2018 NFL Offseason: New York Giants

New York Giants (Last Year: 3-13)

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

2018 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Cody Latimer, OT Nate Solder, G Patrick Omameh, DE Kareem Martin, OLB Connor Barwin, LB Alec Ogletree, S William Gay, S Michael Thomas.
Early Draft Picks:
RB Saquon Barkley, G Will Hernandez, OLB Lorenzo Carter, NT B.J. Hill, QB Kyle Lauletta, DT R.J. McIntosh, CB Sam Beal. Giants Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Geno Smith, RB Orleans Darkwa, RB Shane Vereen, WR Brandon Marshall, OT D.J. Fluker, G Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Jay Bromley, OLB Devon Kennard, CB Ross Cockrell, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

2018 New York Giants Offense:
There was some speculation this offseason that the Giants would replace Eli Manning, but the long-time quarterback of the franchise will return for at least one more season. New York had a chance to swap the declining signal-caller with the second-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but opted for Saquon Barkley instead.

It can often be a mistake to pass on a franchise quarterback like Sam Darnold, as the Browns learned when they allowed other teams to take Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. However, the Giants simply didn’t like any of the signal-callers in the 2018 class, preferring the game-changing Barkley instead. Barkley is more than just a running back; he will revolutionize New York’s offense. The scoring attack will literally run through him, as he’ll get the majority of the workload on the ground and also catch upwards to 80 passes per season.

It’ll be quite exciting to have Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. on the field at the same time. Beckham missed most of 2017 with an ankle injury. The year before, he logged 101 receptions for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns. He and Barkley will be very difficult to defend together, and that’s not even factoring in the other two primary weapons, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Shepard posted some big performances in Beckham’s absence last year, eclipsing 133 receiving yards in three contests. He should be even better now that he’s entering his third year. Engram, meanwhile, was terrific as a rookie. The athletic tight end caught 64 balls for 722 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, and he should be even more productive now that he has experience.

With these great weapons, it’ll be up to Manning to rebound from some down seasons. Manning hasn’t been dreadful, but he has certainly declined. His YPA hasn’t been above seven since 2015, which is a bad sign. Granted, he didn’t have Beckham for 12 games last year, but it’s clear that the 37-year-old is not the same player he once was.

Aside from age, one of the reasons Manning has struggled recently is the play of the offensive line. The blocking unit has been absolutely atrocious, but that figures to change in the near future. The Giants made two key additions to the front this offseason, signing Nate Solder in free agency and then using the 34th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on UTEP’s Will Hernandez. Solder was inked to a 4-year, $62 million contract. Based on talent, he’s worth it, but his injury history says he’s not. It’s been a long time since Solder was healthy for a full season. He played all 16 games last year, but labored through an injury. He’ll be great when 100 percent, but he gets dinged up easily. Hernandez, meanwhile, figures to start at left guard. He’s an average athlete, but is extremely powerful, and he should be able to open huge running lanes for Barkley.

The rest of the offensive line isn’t nearly as potent. The remaining starters are center Brett Jones, right guard John Jerry and right tackle Ereck Flowers. Both Jones and Jerry are slightly below-average players, while Flowers has disappointed since being a first-round pick. However, Flowers failed at left tackle and could be better on the right side.

2018 New York Giants Defense:
New York’s defense carried the team throughout the 2016 campaign, ranking second in points allowed (though 10th in yardage). However, the Giants’ stop unit went from surrendering 18.9 points per game to 24.2 last year. There were some bad apples on the team who had to go, and the Giants are going to mix things up by switching to a 3-4 scheme.

Beginning with the line of scrimmage and moving backward, New York appears to have two solid starters on its new three-man line. Damon “Snacks” Harrison is one of the premier run-stuffing nose tackles in the NFL, and he’ll start next to Dalvin Tomlinson, who had an impressive rookie campaign as a second-round pick from Alabama. There’s no third viable starter on the line, as the underwhelming Romeo Okwara is the favorite to start the opener because newly acquired Josh Mauro, who played for new defensive coordinator James Bettcher in Arizona, has been suspended for four games due to a positive PED test. Fifth-round rookie R.J. McIntosh may win the job if he impresses in training camp.

The Giants said farewell to Jason Pierre-Paul this offseason, so their starting edge rushers look to be Olivier Vernon and Kareem Martin. It’s unclear if Vernon can perform well in the 3-4, and he disappointed last year anyway; he notched seven sacks, which was his worst seasonal total since 2014. Martin, meanwhile, was signed to a 3-year, $21 million contract this offseason. Like Mauro, he has experience in Bettcher’s scheme. However, he has never tallied two or more sacks in a single year. He’s decent in run support, but he was a clear overpay. If third-round rookie Lorenzo Carter doesn’t thrive early, the Giants will have trouble putting outside pressure on opposing passers.

