WR Louis Murphy, TE Brandon Myers, TE Michael Palmer, DT Cullen Jenkins, DT Mike Patterson, OLB Aaron Curry, ILB Dan Connor, CB Aaron Ross, K Josh Brown.
Early Draft Picks:
OT/G Justin Pugh, NT Johnathan Hankins, DE Damontre Moore, QB Ryan Nassib, S Cooper Taylor. Giants Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, WR Domenik Hixon, TE Martellus Bennett, OT Sean Locklear, DE Osi Umenyiora, DT Chris Canty, DT Rocky Bernard, OLB Michael Boley, ILB Chase Blackburn, S Kenny Phillips, K Lawrence Tynes.
2013 New York Giants Offense:
What happened to Eli Manning in the second half of last season? He was having a great start to his 2012 campaign, and just like that, things fell apart. Beginning in Week 7 against the Redskins, Manning threw more interceptions than touchdowns in five of his next eight games, all while completing more than 61 percent of his passes just twice between Weeks 8 and 16.
There were several explanations about this from both the Manning camp and the Giants' front office. One was arm fatigue, which is something one would expect to hear out of a lethargic person like JaMarcus Russell, but not Manning, who works diligently at his craft. Another one was that Hakeem Nicks was banged up. Manning should be used to this, however. Nicks hasn't played 16 games in any of his four NFL seasons because he's always nursing at least one injury, but this was his worst campaign yet. He caught 53 balls for a career-low 692 yards and three touchdowns.
Having Nicks around for most of the year would be great, but he's off to a bad start already. He didn't show up to OTAs because he wants a new contract. Players who hold out often struggle, so the Giants should be prepared to be missing Nicks for several contests. The same may have happened to Victor Cruz, but he was recently extended to a 6-year deal worth $45.9 million. He has totaled at least 82 receptions, 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
With the Nicks situation in mind, New York will have to count on second-year wideout Rueben Randle and new tight end Brandon Myers. Randle struggled to separate from the elite corners in the SEC while he was playing for LSU, but he did impress in the finale of his rookie season, snagging four balls for 58 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles. Myers, meanwhile, can't block, but he was a reliable intermediate target for Carson Palmer last year, logging 79 receptions for 806 yards.
The Giants didn't make any additions to their running back corps despite losing Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason. That's because they didn't really need to. David Wilson flashed as a rookie, mustering a ridiculous 327 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in a demolition of the Saints in Week 14. Wilson has a ton of talent, but he's weak in pass protection and goal-line situations, so Andre Brown will be used frequently. Brown averaged an impressive 5.3 yards per carry last year, scoring eight touchdowns in the process.
New York's front office spent his top resource this spring on the offensive line, using the team's first-round pick on Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh. The selection was considered a reach, especially considering that someone like Sharrif Floyd was still on the board, but Pugh is highly athletic and capable of playing every position up front. He'll start out at right tackle, filling a huge void at that spot. Pugh will play across from left tackle William Beatty, who was re-signed to a 5-year, $37.5 million contract at the end of February. Beatty gave up just three sacks in 2012, though he was penalized heavily (11 times).
The interior of the Giants' front remains intact, with guards Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee flanking center David Baas. The trio combined for six penalties and six sacks allowed in 2012.
2013 New York Giants Defense:
Manning regressed in the second half of the season, but the decline of several members of the defensive line was present the entire year. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, both of whom were dominant members of the front in the past, had abysmal 2012 campaigns. Tuck was at least decent against the run, but struggled to get to the quarterback, accumulating just four sacks. Umenyiora, who was abused in run support, managed to notch six sacks, but his explosion was clearly lacking. He wasn't anywhere close to what he was in 2011 (nine sacks in nine games) or 2010 (13 sacks). He signed with the Falcons this spring.
The one defensive end who still performed on a high level was Jason Pierre-Paul, and even he saw a dip in his numbers. Pierre-Paul watched his sack total drop from 16.5 in 2011 to 6.5 in 2012, but the latter number is skewed; Pierre-Paul still managed to put a great deal of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but simply had some bad luck. With Umenyiora gone, Pierre-Paul and Tuck will start at the ends, and Mathis Kiwanuka will be the nickel rusher - unless third-round rookie Damontre Moore, who was once considered worthy to be the No. 2 overall selection, steps up in camp and the preseason.
The Giants' second-round choice was used on Ohio State nose tackle Johnathan Hankins. He'll also sit behind the two starters, Linval Joseph and the newly acquired Cullen Jenkins. Both Joseph and Jenkins accumulated four sacks last year (Jenkins did this with the Eagles), so that's promising for the New York pass rush. Hankins figures to help a bit in terms of stuffing the run. That's something else that Joseph does well.
