10 of the most underrated Giants of the last 20 years

SNY

Over the past three decades, from Eli Manning to Michael Strahan to a variety of others, the Giants have seen plenty of stars come through their doors.

But Big Blue has also had its share of players who may have flown a bit under the radar, putting up strong numbers while not necessarily always becoming a Pro Bowl talent.

Here's our list of 10 of the most underrated Giants of the last 20 years ...

RB Ahmad Bradshaw (2007-12)

Not many seventh-round draft picks go on to have standout careers in the NFL, but Ahmad Bradshaw is certainly an exception to the rule. 

After being selected late in the 2007 NFL Draft, Bradshaw found himself in a crowded Giants' backfield, with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Reuben Droughns all getting carries. So as a rookie, Bradshaw found his way as a kick returner, averaging 24.2 yards in 38 returns. 

 

Primarily a return man again in 2008, it was in 2009 when Bradshaw began to see more action out of the backfield. Though he started just one game that season, Bradshaw carried the ball 163 times for 778 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry (compared to Jacobs' 3.7 yards per tote). By the time the 2010 season ended, Bradshaw was the team's No. 1 back, rushing for 1,235 yards with eight touchdowns. 

He'd continue to split time with Jacobs in the backfield in 2011, and while his numbers dipped during that regular season (659 rushing yards), he helped the Giants reach Super Bowl XLVI. In the game's final minute, with the Giants trying to take the lead while also attempting to chew clock, Bradshaw scored the game-winning touchdown on a 6-yard run, as he awkwardly fell into the end zone. Tom Brady and the Patriots got one last chance, but Bradshaw's TD managed to hold up, giving the Giants their second Super Bowl of Bradshaw's tenure with the team.

WR Ike Hilliard (1997-2004)

During the late '90s and early 2000s, Amani Toomer led the Giants' receiving corps, racking up five straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1999-2003. But if Toomer was the Batman of the wide receivers, Ike Hilliard was a pretty good Robin.

Hilliard was the seventh overall pick by the Giants out of Florida in the 1997 NFL Draft, and while it can be said that his career production may not have quite matched up to that draft status, the 5-11 Hilliard put together a very good NFL career, amassing 6,397 total receiving yards over 12 seasons. 

In eight seasons with the Giants, Hilliard caught 368 passes for 4,630 yards and 27 touchdowns. His best individual season came in 1999, when he caught 72 passes for 996 yards. One of his biggest games came in the 2000 NFC Championship, as he caught two touchdowns from Kerry Collins and ended up with 10 catches for 155 yards as the Giants routed the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 en route to Super Bowl XXXV against Baltimore. 

Hilliard suffered his fair share of injuries during his time with the Giants, but he still finds himself 10th all time on the franchise's receiving yards list.

CB Corey Webster (2005-13)

A second-round pick by the Giants in 2005, Webster's early years with the team were a bit up and down, as he bounced in and out of the starting lineup, but he eventually figured things out and had a very nice nine-year career with Big Blue.

After struggling early on in 2007, Webster went on to start just three games that season, but as the playoffs rolled around, Webster asserted himself as a reliable corner. After intercepting Jeff Garcia in the Wild Card round vs. Tampa Bay, Webster then helped limit Dallas' Terrell Owens to 49 yards on four catches in the 21-17 win over Dallas. Then, in that frigid NFC Championship Game in Green Bay, Webster picked off Brett Favre in overtime, setting up Lawrence Tynes' game-winning 47-yard field goal. 

In all, Webster was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Giants, starting 93 games over nine years. He racked up 20 regular-season interceptions during his career, and added two more interceptions and a fumble recovery in his 10 postseason games.

S Sam Garnes (1997-2001)

A fifth-round pick out of Cincinnati, Garnes locked down the starting strong safety job for the Giants right away during his rookie season, and he never looked back. 

During his five seasons with the team, Garnes started 73 of the 74 games he appeared in, notching six interceptions and adding two forced fumbles. He also made four starts in the playoffs for the Giants, coming up with an interception and two pass break-ups against Minnesota in the NFC title game blowout. 

His numbers were never super flashy, but Garnes proved to be a steady, consistent player on the backend of the Big Blue defense for half a decade. 

P Jeff Feagles (2003-09)

Punters are football players, too. 

