The New York Giants are following the old adage of building through the draft and filling needs via free agency. The past few seasons' rosters have been ravaged by injuries and devoid of talent after several years of miscalculations at the draft table.
GM Jerry Reese, under pressure to reverse the team's fortunes overnight, spent over $200 million this offseason to bring in top free agents to fill the holes he did not successfully fill the past few years.
But what is going unnoticed is the fact Reese has been building through the draft, and this season he expects to realize the return on his investment. The team's core is centered around draft selections made the past three springs.
The Giants have nabbed several stars through the draft, beginning with WR Odell Beckham Jr., the team's top pick in 2014 and currently one of the league's marquee players.
The offense is littered with high draft picks. The offensive line has two first rounders (LT Ereck Flowers and LG Justin Pugh) and one second-rounder (C Weston Richburg) with another recent draft pick, Bobby Hart, vying for a starting spot this summer.
This year's draft has yielded three exciting skill players. Second-rounder Sterling Shepard is being coined a draft steal by many experts and gives the Giants a more than suitable foil to Beckham in the passing game. RB Paul Perkins is a versatile, explosive running back certain to augment the team's sluggish running game. Tight end Jerell Adams is also being called a steal. Taken in the sixth round, Adams has been identified as a player who should get on the field early and often this season.
The defense is still hopeful that former third-round selection Jay Bromley will blossom in his third season and provide depth in the middle of the line. Another prized pick, LB Devon Kennard, has been besieged by hamstring injuries in his first two years in Blue and is ready to play all 16 games (and potentially more) this season.
Defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, a third-round pick last year, is healthy after missing most of 2015 with injuries. He has looked sleek and should add depth behind Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.
The secondary is where the Giants will get to display Reese's work from the past three drafts. Landon Collins, the 33rd player selected in last year's draft, played all 16 games in 2015 and is expected to be one of the starters at safety. His partner is likely to be one of the several players that missed last season due to injuries or this year's third round pick, Darian Thompson of Boise State.
Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson, both former fifth-rounders, and Bennett Jackson, a sixth-round pick out of Notre Dame who can also play corner, are the three safeties coming back from injury.
At corner, the Giants made Ohio State star Eli Apple the 10th overall selection this past April. Apple is a complete corner that is best suited on the outside, but the Giants are hopeful he can also play the slot and support the run.
Reese's job is on the line with these young players. The free-agent signings are all high-percentage moves sanctioned and mandated by ownership. It will be how his draft picks perform that will define this team and determine his future with the club.