Youth springs eternal. The Giants entered 2007 as the third youngest team in the NFL. Considering the punter alone adds ~half a year to that tab, the return of the rookie class of 2007 for 2008's campaign is a source of energy and optimism.
1974 Steelers analog? I just got through saying how the era of free agency makes comparison to Super Bowl winners before 1995 moot, and now here I go launching into comparisons with the 1974 Steelers?! Well, when you get a rookie haul like the Steelers got, the temptation to compare is strong. Of course we must not get too carried away here. The 1974 draft class of the Steelers is the gold standard. 4 Hall of Famers. A Super Bowl championship THAT YEAR. Their first. But that is where the Giants comparisons start to get tempting. These rookies also had a Super Bowl Championship THAT YEAR. And the NY Giants Super Bowl XLII victory has a RECORD NUMBER OF ROOKIES GETTING RINGS.
Year Team #Rookies AvgAge Notables
1974 Steelrs 15 25.3 Swann, Stallworth, Lambert, Webster, Shell
1995 Cowbys 15 26.9
1996 Packers 8 27.1
1997 Broncos 7 28.3 Pryce
1998 Broncos 8 28.5 Lepsis
1999 Rams.. 12 26.5 Bly, Holt
2000 Ravens 7 27.7 AThomas, JLewis
2001 Pats.... 9 27.1 Brady1*, Light, Seymour
2002 TBBucs 10 27.1
2003 Pats... 10 28.0 Koppen, Samuel, Wilson, Warren
2004 Pats... 10 27.2 Watson, Gay, Wilfork
2005 Steelrs 8 27.5 Miller
2006 I.Colts 10 26.5 Bethea, Addai
2007 Giants 14 26.4 Ross, Smith, Boss, Bradshaw
Note that the 15 rookies on Dallas' roster in 1995 had no noteworthy players. Zero pro bowls from that lot. If you look at the youngest teams with the most notable rookie contributors, the numbers seem to imply a correlation towards future sustained strength. The 1999 Rams and the 2001 Pats had future appearances in the championship. Based on these anecdotal observations, the 2006 Colts and 2007 Giants should be very competitive.
When you filter for 3 or more notable rookies on the Super Bowl winners, it does indicate a fair degree of future success. Free agency presents cap problems for the winners. Good players leave for more money. But in free agency your rookies are a captive audience. They are under contract, they are not going anywhere and they are not renegotiating for more cap pressure in the next few years.
Conversely, if we look at the teams on this list without any rookie contributions, there might be an even stronger argument for LACK of competitiveness in future years from those organizations. The three teams with none all suffered after their win because a bad draft that year was quietly covering up a deficient future. Combined with other teams naturally going after their productive leaders who are in their prime, these teams suffer a great deal.
It may be curve fitting to get a result we want, but if you remove the 41 year old Feagles, you get a more realistic representation of the roster, and that drops the average age to 26.1. Plus the 4 'notable' rookies mentioned for the Giants all played a big role in the Super Bowl. It obviously remains to be seen how their careers will unfold, but no one can deny that at that moment the Giants have at least four rookies...
Ross was starting most of the season with major minutes
Smith made catch after catch in the playoffs and Super Bowl
Boss made some instrumental catches at big moments in big drives
Bradshaw led the Giants in playoff rushing despite far fewer carries
Also not mentioned is Jay Alford, whose sack of Brady near the end of the game was one of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl. Michael Johnson started five games at Safety this season and played major minutes all year. THIS WAS NO ORDINARY ROOKIE CLASS. That is why we can say with early confidence that the Giants have 3+ notable rookies. BASED ON THIS VARIABLE THE GIANTS PROJECT TO BE EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE THE NEXT ~3 YEARS.