Published on: 28th April, 2012
by Scott Mandel
East Rutherford, NJ — With their second-round pick, 63rd overall, in the NFL Draft, the Giants selected LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle. And he won’t have to do much traveling; Randle was the final player remaining in the green room of the 26 invited to the draft at Radio City Music Hall across the Hudson.
“It was pretty surprising but I knew the Giants had a lot of interest in me,” Randle said. “I got a few phone calls from the guys. A couple people from LSU kind of were giving little signs that they were interested in me so I knew once it came up that there was an opportunity for them to draft me.”
In the third round, 94th overall, the Giants chose Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley to bolster a cornerback corps with question marks beyond Corey Webster. The Giants selected Hosley’s teammate, running back David Wilson, in the first round on Thursday.
Randle was invited to the draft because he was projected as a late first-round to second-round draft pick but tumbled down to end of the second round to the Giants, who had a first-round grade on him and had discussed taking him with their first-round selection Thursday night.
“I really didn’t think there was a chance we were going to get him,” Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross said. “He was one of those where at the end of the night, you think he he’s going to be one of the first few guys taken at the top of the round. It was very surprising that he was there.”
The way Ross was talking about Rueben Randle’s physicality and body positioning minutes after the team drafted the LSU wide receiver in the second round, it sounded exactly like what the Giants were saying about Hakeem Nicks when they drafted him in 2009.
Sure enough, later on Friday night, Jerry Reese made the connection between the two.
“He plays big, he can post guys up. People mentioned Hakeem Nicks when we talked about him in our room,” the Giants’ general manager said. “He’s not blazing fast and I don’t think Hakeem is blazing fast either, but he’s game fast. And he’s bigger than Hakeem. Very good hands, ball skills. Talented, talented football player.”
Randle didn’t test extremely well (4.55-second 40-yard dash) and neither did Nicks. But like Nicks, the Giants see Randle as a good route runner who plays fast on game days.
“We think he’s NFL-ready,” Reese said, echoing a phrase Ross used. “He runs the entire route tree. This day and age in college football, it’s all about the spread offense and guys don’t run the full tree. This kid runs the full route tree and he looks like a big pro wide receiver out there the way he moves around and we think he’s going to be a quick fit into the offense.”
Coach Tom Coughlin said Randle got a good endorsement from LSU assistant coach Thomas McGaughey, a former assistant on Coughlin’s staff. Coughlin also said Reese has a trusted source on LSU’s staff.
Reese said the team discussed drafting Randle in the first round on Thursday night.
“Really a little bit surprised about him still being there because we know he thought he could’ve gone early in the second (round),” Reese said. “But he was still there and we were fortunate to get a guy of his caliber.”
So you can believe statements like that from the Giants – or any team, for that matter – or you can look at them with a skeptical eye. (Heck, I believe them here. I mean, I didn’t mention Randle as a target in my entry about taking a receiver in the second round because I didn’t think there was any shot he’d be there.)
But for the sake of conversation and exploration here, let’s assume they’re telling the truth when they say they really were talking about a guy a round earlier, he was the highest-rated player left by far and they were shocked he was still available.
So why not trade up to grab him? Why wait for him to fall to them?
“We take a lot of pride in getting the proper grade on a player, a lot of pride in ranking the player properly and stacking the board and believing there’s going to be a good player for us to pick by virtue of showing patience and not doing a lot of maneuvering,” Coughlin said. “As an organization, when we go into a draft, we look at the number of picks we have and we certainly expect to come out of the draft with that many or, if we’re fortunate, more. We don’t do a lot of trading, we don’t do a lot of maneuvering.
“We do have a number of calls that come into the room offering to maneuver, a lot of which are, ‘Are you interested in…’ And to move substantially, particularly if you’re going to move up substantially, it’s going to cost you some picks.”
Reese said pretty much the same thing.
“We like using all of our picks,” he said. “We’ve moved up to get guys before and it hasn’t worked out great for us before so we’re a little bit leery of moving up to take guys. We’ve done that in the past and I don’t think our success has been very good doing that.”
Off the top of my head, the two guys the Giants moved up to grab most recently were wide receivers Sinorice Moss and Ramses Barden.
Some loose ends from Coughlin:
–On whether CB Jayron Hosley’s physical nature (Coughlin kept calling him “feisty”) will have to be curbed a bit in the NFL, where defensive backs can’t get away with a whole lot of contact: “We’ll probably start with the aggressive. And then work from there.” So does he mean they’ll tell Hosley to remain aggressive? “Sure,” he said. “Absolutely.”
–Coughlin expects Hosley to contribute as a punt returner, gunner and on kickoff coverage. If he’s as aggressive as advertised, he could work very well as a gunner.
–On what the team looks for in draft picks: “Speed and athleticism. That’s pretty much been something we’ve tried to attain with all of our picks, regardless of if they’re defense or offense or whatever they may be. It’s a common trait of athleticism. Speed obviously, when you look at Rueben’s gym numbers, they’re not going to be as impressive as perhaps we’d all like them to be, but he is an athlete and a football player.”
–On drafting for need: “I’ll tell you this, we’re very much aware of needs. Don’t kid yourself. We’re very much aware of needs and through the process of free agency or the draft or trades, we do work hard. Jerry Reese and his staff, Marc Ross and his staff work very hard to make sure that balancing act is accomplished. So we are aware of that. However, the proven route to take philosophically or by virtue of the practical aspect of how the draft eventually ends up is to be in position to take the best available player and then, in the long run, sometimes there’s some impatience involved here, don’t get me wrong, but in the long run that’s the way to go.”
And one loose end from Ross on how Randle being a former quarterback helps him as a receiver: “Yeah, and he plays that way. When they see the field and then they go to another position, they have a great understanding for what’s going on. He fits into that mold.”