Sure, it's not a very sexy position and most of the time fans would rather never see their own punter take the field, but Feagles, who played a remarkable 22 seasons in the NFL, proved to do some of his finest work with the Giants as he wrapped up his long career.

His time with the Giants helped Feagles into the NFL record books as well, as he currently ranks fourth all-time (and first among punters) in career games played at 352, while holding the all-time record for career punts (1,713) and punting yards (71,211). Feagles also earned his second-career Pro Bowl nod as a Giant in 2008, 13 seasons following his first selection in 1995 with the Arizona Cardinals. 

And if anyone needs proof about how valuable it is to have a reliable punter, think about who took over for Feagles following his retirement: Matt Dodge, who played just one season with the Giants and is most remembered for inexplicably punting the ball directly at DeSean Jackson in the Eagles' improbable late December win in 2010. 

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DT Damon Harrison (2016-18)

Damon "Snacks" Harrison had a brief tenure as a Giant, but he was a very good player during his quick two-and-a-half-years with Big Blue. 

Harrison truly worked his way up into becoming a starting NFL talent. After never getting any major offers out of high school, Harrison ended up playing at William Penn University of the NAIA. Despite a strong college career, Harrison went undrafted before catching on with the Jets in 2012. 

By the end of the 2015 season, Harrison was one of the best run-stopping nose tackles in football, and the Giants signed him to a four-year, $46 million deal. 

"Snacks" played in 39 games for the Giants before a surprise trade to the Detroit Lions in 2018, as the front office began retooling the team. His numbers won't jump off the page, which is why Harrison could be considered underrated in the future, but his game was never about stats. He could take on double-teams, stop the run, and did get the QB 4.0 times as a Giant. 

T/G David Diehl (2003-13)

Offensive linemen, specifically interior offensive linemen, don't get a ton of notoriety in the NFL. Most times, you'll only hear a guard's name during a TV broadcast if they get called for penalty or get beat for a sack.

But Diehl, drafted by the Giants in the fifth round of 2003, became a starter right away at right guard starting all 16 games as a rookie. His true value came in his versatility, as he moved all over the Giants' offensive line during his 11 seasons with the team. In fact, he started at every spot outside of center during his career. 

Diehl was a one-time Pro-Bowl selection (2009) and was a starter on both of the Manning-era Giants' Super Bowl teams. 

WR Hakeem Nicks (2009-13, 2015)

When fans think of Manning's primary receivers during his illustrious tenure, names like Odell Beckham Jr. and Plaxico Burress may come to mind first. But Hakeem Nicks was as reliable as any other target.

A first-round pick out of North Carolina in 2009, Nicks caught 26 regular-season touchdowns from Manning (the third most behind Beckham and Burress), and then added another four in the playoffs. Hicks never made a Pro Bowl with the Giants, but he had two seasons where he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark (2010 and 2011).

He finished his Giants career with 318 receptions for 4,676 yards and 27 touchdowns, but he came up huge, literally and figuratively, for the Giants in the 2011 playoffs, averaging 111 yards per game and catching the Hail Mary pass from Manning against the Packers in the divisional round. In that game, Nicks caught seven balls for 165 yards and two scores. 

S Gibril Wilson (2004-07)

Gibril Wilson is yet another example of a mid-round pick who proved to be a great find for the Giants. 

A fifth-round pick out of Tennessee in 2004, Wilson started 51 of the 52 games he played for the Giants, and he proved to have a knack for getting to the ball. Wilson totaled 11 interceptions over four years with the team, while also adding six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. 

After helping the Giants win a Super Bowl in 2007, Wilson signed a six-year contract with the Raiders that made him one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL, but things didn't work out and he was cut after one season. 

Wilson played two more seasons in the NFL, one with Miami and one with Cincinnati, but we has never as successful as he was with the Giants.  

DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka (2006-14)

The Giants have had so many great pass-rushers in their storied history. From Lawrence Taylor and Strahan, to Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, the list goes on and on.

But don't forget about Mathias Kiwanuka.

The 32nd overall pick in 2006, the Boston College product played nine seasons with the Giants, making 82 starts. He racked up 38.5 sacks with Big Blue, with his best season coming in 2008, when he recorded 8.0 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. 

Kiwanuka was never a Pro Bowler, but he was a pivotal piece of the dominant defensive lines that helped the Giants knock off Brady and the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl 

Honorable mentions: RT Kareem McKenzie, RB Brandon Jacobs, K Lawrence Tynes

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