2014 NFL Offseason: New York Giants

New York Giants (Last Year: 7-9)

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2014 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Rashad Jennings, WR Mario Manningham, OT Charles Brown, G Geoff Schwartz, G John Jerry, C J.D. Walton, DE Robert Ayers, ILB Jameel McClain, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB Walter Thurmond, CB Zackary Bowman, S Quintin Demps, KR Trindon Holliday.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Odell Beckham, C Weston Richburg, DT Jay Bromley, RB Andre Williams. Giants Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Andre Brown, WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Louis Murphy, TE Brandon Myers, TE Bear Pascoe, OT David Diehl, G Kevin Boothe, C David Baas, DE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, OLB Keith Rivers, CB Terrell Thomas, CB Aaron Ross, S Will Hill, S Ryan Mundy.

2014 New York Giants Offense:
Eli Manning took a beating last season, taking 39 sacks. That may not seem like a high total, but it’s the greatest figure of his career, and it would have been even more had Manning not carelessly gotten rid of the ball so quickly to avoid getting hit. As a consequence, Manning tossed 27 interceptions, which also turned out to be a career-worst.

It was quite obvious that the Giants had to spend multiple resources this offseason on strengthening their offensive line. They did just that, signing Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, Charles Brown and John Jerry in free agency. Unfortunately, three of those four blockers aren’t very good, with the lone exception being Schwartz, who played well down the stretch for Kansas City in 2013. Schwartz will take over the left guard spot, and he’ll start next to either Walton or second-round rookie Weston Richburg at center. It’ll be an upset if Walton wins the job, given that he was a pedestrian blocker before missing the past season and a half due to a bum ankle. The interior could be rounded out by Chris Snee, who played just three games in 2013 because of hip and elbow injuries. However, no one reportedly knows is Snee will be able to play this year. If he can’t, Brandon Mosley will likely start, which could be problematic.

Speaking of injured linemen, left tackle Will Beatty broke his leg in the season finale, so it’ll be tough for him to be ready for the start of the 2014 campaign. Beatty had a dreadful year anyway, so New York shouldn’t push him. If Beatty can’t go, 2013 first-rounder Justin Pugh will have to man the blind-side position, which would move Schwartz to right tackle. That’s obviously not ideal. Pugh had a mediocre rookie campaign at right tackle, so asking him to switch sides could be too much.

In total, it sounds as though Manning’s protection will probably be about the same in 2014 if Snee can’t suit up. His supporting cast at least should be superior. The Giants lost Hakeem Nicks in free agency, but he was a lethargic bum who constantly disappointed the team. The front office compensated for the loss by spending the 12th-overall selection on speedy receiver Odell Beckham, who figures to form a potent tandem with Victor Cruz. The salsa dancer was sidelined toward the end of the season because of a knee injury, but he has completely recovered.

Rueben Randle will be the third receiver – New York will use a three-wideout formation as a base – though Mario Manningham can’t be counted out to win that job. Manningham has spent the past two seasons being injured in San Francisco, but if healthy, perhaps he’ll be able to recapture the magic that he and Manning had before he bolted for the 49ers.

The running back position is still an issue, however. David Wilson was chosen in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. He sustained a brutal neck injury in October and faces long odds to play extensively this year. With Andre Brown also gone, the Giants won’t have any choice but to roll with former Raider Reshad Jennings, a journeyman backup. Jennings did perform well in 2013, gaining 733 yards on a 4.5 average, so there is some hope at least.

2014 New York Giants Defense:
The Giants’ focus this offseason was expected to be the offensive line, but it put more of an effort into improving their secondary. They actually signed a bunch of players, the most prominent being Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The former Cardinal, Eagle and Bronco was brought in for a 5-year, $35 million contract. Rodgers-Cromartie had a superb season with Denver in 2013, but the issue with him is his lethargy. The “DRC” acronym has stood for “Doesn’t Really Care,” as he has quit on multiple teams in his career. He performed up to his ability with the Broncos because they were highly competitive and maintained a strong locker room. If the Giants struggle, he’ll give up on them as well.

