Couldn't agree more. Berman is one of the top 10 (wait...let's double check ESPN's roster...), top 5 talents ESPN has. In fact, I propose a White House petition to bring back, back, back, back, back the Berman/Jackson NFL Primetime.
G Stacy Andrews, C/G David Baas, NT Gabe Watson.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Prince Amukamara, DT Marvin Austin, WR Jerrel Jernigan, OT James Brewer, LB Greg Jones, S Tyler Sash.
FB Madison Hedgecock, WR Steve Smith, WR Derek Hagan, TE Kevin Boss, G Rich Seubert, C Shaun O'Hara, DT Barry Cofield, DT Rocky Bernard.
2011 New York Giants Offense:
New York's focus in this brief offseason has to be on ball control. The Giants led the NFL in turnovers with 42, with the next-closest team being the Bills with 39. The difference, however, is that unlike Buffalo, New York had tons of offensive talent on its roster. Those 42 give-aways were unacceptable.
Eli Manning was responsible for 25 of those turnovers via interceptions. Well, at least on paper he was. Many of Manning's picks were tipped or bobbled by his receivers that bounced into the arms of defenders. Hakeem Nicks was mostly guilty of this. Nicks is a stud No. 1 receiver, but he sometimes has lapses in concentration; he finished tied for fifth in terms of most interceptions when thrown to, finishing only behind Johnny Knox, Steve Johnson, Terrell Owens and Larry Fitzgerald (horrible quarterbacking).
Still, Nicks is entering his third season, so there's definitely room for improvement. Mario Manningham, meanwhile, will reprise his role as the No. 2 wideout with Steve Smith officially gone. Manningham isn't the best route runner in the world, but he produces; in his final three games last year, he caught 16 balls for 346 yards and four touchdowns.
Smith wasn't the only one of Manning's targets who hit the road. New York also lost Kevin Boss, who signed with the Raiders. Boss wasn't a very consistent pass-catcher, but his blocking will be missed. Replacing Boss in the receiving role is third-year tight end Travis Beckum, who has just 21 career receptions (13 last year for 116 yards and two scores).
The Giants did have some good news in free agency, as they were able to retain Ahmad Bradshaw despite rumors that he would sign with Miami or Washington. Bradshaw is a talented runner, but he has to clean up his act as well. He lost a whopping six fumbles, so if that continues, a fresh Brandon Jacobs will see more work.
There is some concern with Bradshaw and Jacobs' blockers, however. Continuity is key this offseason, but the Giants lost two starting offensive linemen, guard Rich Seubert and center Shaun O'Hara. Sure, they wouldn't have been very effective because of age and health issues, but the fact remains that New York has two new starters up front, one of whom is at the left tackle position.
It remains to be seen if William Beatty can protect Manning's blind side. He has just two career starts, in which he committed three penalties and wasn't very effective in pass protection. Beatty does possess solid athleticism, so the move could work. If not, David Diehl could always switch back. Diehl is now at left guard, which is a more natural position for him, as he struggled at left tackle last year, giving up eight sacks.
The other news starter on the line is center David Baas, who performed well for the 49ers in relief of Eric Heitmann last season. He'll play next to right guard Chris Snee and right tackle Kareem McKenzie, both of whom had terrific 2010 campaigns.
2011 New York Giants Defense:
Osi Umenyiora has been through quite the saga this offseason. First, he held out. Next, he and his agents were talking to teams about a possible trade. Then, he wasn't allowed to be traded. After that, he faked a knee injury to get out of practice. Umenyiora had 11.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in 2010, but the Giants probably don't even think he's worth this headache.
The unfortunate news for Umenyiora is that he's lost all of his leverage. Last year's first-round pick, Jason Pierre-Paul, absolutely manhandled Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross in the team's preseason opener. Pierre-Paul is an athletic freak, and it was only a matter of time before he exploded. If Umenyiora plays effectively this year amid all the trade talk, the Giants are going to have one of the fiercest pass rushes in the NFL. How can any offensive front stop Umenyiora, Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, who also had 11.5 sacks in 2010?
