2017 NFL Offseason: New York Giants

New York Giants (Last Year: 11-5)

2017 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Geno Smith, RB Shaun Draughn, WR Brandon Marshall, TE Rhett Ellison, G D.J. Fluker.
Early Draft Picks:
TE Evan Engram, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, QB Davis Webb, RB Wayne Gallman. Giants Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Rashad Jennings, RB Bobby Rainey, WR Victor Cruz, OT Marshall Newhouse, DT Johnathan Hankins, CB/S Leon Hall, CB Trevin Wade.

2017 New York Giants Offense:
There was some speculation this offseason that the Giants would select Eli Manning’s heir apparent in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. None of the first-round signal-callers made it to No. 23, so New York never had the chance. Of course, it was easy to see why the Giants would be eager to replace Manning, as he has declined recently. He threw for 4,027 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, but threw 16 interceptions (most since 2013) and maintained a YPA of 6.7, his worst such mark in nearly a decade. Manning turned 36 this offseason and appears to be regressing rapidly. Davis Webb was acquired in the third round, but he’s raw and will take a couple of years to develop.

The Giants’ declining numbers – they ranked 25th in yardage last year after being eighth in 2015 – aren’t all on Manning. The offensive line deserves a huge share of the blame, and general manager Jerry Reese does as well for not upgrading it. The only change that was made was D.J. Fluker, who was signed away from the Chargers. Fluker has struggled mightily over the past couple of seasons, thanks to a number of injuries. If he can stay healthy, he’ll certainly help, but that’s definitely a huge “if.” It’s unclear where Fluker will play, as he could be stationed at guard or tackle. With Justin Pugh practicing at guard, and John Jerry re-signed, it’s reasonable to conclude that Fluker will be at tackle, which doesn’t sound ideal.

Pugh happens to be New York’s best blocker, as he and Weston Richburg are the only two competent linemen the Giants have. The rest of the group is extremely questionable. Jerry actually wasn’t horrible this past season, but he’s been pretty brutal throughout his career. Left tackle Ereck Flowers, meanwhile, is a former first-round pick. He hasn’t performed well on the blind side, to say the least, but he could be better at right tackle. The problem is that the Giants don’t have anyone else who can play left tackle.

Thanks to questionable blocking, the Giants don’t have much of a running game either. Paul Perkins will take over as the full-time running back with Rashad Jennings gone, which is a good thing because Jennings struggled last year. Perkins is better, but he averaged a mere 4.1 yards per carry in 2016 as a result of not having quality running lanes at his disposal. Shane Vereen will reprise his role as a third-down back, while fourth-rounder Wayne Gallman will compete for some touches.

Despite what has been written thus far, the Giants made two big-name acquisitions this offseason. Brandon Marshall was brought in via free agency, and then Evan Engram was selected in the first round. Engram has drawn comparisons to Jordan Reed, so New York will be hopeful that the Ole Miss product will have more fortune with his health than his Redskins counterpart. It’s unlikely Engram will be as great as Reed right away, but he could evolve into a similar-type weapon in a year or two.

Marshall, meanwhile, has been extremely productive for a very long time, but his signing could hurt the team. Marshall, now 33, has been a problem in many locker rooms, and with his age being a factor, his talent level isn’t great enough to make for it. The Giants already had one lunatic at receiver in Odell Beckham Jr., and now they have two. Marshall, who has never made the playoffs, could prove to be disruptive, so it’s likely New York will regret not simply moving forward with Beckham and Sterling Shepard as the top two receivers.

2017 New York Giants Defense:
New York’s defense carried the team throughout the 2016 campaign, ranking second in points allowed (though 10th in yardage). The unit will have to do the same thing, as the offense will likely remain just as stagnant as it was last year.

Everything will remain status quo for the Giants’ defense, as only one player of note was added to this side of the ball. That would be second-round rookie Dalvin Tomlinson, who will take Johnathan Hankins’ spot in the interior of the defensive front. Hankins is a big name, but struggled last year because of injuries, so even if Tomlinson doesn’t play well right away, he won’t be a substantial downgrade over what New York had last year. Tomlinson figures to start next to Damon “Snacks” Harrison, one of the premier run-stuffers in the NFL.

Harrison doesn’t generate much of a pass rush, but the Giants don’t need him to because of Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. They are one of the top pass-rushing tandems in the NFL, and they are 28 and 26, respectively, so there’s no reason for them to regress this season.

