Monday, April 26, 2010


Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin both made liberal use of the word "upside" in their appraisals of their higher-round draft picks.

While the word is usually taken in a positive context, as the general manager and head coach meant it to be, it also has a negative connotation which applies to first-to-third-round picks Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph, and Chad Jones. Because of injuries or mere life experience, those three have more limited football experience than those taken around them.

In other words, the Giants are what is popularly known as betting "on the come" with these guys. Betting that they haven't played their best football yet, and a little education, conditioning, or on-field experience will take them to levels far higher than where they are now.

Take Pierre-Paul, for instance. He didn't even start playing football until junior year in high school, when the coach coaxed him off the basketball court to play in a playoff game. After high school, he played two years of junior and community college before he hit South Florida, where he started all of seven games before he declared himself draft-eligible as a junior.

The 270-pound Pierre-Paul is certainly active enough, and his impressively long body and huge wingspan bodes will for the future. But as far as anyone knows right now, the Giants have drafted a great back-flipper. And that would have been outstanding if this was an Olympic year. Nobody quite knows what they're going to see once they get Pierre-Paul in pads. With any luck, it'll be a supreme pass rusher who forces himself into playing time, the positive of upside. But right now that upside is so high because Pierre-Paul's experience level is so low that it would be hard for him not to improve to some extent.

Joseph is a different case. The defensive tackle has had weight and stamina issues. Although he weighs just 315 now, he was 70 pounds heavier before minor back surgery following his freshman year. And then he put 20 of it back on before the 2008 season. Weight yo-yoing is never good, and it resulted in Joseph having to be used in rotation rather than as a straight starter inside. One scouting report said he often looked winded when playing consecutive series. He'll have to overcome that, in part by being vigilant about his weight. But the "upside" is that if he can succeed in that, he could be a big-body occupier of blockers and a disruptive force on the pass rush.

East Carolina doesn't play in the biggest of NCAA Division 1 conferences, either, so his level of competition wasn't like someone coming out of an SEC or Big-10 school. He faced mostly the Tulsas, UTEPs and Central Floridas of the world, with only occasional forays into big-boy territory. That's not uncommon, but since we're talking about flaws, it's worth mentioning.

Safety Chad Jones spent four years playing at big-time LSU. That's good. But he also split his time between the football field and the baseball diamond, where he helped pitch the Bayou Bengals to a 2009 College World Series championship. As a result, his upper body isn't fully developed. A lot of extra time in the weight room will remedy that.

That's not a huge knock. Nor is the fact that he never engaged in spring football practices. But Jones understandably didn't have as extensive a football experience as others who specialized in the sport. So there is an educational gap there.

So all these players have huge upsides. There's nothing wrong with that. But when one bases his high-round draft picks on potential created by experience or physical deficiencies, that's taking quite a risk. And that is exactly what Jerry Reese has done with this draft.

He's betting on the come. And from now until the end of the season, he'll go to bed hoping he hasn't thrown a whole lot of money on the table only to roll craps.




  1. Going into the offseason I only wanted to see the Giants infuse the defense with new young blood. With JPP, Joseph, Jones, Grant, Rolle, Dillard and a few others that is exactly what the Giants have done. All these guys should be able to step into the rotation and give the D some more speed and toughness. I wish the Giants traded Osi or got Spiller but I am excited to see how the D looks and all the competion on the field.
    Are the Giants a playoff team? Probably not but then again I wouldnt be shocked to see the Giants win 11 games either.

  2. i agree mostly with Wayno. I still think they need another rb, the lack of a running game was a big problem last year.

  3. yea im sadly skeptical that the giants will reach the playoff but i see it as a pretty good chance to win alot of games. New blood is always nice to have especially if experience is the only issue.

  4. JR definitely "swung for the fences" with his first 3 picks. They can either be home runs, triples, doubles, singles, as long as they are not pop outs to second base. I have faith that JR picked these guys for a reason, as he saw something in them.

    Scott, I do have to put a lot of the rushing problems last year onto the O-Line, the injuries, and the fact that our D left the offense in bad situations, forcing Eli and co. to play catch up.

    I believe, right now, we should be okay with Jacobs, Bradshaw, Brown, Ware, and co.

  5. i agree the oline got no push especially in short yardage situations. im not sure where that push is going to come from this year. i hope beatty turns into a good one

  6. Isn't the entire draft a crap shoot? According to the recent comments of the commissioner, half of the guys drafted either don't make it or even come close to matching the monies invested in them.

    There's no arguing that the Giants have questions that need to be answered? Will Osi pick up his play this year? Is Kiwi worth re-signing as he enters the final year of his rookie contract? Will Phillips be able to come back full strength from his injury? No one knows for sure, but these are questions that need to be answered and I believe that the Giants have done a great job in drafting in case these answers border the side of 'no'.

  7. Good observation and I'm thinking the same thing. It bothers me a little though. The Giants take guys based on their overall size and athletic ability because they have "upside" and that only works if you trust your coaching staff. They took, aside from the punter, only 1 offensive player. They took 5 defensive players with "upside", except you just fired your D-Co and D-line coaches and your Secondary coach, Giunta, gets an "F" for last seasons Keystone Cops routing in the backfield.
    Not sure this is a sound strategy.

  8. The Giants are going into the season with everyone calling them the second best team in their city. Coughlin should be able to use that as motivation. Get the whole team to play with some passion. The Giants seem to play better as an underdog.

  9. I agree with most of what's been said. And I'm not a very big fan of drafting for "upside", but the three players you mentioned Ern and even Dillard have gotten pretty good reviews from these "experts". That makes me feel a little better about JR's picks.

    Now a question for you Ern, now that the draft is over, and (for the most part) all the major offseason acquisitions are done, who is the favorite to win the division?

    I hate to say it, but I think the Cowboys have the best team right now, with the Eagles and Giants fighting it out for second. I know the Giants beat the 'Boys twice last season, but the Cowboys seem to have a lot of talent on that team.

    They have the QB, RB, WR and TE. There's some question about their O-line, but defensively they're pretty solid.

    They do probably have the worse coach in the division though, and Wade could always screw them up.

  10. I thing with JPP he swung for a homer, but the DT will be part of a rotation and the SS has at least 2 people in front of him, maybe 3 if Phillips come back whole; which gives him developmental time.
    The OL seems like a great fit,especially his mentality.
    Does anyone think they took JPP because they feel they will lose Kiwanuka after the year, especially if Osi bounces back?

  11. Dave, I believe the selection of Paul-Pierre has more to do with his grade in regards to the Giants draft board. Nonetheless, his selection does add a safeguard as they decide what to do with Kiwanuka at the end of the season.