2016 NFL Offseason: New York Giants

New York Giants (Last Year: 6-10)

2016 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison, ILB Keenan Robinson, CB Janoris Jenkins.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Eli Apple, WR Sterling Shepard, S Darian Thompson, LB B.J. Goodson, RB Paul Perkins. Giants Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
WR Rueben Randle, DE Robert Ayers, CB Prince Amukamara.

2016 New York Giants Offense:
Eli Manning has been called overrated by some because while he has won two Super Bowls, his stats have been pretty meager. That has changed recently, as Manning has generated two consecutive seasons with at least 4,400 passing yards. He also compiled 35 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions in 2015.

Of course, the big difference has been Odell Beckham Jr., who is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the NFL. After registering 1,305 yards as a rookie, he increased that number to 1,450 yards in his sophomore campaign despite his antics with Josh Norman in the antepenultimate game of the year. Beckham could continue to improve, and he’ll need to because the Giants don’t have another viable, experienced option for Manning to throw to. Victor Cruz is still around, but football players seldom recover from torn patellar tendons. Second-round rookie Sterling Shepard could be a factor, however; he’s enjoyed a strong first NFL offseason thus far.

The tight ends figure to be mediocre as well. Larry Donnell was the starter heading into 2015, but he sustained an injury, allowing Will Tye to take over. Tye showed a bit of promise, catching 42 balls for 464 yards in 13 contests, but is still not a starting-caliber tight end. The Giants spent a sixth-round selection on Jerell Adams, who has a ton of upside, but is likely too raw to contribute this year.

The greatest issue the Giants have is on the offensive line. They really wanted to draft Jack Conklin with the 10th-overall pick, but the Titans leapt in front of them to take the Michigan State tackle. As a consequence, Marshall Newhouse will be force to start at right tackle, bookending Ereck Flowers. Newhouse is an atrocious blocker, perhaps one of the worst players at his position in the entire league. As for Flowers, the 2015 first-rounder didn’t have the best rookie campaign, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. There’s some speculation that Flowers would be best at right tackle, but the New York coaching staff reportedly believes in Flowers as its future blind-side protector.

The Giants at least are better in the interior of their offensive front, though there’s one major liability in guard John Jerry. However, the other two blockers, guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg, are both excellent players. The latter is one of the top players at his position in the NFL. Pugh, meanwhile, saw action at tackle in the past, but will be staying inside, where he’s much better.

New York’s overall middling offensive line will have to work extra hard to open running lanes for its mediocre backfield. Rashad Jennings, who didn’t receive the workload he deserved last year because Tom Coughlin wasted his time with the horrible Andre Williams, turned 31 this offseason. Jennings doesn’t have too many career carries under his belt, but has an extensive injury history. If Jennings goes down – he has played 16 games in a season only once in his career – it’ll be up to either Williams or fifth-round rookie Paul Perkins to carry the workload. Shane Vereen will continue to work as the third-down pass-catching back.

2016 New York Giants Defense:
While the Giants didn’t spend any significant resources outside of their second-round pick on offense, they made sure they bolstered their defense in both free agency and the draft. There are going to be four new starters, as each level of the defense was upgraded.

Beginning with the defensive line, New York paid former Dolphin Olivier Vernon a 5-year, $85 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. The Giants unquestionably overpaid for Vernon, but there’s very little doubt that he’ll be a big boost to the pass rush. Vernon notched 7.5 sacks in 2015, but that number isn’t nearly indicative of how dominant of a force he was for Miami. There’s a chance he could become fat and happy in the wake of earning so much guaranteed money, however, and it’s important to remember that Super Bowls aren’t built in free agency. It’s more likely than not that Vernon will be a disappointment, even if it’s just a slight one. Vernon will start across from Jason Pierre-Paul, who was effective but not dominant last year after returning from his freak fireworks accident.

Vernon wasn’t the only highly paid defensive lineman added this offseason. The Giants also spent tons of money on ex-Jet Damon “Snacks” Harrison, signing him to a 5-year, $46.25 million deal with $24 million in guarantees. Harrison is a monstrous, 350-pound nose tackle who is one of the top run-stuffers in the NFL. The Giants already had a big defensive tackle who could clog rushing lanes in the 320-pound Johnathan Hankins, so they’re making it clear that they don’t want any team to be able to move the chains on the ground against them. Hankins is also capable of generating a quality pass rush for a man his size, though it didn’t show last year because he battled through an injury. If, however, Hankins can return to the player who generated seven sacks in 2014, New York will be able to put a ton of pressure on opposing passers.

