NFL Draft: Jerry Reese

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The fast and furious action in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft Friday night didn't leave us much time to delve into the New York Giants' second-round pick, but Weston Richburg is worth some Saturday morning delving. So let's delve, shall we?

Richburg was the 43rd pick in this year's draft, and there is little doubt he'll be expected to compete for (and likely win) the starting center's job this spring and summer. His top competition right now is free-agent addition J.D. Walton, who hasn't played since September of 2012 due to an ankle injury.

[+] EnlargeWeston Richburg
AP Photo/G.M. Andrews"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of second-round pick Weston Richburg.
"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "The center position here for us is one of responsibility in terms of dictating to the rest of the offensive line exactly how the scheme is going to go. This guy will fit right in in terms of that."

Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese both said the center's responsibility for handling line and protection calls will increase under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross said Richburg scored an impressive 31 on the Wonderlic test and impressed the Giants in his combine interview with his intelligence. The idea that they're excited about Richburg as a potential starter says less about Walton, who himself was a not-too-shabby 80th overall pick in the 2010 draft and would have projected as the Giants' starting center if they hadn't addressed the position in the draft, than it does about Richburg himself.

The decision-makers raved about Richburg's athleticism, which apparently also will be an asset in the new McAdoo offense, and his durability. Coughlin couldn't wait to tell the story of how Richburg broke his right hand in 2012 and played the final game snapping with his left hand while his right was in a club cast.

"Yeah, that's something I take a lot of pride in," a proud Richburg said when asked about that story. "You don't see a lot of guys who can do that."

The Giants' execs pointed out that Richburg was a team captain who didn't miss any games in college. Richburg said it was important to him to be the first center taken in the draft (as he was). And in general, there's nothing not to like about the guy at this point. Even if the Giants really were comfortable with the idea of Walton as their starting center, they recognized that they needed to re-stock with top talent on the offensive line. Richburg helps them do that, and at a position where there may be an opportunity to start right away.

"Last year, we had a couple of injuries early on the offensive line and it was pretty devastating," Reese said, accurately. "We had to bring in some guys that struggled some at those positions, so we're trying to make sure we have enough depth at every position. This guy will help provide that for us."

The Giants have overhauled the interior of their offensive line, which was extinction-level bad in 2013. Left guard Kevin Boothe signed with the Raiders, right guard David Diehl retired and they released center David Baas. They signed free agent Geoff Schwartz to start at left guard, Walton for center and John Jerry for a reserve role, and they're hoping Chris Snee can make a healthy return from hip surgery at right guard. Richburg is the latest move in their effort to make sure they don't get caught short with underprepared guys at those spots if injuries happen again.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jerry Reese is a scout, and not afraid to admit it. The New York Giants GM has a scouting background, and even in the era of advanced analytics he remains an unabashed fan of the profession's role in NFL roster-building. Last week, Reese called the draft "game day for the scouts" and said it's "fun to see them rewarded with players they feel like are good players."

A fine sentiment. Scouts work extremely long, hard hours, live on the road away from their families and should be rewarded. But when you're the GM, charged with the dispersal of your franchise's most precious resources, it has to be about more than rewarding the scouts.

It was clear after the Giants picked Odell Beckham Jr. with the No. 12 pick in the draft Thursday night, that they had fallen in love. They loved their interview with him at the combine. They loved his speed. They loved that he can return kicks and punts.

[+] EnlargeOdell Beckham
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsOdell Beckham Jr. caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards and 8 touchdowns last season for LSU.
"You're getting a guy who can score touchdowns in three different ways for you," Reese raved. "No way we were going to pass him up."

The Giants never lack conviction. The issue is whether this is the right way to handle the draft, and specifically a pick as high as No. 12. If you're going to lock in on one player you love, and there's "no way" you're going to pass him up, then you're not really maximizing the value of your resource.

If your draft strategy is to scout players and pick the one you love the best, then your entire draft rests on the development of that player into a great one. If you miss, it's a total miss, with nothing to mitigate it. This is the problem with the Giants' recent drafts -- not just that they've consistently missed in the third round and later (and a few critical times in the second), but that they haven't done enough to protect themselves against poor evaluation. They almost never maneuver to amass more picks and play the percentages. They lock in on a guy they and their scouts like and they take him, believing he'll be great, totally hanging themselves out to dry if he's not.

So Beckham may well become a transcendent, No. 1-type wide receiver, worthy of the No. 12 pick. But the way the board went, they could have gotten him or a comparable player later. The draft is deep with wide receivers, and only one more was taken in the 15 picks that followed theirs.

The Giants would tell you they didn't think there were comparable players, that this was their guy and they're sold on him. And it's perfectly understandable that a scout who loves scouts and scouting would choose to run his draft that way. It's just not the best way to maximize the value of your draft picks. When you fall in love with a player, you take on too much risk. You need to be right, or you're left with nothing.

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