Priority order: (1) OT, (2) DE, (3) CB, (4) DT, (5) OG, (6) LB, (6) S, (7) WR, (8) RB, (9) TE
QB: Eli Manning hasn’t missed a start in 135 games, which makes him the “NFL Ironman” at the QB position. In fact, only 2 other QBs have a streak half that long:
As a result, the Giants have often only carried 2 QBs on their roster in recent years. Eli Manning is 32, but should have plenty left in the tank. At what point do the Giants begin to think about drafting a QB to groom behind Eli? I don’t know the exact answer to that, but my guess is “not yet.”
David Carr re-signed with the team, and although they’ve often carried just two QBs, the team also recently signed Curtis Painter.
RB/FB: Over the last 2 years, Ahmad Bradshaw has battled an assortment of injuries, and he’s gone… or least he appears to be gone, although he remains unemployed.
Otherwise, the exciting/explosive David Wilson should continue to develop, and Andre Brown has proven to be a good #2 if need be. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Giants grab a RB in the later rounds, but I don’t see it as an immediate need. I think the Giants would be better served to sign a reliable pass protecting vet after the draft.
WR: Victor Cruz didn’t find any lucrative offers from other teams around the league in the restricted free agency market, and he faces the prospect of playing for way below market value for the 3rd consecutive season if he can’t work out a long term deal. Holdout? To be determined.
In the last 7 years, the Giants have spent 7 picks on the WR position within the first 3 rounds:
At some point Cruz is going to have to play in 2013, even if it’s under a contract that does not suit him. WR is not a need for the Giants this year, but don’t be surprised if they draft themselves some Victor Cruz insurance.
TE: Martellus Bennett is gone. Brandon Myers is in. Upgrade.
It will also be interesting to see how far along Adrien Robinson has come since being drafted in the 4th round as a raw prospect with upside. I’ve always thought a great TE would clean up in the Giants’ offense, but they seem to be content having a “meh” guy come in one year at a time and put up decent/good numbers. This is a deep TE class, so the Giants could certainly find a guy high on their board in the later rounds, but again, not a huge need here.
OL: I’m not saying anything new in noting that David Diehl has been bad the last 2 years, although I would say in his defense that he was “less bad” in 2012. It appears that the Giants also recognize that Diehl is not good. In 2010 and 2011, with Diehl playing on the left side, the Giants ran heavily to the right. In 2012, with Diehl playing the right side, the Giants ran heavily to the left:
The player that filled in for Diehl last season, and played better, was Sean Locklear. Diehl took a pay cut and Locklear remains unemployed. However it shakes out, the Giants need something better than Diehl/Locklear at RT next season.
Will Beatty is a good player who only has 31 career regular season starts, and should only get better. The Giants were able to get a long term deal done with him, so they should be in good shape at LT for a while. The team also re-signed Kevin Boothe to a 1-year deal, but that seems like a year-by-year situation.
David Baas at center is “just a guy,” but he has an awful contract and will be stuck on the team likely through at least 2014. If you can’t get rid of him, you may as well not use valuable resources replacing him just yet.
OL help, and more specifically OT, is by far and away the Giants’ biggest need area heading into this offseason. Fortunately for them, this upcoming draft is very deep at OT, and has a few guards worth looking at as well.
DE: What happened here? Before the season began, many viewed the Giants’ DEs as the best group in the NFL. Now it’s a significant need area. Osi Umenyiora and his roughly 4 FF per season are gone, and Jason Pierre-Paul needs to re-prove that he’s among the elite DEs in the league. In 2012, he was still very good, but he didn’t come close to replicating the season he had in 2011. But obviously, the Giants are set at one DE spot as long as JPP remains a Giant.
Meanwhile, Justin Tuck is clearly on the downside of his career.
So what do you have if Umenyiora leaves? You have JPP, which is great, and then you have a fading player in Tuck, and unless you really like Adrian Tracy, you have pretty much no legitimate depth. Do you move Mathias Kiwanuka back to DE? If so, you then open up a hole in your linebacking corps, with no real guarantee that Kiwanuka will even make plays at DE, or even get enough snaps to make it worthwhile.
