Moeller: Giant Draft: Hit or Miss

The Giants should have a sure-fire pick with the number four selection in the April 23rd NFL Draft.

As everyone knows, the favorites are Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs and Clemson linebacker/edge rusher Isaiah Simmons.

Since 1970, the Giants have had their share of hits and misses with a top-10 overall pick.

In the spring of 1974, the Giants believed they solved their offensive line issues. After a 2-11-1 season that sacrificed head coach Alex Webster, the Giants had the third overall pick draft and had a rather adequate unit that gave up 28 sacks behind proven veterans Greg Larson, Doug Van Horn, and Willie Parker.

They landed mammoth Ohio State lineman John Hicks, who earned two first-team Big Ten and All-American honors as well as the Outland Trophy winner and a runner-up for the Heisman. It was the highest profile pick since the G-Men chose Auburn running back Tucker Frederickson with the top overall pick in the 1965 draft.

Hicks proved to be right choice as he was the UPI Rookie-of-the-Year and started 52 of his 56 games. But Hicks had issues with then-head coach John McVay, and he also got into a brawl with defensive end Jack Gregory. As a result, Hicks was traded to Pittsburgh in 1978 for offensive lineman Jim Clack and wide receiver Ernie Pough. Hicks never played another down and suddenly retired.

Aside from Saquon Barkley (No. 2, 2018), Carl Banks (No. 3, 1984), Lawrence Taylor (No. 2, 1981) and Phil Simms (No. 7, 1979), Hicks was among the more productive top-10 draft picks for the Giants since 1970.

Other less memorable ones over the years were Gary Jeter, DE, fifth overall, 1977; Mark Haynes, DB, eighth overall, 1980; Terry Kinard, DB, 10th overall, 1983; Gordon King, OT, 10th overall, 1987; Eric Moore, OG, 10 overall, 1988; Cedric Jones, DE, fifth overall, 1996; Ereck Flowers, OT, ninth, 2015; and Eli Apple, DB, 10th overall, 2016.

Jeter also was a high-profile pick out of USC, but his best days as a pro came after his career fizzled with the Giants and was traded to the Rams. King was a serviceable lineman for eight years before injuries ‘caused his release.

Jones has been regarded as one of the team’s worst picks, and we all know about Flowers. Ironically, Apple is a free agent again after his recent deal with the Raiders fell through.

With high aspirations and expectations about Daniel Jones, the Giants should be able to add a valuable piece with either Wirfs or Simmons. Don’t rule out the possibility of them changing course at the last minute.

If they stay the course, however, either Wirfs or Simmons will add to core of Barkley and Jones. Either Wirfs or Simmons should have a longer career than Hicks and a few others among the Giants’ draft elite.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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