A great pass rush obviously helps out a secondary, but the Giants have such great defensive backs that they don’t even need assistance in that regard. They have two legitimate shutdown cornerbacks in Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Eli Apple also has great promise as a first-round pick from the 2016 NFL Draft, though he had an inconsistent rookie campaign and was ultimately torched too many times for New York’s liking. However, he’s bound to improve in his second season.

The Giants’ two great cornerbacks are complemented by one of the elite safeties in the NFL, Landon Collins. The former Alabama product is a tackling and play-making machine. He gets beat sometimes, but makes up for it with the turnovers he creates. Andrew Adams and 2016 third-rounder Darian Thompson are likely to compete for the starting job next to Collins. Adams was about average this past season, while Thompson labored through a foot injury. Thompson has the talent to overtake the former undrafted rookie.

It’s been all great for the Giants’ defense thus far, but the linebacking corps hasn’t been discussed yet. This is the Achilles’ heel of the stop unit, as Devon Kennard is the only quality player the team possesses at the position, as he’s not even that good. B.J. Goodson, a 2016 fourth-rounder, does have some potential, so he could contribute this season. Otherwise, it’ll be Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson again, and both of those players were underwhelming last year.

2017 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 23-17 as hosts and 15-25 as visitors the past five years and have failed to advance past the first round of the postseason.

New York’s only kicker is someone named Aldrick Rosas, who has never attempted a field goal in his professional career. He’s a 22-year-old from Southern Oregon.

Brad Wing was just 24th in net punting in 2014 and slightly worse (25th) the following year. However, he improved to 10th in 2016.

The Giants were even on special teams last year, outgaining opponents on kickoffs, but losing to them on punt returns.

New York lucked out with an easy schedule this past season, but that doesn’t look to be the case in 2016. Its first two opponents made the playoffs last year (Cowboys, Lions). Its next three are expected to be in the postseason mix this year (Eagles, Buccaneers, Chargers). Its next two played in the Super Bowl recently (Broncos, Seahawks). It gets a bit easier after that, but the Giants could be in an early hole.

2017 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.

2017 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2017 New York Giants Analysis: The Giants were extremely fortunate in numerous games last year. They won their opener at Dallas because of numerous dropped touchdowns. They defeated the Ravens in Week 6 because Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Smith left with injuries, and Baltimore was already without three starting offensive linemen. They trailed the Rams 10-0 in London the following week. The Eagles gave away a victory in Week 9 at the Meadowlands with poor decision-making on fourth-and-1 situations. The Giants then nearly lost to the Bengals at home the following Monday night, and then they trailed the Bears in the third quarter until Chicago suffered a slew of injuries. The Giants lucked out in so many games last year, and the metrics back that up, as the numbers say they should’ve been an 8-8 team. With Eli Manning regressing, the offensive line in turmoil, and Brandon Marshall bound to cause mischief, New York will struggle to reach the postseason in 2017.

Projection: 7-9 (4th in NFC East)

2017 Projection: 7-9. 2016 Actual Result: 11-5.

NFL Draft Team Grade: C- Grade

Goals Entering the 2017 NFL Draft: The Giants could be without Eli Manning next year if the allegations about him in the memorabilia scandal are true. Regardless, Manning has regressed, so the Giants need to find a long-term solution soon. They also must bolster their offensive line and add some play-makers.

2017 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Someone on the Giants made some sort of snarky comment about offensive line being a “perceived” need for them, which was interesting because they wanted Jack Conklin last year and Garett Bolles in this draft. They failed to add either, so they once again missed out on upgrading their blocking unit. And that will once again cost them in 2017.

I understand passing on all of the blockers in the first round with Bolles off the board, but that didn’t mean that they should pass on offensive linemen on Day 2 of the draft. In fact, the Giants selected just one blocker, waiting until the 200th pick of the draft to do so. The Giants will regret this inaction, and Manning, if he even suits up, will be punished for it.

It’d be one thing if the Giants obtained unbelievable values to compensate for their decision to pass on all of the offensive linemen, but only two of their individual grades scored higher than a B-. Their top two picks, Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson, were both reaches. Davis Webb in the third wasn’t, but he’s not going to make an impact anytime soon unless Manning is suspended, and that’s not even ideal because he’s not anywhere close to being able to play.