If the Giants can find a good DE who can contribute in a rotational role, that may allow the Giants to keep Kiwi at LB.
DT: Another problem area for the Giants. I liked what I saw out of Linval Joseph in his first year of extended play in 2011, and figured him as a guy that would only get better. I didn’t really see that progression from him in 2012, and I have serious concerns about his ability to anchor against double teams in the run game. The Giants really need him to take the next step next season.
The Giants’ situation at DT was very thin after the team cut Chris Canty, but they were able to replace him with a combination of former Eagles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. Those two guys may very well turn out to have some gas left in the tank, but it is “short term depth.”
Marvin Austin has shown absolutely nothing so far in his 2 years with the Giants, and the team re-signed the soon-to-be 34 Shaun Rogers.
They need to get younger here at some point. I don’t know if that is this draft or not, but soon.
LB: Michael Boley was by far the Giants’ best linebacker the last few years, in my opinion, but his play fell off in 2012. His replacement could be Jacquian Williams, who is almost like a safety/LB hybrid that can cover, but is probably not a 3-down linebacker. They may have to replace Boley will some kind of combination of players.
The Giants signed Dan Connor, who the Cowboys recently cut. Connor was a disappointment in Dallas. Teams will target him in the passing game, but at least he’ll be better against the run than Chase Blackburn was. Blackburn may turn out to be one of the most overrated Giants in history after making a very overrated play in the Super Bowl.
They also signed Keith Rivers. Rivers can’t stay on the field, but at $715K, I’m not going to kill the Giants for bringing him back.
Mathias Kiwanuka, as noted above, is the big question mark. What do the Giants do with him? I think they’re better off just leaving him at LB, and continuing to give him some pass rushing opportunities on obvious passing downs.
Mark Herzlich is a great story but he hasn’t shown much in his two seasons as a Giant. The reserve that I think has the bigger future is Spencer Paysinger. Perhaps Paysinger can be the complimentary player to Williams in replacing Boley.
Linebacker has been a need area for the Giants over the last 5+ years, so nothing new here.
CB: In the last 8 years, the Giants have drafted 8 CBs, including 5 in the first 3 rounds:
Here’s what I wrote about Corey Webster after the Giants-Ravens game this season:
Remember how bad Terence Newman was at the end of the season last year? Opposing teams put the bulls eye on his back and went to work. For example, last year the Giants played the Cowboys in 2 of the last 4 games. They targeted Newman a total of 19 times, which is an inordinately high number. Corey Webster is this year’s Terence Newman. Last week in Baltimore, the Ravens targeted Webster a staggering 14 times. He gave up 8 catches for 140 yards and a TD. I have no idea what happened to Corey Webster. He was so good last year.
Webster took an outright pay cut, or else he was probably a goner.
Amukamara has been good his first two season in the NFL, but I’d worry about him being my “#1 CB.” Hosley was impressive to begin the season, but struggled as the year wore on. Terrell Thomas’ health simply can’t be trusted at this point, and Aaron Ross is aging and not even a lock to make the team. CB could absolutely be addressed, especially since this is a deep class.
S: Kenny Phillips walked in free agency, and based on the money he signed for, teams around the league clearly think his knee is a major issue. Still, I’m not so sure Stevie Brown is an answer as Phillips’ replacement at safety. Brown had 8 INTs last year, but the majority of those were of the “ball finding him” variety, rather than Brown finding the ball. If you have Brown penciled in for a half dozen picks in 2013, you’re probably setting yourself up for a disappointment. Brown is player the Giants can upgrade. I realize that sounds ridiculous, seeing as he was 2nd in the NFL in picks last season, but that’s just what I see on his game film. He’s better suited to be a #3 or #4 safety, not a starter.
Antrel Rolle is overpaid, but he’s not going anywhere. Rolle had a brutal 2011 but was far better last season, and has become a smart, wily safety. He has two years left on his deal.
Will Hill is a nice, physical 3rd safety who likes to hit people.
The Giants’ could use another safety, but it’s a lesser need than some other spots on the defense.