Last season, GM Dave Gettleman decided to take a risk in the supplemental draft, and select CB Sam Beal out of Western Michigan. And many lauded the move despite it costing the Giants' a third-round pick this season.
First, the Giants needed cornerback depth behind Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, and Beal was said to be the best supplemental draft pick since Josh Gordon. So why not take the risk?
Well, it didn't work out so well for the Grand Rapids, MI native in his rookie season. In one of his first practices with his new team, Beal aggravated a shoulder condition the team was aware of when they drafted him. Instead of trying to rehab it, he underwent season-ending surgery to repair it.
It was a tough blow for Beal, who wanted to prove to the Giants that they were right to take a shot on him.
"You want to be out there, but you can't let it break you," Beal told NorthJersey.com's Art Stapleton during Giants OTAs this week. "I like to make plays that my teammates can feed off. I want to be one of those guys that offenses notice and defenses rally around. You're gonna know I'm there, where I am, trust me -- you're gonna know where I'm at, and I can't wait for the chance to be there for this team to help on the field."
Beal wasn't just resting and rehabbing his way back to the team in his rookie season. He may not have been able to make an impact on the field, but he made one in the film room.
The 22-year-old would write up scouting reports for his fellow cornerbacks based off extensive film sessions he'd sit through. Beal is known to be a confident player on the field, but to defensive captain S Michael Thomas, his ability to bring scouting reports to veterans like Jenkins showcased that confidence weekly.
"That's where it all started, and I have no doubt what we saw out there [during OTAs] is happening because of how [Beal] learned to be a pro last year, I have no doubt about that," Thomas explained. "His scouting reports were pretty detailed, and he'd get right up there in a room full of vets with confidence, you coudl tell it meant something to him. He didn't wait until he got on the field to become a better player, and that's what we're seeing."
In some way, Beal was transitioning to the NFL in a backwards fashion compared to other rookies. Normally, it's showing they belong on the field first before learning the ins and outs of what it takes off the field (film study, nutrition, etc.) to be a true pro.
And that dedication to his craft led to defensive coordinator James Bettcher placing him opposite Jenkins on the first-team defense during these first OTA sessions. Beal has some competition, most notably first-round draftee Deandre Baker, who will be vying for that spot come training camp. While Beal may have a leg up in his sophomore year, it should be viewed like a redshirt season in college.
Beal still has something to prove on the field, and he's playing that way.
Beal showcased his athleticism and quickness on a certain play Monday where he turned around, leaped in the air, and deflected a pass that new S Jabrill Peppers would have taken down the field for a pick-six if it was a real game. Those are the types of plays he made in college, and something the Giants should expect this season.
It certainly impressed head coach Pat Shurmur.
"First day out there, he looked good. His movement skills were great last year when we saw him, it was just a short period of time," Shurmur said. "...It is like anything; he is coming back. They all have to get their legs back a little bit. You saw him stumbling just a little bit. His movement skills are good, it looked like he competed. We will go back and watch the film and see how close he was in coverage but he looked pretty good."
He make being impressing his teammates and coaches early on, but Beal recognizes there is more he must do to earn their trust on the first team come Week 1. He's done all the behind-the-scenes work -- that will continue to be a habit -- but now it's time to produce under the bright lights.
Beal can't wait for those opportunities.
"I got some work [to do]," he said. "NYPD (New York Pass Defense), the new NYPD."