This was a truly disappointing haul for New York. It wasn’t an abysmal result, but it was a pretty poor effort from the front office.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

23. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss: C+ Grade
This seems like a bit of a reach, especially with David Njoku still available. It’s not an egregious reach though, so I won’t grade this selection too poorly. I think a C+ is about right, as Engram fills a big need at tight end and also provides the declining Eli Manning with an intermediate mismatch weapon. At the very worst, Engram can sell some of his memorabilia at Eli’s store. In all seriousness, this is an OK pick, but with better players available, the Giants should have moved down a bit. They probably could’ve gotten Engram (or Njoku) a bit later.

55. Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama: C+ Grade
I had Dalvin Tomlinson in the third round, so I think this is a little bit early for the Alabama product. Tomlinson definitely fills a need, as New York had to replace Johnathan Hankins. However, I think they could’ve taken a better player and filled their linebacker need by selecting Zach Cunningham. It’s odd that the Giants have passed on him twice.

87. Davis Webb, QB, California: A- Grade
I mocked Davis Webb to the Giants in the second round, so I obviously love this value. Webb should’ve gone earlier than this, as he actually has more upside than Jared Goff. He’s a lot like Goff in that he needs to work on the mental part of his game, but he has a great arm. The difference could be that Webb is more serious about being a pro. If so, he might be able to replace the declining memorabilia salesman the Giants currently have at quarterback.

140. Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson: B- Grade
Wayne Gallman made his debut in my mock draft as a second-round pick for the Giants back in September. He has fallen steadily since, and he ended as a fifth-rounder. Gallman catches the ball well, but doesn’t really have any other positive attributes. He really needs to improve his pass-protection skills to get on the field.

167. Avery Moss, DE, Youngstown State: D Grade
As mentioned before, I’m not going to give out Millen grades in the fifth round, so the Giants are spared. It makes sense that they added an edge rusher, but Avery Moss was kicked out of Nebraska and also tested poorly in pre-draft workouts. I don’t know what the upside is with this pick.

200. Adam Bisnowaty, OT/G, Pittsburgh: A- Grade
Adam Bisnowaty has a wrestling background, which some teams like in their linemen. Unfortunately, Bisnowaty lacks any sort of athleticism, so he may have to move to guard. Still, Bisnowaty is a smart, powerful lineman, and I thought he would go a round earlier than this. I like this pick, as Bisnowaty potentially fills a need at guard.

Season Summary:
The Giants snuck by in many close games in 2016, barely beating the likes of the Rams and Browns. Their defense did a great job, but the offense let them down when it mattered most. Moving forward, New York will have to begin thinking about life after Eli Manning, who struggled this past season.

Offseason Moves:
  • Giants sign RB Shaun Draughn
  • Giants re-sign LB Keenan Robinson
  • Giants sign CB Antwon Blake
  • Giants re-sign OLB Mark Herzlich
  • Giants sign QB Geno Smith
  • Giants re-sign QB Josh Johnson
  • Giants re-sign G John Jerry
  • Giants sign G/OT D.J. Fluker
  • Giants sign TE Rhett Ellison
  • Giants re-sign RB Orleans Darkwa
  • Giants sign WR Brandon Marshall
  • Giants cut RB Rashad Jennings
  • Giants cut WR Victor Cruz

    Team Needs:
    1. Left Tackle: Upgrading the offensive line has to be New York’s top priority this offseason. Ereck Flowers could be pretty good at right tackle, but he doesn’t look natural on the blind side. At the very least, right tackle Bobby Hart needs to be replaced. Unfortunately for the Giants, this class happens to be weak at the position.

    2. Two Linebackers: New York’s top task this offseason from a defensive perspective is to find a new middle linebacker. Keenan Robinson is horrible, so fixing the lone liability on the stop unit is something the Giants need to accomplish. Adding another linebacker wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    3. Tight End: The Giants had to choose between two underwhelming options at tight end heading into the year. Will Tye won over Larry Donnell, but both happen to be pedestrian options. Eli Manning needs a more potent intermediate target. Signed Rhett Ellison

    4. Defensive End: Jason Pierre-Paul happens to be one of two key free agents the Giants need to re-sign. If Pierre-Paul leaves, New York could use an early selection on a pass-rusher. Re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul

    5. Defensive Tackle: Johnathan Hankins is the other major free agent. Hankins is coming off a down year because he was banged up, but he’ll be missed if he leaves.

    6. Running Back: Paul Perkins had some bright moments as a rookie, but can he cover the entire workload? I’m sure the Giants will want someone better than Rashad Jennings splitting the workload with Perkins.