The Giants made sure to match their bolstered pass rush with better secondary play. They paid Janoris Jenkins, formerly of the Rams, $62.5 million over five years, and also spent their first-round selection on Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple. While Apple will be eased into action, Jenkins will obviously be asked to start right away. He should be able to perform well, given that he was exceptional for the most part in St. Louis. Jenkins will play across from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is coming off a solid 2015 campaign.

New York’s safeties aren’t as exciting. Landon Collins, chosen in the second round last year, wasn’t all that great as a rookie, but showed some flashes and could improve in his second season. He’s the only clear-cut starter, as a few players will be battling for the other job. There’s no one noteworthy, save for third-round rookie Darian Thompson. The Boise State product would’ve been chosen earlier had he not bombed the Combine. However, Thompson is a very instinctive player who should be able to pan out as a pro.

The linebacking corps is an even bigger problem area, as the Giants’ front office has neglected the position for years. No one played well there last year, though Jasper Brinkley and Devon Kennard weren’t horrible. The same can’t be said for J.T. Thomas, who was acquired in free agency last spring. He was an abomination in run support. A couple of new players were added, including Keenan Robinson, who struggled in Washington, and B.J. Goodson, who was chosen in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

2016 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 16-16 as hosts and 12-20 as visitors the past four years and have failed to qualify for the postseason.

Josh Brown was one of the NFL’s top kickers last year. He hit 30-of-32 attempts, including all three from beyond 50. He missed just one of his 45 extra points.

Brad Wing was just 24th in net punting in 2014 and slightly worse (25th) last year.

The Giants had one of the worst special-teams units in 2013, but they’ve improved since. They outgained their opponents on both punts and kickoff returns. They scored twice and surrendered one touchdown.

It seems as though the Giants have a mixed schedule, as they are favored in eight of their games per the early Vegas lines. They’re big underdogs in three matchups against the Vikings, Packers and Steelers on the road.

2016 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.

2016 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2016 New York Giants Analysis: The Giants are very strong in some areas, but they have a few glaring holes on the roster, particularly at tackle, linebacker and safety. They also made the mistake of downgrading their head coach, getting rid of a Hall of Famer in Tom Coughlin and replacing him with first-year Ben McAdoo. That said, the NFC East is weak, so New York could take the division.

Projection: 7-9 (3rd in NFC East)

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Giants have to improve Eli Manning’s protection, but will they get the opportunity to do so with their first-round choice without reaching? We’ll see. Elsewhere, New York needs to bolster its receiving, running back and linebacking corps. Some depth in the defensive backfield wouldn’t hurt either.

2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: As with the Ravens, the Giants were adversely affected by Bong-gate. With Ronnie Stanley off the board as early as No. 6, as a result of Laremy Tunsil falling, the Titans moved up for Jack Conklin instead of Stanley, meaning that Conklin, whom the Giants had targeted all along, was not available. Of course, New York should’ve just picked Tunsil, but I can’t blame Jerry Reese too much for not doing so.

Eli Apple was not a great selection, by any means, but he wasn’t a horrible one considering the alternatives. The Dolphins or Raiders would’ve taken Apple, so he was not an egregious reach. Meanwhile, I liked the rest of the picks. Sterling Shepard in the second frame was solid, as were Darian Thompson, B.J. Goodson, Paul Perkins and Jerell Adams in subsequent rounds. They all filled needs and provided good values.

The one glaring issue with New York’s draft was that the team didn’t address the offensive line. The Giants absolutely had to do this, and I have a feeling that they’ll regret passing on Tunsil. They made solid picks to make up for it, so a B- grade seems appropriate.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

10. Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State C Grade
I had a feeling that Eli Apple might be chosen over Vernon Hargreaves. But that was more of teams being down on Hargreaves than front offices liking Apple. I think this is a bit of a reach. I had Apple at No. 14, but with Shaq Lawson, Hargreaves and Laremy Tunsil available, the Giants could’ve gone in a different direction. Still, I won’t penalize the team too much, as they were blind-sided with Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd both being snatched off the board right in front of them. A “C” grade seems appropriate.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

40. Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma B Grade
No surprise that the Giants drafted a receiver early. They were desperate to find a second wideout across from Odell Beckham Jr. It seems like there were higher-rated receivers on the board, such as Tyler Boyd or Michael Thomas, but Sterling Shepard makes sense as a second-round selection. Unlike New York’s initial pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, this is a solid choice that isn’t a reach.