New York also brought in Walter Thurmond at a much cheaper price (1 year, $3 million). He might actually end up being the better signing. The soon-to-be 27-year-old was a very effective nickel in Seattle. He’ll be the third corner along with Rodgers-Cromartie and former first-rounder Prince Amukamara, who is coming off a decent 2013 campaign.

The Giants were looking pretty strong at safety, but Will Hill was suspended for the entire season because he violated the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He was then promptly waived. It’s a shame for New York, as Hill had a fantastic season. Luckily for the Giants, they had a third safety in Stevie Brown who is more than capable of playing well next to Antrel Rolle.

While New York added some players to its secondary, it lost personnel up front. The most notable player to leave is Justin Tuck, who signed with the Raiders. Tuck had a slow start last year, but finished the season with 11 sacks. Damontre Moore, chosen in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, will be asked to challenge for the job across from Jason Pierre-Paul. Moore looked great in the preseason, but barely played during the year. He’s coming off shoulder surgery, so he may not be able to beat out Mathias Kiwanuka, who was atrocious this past season. Former Bronco Robert Ayers will also be in the mix.

Tuck wasn’t the only New York defensive lineman to sign elsewhere; the team also watched Linval Joseph hit the road, signing with Minnesota. Losing Joseph was more painful because he was a young player who thrived in terms of getting pressure on quarterbacks and shutting down the run. Johnathan Hankins, a 2013 second-rounder, can clog rushing lanes, but he won’t be able to get to the quarterback. Nevertheless, he’ll start next to Cullen Jenkins, who turned 33 in January.

The linebacking corps was a mix in that the Giants lost a starter, but spent some money on help. The player to leave was the oft-injured Keith Rivers, so that’s not a big deal. The Giants re-signed Jon Beason to a 3-year, $19 million contract, which wasn’t deserved because he was torched in coverage on a weekly basis. Making matters worse, he’ll be out for the first few weeks of the season because of a foot injury. New York also brought in Jameel McClain from Baltimore, who was even worse in 2013. The other starter will be Spencer Paysinger, who is simply mediocre.

2014 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’ve been 10-6 as hosts and 6-10 as visitors the past two years and have failed to qualify for the postseason.

Josh Brown drilled 23-of-26 attempts last year, though he’s just 2-of-6 from 50-plus in the past three seasons.

Steve Weatherford was just 27th in net punting in 2013, and he finished in the middle of the pack in terms of getting kicks inside the 20.

The Giants had one of the worst special-teams units last year. They were outgained by a wide margin on punt returns, surrendering three scores while getting no touchdowns of their own.

New York has to battle the four teams in the NFC West, as well as the Colts and rebounding Falcons. Fortunately, it gets to beat up on the Jaguars, Titans and Cowboys (twice).

2014 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.

2014 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2014 New York Giants Analysis: The Giants won’t be competitive in many games this upcoming season. The offensive line hasn’t improved enough, Eli Manning appears to be in sharp decline, and the defense lost some key players, while gaining one very lethargic one. However, given that New York plays in the worst division in football, it should be able to claim five to seven victories.

Projection: 5-11 (3rd in NFC East)

2014 Fantasy Football Rankings

More 2014 NFL Season Previews

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2014 NFL Draft: It’s all about bolstering the trenches. Multiple upgrades should be obtained on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Giants can also look at the receiver, running back and safety positions, but all of that is secondary when it comes to improving the fronts. The Giants can nab a left tackle at No. 12 and then snag defensive ends and tackles a bit later.

2014 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Giants came into the draft needing to improve both fronts, but they passed on Zack Martin and Aaron Donald at No. 12 for Odell Beckham. The pick made sense though, given that Hakeem Nicks defected for Indianapolis. Eli Manning will enjoy airing it out to the speedy wideout.

New York did manage to address the trenches a bit later by adding Weston Richburg and Jay Bromley. However, the latter was a huge reach, as was fifth-round safety Nat Berhe. In total, the Giants added just one blocker and one defensive linemen prior to the sixth round. They just didn’t do enough to improve the lines, but I understand that they had other needs, including running back (Andre Williams).