Tuck will kick inside on passing downs, which is absolutely necessary because the defensive tackle position is iffy. Chris Canty is a solid, well-rounded player, but the other starter is Linval Joseph, a second-year lineman who was barely on the field last season. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes this year's second-rounder, Marvin Austin, to emerge as a possible starter. Austin has immense talent, but he's been out of football since 2009.
The Giants spent April's first-rounder on cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was supposed to bolster the secondary and really make it difficult for teams to throw against them considering all of the pressure coming from the front four. Unfortunately, Amukamara fractured his foot and is out indefinitely, meaning Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas will be penciled into the lineup again. The inconsistent Webster surrendered six touchdowns in 2010 and was torched in the Week 16 battle at Green Bay. Thomas, meanwhile, was even worse, yielding seven scores of his own.
It's even worse at safety. Kenny Phillips is a really good player, but Antrel Rolle is one of the worst starting free safeties in the NFL. As Arizona fans could have told the Giants supporters last offseason, Rolle is a sieve in coverage. Opposing quarterbacks completed nearly 78 percent of their passes against him. Only Jacksonville's Don Carey maintained a worse figure.
New York's linebacking corps should be solid. Weakside linebacker Michael Boley is good in coverage and is coming off a solid year. Jonathan Goff, stationed inside, is an underrated player and a stout run defender. Strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka missed most of 2010 with a neck injury, but is now completely healthy.
2011 New York Giants Schedule and Intangibles:
During their Super Bowl run, the Giants won all of their playoff games on the road and boasted about how they were "road warriors." That's pretty factual (they were 9-1 as visitors and 3-0 on neutral sites in 2007). They were 5-3 in away games in 2010, matching their 5-3 home mark.
Lawrence "New York" Tynes hit a Super Bowl appearance-clinching 47-yard field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship at frigid Lambeau in January 2008. After a year off because of injuries, Tynes has gone 46-of-55 the past two seasons, including 3-of-4 from 50-plus.
Seventh-round rookie Matt Dodge had a solid 44.8 average with 20-of-72 punts inside the 20 as a replacement for the retired Jeff "Philadelphia" Feagles. However, Dodge made that one critical error - kicking it to DeSean Jackson on the final play of the game in Week 15 that ultimately cost New York a playoff spot.
The Giants were terrible on returns last year, especially on punts. They were outgained by 8.8 yards per return, as they surrendered two scores while failing to find the end zone.
Six of New York's first seven opponents didn't make the playoffs in 2010: Washington, St. Louis, Arizona, Seattle, Buffalo and Miami. However, the Giants' schedule is set up for a late-season collapse; they face the Patriots in Week 9, Eagles in Week 11, Saints in Week 12, Packers in Week 13, Cowboys in Weeks 14 and 17, and Jets in Week 16.
2011 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2011 New York Giants Analysis: The Giants could certainly make the postseason this year. To do that, they have to really cut down on the turnovers and ensure that they don't suffer their perennial late-season collapse. That's easier said than done, however, and with the Eagles becoming the "Dream Team" and the Cowboys sure to be improved, New York will probably be watching the playoffs on TV come January.
Henry J., a friend of mine from back in high school, sent me a short e-mail Friday night: "You're totally sounding like a Giants fan with all your Jerry Reese love."
I'm not a Giants fan, but if I were, I would be really excited. Reese put together a masterpiece on Draft Weekend. All of his selections were incredible value picks, and he filled some needs in the process. This is an easy A+.