71. Darian Thompson, S, Boise State A- Grade
Darian Thompson could’ve easily been chosen in the middle of the second round, so this is great value. Thompson also fills a need, as New York had to obtain help next to Landon Collins. Thompson has tackling concerns, but he’s a play-maker who will create turnovers for the Giants.

109. B.J. Goodson, LB, Clemson B+ Grade
B.J. Goodson had a ton of buzz in the lead-up to the 2016 NFL Draft, taking tons of meetings. This is the right spot for him though, and it’s hardly a surprise that the Giants chose a linebacker, as they have one of the worst situations at the position in the NFL. A solid tackler, Goodson should be able to compete for a starting job right away.

149. Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA A Grade
We heard some teams considering Paul Perkins in the third or fourth rounds, so this is great value for the Giants. Perkins, who can play all three downs, seems to have found a nice home with the Giants, where he could emerge as the starter in the near future, partly because of the team’s issues at the position.

184. Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina A Grade
Jerry Reese had a rough start to his draft, but he has been on fire in Day 3. This is a great pick, as Jerell Adams could’ve been chosen in the third round without any complaints. Adams doesn’t have much starting experience, but he has a ton of athleticism and promise. It wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually emerges as a starter.

Season Summary:
The Giants threw their season away. They had leads in most of their fourth quarters, but they found ways to blow nearly every contest. They finished 6-10, but could’ve easily gone 10-6. That, however, escaped the front office, which forced out legendary coach Tom Coughlin.

Offseason Moves:
  • Giants re-sign TE Larry Donnell
  • Giants sign RB Bobby Rainey
  • Giants sign OT Byron Stingly
  • Giants sign FB Will Johnson
  • Giants sign ILB Keenan Robinson
  • Giants sign DE Olivier Vernon
  • Giants sign DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison
  • Giants re-sign CB Janoris Jenkins
  • Giants re-sign DE Jason Pierre-Paul
  • Giants cut OT Will Beatty
  • Giants cut G Geoff Schwartz
  • Giants cut ILB Jon Beason

    Team Needs:
    1. Offensive Tackle: Protecting Eli Manning is paramount as he enters the latter stages of his career. The Giants need a new tackle, perhaps one on the blind side, which would allow Ereck Flowers to move to right tackle, where he would be more comfortable. Ronnie Stanley would make sense at No. 10 overall. Signed Byron Stingly

    2. Two Linebackers: The Giants have to completely revamp their linebacking corps, which is a complete mess. An early draft pick and a free-agent signing could be used on help here. Signed Keenan Robinson

    3. Three Defensive Ends: Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers are free agents, so decrease the amount of defensive ends the Giants need by one with each re-signing. However, even if Pierre-Paul and Ayers are brought back, New York has to find a rotational pass-rusher to help fix its issues in terms of getting to the quarterback. Signed Olivier Vernon; re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul

    4. Safety: It’s ridiculous that the Giants were forced into using Brandon Meriweather as a starter for most of 2015. He was an abomination, so New York has to find someone to pair with Landon Collins.

    5. Defensive Tackle: New York could spend an early-round pick or two on defensive line help, as the team also needs help next to Johnathan Hankins. Signed Damon “Snacks” Harrison

    6. Guard: Geoff Schwartz was cut because he couldn’t stay healthy. A replacement is needed.

    7. Cornerback: Prince Amukamara is a free agent, and he might be too injury-prone for the Giants to retain him. Vernon Hargreaves is in play at No. 10 overall. Signed Janoris Jenkins

    8. Running Back: It took Tom Coughlin too long to recognize that Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen should’ve been used exclusively. There were just too many wasted downs on Andre Williams. Jennings, however, turns 31 this offseason, so a new running back should be acquired via free agency or in the draft in Rounds 2-4.

    9. Wide Receiver: The Giants could use a No. 2 receiver across from Odell Beckham Jr. Rueben Randle is a free agent, but he wasn’t very good anyway.

    10. Tight End: Larry Donnell and Will Tye aren’t terrible, but the Giants could stand to upgrade them. They have many other pressing needs, however.

    11. Kicker: Josh Brown is a great kicker, but he happens to be a free agent this offseason.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Janoris Jenkins, CB, Rams. Age: 27.
      Signed with Giants (5 years, $62.5 million)

      Janoris Jenkins is one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. He didn’t play all that well in 2014 because of a lingering knee injury, but he bounced back with a very strong 2015 campaign. Just 27, Jenkins has a very bright future ahead of him.