    7. Backup Quarterback: Ryan Nassib is an impending free agent, but he was one of the worst backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Re-signed Josh Johnson

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2017 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets. Age: 33.
      Signed with Giants (2 years, $12 million)

      Brandon Marshall had posted 1,000-plus yards in eight of nine seasons heading into 2016, but he saw his production drop last year, as he caught 59 balls for 788 yards and three touchdowns. Some of that had to do with age – Marshall turns 33 at the end of March – but he dealt with terrible quarterbacking, and he also suffered multiple injuries. Marshall will rebound at least a bit in 2017, but there’s no telling how much he has left in the tank.

    2. D.J. Fluker, G/OT, Chargers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Giants (1 year)

      D.J. Fluker was the 11th-overall pick in the horrible 2013 NFL Draft. He played well the first two years, but he’s been awful since, thanks in part to multiple injuries. Fluker has a chance to bounce back, but that would require him to stay healthy for once.

    3. Geno Smith, QB, Jets. Age: 26.
      Signed with Giants

      Geno Smith was once a second-round pick with promise, but he’s been hurt by inaccuracy and an inability to grasp the mental part of the game. He still has potential, which is why I’m giving him two stars, but I don’t have much hope for him.

    4. Antwon Blake, CB, Titans. Age: 27. — Signed with Giants
    5. Rhett Ellison, TE, Vikings. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants (4 years, $18 million)
    6. Duke Ihenacho, S, Redskins. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
    7. Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers. Age: 29. — Signed with Giants

    New York Giants Free Agents:

    Salary Cap Space: $11.2M.
    1. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Giants (4 years)

      Jason Pierre-Paul should be handed lots of praise for performing on a very high level despite his fireworks accident two summers ago. Pierre-Paul logged seven sacks in 12 games, but missed the end of the season when he needed hernia surgery. Pierre-Paul was great in every aspect, and he just turned 28, so he has a few years of high-level play remaining and should receive a contract worth quite a few digits.

    2. Johnathan Hankins, NT, Giants. Age: 25.
      Signed with Colts (3 years, $30 million)

      Johnathan Hankins is coming off a down year, perhaps because he never recovered from a torn pectoral. Hankins is a very talented defensive tackle who generates pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stuffs the run effectively when healthy.

    3. Leon Hall, CB/S, Giants. Age: 32.
      There’s so much cornerbackng talent on the Giants that Leon Hall didn’t get to play very much at the position. Hall should still be a decent corner – or, at the very least, a decent safety – though he’ll turn 33 in December.

    4. John Jerry, G, Giants. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with Giants (3 years, $10 million)

      John Jerry has been terrible for years, but thanks to a training stint at LeCharles Bentley’s facility last offseason, he was able to improve. Jerry, however, was in his contract year, so teams should be cautious about giving him a sizable contract, especially considering that he turns 31 in June.

    5. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants. Age: 30.
      Signed with Bears

      Victor Cruz was once a very talented receiver, but a torn patellar tendon has wrecked his career. Cruz caught just 39 passes for 586 yards and a touchdown last year, and he turned 30 in November. It’s possible that he could continue to rebound, but it’s more likely that he’ll continue to be a shell of his former self.

    6. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants. Age: 32.
      Rashad Jennings, 32 in March, is no longer a No. 1 running back. That was evident when he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in 2016. Paul Perkins averaged a 4.1 YPC figure, so it’s not like the offensive line can be blamed. Jennings can still do a good job catching the ball – he had 35 receptions last year – so perhaps he can carve out a role as a valuable backup with receiving skills.

    7. Trevin Wade, CB, Giants. Age: 28.
    8. Bobby Rainey, RB, Giants. Age: 29.
    9. Marshall Newhouse, OT/G, Giants. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders
    10. Keenan Robinson, ILB, Giants. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Giants
    11. Orleans Darkwa (RFA), RB, Giants. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Giants
    12. Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, Giants. Age: 29.
    13. Kerry Wynn (RFA), DE, Giants. Age: 26. — Tendered by Giants (original)
    14. Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Giants. Age: 28. — Signed with Steelers
    15. Josh Johnson, QB, Giants. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Giants
    16. Larry Donnell, TE, Giants. Age: 28.
    17. Will Beatty, OT, Giants. Age: 32.
    18. Tavarres King, WR, Giants. Age: 27.
    19. Ryan Nassib, QB, Giants. Age: 27.
    20. Mark Herzlich, OLB, Giants. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Giants
    21. Eric Pinkins, OLB, Giants. Age: 26.


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