Jun. 01, 2020
The 2014 New York Giants Draft; Odell distracts you from how bad this draft was for franchise
I originally thought the 2014 NFL Draft was a disappointing one. At first it looked like many of the great players from the draft were going to be the receivers while the other players in this draft appeared to struggle out of the gate. The receivers highlighted this class at first but over time proved to be liabilities and poor investments for the teams that drafted them. The New York Giants are a prime example of this plight, as they drafted a receiver and then went on to have a draft that would set them back for years to follow.
The Giants first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft was wide receiver Odell Beckham from LSU. At first, it looked like Odell was going to be the spark that the Giants offense needed and would bring the Giants back to relevancy. The unfortunate thing for Odell was that his production slowly declined after his first few seasons. After Beckham's third season, he failed to have more than 10 receiving touchdowns in a season and while with catch percentage (receptions divided by targets) was 70% after his rookie season, it dropped to 55% this past season (and has never eclipsed 62% since his rookie season).
Beckham's run in New York showed flashes of greatness and highlight catches but didn't produce the log-tern production that the Giants were hoping for. Beckham was traded last off-season to Cleveland in exchange for draft picks, ending his tenure as a Giant.
Of course only bad things can happen from here and the next pick inevitably was all-pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Everyone passed on Aaron Donald, since if they knew how good he was going to be, he would have gone one in the draft. This pick has to sting more for Giants fans knowing they were only one pick away. While Beckham had his moments, having a defensive lineman that the Giants could have built their defense around for years is what makes this a bad pick looking back, especially since that defensive lineman is destined to make it to the Hall of Fame.
The next pick the Giants had in the 2014 Draft was Offensive Lineman Weston Richburg from Colorado State. Richburg actually became the best pick for the Giants in this draft and he had a relatively good career in New York. The only criticism of this pick comes a few years later when the Giants didn't re-sign Richburg. Weston Richburg had a season-ending injury in his contract year and the Giants let him test free agency afterward. Until that injury, Richburg had started 46 of 48 possible games (including the one playoff game) and had been one of the better players throughout the time on what was a rather poor offensive line. Looking back, the Giants probably wanted to re-sign Richburg but they were saving money for their star wire receiver Odell Beckham (money which they gave to him that same off-season, only to trade the receiver in the next off-season).
Richburg went to San Francisco and has been a constant starter for the 49ers and a key piece in one of the most improved offensive lines in the NFL. This draft selection was ultimately a good one, but like Landon Collins, the Giants let the good pick slip away after four years on a rookie contract.
The Giants third and fourth round selections were defensive lineman Jay Bromley and running back Andre Williams. Both were out of the league by 2018 with a combine 11 starts between the two players. Both draft picks had little to no production for the Giants but in the Giants defense, there were many players that were suffering the same fate in the following picks and while the late third round and early fourth round produced many quality starters, there were a lot of busted selections where the Giants were making these picks. Many teams were drafting poorly at this time, the Giants just happened to be one of those teams.
In the fifth round, the Giants drafted defensive back Nate Berhe just after the Titans selected Avery Williamson (once again just bad luck for the Giants). Berhe like many players drafted by the fifth round never made it in the NFL and only started two games in his three seasons with the Giants.
The Giants landed defensive lineman Devon Kennard with their second selection in the fifth round. Ironically, Kennard really kicked off his career once he left the Giants. After four years where he was a starter on the defensive line (not great but respectable), Kennard left to Detroit where he had his two best seasons of his career. Kennard had 7 sack in both seasons and a career high with 45 solo tackles this past season giving him a 3 year contract worth 20 million in Arizona. You can't blame the Giants for letting Kennard go and looking back, his production is probably not worth the money he is earning. Kennard is probably an example of a player that is dependent in the scheme he is placed into. This pick doesn't reflect the Giants ability to draft, rather this can be pinned on the coaching staff for his lack of production in his time with the team.
The Giants final pick in this draft was Bennett Jackson, defensive back from Notre Dame. Like many picks in the sixth round, Jackson never made it to the NFL and didn't make an impact on the Giants roster. Coincidentally, the following two picks were EJ Gaines and TJ Jones, both who made impacts for the teams that drafted them.
To recap, the Giants didn't have an incredibly bad draft. The big problem was the effects of their first pick in the draft, Odell Beckham. Not only did Odell not help the team win in the subsequent years, but the money that the franchise devoted to Beckham prevented them from bringing key players like Landon Collins and Weston Richburg back when they needed to be re-signed.
It should be noted that this draft displays the value or lack of value that the receiver position provides in the draft. While every team needs a good receiving corp, a great receiver does not win games. Moreover, a great receiver doesn't help a team long term. Of the five receivers taken in the first round, Mike Evans is the only one that is still on the team that drafted him. Brandin Cooks was traded from away from a 7-9 Saints team in 2016, the next season the Saints went 11-5, Cooks was then traded from the Patriots to the Rams and the Patriots ultimately beat the Rams in the Super Bowl.
Bottom-line receivers are replaceable and aren't a good investment in the first round. The Giants suffered with many bad seasons and while they didn't have a good roster to begin with, Odell Beckham didn't help.