Overall 2011 NFL Draft Grade given on 5/1/11: A+
2011 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
19. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Giants fans have to be thrilled. Thanks to an early quarterback frenzy, Prince Amukamara was pushed down from the 7-13 range all the way to No. 19. Jerry Reese just made the NFL Draft look easy. (Pick Grade: A)
52. Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
And the Giants land another steal who inexplicably falls. Marvin Austin could have gone at the bottom of the first round. He'll fill a need in the interior of New York's defensive front. (Pick Grade: A)
83. Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
And the Giants land another steal who inexplicably falls. Wait, didn't I just say that? Jerrel Jernigan was projected to go in the second round. Steve Smith may not be able to play in 2011, so this pick makes a ton of sense. Jerry Reese is putting together a great draft. (Pick Grade: A)
117. James Brewer, OT, Indiana
Surprise, surprise, Jerry Reese makes another incredible pick. James Brewer could have gone as high as the end of Round 2, so this is yet another steal. Brewer could eventually protect Eli Manning's blind side. (Pick Grade: A)
185. Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State
How the hell did Greg Jones fall to No. 185? He was once considered a late first-round prospect. Unbelievable. Jones could start next year at strongside linebacker. (Pick Grade: A)
198. Tyler Sash, S, Iowa
I'm going to sound like a broken record. How the hell did Tyler Sash fall to No. 198? Unbelievable. Sash doesn't fill an immediate need, but could start eventually. (Pick Grade: A)
202. Jacquain Williams, OLB, South Florida
The first Giants pick I don't like. Jacquain Williams wasn't in the top 400 of most services, so while he provides some depth at linebacker, you have to wonder why Jerry Reese didn't go for a better prospect. (Pick Grade: D)
221. Da'Rel Scott, RB, Maryland
Da'Rel Scott could get a lot of playing time for the Giants next year depending on what happens in free agency. That, and the fact that he's good value in the middle of Round 7, makes this another great pick. (Pick Grade: A)
The Giants had control of their own destiny going into a Week 16 matchup against the Packers. Unfortunately, their lack of ball security betrayed them as it had all year. Since their Super Bowl victory, New York has developed a habit of struggling late in the season. They lost two of their last three this year; three of four in 2009; and four of five in 2008.
Eagles sign WR Steve Smith
Lions sign S Michael Johnson
Giants announce retirement of TE Ben Patrick
Raiders sign WR Derek Hagan
Raiders sign TE Kevin Boss
Giants sign DE Dave Tollefson
Giants re-sign DT Rocky Bernard
Giants sign G Stacy Andrews
Giants sign NT Gabe Watson
Giants cut G Herman Johnson
Giants re-sign RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Giants sign QB David Carr
Giants sign P Steve Weatherford
Giants cut FB Madison Hedgecock
Giants re-sign DE Mathias Kiwanuka
Giants sign C/G David Baas
Giants cut DT Rocky Bernard
Redskins sign DT Barry Cofield
Giants cut OT Shawn Andrews
Giants re-sign G Kevin Boothe
Giants cut C Shaun O'Hara
Giants cut G Rich Seubert
Giants sign LB Mark Herzlich
Giants sign OT Jarriel King
Giants sign FB Henry Hynoski
Giants re-sign WR Domenik Hixon
Giants re-sign WR Darius Reynaud
Giants re-sign RB D.J. Ware
Left Tackle: William Beatty hasn't played much, but he hasn't shown any signs that he can be New York's franchise left tackle. The team will look at Tyron Smith with the No. 19 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Drafted James Brewer
Running Back: Brandon Jacobs is wearing down, while Ahmad Bradshaw is a fumble-prone free agent. There will be plenty of talented running backs available in Rounds 2-3 of April's draft. Re-signed Ahmad Bradshaw; drafted Da'Rel Scott
Center: Shaun O'Hara, 34 in June, is entering the final year of his contract. He played in only six games this season because of various injuries. Signed David Baas
Strongside Linebacker: Keith Bulluck played relatively well this season, but is a 34-year-old free agent. Drafted Greg Jones; signed Mark Herzlich
Left Guard: Rich Seubert, 32 in March, just had major knee surgery. He's also entering his contract year. Signed Stacy Andrews
Wide Receiver: There's talk of the Giants re-signing Plaxico Burress; Steve Smith's nasty knee injury may cause him to miss training camp. Drafted Jerrel Jernigan
Free Safety: As Cardinals fans knew and Giants fans know now, Antrel Rolle blows coverages. New York may give him another shot, but he's severely overpaid at $5.25 million in 2011. Drafted Tyler Sash
Punter: Think the Giants can coax Jeff "Philadelphia" Feagles out of retirement after Matt Dodge's ugly rookie year? Signed Steve Weatherford
2011 NFL Free Agent Signings:
David Baas, G/C, 49ers. Age: 29. Signed with Giants
David Baas should have been the team's left guard this year. However, he was forced into playing center in the wake of Eric Heitmann's season-long injury. This versatility can only help him in the open market.
