Print
RSS

Fact or Fiction: Best ever undrafted Giants player

Posted May 8, 2015

The Giants.com staff debates Big Blue topics as Rookie Mini-Camp is underway

Victor Cruz is the best undrafted player in Giants history.

NEWS
> Draft Picks report for Rookie Mini-Camp
> Giants sign 6 undrafted Free Agents
> Notable Undrafted Free Agents
PHOTOS
> Players arrive for Rookie Mini-Camp
VIDEOS
> Sights and Sounds: Mini-Camp begins
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - Cruz’s impact as an undrafted free agent in his second season in the league was almost beyond measure. Without him, the Giants do not win the Super Bowl. He handled his new found fame extremely well and has become a cornerstone player for the franchise. Few undrafted free agents ever achieve anything like that.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - I’m going with Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Emlen Tunnell, better known as “offense on defense.” Ignored in the draft, Tunnell asked for a tryout with the Giants, and 67 years later he remains the franchise leader with 74 career interceptions. In 1952, he had more yards on interception and return yards than the league’s leading rusher that season. Tunnell became the first African American to play for the Giants as well as the first to be enshrined in Canton.

>> NOTABLE UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS TO MAKE THE ROSTER

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Just let these numbers settle in: 82 receptions, 1,536 receiving yards,9 TDs, 7 100-yard receiving games and a Super Bowl ring. That’s what Cruz tallied in his first full season with the Giants and it wasn’t a fluke given his stats in future seasons. Most undrafted players never even put up those numbers during the course of a career...you can even throw drafted players into that category. It’s not just the box score that makes Cruz the best. It’s the fact he took advantage of an opportunity when the team needed a receiver and flourished. Heading into the 2011 season Cruz was fourth on the depth chart but thanks to injuries to Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon he moved up the ladder and after a rough season debut against the Redskins he became Eli Manning’s favorite target and a headache for the opposition. When the former UMass product scored three touchdowns against the Jets in a 2010 preseason game who knew this was just a flash of what was yet to come.
The biggest surprise of the Giants’ 2015 draft was trading up to select Landon Collins.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The Giants value picks, so whenever they trade two of them to move up in any round it is a surprise, at least to me. In this specific situation they paid a fair price and got a very highly regarded player that is as NFL ready as they come at a position where the team does not have a lot of experienced players.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Trades always shake things up in the draft. Many were expecting more earlier in the first round, but the Giants saw an opportunity to be aggressive to start the second day. Tennessee wanted more draft picks, and the two sides came up with a fair deal.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - That’s what you call a splash and you really have to go back to 2004 to find the last time the Giants shook things up in the draft when they traded for Eli Manning (it’s fair to say they got a nice return on that deal). It was a surprise for two reasons. First, the Giants entered the 2nd round with a high pick (8th spot, 40th overall) so you figured they were already in position to land another playmaker and, second, who would have thought what many experts believed to be a first round pick, Landon Collins, would still be on the board.
More than one rookie will start Week 1 for the Giants

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - In my gut, I believe both Landon Collins and Ereck Flowers will be starters on opening day, so I’ll go with fact. I think there’s a slightly better chance Collins is a starter than Flowers.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Let’s see them on the practice field first, but at this point I think you can look at the first two picks as the likely candidates. Flowers and Collins both have the track records and opportunities to do so, but there’s a long way to go between now and Week 1.

>> WHICH ROOKIE WILL MAKE BIGGEST IMPACT

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - I think the Giants will have two rookies in the starting lineup Week 1 in Dallas, one on each side of the ball. I’m penciling in first round selection Ereck Flowers at right tackle, a position he played early in his career at Miami, and second rounder Landon Collins at safety. Flowers won’t replace Justin Pugh on the offensive line...his arrival will just shift Pugh to another position, possibly left guard. The Giants have drafted an offensive lineman in rounds one or two in each of the last three seasons including Weston Richburg and these three will form the nucleus of the line moving forward. With both starting safeties from last season having left to free agency, Collins is walking into a very favorable situation and given his versatility, as showcased at Alabama, he should find a way to secure one of those two slots.

Jay Bromley will challenge for a starting spot on defense

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I’m not sure how you quantify this. What counts as early? Who says whether he is in the mix or not? Tom Coughlin wouldn’t say either way. So I’m going fact, just because Coach Coughlin believes every starting position must be earned, so Bromley will be a consideration from day one.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - As we’ve discussed before in Fact or Fiction, “starts” can be a little overrated, especially on the defensive line. A player can have an impact in the rotation but not be on the field for the first snap. I’m saying “fact” because everyone is really challenging for a starting role. Additionally, Bromley saw what Johnathan Hankins was able to do in his second season. He’ll try to follow that blueprint.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - There’s an old cliché in football: you can never have enough depth at any position in the NFL and that’s where Jay Bromley ‘s value will be noticed this season. With Johnathan Hankins coming off a breakout campaign in 2014 and veterans Cullen Jenkins and Kenrick Ellis in the mix, it’s going to be very difficult for last year’s third round pick to break into the starting lineup. Bromley was on the field for 112 defensive snaps in 2014, with the majority of his playing time coming in the final six games. Another training camp will surely aid his development and it will be interesting to see how Steve Spagnuolo uses him in his new defensive scheme. Bromley’s biggest impact will come as an extra layer of depth behind a few of the established vets.