will high.  We expect Will to challenge for his spot, create some competition at offensive line.  You love continuity.  If you have the five guys, that is a good thing.  But at some point age comes into play and injuries come into play and you have to have some new blood to infuse into any position.  So we do try to create competition and depth every year at every position.  That is really important for us.

Twenty two years ago, the Giants offensive line was in the same predicament as they are today.  Back in 1987, with the Giants losing all three of their replacement games, they finished the season with a 6-9 record.  And with injuries to offensive linemen Karl Nelson and Chris Godfrey, the Giants running game snarled.  Fast forward to 2009, the Giants rushing attack struggled because offensive linemen Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie were injured.  Additionally, due to injury, running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were not effective runners as in years past.  Consequently, the Giants will address their need of an offensive lineman with a value pick in the first round.  Here is why:

1.  The Giants have struggled running the ball  against teams with a 3-4 defensive scheme.  This year, Washington will convert from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense.  As a result, the Giants will play four divisional games against teams with a 3-4 defense. (Dallas is the other team)  Moreover, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell  wants week 16 and 17 games to be division games.  When the NFL unveils the regular season schedule tomorrow, we will find out if the Giants will host the Redskins or Cowboys in week 16 or 17 at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

2.  With the Giants moving into their new stadium, will wind be a factor?  According to a preliminary report, it may be more windy.  In the past, Eli Manning has not played well in windy conditions. If the Giants cannot run the ball in inclement weather,  we cannot expect Eli to win games for us.

3.  In 1988,  Giants GM George Young drafted offensive linemen with his first two picks.  The main reason because Young stressed the importance of offensive linemen to the workings of an offense.   

In 1987, the Giants rushed for 1,457 yards and four touchdowns as compared to 2,200 yards and 18 touchdowns in 1986.  The 1987 and 2009 Giants have some parallel with each other.  In 2008, the Giants rushed for 2,518 yards and 19 touchdowns.  On the other hand,  2009 saw the Giants running game on the decline.  As a team, the Giants rushed for 1,837 yards and 14 touchdowns.  Clearly, the Giants must draft an offensive lineman who can help get things turned around in 2010.

For a team which started the 2009 season at 5-0 and  finished at a disappointing 8-8,  the Giants are a mystery. What happened last year? Was it the players? Was it the coaches? Or was it a combination of both?  Will Jerry Reese be able to obtain quality players like linebackers and offensive linemen to improve this Giants team?  Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi is quick to say that the N.F.L. is a coach’s game, meaning that coaches, not general managers, are the difference between champions and also-rans. 

If this is true, beginning this Thursday, Coughlin and the Giants are on the clock .