Another year, another critical draft class for the New York Giants. The G-Men need to show major improvements in 2020. For that to happen, they’ll need key contributions from their rookies. High picks Andrew Thomas and Xavier McKinney will likely start, but later-round guys will need to step up once injuries take their toll.
Hopes are high for a number of Giants rookies this year, and it begs a couple questions. Who have been the best Giants draft picks ever? How good can a player picked in the back-end of the draft really be?
So, without further ado, here are the best all-time New York Giants selections from each round of the NFL Draft. (There were more than seven rounds prior to 1994, but we’re going just seven rounds deep here.)
Round 1 – OLB Lawrence Taylor
Hard to argue with the greatest player in franchise history. Taken second overall out of North Carolina in 1981, the pass rusher won defensive rookie of the year. He wound up as a three-time defensive player of the year, two-time super bowl champion, and the only defender to be NFL MVP. Tough, ferocious, and dominant; the hall-of-famer is the quintessential New York Giant.
Honorable mentions: Eli Manning (via San Diego), Carl Banks, Phil Simms.
Round 2 – DE Michael Strahan
Taylor may be the best ever Giants’ defender, but Strahan gave him a run for his money. The 40th overall pick in 1993 won defensive player of the year in 2001, when he also set the still-standing single-season NFL sack record. The Texas Southern alum is a super bowl champion, hall-of-famer, and the Giants all-time career sack leader.
Honorable mentions: Osi Umenyiora, Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer.
Round 3 – DE Justin Tuck
Yet another pass rusher. Selected 74th overall out of Notre Dame in 2005, Tuck became a vital part of two championship teams. He put on an MVP-level performance in the upset victory over the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, notching two sacks and pressuring Tom Brady all game. Tuck had two more sacks in the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI win against the Patriots. A heart-and-soul leader for nine seasons, Tuck is now venerated in the Giants’ Ring of Honor.
Honorable mentions: Sam Huff, Mario Manningham, Jeff Hostetler.
Round 4 – ILB Harry Carson
Grabbing a hall-of-fame, super bowl champion linebacker in the fourth round is pretty good value. Taken 105th overall out of South Carolina State in 1976, Carson was the identity of the Giants defense before Taylor came along in ’81. Part of the legendary 80’s Big Blue linebacker corps, he was a member of the Super Bowl XXI championship team and a 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
Honorable mentions: Mark Bavaro, Keith Hamilton, Brandon Jacobs.
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Round 5 – OT David Diehl
For all the anxiety over the Giants’ left tackle position recently, it’s amazing it was once filled for so many years by a 160th overall pick. Taken out of Illinois in 2003, Diehl had an 11-year career with the G-Men and has two super bowl rings to show for it. He was an integral part of that great mid-to-late aughts Big Blue offensive line, and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009. Diehl was reliable and versatile, playing everywhere along the O-line except for center.
Honorable mentions: Sam Garnes, Dave Meggett, Kevin Boss.
Round 6 – TE Howard Cross
You’re doing something right if you can find a 10-year starter in the sixth round. Coming out of Alabama, Cross was drafted 158th overall in 1989. He won Super Bowl XXV in his sophomore season, and by his third year had taken over for Mark Bavaro as the Giants’ full-time tight end. While never a real threat in the passing game, Cross was a strong run-blocker and pass-protector and rarely missed a game with injury.
Honorable mentions: Charles Way, Dhani Jones, David Tyree.
Round 7 – RB Ahmad Bradshaw
In a round most teams are looking for special teamers and practice squad players, Big Blue found a gem. Drafted 250th overall out of Marshall in 2007, Bradshaw became the perfect complement to Brandon Jacobs in the backfield. His shiftiness and speed paired nicely with Jacobs’ bludgeoning style. Bradshaw would win two super bowls in New York, rushing for over a thousand yards twice, and every Giants fan can attest to his spirit and competitiveness.
Honorable mentions: Corey Widmer, Michael Johnson, Derrick Ward.