New York needs to get as much pressure on the quarterback as possible because the secondary is a huge question mark. Starting cornerback Corey Webster was downright disgraceful in coverage last year. It seemed to be a given that he'd be released, but Webster agreed to take a pay cut to remain on the roster. Webster, who just turned 31, may never play well again. If so, he won't start for long across from Prince Amukamara, a first-round pick from 2011. Amukamara is talented, but hasn't been able to stay healthy thus far; he's missed 12 games in his two NFL seasons. Nickel Jayron Hosley had an awful rookie campaign, so the Giants have to be thrilled that Terrell Thomas is coming back, though he's returning from a torn ACL.
The safety position is in better shape, but only by default. The injury-prone Kenny Phillips defected for Philadelphia, leaving Stevie Brown to be a full-time starter next to Antrel Rolle. Brown surprised by playing well last year when Phillips was out of the lineup, but Rolle struggled a bit. He's a play-maker, but he's never been reliable in coverage.
As for the other part of the back seven, general manager Jerry Reese told the media that he desperately wanted to find help in the linebacking corps, but all he managed to do was sign backup-caliber Dan Connor to a 1-year deal in the middle of March. He'll compete for the middle linebacker job with Mark Herlizch, who has just four career starts. The Connor-Herzlich winner will be flanked by Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams, neither of whom looked good last year. Rivers is another player who is constantly hurt; he has played in just 11 of 32 possible games the past two seasons.
2013 New York Giants Schedule and Intangibles:
During their first Super Bowl run, the Giants won all of their playoff games on the road and boasted about how they were "road warriors." They were 9-1 as visitors and 3-0 on neutral sites in 2007. History repeated itself, as New York was 8-3 outside of the Meadowlands and just 5-4 as hosts in 2011. Perhaps they should go back to that, because they were 6-2 as hosts and 3-5 as visitors last year and failed to qualify for the postseason.
Lawrence "New York" Tynes is no longer on the roster. The new kicker is Josh Brown, who hit 11-of-12 attempts for the Bengals last year.
Steve Weatherford finished in the middle of the pack in terms of both net yardage and attempts inside the 20.
The Giants have to improve on punt coverage, where they were outgained by 2.1 yards. They were better on kickoffs, thanks to David Wilson. New York didn't give up a single special-teams score.
Five of New York's first six opponents (Cowboys, Panthers, Chiefs, Eagles, Bears) didn't qualify for the playoffs last year. Opponents from Week 8 on include the Eagles, Cowboys, Raiders, Chargers and Lions. As you can see, the Giants don't exactly have a tough slate to trudge through.
2013 New York Giants Rookies:
Go here for the Giants Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2013 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2013 New York Giants Analysis: The Giants looked like they were going to run away with the division last year when they started 6-2, but multiple things, including Washington's ascent, derailed their chances late in the season. Considering the uncertainty with Robert Griffin, New York definitely has a better shot to reclaim the NFC East.
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: The Giants, like the Steelers, are a smart organization that catches falling prospects. Look for them to take the best players available to bolster their roster. They don't need to do anything specific, outside of finding help for their linebacking corps.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Like the Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Baltimore general managers, Jerry Reese is usually patient and lets top prospects fall to him. He changed his plans in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, however, reaching for Justin Pugh at No. 19 overall. It wasn't nearly as egregious of a reach as Dallas with Travis Frederick, but the Syracuse lineman was selected too early nonetheless.
Reese seemed to snap out of it after that, as his next three selections, Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore and Ryan Nassib, were all picked later than they were projected to go. The middle choice is especially interesting, as Moore was once projected to go No. 2 overall to the Jaguars. His stock plummeted because of a terribly slow 40 and some character concerns, but the Giants will get the most out of his natural ability.
Outside of taking Pugh, the one thing I'd change about this solid draft class is the Giants' refusal to take a linebacker. Instead of Hankins at No. 49, I would have opted for Arthur Brown. He would have been a tremendous boost in a weak linebacking corps.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
19. Justin Pugh, OT/G: C+ Grade
The good news is that Justin Pugh can pretty much play anywhere on the offensive line. The bad news is that Justin Pugh is a reach at No. 19. It's unlike the Giants to make a pick like this. It'd be one thing if they were desperate for a left tackle, but they just re-signed William Beatty to a long-term deal. Pugh can play right tackle, and he would probably be an upgrade over David Diehl. Still, there were better options available.
49. Johnathan Hankins, NT, Ohio State: B Grade
The Giants signed Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson in free agency, but they apparently wanted a larger body. Johnathan Hankins was once projected in the first round, but this is the right range for him. This is a decent choice that makes sense.
81. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: A+ Grade
Wow. I never would have imagined Damontre Moore falling this far back in January when nearly everyone had him going in the top five. Moore struggled terribly at the Combine, running a 4.9 40, and then some character issues surfaced. It's understandable why he maybe dropped out of the first round, but there's no reason why he should have been available near the end of the second day. He's just too talented.
110. Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse: A- Grade
When Doug Marrone passed on Ryan Nassib, the other 31 teams in the league had to think, "WTF is wrong with this guy?" But I'm sure the Giants looked hard at his tape Friday night and decided that they wanted to draft him as a developmental quarterback whom they could either use as Eli Manning's replacement down the road or trade to a team that needs a signal-caller in the future (think Ryan Mallett with the Patriots). I like this move a lot.
152. Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond: B- Grade
Cooper Taylor drew a ton of attention in pre-draft visits, so it's not surprising to see him get drafted in the fifth round. I feel like this is a bit early for him, but he does fill a need for safety depth with Kenny Phillips gone.
225. Eric Herman, G, Ohio: B Grade
If Justin Pugh plays right tackle, Eric Herman could eventually compete for a guard spot. This is a solid pick.
253. Michael Cox, RB, UMass: B- Grade
Andre Brown will be hitting free agency next year, so the Giants will need someone to step up behind David Wilson if he's not retained.
The Giants have been so hit or miss late in the year under Tom Coughlin. They either get super hot and go on a deep run into the playoffs, or they absolutely implode. It was the latter in 2012; following a 6-2 start, New York suffered inexplicable blowout defeats against the Bengals, Falcons and Ravens. The team got its act together and slaughtered the quitting Eagles in Week 17, but didn't get the support it needed in the other games in order to sneak into the postseason. It's safe to say the rest of the NFC (as well as the Patriots) was happy about that.
Colts sign RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Giants re-sign WR Ramses Barden
Giants sign TE Michael Palmer
Giants sign OLB Aaron Curry
Giants sign DT Mike Patterson
Panthers sign WR Domenik Hixon
Falcons sign DE Osi Umenyiora
Panthers sign ILB Chase Blackburn
Giants re-sign G Kevin Boothe
Giants re-sign S Stevie Brown
Giants re-sign QB David Carr
Giants sign TE Brandon Myers
Giants sign ILB Dan Connor
Giants sign WR Louis Murphy
Giants sign S Ryan Mundy
Eagles sign S Kenny Phillips
Giants re-sign OLB Keith Rivers
Giants sign K Josh Brown
Giants re-sign RB Ryan Torain
Ravens sign DT Chris Canty
Bears sign TE Martellus Bennett
Giants sign CB Aaron Ross
Giants tender WR Victor Cruz
Giants sign DT Cullen Jenkins
Giants re-sign OT William Beatty
Giants sign K David Buehler
Giants re-sign DT Shaun Rogers
Giants re-sign TE Bear Pascoe
Giants cut RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Giants cut DT Chris Canty
Giants waive DT Martin Parker
Giants cut OLB Michael Boley
Two Offensive Tackles: William Beatty was rock solid at left tackle this past season, but he's set to hit free agency. Meanwhile, right tackle David Diehl was a human turnstile. Re-signing Sean Locklear would help. Unfortunately, the top tackles are likely to be off the board by No. 19 overall this April. Re-signed William Beatty; drafted Justin Pugh
Two Linebackers: General manager Jerry Reese said that there needs to be better linebacker play next year. Chase Blackburn, who struggled, is a free agents. Michael Boley was cut. At least one early selection will be used to upgrade the linebacking corps. Re-signed Keith Rivers; signed Dan Connor
Cornerback: I don't know what happened to Corey Webster, but he was torched relentlessly this year. Signed Aaron Ross
Defensive End: Both Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were huge disappointments in 2012. The former is a free agent. The Giants have to bolster their pass rush across from Jason Pierre-Paul. Drafted Damontre Moore
Defensive Tackle: Rocky Bernard is a free agent, while Marvin Austin has yet to show anything. Also, Chris Canty was cut. A mid-round pick could be used on help here. Signed Cullen Jenkins; re-signed Shaun Rogers; drafted Johnathan Hankins
Left Guard: Kevin Boothe needs to be re-signed unless New York feels 2012 fourth-rounder Brandon Mosley is ready to step in. Re-signed Kevin Boothe
Tight End: Martellus Bennett played well for the Giants last year, but he signed with the Bears. Signed Brandon Myers; re-signed Bear Pascoe
Kicker: Lawrence Tynes' contract will expire in March. Signed Josh Brown and David Buehler
Quarterback: The Giants could use a better backup behind Eli Manning than Curtis Painter. Re-signed David Carr; drafted Ryan Nassib
Wide Receiver: The front office may spend a late-round pick on a wideout if both Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden leave. Signed Louis Murphy; re-signed Ramses Barden
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders. Age: 27. Signed with Giants
Brandon Myers isn't much of a blocker, but he was a very dependable target for Carson Palmer in 2012, catching close to 80 balls.
