New York Giants
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The New York Giants are hoping an Apple a day will help keep opposing offenses away from the end zone.
With the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Giants added Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple, a surprise selection considering the team has $16 million already tied up this year in starting corners Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins.
On the surface, the selection of Apple looked to be a panic move by the Giants, who saw both Tennessee and Chicago leapfrog ahead of them in the draft, where they plucked offensive tackle Jack Conklin and outside linebacker/pass rusher Leonard Floyd, respectively.
However, the Giants brass defended their decision to take the 20-year-old, 6-1, 200-pound cornerback from Voorhees, N.J.
"(Apple) is the highest guy on the board beyond the guys with issues," general manager Jerry Reese said. "A really good young player. Good height and speed we're very happy to have this player.
"He's a terrific young player, and it's a need pick. It's a value pick where we had him ranked, and it's absolutely a need pick. Look out there and see our corner depth, you guys can see that."
While he's correct in saying the Giants' cornerback position is thin behind Jenkins and Rodgers-Cromartie, the only other cornerback they have on the roster with any notable experience is Trevin Wade the pick still raised a few eyebrows.
For one, Apple hasn't exactly been a ballhawk in college, recording just four career interceptions and 22 passes defensed.
Moreover, Apple's production dipped between 2014 and 2015, as he recorded just one pick and nine pass breakups in his final year of college eligibility.
"That's a good question," head coach Ben McAdoo said when asked what the reason was behind the decrease in Apple's interception total. "I think he has some things that he needs to work on. I think he shows that he has the ball skills to do it. It is tough when you are playing press man coverage to intercept the ball if you are playing a man not with vision.
"When you play with vision, it is a lot easier to intercept the ball than it is when you are playing press man. That is where we like him. When he learns to catch the flash of the ball a little bit better, which he will and he showed he improved on, he will have more opportunities for picks, for sure."
If Apple is such an unfinished product, then what exactly was the appeal over Florida's Vernon Hargreaves, who was drafted by Tampa Bay one pick after Apple?
"We like his size, we like his length," said McAdoo, of his first-ever draft pick since being elevated to an NFL head coach. "Good ball skills, that showed up and is something he's working on. We're excited to get him in here."
Reese said Apple's big-school experience was appealing.
"You like to get kids who've played in big-time programs," he said. "It's not the end all, but kids that come from big programs are usually more ready to jump in and play at this level."
The question is where will Apple fit in?
"I think he can play all over," Reese said. "He is big, he's over six foot. He's a 200-pounder, ran 4.4. He can play somewhere back there for us."