Tight End: Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum likely aren’t going to be ready to go when the 2012 season begins, leaving just Bear Pascoe as the lone remaining TE. While Bear Pascoe will forever be etched in the annals of NFL lore (he was the first player named after a circus animal to catch a pass in the Super Bowl), he’s not exactly a legitimate starting TE. Obviously, the Giants will need to bring in a player or two at TE.
Right Tackle: Kareem McKenzie and Chris Snee, in my opinion, were the best tandem RG/RT in the NFL in 2010. In 2011, the play of both players fell off dramatically, especially McKenzie’s. Kareem is also a free agent. Major hole to fill here for the Giants.
Guard: I really like Kevin Boothe, but I like him in the exact role he played last season… a valuable backup at multiple positions along the line. The Giants started the season will David Diehl at LG, and Diehl was a horror show. When LT Will Beatty was lost for the season with an eye injury, Diehl kicked out from LG to LT, Boothe filled in at LG, and played far better than Diehl had. At the time, I remember thinking “Hmmm… Diehl-Boothe-Baas is the trio protecting Eli’s blind side? The Giants are done.” Oops. Nevertheless, the Giants are about $7 million over the cap, and need to shed some dollars. Diehl would make sense. He’s set to make $3.825 million in 2012. The Giants would be wise to find themselves a new LG and move Boothe back into the role where he’s the best fit.
#3 Wide Receiver: Mario Manningham is a free agent, and is probably going to get an offer elsewhere that the Giants won’t (or can’t) match. Do you trust the next guy to step up (something the Giants have had some luck with), or do you bring in outside help?
#2 Running back: Lesser need here, but there’s a possibility the Giants dump Brandon Jacobs’ $4.9 million cap number for 2012. Jacobs is willing to take a pay cut, but what exactly does that mean? A million less? Two million? I’m not even sure that’ll be enough to keep him on the roster. Jacobs ran for 3.8 yards per carry last season, he was only on the field for 26.6% of the Giants’ offensive snaps in 2011, and he turns 30 in July. Do that math, and the writing could be on the wall for Jacobs. If the Giants cut him, they’ll need someone to back up Ahmad Bradshaw if they don’t believe Danny Ware is that guy.
Defense after the jump…
Linebacker/safety: First of all, I know that the chart above looks weird. Three safeties and two linebackers? Why? Well, here are the snap counts for the Giants’ safeties last season:
Antrel Rolle, 1377 (98%). Kenny Phillips, 1282 (89%). Deon Grant, 1126 (80%).
And the linebacker snap counts:
Michael Boley, 1177 (84%). Mathias Kiwanuka, 975 (69%). The next closest player? Jacquain Williams, with 597 (43%), who only got that many snaps because Boley missed two and a half games.
So that makes pegging down the Giants’ defensive needs a little more tricky. Does defensive coordinator Perry Fewell prefer a defense that primarily utilizes 3 safeties, or did he adjust because he didn’t like his options at linebacker?
– If it’s the former, linebacker isn’t an enormous need, as Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka both played well last season. Meanwhile, Williams was a rookie that, at the very least, showed enough promise to be considered decent in terms of depth at the position, and Chase Blackburn (a free agent) was a monumental pleasant surprise after being signed off the street prior to Week 13. Safety would be a much greater need in that scenario.
– However, if it’s the latter and Fewell would rather have three linebackers on the field in most situations, linebacker becomes a much bigger need, and safety less so.
Got it? Was that intelligible? Sort of? OK. Anyway, with the Giants’ defense, it’s tougher to decipher than most teams.
Cornerback: Aaron Ross is a free agent, as is Terrell Thomas, who is also still rehabbing a torn ACL in August. Prince Amukamara was toasted when he got his opportunities last season, but his poor play comes with excuses. The Prince was late to camp (he was the last first round pick to sign his rookie contract), and on his second day of practice, he broke his foot and missed the first 10 weeks of the season. Tough to come in and play against the highest level of football talent in the world under those circumstances. On the other side, Corey Webster is unspectacular, but as solid as they come.
Defense End: Just because… you know… they’re collectors.