Giants drafting captains of character
Every year, every team rebuilds through the draft. The Giants are no different, and during the tenures of Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin, they have procured a generation of players who were added to replenish and rejuvenate the roster.
But this year it seems as if the Giants are rebuilding a lot more than just their football team. It seems as if they are rebuilding their culture.
Which may be why they took such delight in pointing out that their first three picks were all captains of their college teams, all "clean" picks, all known for their hard work and drive and love of the game.
With the departures of many familiar faces and voices in the locker room, pillars such as Justin Tuck and David Diehl and even Corey Webster and Aaron Ross and Brandon Jacobs -- guys who were Giants and carried themselves the way the franchise wants -- it's time to find the leaders of tomorrow. The Giants seemed to be picking them today.
Football acumen will always be a priority when it comes to the selection process, but intangibles are carrying a lot more weight this season than in recent drafts.
"It's always an emphasis, but I think it's probably been talked about more this year in the room than maybe last year or two years ago or whatever," Tom Coughlin said Friday night. "Why is it? Because we would like to feel like the people that come here are absolute football players, devoted to it. Let's face it, where we are, there are areas that could be distractions. We need to have people that can operate in this environment and stay focused and do the job they were brought here for and not get off track."
That hasn't always been the case. Not that all of the draft picks have been trouble, but there have been quite a few who have not always seemed to catch on right away to what it means to play professional football. Talented players, no doubt. But not always committed.
So when the 7-9 season ended a few months ago, one of the things co-owner John Mara pointed to was the team taking too many risks in the middle rounds. Not necessarily risks in terms of whether a player's skills would translate to the field, but to whether their character would allow them to thrive.
Have the Giants followed that mandate by picking Odell Beckham Jr., Weston Richburg and Jay Bromley?
"Yes, these guys are high character, team captains, hard workers, smart, competitive guys with no issues whatsoever," vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. "These are the things we look for all the time. It does not always happen. Certain things you take a little more calculated risks on at certain times. This just happened to fall right for us where we felt these guys were at the very highest in regards to character."
So much so that Ross didn't tout Bromley's ability to sack quarterbacks or shed blocks or chase down running backs as his greatest strength but pointed to a so-called intangible.
"It's great when the best asset for a player is determination and desire," Ross said, "and that is Jay Bromley."
With only four players still on the roster who were with the Giants when they won the Super Bowl in the 2007 season, the Giants are in search of the next generation of core citizens who will decide what it means to, as the old guard often said, play Giants football.
"The fact that some of these players that have been looked upon as outstanding leaders have gone on and we have others here who will take that role, I'm sure [plays into the decisions]," Coughlin said. "But it's always good to have a self-starter, it's always good to have somebody that is completely devoted to their job."
Especially when there seems to be so few of them left.