For the most part, the New York Giants get it right in the first round of the NFL draft. For instance, New York selected Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor in 1979 and 1981, respectively. A few years later, those franchise-changing picks led the G-Men to their first Super Bowl championship. Furthermore, in the last few years, Big Blue picked up current stars Hakeem Nicks (2009) and Jason Pierre-Paul (2010) in the first round. But even the Giants have made their share of mistakes in the draft. Here's a look back at some of the team's recent first-round misses and the players they missed out on.
DT William Joseph (2003, No. 25 overall) -- Sometimes, we pay too much attention to a team's first-round selection and not enough to non-first round picks. Such was the case in the 2003 NFL draft, when Big Blue selected Joseph out of Miami in the first round. He didn't have a memorable career, but the Giants picked Osi Umenyiora and David Diehl in the second and fifth round of the same draft, respectively. Both players were key members of the Giants' last two Super Bowl-winning teams.
RB Ron Dayne (2000, No. 11 overall) -- At the time, selecting Dayne out Wisconsin didn't seem like a bad idea. He had set the Division I mark for career rushing yards with 6,397 and won the Heisman Trophy in 1999. However, Dayne's career in New York lasted only four seasons with each one being worse than the one before it. Incidentally, the next running back selected in the same draft was Shaun Alexander, who went to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 19. Alexander. He led the league in rushing in 2005 and ran for 9,453 yards and 100 touchdowns in his nine-year NFL career.
DE Cedric Jones (1996, No. 5 overall) -- Jones was a big-time prospect coming out of Oklahoma, where he set numerous pass-rush records. However, he lasted only five season in the NFL with his best year coming in 1999 (7.5 sacks) and finished his career with 15 sacks. Incidentally, players selected after Jones in the first round in 1996 include Hall of Fame candidates Marvin Harrison (No. 19) and Ray Lewis (No. 26). If it's any consolation, the Giants picked up Amani Toomer in the second round of the '96 draft. Toomer went on to become the team's all-time leading receiver with 9,497 yards.
WR Thomas Lewis (1994, No. 24 overall) -- Before Eli Manning, the Giants were known as a run-first team, but imagine if they had Isaac Bruce at one time. It almost happened, but instead of taking the future four-time Pro Bowler, the Giants selected Lewis out of Indiana in the 1994 NFL draft. Lewis finished his short NFL career with five touchdowns, while Bruce, selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the fourth pick of the second round (No. 33 overall) posted eight 1,000-yard seasons and finished his decorated career with 15,208 yards and 91 touchdowns.
FB Jarrod Bunch (1991, No. 27 overall) -- It's difficult to slam Big Blue for taking a chance on Michigan's Bunch with the last pick of the first round. However, the bruising full back hurt his knee in 1992 and was out of the NFL by 1995. Unfortunately, the Giants (and nearly every other team in the league) passed on a strong-armed quarterback out of Southern Miss named Brett Favre, who was drafted 33rd overall by the Atlanta Facons. Consequently, Dave Brown (a supplemental first-round pick in '92), was Big Blue's starting QB by 1994. He compiled a record of 23-30 in New York.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
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