Patriots and Giants Take Different Approaches to Building Super Bowl Squads
By Chris Malumphy
Some people think that New England Patriots' coach Bill Belichick is a salary cap maven who recognizes that most high-priced talent isn't all that it's cut out to be. Others believe that except for an occasional player or two, Belichick thinks most players are fungible. It has also been suggested that Belichick just likes to show that he is smarter than everyone else.
Regardless of what anyone thinks, Belichick has put together a Super Bowl squad with eight undrafted starters, five on offense, including three at skill positions, and three on defense. Starting players come from schools as low profile as Chadron State, Hofstra, and North Texas. Undrafted starters include: wide receiver Wes Welker, center Dan Connolly, guard Brian Waters, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and running back Danny Woodhead, defensive tackle Kyle Love, cornerback Kyle Arrington and safety James Ihedigbo.
But Belichick also uses his top draft picks well. Of the 14 drafted starters on offense and defense, half were drafted in the first round. First round picks include: guard Logan Mankins, tackle Nate Solder, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Shaun Ellis (originally picked by the Jets), linebacker Jerod Mayo, cornerback Devin McCourty and safety Eugene Chung.Four other Patriots starters were drafted by the Patriots in the second round: tackle Matt Light, tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Deion Branch and linebacker Brandon Spikes. Only three of the starting Patriots were taken after the second round: quarterback Tom Brady (6th round), defensive end Brandon Deaderick (7th round), and linebacker Rob Ninkovich (5th round, originally selected by the Saints). Versatile tight end Aaron Hernandez is not on this list of starters, but he was a fourth round choice.
And unlike the Giants, as well as most other NFL teams, the Patriots expended draft picks on both kickers: punter Zoltan Mesko (5th round) and placekicker Stephen Gostkowski (4th round), demonstrating the value Belichick places on the most important special teams positions.
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin have taken a more traditional approach. Only four of the 22 starters for the Giants were undrafted: wide receiver Victor Cruz, tight end Jake Ballard, fullback Henry Hynoski, and linebacker Chase Blackburn.
The Giants will start eight first round draft picks, including a whopping six on defense.
On offense, the Giants will start first rounders quarterback Eli Manning (originally drafted by the Chargers) and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. From the second round, the Giants send forth the middle of their offensive line in center David Baas (taken by the 49ers) and guard Chris Snee. Tackles Kareem McKenzie (Jets) and David Diehl come from rounds three and five, respectively. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was a seventh round selection. Two players not listed as starters here, but who may see considerable action, are running back Brandon Jacobs who was taken in the fourth round and wide receiver Marion Manningham who was drafted in round three.
Nearly the entire defensive starting unit is filled with high draft picks including first rounders: defensive tackle William Joseph, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, cornerback Aaron Ross and safeties Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle (drafted by the Cardinals). Cornerback Corey Webster was taken with the 11th pick in the second round. Defensive end Justin Tuck was drafted in the third round, defensive tackle Cris Canty was drafted by the Cowboys in the fourth round and linebacker Michael Boley was taken by the Falcons in round five. Defensive end Usi Umenyiora, not listed as a starter here, was drafted in the second round.
Unlike the Patriots, both the Giants punter, Steve Weatherford, and placekicker, Lawrence Tynes were undrafted.
Note that four of the eight starting defensive lineman were first round picks while only two of the ten offensive interior linemen were drafted in round one. Of the four wide receivers, the top two (Welker and Cruz) were undrafted; Nicks was a first round pick and Branch is from round two. Of six linebackers, two were drafted in the first round, one in the second, two in the fifth and one was undrafted. The Giants start three first rounders and one second rounder in the defensive backfield. The Patriots counter with two first rounders and two undrafted defensive backs. Thus, five of the eight defensive backs were drafted in round one.
Of course, in the end, everybody looks to the quarterback: Eli Manning, who already has one Super Bowl ring for defeating the Patriots four years age, was the top choice in 2004. Tom Brady, who lost to Manning, has three Super Bowl victories and was one of the great draft steals of all time, lasting until round six, the 199th player overall in 2000.
Interestingly, Wikipedia points out that Giants teammates Usi Umenyiora and Lawrence Tynes are two of the three British-born players to have won Super Bowl rings, the other being Scott McCready who was a member of the Patriots practice squad in 2001.
|2012 Super Bowl Starters|
|WR||Wes Welker||2004||Texas Tech|
|LG||Logan Mankins||2005||1||32||32||Patriots||G||Fresno State|
|C||Dan Connolly||2005||Southeast Missouri State|
|RG||Brian Waters||1999||North Texas|
|FB||Danny Woodhead||2008||Chadron State|
|LT||Kyle Love||2010||Mississippi State|
|RT||Vince Wilfork||2004||1||21||21||Patriots||DT||Miami (FL)|
|FS||Eugene Chung||1992||1||13||13||Patriots||T||Virginia Tech|
|Patriots' Special Teams|
|H||Brian Hoyer||2009||Michigan State|
|PR||Julian Edelman||2009||7||23||232||Patriots||QB||Kent State|
|KR||Danny Woodhead||2008||Chadron State|
|RG||Chris Snee||2004||2||2||34||Giants||G||Boston College|
|RT||Kareem McKenzie||2001||3||17||79||Jets||T||Penn State|
|TE||Jake Ballard||2010||Ohio State|
|WR||Hakeem Nicks||2009||1||29||29||Giants||WR||North Carolina|
|LE||Justin Tuck||2005||3||10||74||Giants||DE||Notre Dame|
|LT||William Joseph||2003||1||25||25||Giants||DT||Miami (FL)|
|RE||Jason Pierre-Paul||2010||1||15||15||Giants||DE||South Florida|
|SLB||Mathias Kiwanuka||2006||1||32||32||Giants||DE||Boston College|
|RLB||Michael Boley||2005||5||24||160||Falcons||LB||Southern Mississippi|
|LCB||Corey Webster||2005||2||11||43||Giants||DB||Louisiana State|
|SS||Kenny Phillips||2008||1||31||31||Giants||DB||Miami (FL)|
|FS||Antrel Rolle||2005||1||8||8||Cardinals||DB||Miami (FL)|
|Gaints' Special Teams|
|PK||Lawrence Tynes||2004||Troy State|
|PR||Will Blackmon||2006||4||18||115||Packers||WR||Boston College|
|KR||Devin Thomas||2008||2||3||34||Redskins||WR||Michigan State|