After nearly three years of unfulfilled potential and a maddening inability to show the maturity required of a successful NFL player, Damontre Moore was sent on his way Friday, the latest failed draft pick in what has become a troubling pattern for the Giants.
General manager Jerry Reese saw first-round talent in the defensive end and decided to take a gamble when the former Texas A&M pass rusher slipped to the third round in 2013. Though the Giants were as patient as they could be with Moore, his lack of development on the field and several incidents off the field — including one on Friday over headphones — prompted the team to decide it was time for him to go.
Reese is facing increased scrutiny and criticism for the state of his roster, particularly on defense. The Giants are ranked next-to-last among NFL defenses, and their blown lead in the fourth quarter of last week’s 23-20 overtime loss to the Jets was the latest reminder of just how bad things have gotten for a team once known for its great defense.
Coach Tom Coughlin took plenty of heat for failing to get the Giants into the playoffs in the previous three straight seasons, but Reese now is getting heat as well. Coughlin may not be at the top of his game, but a big part of the problem is he doesn’t have the kind of talent on his roster a coach needs to win.
Moore is the latest example of what has been a spotty draft performance from the Giants’ front office in recent years, particularly in the second through fourth rounds. That’s where a team can tilt the balance in its favor if it hits on enough of them. If a team can’t consistently draft well in that range, though, it often catches up. Which appears to be the case with this year’s team.
Inconsistent drafting isn’t all that’s wrong about the Giants. Injuries are a factor.
Johnathan Hankins, a second-round pick in 2013, was developing into a terrific defensive tackle, but he’s gone for the season with a pectoral injury. Reese can’t be held responsible for Jason Pierre-Paul’s devastating hand injury from a July 4 fireworks accident nor 2010 third-round safety Chad Jones’ career-ending car accident.
But there have been enough unproductive picks relatively high in the draft who have played a role in the Giants’ inability to construct the kind of roster that was good enough to win Super Bowls after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
The same year that Reese and Coughlin combined for their second Super Bowl victory, the Giants’ draft was less than impressive. Second-round defensive tackle Marvin Austin, third-round receiver Jerrel Jernigan and fourth-round tackle James Brewer no longer are with the team. The first-round pick that year, Prince Amukamara, has developed into a solid cover corner, but questions about his durability could determine how committed the Giants are to keeping him when his contract expires after the season.
Some other notable misses for Reese: second-round linebacker Clint Sintim, third-round receiver Ramses Barden and third-round tight end Travis Beckum in 2009, fourth-round tight end Adrien Robinson in 2012 and now Moore.
Of course, there have been many bright moments in the Reese era, which is important to keep in perspective when judging his overall body of work. He found Victor Cruz as an undrafted free agent in 2010, drafted running back Ahmad Bradshaw in the seventh round in 2007 and took tight end Kevin Boss in the fourth round that year. His work in the first round generally has been commendable, with Pierre-Paul, guard Justin Pugh, rookie tackle Ereck Flowers and Amukamara in that group.
Then there’s that guy Odell Beckham Jr., the first-rounder in last year’s draft. He has the makings of an all-time great. Credit Reese for making the right choice.
But in a bottom-line business in which the draft is the lifeblood of any quality NFL team, the results haven’t been as consistently good as even Reese would like. If you are what your record says you are, 5-7 is just not good enough.
Moore’s failed run is the latest evidence.