Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 04-28-16

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
Let's see, what did Jerry Reese and the Giants accomplish Thursday night with their first round selection of Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick?

First of all, let's agree that the players they wanted were suddenly snatched away from them - Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd (by he Bears), Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliot (by the Cowboys), Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin (by the Titans) and Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (by the Ravens).

OK, stuff like that happens, and for those of you who think those teams picked up rumors about which players the Giants liked and took them away, don't give them or Reese that much credit. Those players were the logical choices to be claimed in the top 10.

And it isn't exactly as though the Giants didn't need a shutdown cornerback. They can put three of them on the field this season (assuming Apple was the right choice), with Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Offenses that play three-across with their wide receivers are going to find obstacles wherever they go, and they'd better hope they can run the ball.

If they try that, the "new" front four of Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison and a healthy Jonathan Hankins might discourage that, too.

Apple, a New Jersey (Voorhees Township) native, is a baby. He won't be 21 until August. But he is 6-1 and 200 and at the combine recorded a speed of 4.34 in the 40-yard dash. One scouting service had him rated as the third cornerback out of 260 (and the other two were still there); another proclaimed him as the second best behind Vernon Hargreaves of Florida and William Jackson III of Houston.

"He uses body strength to move receivers out of their routes," says one scout. "He is good against the run and extremely competitive. He has good height, weight, speed and size with clean footwork and an ability to mirror a receiver in press coverage."

Both Reese and new head coach Ben McAdoo insisted that Apple was the highest-rated player on the Giants' board when their turn came.

"We're very happy to have this player," said Reese. "This is a good player. He's a terrific young player, and it's a need pick. It's a value pick where we had him ranked, and it's absolutely a need pick. Look out there and see our corner depth, you guys can see that. We like to get kids who've played in big time programs. It's not the end all, but kids that come from big programs are usually more ready to jump in and play at this level."

McAdoo was just as enthusiastic. "[We] drafted this young man, and at the same time it gave us a chance to bring him home. It's exciting, and he's a kid who won't be 21 until August. [He is a] combative, physical corner who interviewed great. [He] tackled well on tape. We like his size, we like his length, good ball skills -- which is something that he is working on, and we are excited to get him in here He can play a lot of different roles for us, we can use him at a lot of positions. We're glad we have him."

Hargreaves went one pick later, to the Buccaneers, but both Reese and McAdoo insisted Apple was higher on their value board then either Hargreaves or Jackson. "You know, when you have two corners in this league, you're short one because the offensive teams throw the ball so much," Reese added. "You've got to have three quality corners to really get out there and function at a high level, I think. This guy gives us three quality guys that we think we can play with anybody around the league with these three guys."

Apple was the Defensive MVP in last January's Fiesta Bowl, and another oddity is that the last pass ever thrown in the college ranks by Marcus Mariota (at the University of Oregon, now with the Titans) was intercepted by this kid. Apple was a two-year starter who had four interceptions in those two seasons along with 18 Passes Broken Up.

He becomes the first defensive back taken in the first round by the Giants in five years, since they took Prince Amukamara in 2011.

Another scout noted that Apple is "extremely competitive" when the ball is in the air, which could either lead to BPUs, picks or interference calls.

But he never even dreamed that he'd be the 10th overall pick (as did so many Giant fans). Did he feel even a tinge of that? No, not really, Not really, honestly," he said. "They [the Giants] talked to me one time at the combine, but that was about it. It's kind of crazy to see myself on the screen (at) like number 10 and all that stuff, but I'm excited.

"I'm very confident. I talked to the defensive coordinator [Steve Spagnuolo] and a couple of the other guys on the phone. They're just very excited to have me come, and I am as well."

And yes, Apple did think about coming home, even though, as he says, "it's 90 miles away."

A big smile here that one could pick up on the telephone. "Yeah, that was like the first thing I thought about. When I saw them calling me and it was a New Jersey number, it looked kind of familiar. I didn't know if I had to pick it up. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is probably one my friends trying to prank call me.' My mom was like, Yeah, don't pick it up. My coach was like, What you mean? Pick it up. So I picked it up and it was head coach McAdoo and I was very happy."

The Giants will participate in rounds two and three Friday night and finish up the 2016 draft Saturday afternoon with rounds four through seven, although (at this moment) they don't have a seventh round pick. That went to Pittsburgh last summer for punter Brad Wing.

Besides, the Giants just became he only team in the NFL to have two players named Eli. Doesn't that count for something?

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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