The Giants just had a so-so draft. What they really should have done was move back from No. 12. They had so many options that made sense at that point, so acquiring an extra pick would have made sense – and I’m sure they would’ve been able to add another lineman with that choice.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

12. Odell Beckham, WR, LSU: B+ Grade
I was pleading for Zack Martin in my live blog, but Odell Beckham works for New York. Hakeem Nicks is gone, so the Giants needed to find a new receiver to help Eli Manning. Beckham was the best receiver available by a wide margin, and some even considered him to be a better prospect than Mike Evans. I wouldn’t agree with that, but Beckham gives Manning a great downfield threat and a dynamic weapon in the return game.

43. Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State: B+ Grade
So, the J.D. Walton signing means nothing, then? That’s how it seems right now, but either Walton or Weston Richburg (likely the former) will play guard, filling a huge need. We spoke to some teams that thought Richburg would be chosen in the first round, so the Giants are getting solid value, all while protecting Eli Manning, which is obviously important.

74. Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse: C- Grade
I get the fact that the Giants needed a defensive tackle, but that doesn’t mean that they should have spent a third-round pick on a sixth-round prospect. This is a major reach, though Jay Bromley will have a chance to contribute soon, given the hole at the position.

113. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College: B Grade
As my editor put it, “Because the Giants need a running back who can’t catch.” I think this pick is OK. The Giants needed a running back, and I know one team that was really hoping that Andre Williams would fall to them at the end of the fourth round.

152. Nat Berhe, S, San Diego State: C- Grade
I didn’t think Nat Berhe would be drafted, so I can’t give this a good grade. The Giants are at least addressing a big need though. They needed a safety in the wake of Will Hill’s most recent suspension.

174. Devon Kennard, DE/OLB, USC: B+ Grade
An edge pass-rusher makes sense here, as it’s something the Giants haven’t addressed yet. Devon Kennard was expected to go a bit earlier than this, so I like this selection.

188. Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame: B Grade
It’s never a bad idea to take a cornerback late in the draft. The Giants hadn’t done that yet, and Bennett Jackson fits the range as a Round 5-6 prospect, so this is a solid choice.

Season Summary:
The Giants got off to a dreadful start to begin the season, losing their first six games. They played well at the end, winning seven of their final 10 contests, but they simply had too many defeats to be a factor in the NFC East race. Still, this hot finish could carry over into 2014.

Offseason Moves:
  • Ravens sign CB Aaron Ross
  • Falcons sign TE Bear Pascoe
  • Texans sign RB Andre Brown
  • Giants sign DE Robert Ayers
  • Giants sign OT Charles Brown
  • Giants re-sign DT Mike Patterson
  • Giants sign CB Zackary Bowman
  • Buccaneers sign WR Louis Murphy
  • Giants sign G John Jerry
  • Giants sign WR Mario Manningham
  • Giants sign KR Trindon Holliday
  • Giants sign CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
  • Raiders sign G Kevin Boothe
  • Giants sign CB Walter Thurmond
  • Giants sign S Quintin Demps
  • Colts sign WR Hakeem Nicks
  • Giants sign ILB Jameel McClain
  • Giants re-sign FB Henry Hynoski
  • Raiders sign DE Justin Tuck
  • Bills sign OLB Keith Rivers
  • Giants sign C J.D. Walton
  • Giants re-sign ILB Jon Beason
  • Giants sign G Geoff Schwartz
  • Giants sign RB Rashad Jennings
  • Vikings sign DT Linval Joseph
  • Buccaneers sign TE Brandon Myers
  • Bears sign S Ryan Mundy
  • Giants sign DE/OLB O’Brien Schofield
  • Giants re-sign QB Curtis Painter
  • Giants re-sign S Stevie Brown
  • Giants re-sign CB Trumaine McBride
  • Giants cut C David Baas
  • Giants re-sign ILB Mark Herzlich
  • Giants tender OLB Spencer Paysinger