Cullen Jenkins, DE/DT, Eagles. Age: 32. Signed with Giants (3 years, $8 million)
Cullen Jenkins just turned 32, but he did a good job of being an interior pass-rusher this past season. He struggled a bit in run support though.
Josh Brown, K, Bengals. Age: 34. Signed with Giants
Josh Brown hit 11-of-12 kicks in 2012, but he's one year removed from going just 21-of-28.
Dan Connor, ILB, Cowboys. Age: 28. Signed with Giants
Dan Connor has been a disappointment in his pro career thus far, but he's a very good reserve linebacker and an OK spot starter in the middle of a 3-4 defense.
Aaron Ross, CB, Jaguars. Age: 30. -- Signed with Giants
Mike Patterson, DT, Eagles. Age: 30. -- Signed with Giants
Louis Murphy, WR, Panthers. Age: 26. -- Signed with Giants
Ryan Mundy, S, Steelers. Age: 28. -- Signed with Giants
Michael Palmer (RFA), TE, Falcons. Age: 25. -- Signed with Giants
New York Giants Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Victor Cruz (RFA), WR, Giants. Age: 26. Tendered by Giants (1st round)
Victor Cruz proved that his amazing 2011 season was no fluke, catching 86 balls for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns this past year. He carried the receiving corps when Hakeem Nicks was out.
Will Beatty, OT, Giants. Age: 28. Re-signed with Giants (5 years, $38.75 million)
Will Beatty was heavily penalized in 2012, but otherwise served as an outstanding left tackle for Eli Manning.
Kenny Phillips, S, Giants. Age: 26. Signed with Eagles
Kenny Phillips is one of the better safeties when healthy, but he missed most of 2012 with a knee injury.
Stevie Brown (RFA), S, Giants. Age: 26. Re-signed with Giants (1 year, $2 million)
Stevie Brown was impressive in relief of an injured Kenny Phillips, picking off eight passes. His one weakness is run support.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants. Age: 27. Signed with Colts (1 year)
It seems like Ahmad Bradshaw has been around forever, but he'll be just 27 in March. Bradshaw has averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry in all but one season in his career thus far. He's also terrific on third downs as a receiver and pass-protector. The one negative is his durability; he always seems to be bothered by a foot injury. He's had so many surgeries on his feet that he may not be able to hold up much longer.
Kevin Boothe, G/C, Giants. Age: 30. Re-signed with Giants (1 year)
Kevin Boothe is a tough run-blocker. He's versatile enough to play center as well.
Martellus Bennett, TE, Giants. Age: 26. Signed with Bears
Martellus Bennett was solid all around for the Giants in terms of receiving and blocking. He proved that he can be a quality starting tight end in the NFL, so he'll be rewarded accordingly.
Lawrence Tynes, K, Giants. Age: 35.
Lawrence Tynes went 33-of-39 in 2012, but only 1-of-3 from 50-plus.
Osi Umenyiora, DE, Giants. Age: 31. Signed with Falcons
Osi Umenyiora had some decent games this past season, but was mostly invisible. It's fair to wonder if Umenyiora's talents have eroded. He'll be 32 in November.
Sean Locklear, OT, Giants. Age: 32.
Sean Locklear was a major upgrade over David Diehl at right tackle. He pass protected well, but didn't open up any running lanes. Unfortunately, he's a 32-year-old coming off knee surgery.
Chris Canty, DE/DT, Giants. Age: 30. Signed with Ravens
Chris Canty served as a solid interior pass-rusher prior to 2012, but was ineffective last year because of a nagging knee injury. Perhaps he'll be able to rebound next season, but he'll be 31 in November, so his best days are behind him. He can play in both the 4-3 and 3-4.
Chase Blackburn, ILB, Giants. Age: 30. Signed with Panthers (2 years)
Chase Blackburn was OK at times last year, but killed his team in some games. He needs to be upgraded.
Keith Rivers, OLB, Giants. Age: 27. Re-signed with Giants
Keith Rivers has the potential to be ranked way better, but he can't stay healthy.
Rocky Bernard, DT, Giants. Age: 34.
Domenik Hixon, WR, Giants. Age: 28. -- Signed with Panthers
Ramses Barden, WR, Giants. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Giants
As the NFL Draft approaches, I will be making weekly adjustments up until the 27th of April. Rest of the writeups will be coming later this week. Any questions/comments/criticisms can be voiced in the comments. I will respond to all.