A final grade won't be awarded for several seasons, but the early returns indicate the Giants' 2014 draft class will be one of the best in franchise history. Six of the group's seven members contributed in the season, three became regular starters and one played so well he is a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate despite missing the season's first four games.
The seven draftees joined the organization with various degrees of confidence, excitement, nervousness, anxiety and readiness to contribute. Each has confronted the challenges faced by all rookies, including learning to be a professional, memorizing the playbook, integrating himself into a veteran team, finding a place to live and getting accustomed to living in the nation's largest metropolitan area.
We recently gave each member of the 2014 draft class an opportunity to talk about their first NFL season.
Safety Nat BerheSan Diego StateFifth Round152nd Overall Selection
Berhe is another rookie who had to get used to spending less time on the field. He played four years at San Diego State, and started 41 of the 51 games in which he played. This year, he has appeared primarily on special teams, though his role in the back of the defense expanded later in the season.
"We are definitely including him as a part of the package," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "Coming out of college, he was a very good run defender. He would strike you and he would tackle. We still like those attributes in him. He will strike you and he will tackle, but we would use him for his coverage skills, also. We have also explored bringing him in pressure. There are a couple different things we think we can take advantage of his skills with and get him on the field."
Berhe is advancing every day, in large measure because of the tutelage he receives from veteran safeties Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps.
"Mentally, physically, spiritually, a guy like Quintin Demps, you sit close to him and he's able to navigate you through some of the rough times being a pro," Berhe said. "Antrel and the way he dissects film, you just take bits and pieces from everybody and the work ethic and you kind of pick and choose like, 'I like what he does here, I like that. I'm going to take that and incorporate that into my own thing.'
Berhe led the Giants in special teams tackles. He would like to play more on defense, but is grateful for every opportunity he's received.
Check out photos of Safety Nat Berhe from the 2014 season
"It's just been a great ride," Berhe said. "It's everything that I thought it would be. The NFL's a great organization. I'm so happy to be a part of it. I can't wait to see what these next couple years bring for me. Being a rookie is always tough. You want to play, you want to be that guy. You definitely have to take a back seat and learn from the vets and just wait your turn."
Berhe and fellow sixth-round selection Devon Kennard literally had to make the longest journey among this year's rookies to join the Giants.
"I'm a California guy, so this has been the first time that I have actually experienced snow," Berhe said. "It was fun when I first saw it. It was really nice and I enjoyed it and then it started getting really slushy and muddy. I'm like, 'Oh man, this is something else.' I think I've adjusted well to living in New Jersey. But home will always be home."