    Team Needs:
    1. Left Tackle: Will Beatty broke his leg in the season finale, but he had been struggling all year. First-round rookie Justin Pugh, meanwhile, might be better off inside. The Giants could spend their first-round choice on a new blind-side protector, shifting Beatty to right tackle (when healthy) and moving Pugh to guard. Signed Geoff Schwartz and Charles Brown

    2. Defensive End: Justin Tuck was New York’s most consistent pass-rusher in 2013, and that’s saying something because he barely did anything for the first half of the year. Tuck will be a free agent, so if he leaves, the front office will have to find someone to start on the other side of Jason Pierre-Paul. There should be quality defensive ends available at No. 12 overall this May. Signed Robert Ayers

    3. Two Outside Linebackers: The Giants need to upgrade both Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams. Neither is particularly awful, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

    4. Running Back: The Giants once looked stacked at running back, but David Wilson suffered a major injury that could keep him out in 2014, while the fumble-prone Andre Brown happens to be a free agent. A second-day choice could be used on a new back. Signed Rashad Jennings

    5. Defensive Tackle: Linval Joseph is another New York defensive lineman who will be hitting the free-agent market. He’s a force up front, so he’ll be missed if he moves on elsewhere.

    6. Middle Linebacker: Jon Beason will likely be re-signed even though he struggled in coverage. He just happened to be a major upgrade over what the Giants had beforehand. Re-signed Jon Beason; signed Jameel McClain

    7. Center: New York needs a more reliable center than David Baas, who has missed 18 games in three years with the Giants.

    8. Cornerback Depth: The Giants have a couple of cornerbacks with expiring contracts. Some depth will need to be added in addition to a new starter. Signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond; re-signed Trumaine McBride

    9. Tight End: Brandon Myers was a bust as a free-agent signing. He’s a free agent anyway, so New York will want to bring in a new intermediate target for Eli Manning.

    10. Kicker: New York currently doesn’t have a kicker on its roster, as Josh Brown’s contract expired.

    11. Wide Receiver Depth: Hakeem Nicks probably won’t be back next year. The Giants will have a decent trio in Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan, but they’ll need some depth at the position. Signed Mario Manningham

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2014 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Broncos. Age: 28.
      Signed with Giants (5 years)

      “DRC” stands for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but it could just as easily mean “Doesn’t Really Care.” The former Cardinal and Eagle had a stellar 2013 campaign, but he plays hard only when he feels like it. He can’t be counted on to give maximum effort, though he’s a stud when he actually does.

    2. Walter Thurmond III, CB, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Giants (1 year, $3.5 million)

      Walter Thurmond had a quality 2013 campaign, minus a four-game suspension for marijuana. Thurmond would be higher on this list, but he’s one more violation away from being gone for the season.

    3. Geoff Schwartz, G, Chiefs. Age: 28.
      Signed with Giants

      Geoff Schwartz started in the second half of the season and was pretty dominant. He appears to be over a hip injury that knocked him out for the entire 2011 season.

    4. John Jerry, G, Dolphins. Age: 28.
      Signed with Giants

      John Jerry is not a good fit for Miami’s blocking scheme, so he should head elsewhere.

    5. Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders. Age: 29.
      Signed with Giants

      Rashad Jennings was given a chance to prove himself when Maurice Jones-Drew suffered an injury in 2012, but struggled mightily. That’s why it was so surprising that he thrived with the Raiders, outplaying Darren McFadden by a wide margin.

    6. Robert Ayers, DE, Broncos. Age: 28.
      Signed with Giants (2 years)

      Robert Ayers is an inconsistent pass-rusher, but he also happens to be a strong run defender.

    7. Mario Manningham, WR, 49ers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Giants (1 year)

      Mario Manningham has essentially lost two seasons because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Perhaps he’ll remain on the field going forward, but he’s a risky signing.

