The New York Giants are considered a successful drafting team under General Manager Jerry Reese. Twice in his first five seasons as general manager the team won a championship with major contributions from rookies.
In 2009, the draft boasted one of the best wide receiver classes in years, with Kenny Britt, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, and Darius Heyward-Bey all going in the first round along with Nicks. Reese stayed put at the 29th spot and took his man in Nicks and ended up with arguably the best of the bunch.
In 2010, Jason Pierre-Paul was considered a raw prospect who would not be considered an immediate contributor, but had the potential to be a perennial pro bowler. Defensive end was not considered a position of need for New York at the time, but Reese went against the grain and got himself a phenomenal player.
The Giants do not draft entirely based on talent or entirely based on need, but there are some positions in the modern NFL that carry a bit more value than others. Pass rushers and dynamic wide receivers are two of those positions. Play-makers on the back end are another.
Three times under Jerry Reese the Giants have taken a defensive back in the first round: 2007 (Aaron Ross), 2008 (Kenny Phillips) and most recently 2011 (Prince Amukamara). Despite the continued investment in the area, the Giants need help on the back end. They gave up more plays of 20 or more yards than any other team in football in 2012.
At this junction we know several key things:
- Talent and depth on the back end of a defense are vital in the modern landscape of the NFL.
- The Giants have not been adverse to taking secondary players high.
- The Giants need help in the secondary.
- Jerry Reese likes to seek out players who fit all of the teams criteria and also possess great talent (potentially)
These criteria have led us to believe that University of Texas Safety Kenny Vaccaro (6'1", 218 lbs) is a top candidate to be selected by the Giants in the first round come April.
Vaccaro is the top ranked safety in the current draft class and most projections have him being taken in the back half of the first round.
At Texas Vaccaro had the type of college career arc you look for in a potential star in the NFL. He red-shirted his first season at Texas, but then posted 56 tackles his first year as a starter after he was charged with the task of replacing Earl Thomas. In his junior year Vaccaro peaked, notching 82 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, and 5 turnovers forced. Vaccaro likes to play bigger than his size indicates. He excels at playing around the line of scrimmage and has the flexibility to play the slot corner position.
Consider what the Giants sport at the safety position currently.
Stevie Brown and Antrel Rolle are both safeties that like to be around the football, while Rolle in particular has the flexibility to play the slot position. Behind Rolle and Brown the Giants have a free agent in Kenny Phillips and third-year man Tyler Sash who has played little on defense in his first two years.
Will Hill is another body that the Giants currently sport in their secondary. He has the size to match up with players out of the slot, but is a natural safety. The Giants tried to match him up against bigger tight ends likes Tony Gonzalez, but to no avail.
While Hill making the team and contributing was a good story in 2012, he can not be relied to to be a consistent contributing safety moving forward (although not everyone at Giants 101 agrees with that).
At the corner position, only Jayron Hosley has the build of someone who can play the slot position. Even at that, he is a bit under- sized (5'10", 178 lbs) and has a tough time matching up against the bigger receivers (see: Miles Austin). Amukamara, Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas comprise a potentially good group of defenders on the outside, but there are question marks all over the place in the secondary.
This lack of certainty on the back end for the Giants presents an opportunity for an immediate contributor.
Kenny Vaccaro fits the exact mold of players already present in the Giants system (Rolle), provides immediate depth at a premium position (safety/slot), and would certainly be among the most talented players available at the 19th slot in the draft (also the best at his position).
With Vaccaro, need meets philosophy meets talent.
Also…Aaron Ross, Antrel Rolle, Corey Webster, Football, Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kenny Phillips, Kenny Vaccaro, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Prince Amukamara, Stevie Brown, Terrell Thomas, Tyler Sash