Chris Snee was like a lot of people who watched the Giants' 2011 draft closely. He was surprised they didn't do more to address the offensive line. But Snee's opinion of his team's decision on this matter was probably more in line with that of the Giants' rivals than it was of their fans. He was happy about it:
"I think everyone, especially in our offensive line room, were expecting an offensive lineman taken in the first or second," Snee told The Star-Ledger. "Listen, I know obviously Jerry Reese and everyone there is going to do what's best for the team. But I'm very close with everyone we have and I really dread the day when someone in that room is gone. If we can steal another season or two together, that would be really special and hopefully we can."
Sure. That would be special. But if I were a Giants fan, I'd be a lot more fearful of the offensive line getting old and brittle together than I would be wistfully hopeful that this gang could "steal another season or two together." If I were a Giants fan, I'd be a little bit concerned that the front office seemed to be thinking along with Snee on this one.
The Giants' offensive line woes didn't cost them in 2010, but they could have. Injuries to Shaun O'Hara, David Diehl and Rich Seubert forced the coaching staff to do a lot of shuffling and Eli Manning to rush a fair number of throws. The Giants survived the issues to win 10 games and come within a whisker of a playoff spot. But ignoring the warning signs that were sent up by the fragile health of an aging group of starters of which Snee is the only one under 30 seems foolish. Neglecting the line until the fourth round of this year's draft could turn out to have been a big mistake.
It's a question of philosophy, as we've discussed here before. The Giants draft for value and not immediate need. They do it stubbornly and (in my opinion) sometimes to their detriment. Cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive tackle Marvin Austin were much higher on their draft board than the slots at which they were still available, and so the Giants took them for that reason. No-brainers. The Giants believe their philosophy puts the long-term health of the franchise above short-term upgrades and immediate gratification. And in the abstract, that is a noble goal.
But there has to be a balance. There has to be a point where you say, "Okay, we got the great value pick in Round 1, but here in Round 2 we're going to take a guy we actually need -- a guy who can help us break a two-year playoff drought and maybe finally beat the @#$% Eagles." And the Giants didn't do that.
The veterans' credo is that the only reason they watch the draft is to make sure their team doesn't take anybody who plays their position. In that respect, at least, Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese can say they kept their veteran offensive linemen happy. If they can keep them healthy now, that'd be even better. I just don't get how they can be so sure they can.