    2. Olivier Vernon, DE, Dolphins. Age: 25.
      Signed with Giants (5 years, $85 million; $40 million guaranteed)

      Olivier Vernon’s stats didn’t show it, as he didn’t even notch double-digit sacks, but he had a fantastic 2015 campaign, both in terms of rushing the passer and helping out against the run. Just 26 in October, Vernon has a bright future ahead of him.

    3. Damon Harrison, NT, Jets. Age: 27.
      Signed with Giants (5 years, $46.25 million; $24 million guaranteed)

      Damon “Snacks” Harrison is one of the top run-stuffers in the NFL. He doesn’t get much pressure on the quarterback, but that’s not what he’s asked to do. The Jets were extremely difficult to run against because of Snacks.

    4. Will Johnson, FB, Steelers. Age: 26. — Signed with Giants (2 years)
    5. Keenan Robinson, ILB, Redskins. Age: 27. — Signed with Giants
    6. Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
    7. Byron Stingly, OT, Steelers. Age: 27. — Signed with Giants

    New York Giants Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Robert Ayers, DE, Giants. Age: 30.
      Signed with Buccaneers (3 years, $21 million)

      Robert Ayers is coming off his best season yet, notching nine sacks in just 12 games and being very forceful in run support. He would be a four-star player if it weren’t for his age – 31 on Sept. 6 – but he should still have two strong years remaining in the tank.

    2. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Giants (1 year)

      Jason Pierre-Paul managed just one sack in the eight games he played in 2015. Those who didn’t watch him will believe that he was ineffective, but that’s not true at all. Pierre-Paul put lots of pressure on opposing passers. His hand issue played a part in his deficiency in run support, but Pierre-Paul will continue to serve as a dynamic pass-rusher.

    3. Josh Brown, K, Giants. Age: 37.
      Josh Brown, despite being 36, was a near-perfect 30-of-32 in 2015, including 3-of-3 from 50-plus. His age will obviously catch up with him soon, but he’s one of the better kickers in the NFL for now.

    4. Prince Amukamara, CB, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with Jaguars (1 year)

      Prince Amukamara is talented; there’s no question about that. However, he would have a much higher rating than this if he could just stay healthy. Amukamara has missed 25 games in his 5-year career, including 13 contests in the past two seasons.

    5. Geoff Schwartz, G, Giants. Age: 30.
      Signed with Lions

      Geoff Schwartz is a very skilled blocker, but he has missed 21 games in the past two seasons. He’s just not reliable, and to make matters worse, he said that he’s dealing with nerve damage in his foot.

    6. Will Beatty, OT, Giants. Age: 31.
      Will Beatty would be ranked higher than this if he could stay healthy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as he missed all of 2015 with a shoulder injury. Beatty, 31 in March, doesn’t have much left in the tank.

    7. Rueben Randle, WR, Giants. Age: 25.
      Signed with Eagles

      Rueben Randle, who is a year removed from catching 71 passes for 938 yards, is just a sub-par No. 2 receiver. There’s nothing special here, as Randle sometimes struggles to get open.

    8. George Selvie, DE, Giants. Age: 29.
      George Selvie racked up seven sacks in 2013. He managed just one this past season, but did a good job of containing the run.

    9. Larry Donnell (RFA), TE, Giants. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Giants

      A mediocre receiver and blocker, Larry Donnell was just a pedestrian starter when he was in the lineup. He missed half the 2015 campaign with a neck injury.

    10. Jon Beason, ILB, Giants. Age: 31.
      Jon Beason has played in just nine games the past two years, and he hasn’t been very effective when he’s been on the field. He used to be a very good player, but that’s not the case anymore.

    11. Cullen Jenkins, DT, Giants. Age: 35.
    12. Trumaine McBride, CB, Giants. Age: 30.
    13. Markus Kuhn, DT, Giants. Age: 30. — Signed with Patriots
    14. Josh Gordy, CB, Giants. Age: 29.
    15. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Age: 28.
    16. Brandon Meriweather, S, Giants. Age: 32.
    17. Dallas Reynolds, G, Giants. Age: 32.
    18. Brandon Mosley, OT, Giants. Age: 27.
    19. Leon McFadden (RFA), CB, Giants. Age: 25.
    20. Tavarres King (RFA), WR, Giants. Age: 26.
    21. Daniel Fells, TE, Giants. Age: 32.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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