    8. Charles Brown, OT, Saints. Age: 27. — Signed with Giants
    9. Jameel McClain, ILB, Ravens. Age: 29. — Signed with Giants
    10. Quintin Demps, S, Chiefs. Age: 29. — Signed with Giants
    11. Zackary Bowman, CB, Bears. Age: 29. — Signed with Giants

    New York Giants Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Linval Joseph, DT, Giants. Age: 25.
      Signed with Vikings (5 years, $31.5 million)

      Linval Joseph is a monstrous run-stuffer who can get to the quarterback quite well for a 325-pound defensive tackle. He’ll only be 26 in October.

    2. Justin Tuck, DE, Giants. Age: 31.
      Signed with Raiders (2 years, $11 million)

      Justin Tuck was always strong against the run, but did nothing in terms of rushing the quarterback in 2013 – until he racked up a whopping four sacks against the Redskins. He put consistent pressure on the quarterback after that.

    3. Stevie Brown, S, Giants. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Giants

      Stevie Brown had an excellent 2012 campaign, but missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL. He’d have a higher ranking if he weren’t coming off that knee injury.

    4. Andre Brown, RB, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with Texans (1 year)

      Andre Brown is a strong runner who happens to be a solid pass-catcher. He also blocks well. Unfortunately, he had a fumbling problem down the stretch.

    5. Henry Hynoski, FB, Giants. Age: 25.
      Re-signed with Giants (1 year, $1 million)

      Henry Hynoski is a strong blocker, but missed 13 games in 2013 with a shoulder injury.

    6. Kevin Boothe, G, Giants. Age: 31.
      Signed with Raiders

      Kevin Boothe isn’t a spectacular starter, but he’s not bad either. His best attribute is his versatility; he can play all three positions in the interior.

    7. Ryan Mundy, S, Giants. Age: 29.
      Signed with Bears (2 years)

      Ryan Mundy has done well filling in for injured players at the safety position. He’s strong against the run, but is somewhat weak in coverage.

    8. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Age: 26.
      Signed with Colts (1 year)

      Hakeem Nicks, who has never played a full 16-game season, has seen his production slip because of injuries and lethargy. He has tons of talent, but time is running out for him to put it together.

    9. Brandon Myers, TE, Giants. Age: 28.
      Signed with Buccaneers (2 years, $4.25 million)

      Brandon Myers caught 79 passes in 2012, but was a major disappointment with the Giants. He and Eli Manning just never clicked.

    10. Jon Beason, ILB, Giants. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Giants

      Injuries have sapped Jon Beason’s ability to cover, but he’s still strong against the run. He’s also a good leader, but he can’t seem to stay healthy.

    11. Josh Brown, K, Giants. Age: 35.
      Josh Brown missed just two field goals in 2013, though he didn’t attempt any tries from beyond 50.

    12. Terrell Thomas, CB, Giants. Age: 29.
      Terrell Thomas missed all of 2011 and 2012 with knee injuries. He finally returned this season. He wasn’t very good, but he should be stronger in 2014 because he’ll be two years removed from ACL surgery.

    13. David Baas, C/G, Giants. Age: 32.
      David Baas could be a solid backup because of his ability to play both guard and center. However, this would require him to stay healthy. Baas played just three games in 2013 and missed five more in 2011. He’ll be 33 in September.

    14. Aaron Ross, CB, Giants. Age: 31.
      Signed with Ravens

      Aaron Ross played just four games in 2013 because of a back injury.

    15. Spencer Paysinger (RFA), OLB, Giants. Age: 26. — Tendered by Giants
    16. Mike Patterson, DT, Giants. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Giants
    17. Trumaine McBride, CB, Giants. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Giants (2 years, $3.1 million)
    18. Bear Pascoe, TE, Giants. Age: 28. — Signed with Falcons
    19. Mark Herzlich (RFA), ILB, Giants. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Giants
    20. Keith Rivers, OLB, Giants. Age: 28. — Signed with Bills (2 years, $5 million)
    21. David Dihel, OT, Giants. Age: 33.
    22. Louis Murphy, WR, Giants. Age: 27. — Signed with Buccaneers
    23. Jim Cordle (RFA), C, Giants. Age: 27.
    24. Shaun Rogers, DT, Giants. Age: 35.
    25. Curtis Painter, QB, Giants. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Giants

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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