EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' pick of Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley in the third round felt weird even to Bromley, who was pulling a "Gravity" DVD out of a Redbox machine at his local grocery store when he got the call.
"Honestly, I didn't expect a call at all tonight," said a giddy Bromley, who grew up a Giants fan and played college football with two of the players the Giants drafted last year.
So why, then, did the Giants spend the No. 74 pick in the draft on a guy who was mainly projected to go somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds? Well, he was a team captain at Syracuse. Second-round pick Weston Richburg was a team captain at Colorado State. First-round selection Odell Beckham Jr. was a team leader at LSU.
"We like captains," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "Most of these kids are developmental, let's face it. But in this day and age, there aren't a lot of guys you can let sit around and redshirt. These guys, we think they're more mature, and that's attractive for us."
The point is that the Giants, even after the biggest free-agent spree any team went on this offseason, entered this draft with so many needs that they can't afford to draft guys who aren't going to perform right away. And they have decided that the smartest way to speed up the learning curve of their early picks was to seek and draft smart, mature, high-character guys who might not need as much hand-holding as some of their more raw recent early-round picks. (Think: Wilson, David, 2012.)
It's a plan. And it appears to be a well-thought-out one by a team that's admitting to itself that the amount of work it has to do to repair all of its holes is more than will fit into a single offseason. The Giants had a lot to say about the many reasons they liked Beckham and Richburg. And they had a few about Bromley, too. But by the time they were explaining Bromley, the real outline of their 2014 draft plan had come into focus.
"These guys are high-character team captains, hard workers, smart, competitive guys with no issues whatsoever," vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. "All three of these guys, we felt, were at the very highest in terms of character."
In the past, the Giants might have used second-round and third-round picks on projects with question marks and upside. Their roster had more depth and they could afford to do that. They can't anymore, so it appears they decided to prioritize present-day makeup, maybe even at the expense of high-ceiling talent. The end result was that they targeted certain specific players and picked them whether they represented value at the pick or not.
"We just sat where we were and made good picks, I think," Reese said.
The final grade on this draft will depend on the extent to which he's right.