This seems like a no brainer, but apparently it isn't. When the Giants draft well, they draft players who played all the time for their teams and produced. When they don't draft well, they trade up for guys they fell in love with at the Senior Bowl practices like Sinorice Moss. Other teams have been known to fall in love with guys at the combine who weren't terribly productive in college. It's often the same mistake.
And I think those mistakes happen most often when the coaching staff gets involved. NFL Scouts spend their weeks traveling around the country attending collegiate games and practices, looking at tape of the games they didn't attend, and writing up scouting reports. NFL Coaches spend their weeks getting ready to play 1 game.
In fact, NFL coaches don't get involved in the draft process until after the season is done. And that usually starts with them attending all-star games like the Senior Bowl. That's where Tom Coughlin reportedly fell in love with Sinorice Moss.
Here's the other thing, and probably why the Moss error happened. Remember how I told you that Bill Belichick can teach people off the street to play solid zone defense in about 15 minutes? That's because he was once a great DB's coach. Well TC was once a great WR's coach, so when he speaks about a WR, like a Sinorice Moss or a Ramses Barden, you should probably give a listen. I assume that's what went wrong with Moss who was not productive in college.
Barden was a different case. Barden was massively productive at a lower level of competition. And if you're going to draft from small schools like that, what you have to have see if NFL measurables and dominant production. The Giants have scored over the years grabbing guys just like that. Unfortunately, Barden arrived at the same time as Nicks, and promptly got hurt and kept getting hurt. Plus, being as big as he was he wasn't a return guy, so it was hard for him to get healthy and get active.
I think they actually drafted him because they had lost Plax and Barden was big like Plax and in some ways a better athlete. Plax was a way better football player.
That brings us to an important distinction about production. Some guys will be massively productive in college, then test out as average athletes at the combine. Guess what? You should always take those players over the ones who test great but weren't productive in college. And here's why: guys who aren't great athlete but still manage to produce at college are instinctive, and you can't teach instincts.
Malcom Gladwell could probably show us how long it would take a player to develop instincts, but teams don't have that kind of time. Thus, drafting from a production model at least protects you from getting uninstinctive players -- unless they come from such a low level that they can dominate without instincts. Barden may have been a little bit like this.
Anyway, falling in love at showcases and the combine is the real problem here. I don't think it threatens the league like falling in love with guys who have potential but don't know how to play is ruining basketball, but it's a good way to get bad fast.
The Raiders, for example, love to draft speed and guys who blow up the combine. And they go through coaches like Madonna used to go through men, because even a great coach can't teach people who have athletic talent but not football talent.
When Al Davis was alive, Oakland used be a great second stop for players because Al would see where they could still be productive. They don't have a guy like that anymore.
But getting back to the Giants, they make mistakes when they go for athletes over players. They hit home runs when they grab players who are athletes and tend to avoid busts when they pick guys who know how to play.
As I've said earlier the Giants have gone to a default system where they take sort of productive players from major schools like Phil Dillard, Greg Jones and Tyler Sash. They were all productive in college, though Dillards numbers correlated with the presence of Suh at Nebraska. Even good production should be vetted to make sure it was the province of the compiler and not the teammates or systems. Interestingly enough, all three of those bad picks were from the Big 10.
Right now, if I was running a team, I would only take the top players from the Big 10, the vast majority of college talent now seems to be in the SEC, the PAC 12 and the ACC. That seems to be where most of the players are. The Giants might favor the Big 10 because they play in weather, but the talent just isn't as deep as it used to be there.