Steve Weatherford, P, Jets. Age: 28. Signed with Giants
Steve Weatherford averaged a meager 42.6 yards per punt, but that's because he had a league-leading 42 attempts placed inside the 20. However, he really struggled in the playoffs. He inexplicably lost his confidence.
Mark Herzlich, ILB, Boston College. Age: 24. -- Signed with Giants
Jarriel King, OT, South Carolina. Age: 24. -- Signed with Giants
Stacy Andrews, G, Seahawks. Age: 30. -- Signed with Giants
Gabe Watson, DT, Cardinals. Age: 27. -- Signed with Giants
David Carr, QB, 49ers. Age: 32. -- Signed with Giants
New York Giants Free Agents:
Salary Cap: No cap.
Barry Cofield, DT, Giants. Age: 27. Signed with Redskins (6 years)
Barry Cofield is a great interior lineman who excels against the run and provides a decent enough pass rush. He's due for a big contract this offseason.
Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Giants. Age: 28. Re-signed with Giants (multi-year)
Mathias Kiwanuka looked like he was going to have a monstrous season, racking up four sacks in the first three weeks. Unfortunately, he landed on injured reserve with a season-ending neck injury.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants. Age: 25. Re-signed with Giants
Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns on a 4.5 YPC average in 2010. He also caught 47 balls for 314 yards. However, Bradshaw has fumbling issues, and the Giants coaching staff told the media that they aren't confident that he can stay healthy.
Steve Smith, WR, Giants. Age: 26. Signed with Eagles (1 year, $4 million; $2 million guaranteed)
Steve Smith is an outstanding possession receiver; he caught 107 balls for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. Unfortunately, he suffered a nasty knee injury in December and may not be ready for the start of the 2011 season.
Kevin Boss, TE, Giants. Age: 27. Signed with Raiders (4 years, $16 million)
Kevin Boss is a decent end zone target (16 TDs last 3 years) and a solid blocker.
Rocky Bernard, DT, Giants. Age: 32. Re-signed with Giants
Rocky Bernard is a rapidly declining player, but he can still be a solid rotational defensive lineman.
Rich Seubert, G/C, Giants. Age: 32.
Rich Seubert is a skilled, versatile interior offensive lineman. The problem is that he's a 32-year-old coming off major knee surgery and may not be ready until the middle of the 2011 season.
Keith Bulluck, OLB, Giants. Age: 34.
Keith Bulluck bounced back from his knee injury and played well for the Giants this season. However, he's an aging 34-year-old, two-down linebacker at this point in his career.
Shaun O'Hara, C, Giants. Age: 34.
Shaun O'Hara is a 34-year-old coming off Achilles surgery. He says he'll be healthy by September, but that remains to be seen.
Shawn Andrews, OT, Giants. Age: 28.
Dave Tollefson, DE, Giants. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Giants
D.J. Ware, RB, Giants. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Giants
Divisional Rival History: Dallas Cowboys: The Giants, for whatever reason, dominate this rivalry; they've taken five of the past seven meetings. Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have taken the past six matchups, including the Miracle at the New Meadowlands. Washington Redskins: New York dominates this NFC East rivalry, having won the past six meetings.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2011 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)