You have to go back to 1988 to find the last time the Giants selected an offensive tackle they thought would be a Day One starter and who delivered on the long-term promise that such lofty expectations bring.
That was the year they selected Michigan's Jumbo Elliott, who stepped right in and controlled the blind side for eight seasons and one Super Bowl run.
Since then they certainly have picked a number of other players at the position who have delivered or disappointed at various levels. Luke Petitgout was a first-round pick in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2002 that he settled in at left tackle. David Diehl had a terrific career with the Giants that included two Super Bowl rings, but when the Giants picked him in the fifth round in 2003, their plan was not for him to become a starter right away. In 2009, they used a second-round pick on Will Beatty, who spent most of his rookie year developing on the bench. In 2015, they picked Ereck Flowers with the ninth overall selection. Sigh.
So we go back to Elliott in 1988 as the last time the Giants drafted an offensive tackle and then did not have to think about the position for the better part of a decade.
But here’s the thing about Elliott: He was the second tackle the Giants drafted that year. They took the Sachem High School product in the second round after selecting Eric Moore of Indiana in the first round.
Moore wound up being a starting guard for them on the Super Bowl XXV team and had a somewhat productive NFL career that was derailed by off-the-field issues, but it was Elliott who in retrospect headlined that draft class.
Had that draft been held under the current format, though, Elliott wouldn’t even have made the actual headline. He wouldn’t even have been in the story. Because these days the first round takes place by itself and it’s not until the next day that the second and third rounds are held. Then another day yet for rounds four through seven.
It’s a way to draw out interest and television viewers, but it does a bit of a disservice when evaluating teams and their draft decisions. What looks like a flop of a draft on Thursday night suddenly can look much different by Friday night. Or vice versa.
Twenty players drafted by the Giants are in the team’s Ring of Honor. Only four of them were first-round picks. Seven were second-rounders and another four were taken in the third round.
The four first-rounders? That’s just one more than the three who were undrafted by anyone! Heck, the Giants even have an eighth-, 11th- and 27th-rounder in their Ring of Honor, that last spot held by perhaps the biggest sleeper in NFL draft history, Hall of Famer Rosie Brown.
On Thursday night, the Giants made another first-round selection, taking Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. There will be instant analysis made about the wisdom of the pick, how general manager Dave Gettleman ignored this need for that, how he overlooked this player for that. Because the days of the two-way player are long gone, there is no way for one pick to, say, bolster the offensive line and provide playmaking capabilities on defense.
So for about 20 hours, the Giants’ 2020 draft will be defined by just a fraction of the names that will represent the class in its entirety when the weekend is over. Feel free to read everything you can during that blip of time when the Giants’ fate is tied to j one player. Debate the merits of the pick as much as you like. Feel elation, express disgust.
But remember, too, the lesson of Jumbo Elliott. The lesson of Chris Snee and Michael Strahan and Joe Morris and Amani Toomer and Tiki Barber and Sterling Shepard and Osi Umenyiora, all of them second-round picks.
The draft is more than the first round. The decision the Giants made on Thursday night was important, but it wasn't the only one that will determine whether this weekend is a success or failure for the franchise.
RING OF (DRAFT) HONOR
These are the 20 players who were drafted by the Giants and wound up in their Ring of Honor. Here are the rounds in which they were selected:
First: Frank Gifford, Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, Carl Banks.
Second: Tuffy Leemans, Brad Van Pelt, Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Snee.
Third: Sam Huff, Al Blozis, Joe Morrison, Justin Tuck.
Fourth: Harry Carson, Mark Bavaro.
Eighth: Jessie Armstead.
11th: George Martin.
27th: Rosie Brown
Note: Jack Lummus, Emlen Tunnell and Dave Jennings all began their NFL careers as undrafted players who signed with the Giants.