New York’s linebacking corps looked abysmal heading into the offseason, prompting the front office to trade for Alec Ogletree. The former Ram is a talented player, but didn’t fit into Los Angeles’ new 3-4 scheme. Thus, it’s curious why the Giants would place Ogletree in the same formation. Ogletree will start next to B.J. Goodson, a decent player who struggled mightily in 2017 because of a rash of injuries.

As for the secondary, the Giants lost a couple of cornerbacks this offseason in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Ross Cockrell. The team still has a couple of talented corners in Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, though it’s worth noting that Apple was one of the problematic players in the locker room last year, so the new coaching staff will need his attitude to improve. Jenkins, on the other hand, missed seven games because of an ankle injury. His return will obviously be a big boost for the defense. This was an extremely thin group, which would explain why the Giants used a third-round pick in the supplemental draft on Sam Beal. The Western Michigan product may have been a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft had he waited, so the Giants made a nice acquisition in July. Unfortunately, Beal suffered a season-ending injury in practice.

The safety play should at least be positive. Landon Collins is one of the better players at his position in the entire NFL. The same can’t be said of the other starter, Darian Stewart, who struggled mightily in 2017. If he fails to improve, the newly signed Michael Thomas can step in. Formerly of the Dolphins, Thomas did a decent job as a reserve last year.

2018 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 25-23 as hosts and 16-32 as visitors the past six years and have failed to advance past the first round of the postseason.

Aldrick Rosas struggled as the kicker last year, going just 18-of-25. He hit all three attempts from beyond 50, but missed three of his 23 extra points.

New punter Riley Dixon was 22nd in net yardage last year for the Broncos.

The Giants were poor on special teams last year, as they were outgained on both punts and kickoff returns.

New York has a taxing schedule. Following a home game against the Jaguars to open the year, the team has road tilts against the Cowboys, Texans, Panthers, Falcons and 49ers, with home games versus the Saints and Eagles in between.

2018 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.

2018 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2018 New York Giants Analysis: The Giants were extremely lucky in 2016 and were definitely not as good as their record indicated. However, the converse was true for 2017; they had terrible misfortune and were better than 3-13. They are somewhere in between, as they have play-making talent and a strong defensive line to be competitive, but have numerous holes elsewhere that will keep them from making the playoffs. Throw in a very difficult schedule, and it’s likely that the Giants will win about five or six games.

Projection: 6-10 (3rd in NFC East)

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

NFL Draft Team Grade: A Grade

Goals Entering the 2018 NFL Draft: The Giants have lots of holes and are transitioning into a new defensive scheme, so it would be in their best interest to trade down. Being able to pick up a 2019 first-round pick from the Bills, for example, would be a tremendous move. Otherwise, New York absolutely has to bolster its offensive line so that its next quarterback is well protected.

2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Giants general manager David Gettleman told the media he didn’t listen to any trades for the No. 2 overall pick, as he was dead set on picking Saquon Barkley. I think this was a mistake. The Giants had tons of needs heading into the draft, and Gettleman could’ve obtained tons of draft capital in the process.

The lack of trading aside, the Giants had a terrific haul in this class. Barkley is a Marshall Faulk-type projection, and he’ll transform the offense entirely. Will Hernandez should be an effective replacement for the departed Justin Pugh, and he’ll blast open some huge lanes for Barkley. Lorenzo Carter was a steal atop Round 3, as he easily could’ve gone a frame earlier. He’ll help the Giants generate a pass rush despite the departure of Jason Pierre-Paul.

New York’s final three grades were all B+ or higher. The team added two talented linemen for the new 3-4 defense in B.J. Hill and R.J. McIntosh, both of whom could’ve been chosen earlier than where they were taken. Meanwhile, quarterback Kyle Lauletta has the potential to one day become a starter in the NFL. He was a steal in Round 4.

It’s clear that the Giants are headed in the right direction with Gettleman running the show. Thus, despite his reluctance to trade, I have to give the Giants a high grade.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State B- Grade
I can’t fault the Giants for selecting the best player in this class. Saquon Barkley is a terrific talent, and he’s not just a running back. He’s going to transform New York’s offense, much like Marshall Faulk did with the Rams in 1999. He’s that special.

So, why the B-? The Giants had an opportunity to trade down. Normally, teams will be chided for not doing so, but they sometimes can’t find trading partners. The Giants had them. They could have moved down to acquire more draft capital, which they need when considering all of the holes on their roster. Eschewing that possibility is a mistake.

That said, I don’t want to criticize the Giants too hard because I can understand how difficult it is to pass on someone like Barkley.

34. Will Hernandez, G, UTEP A Grade
Will Hernandez is a terrific pick to open the second round for the Giants. Hernandez is someone who easily could’ve been chosen in the early 20s. He slipped to the second round, but the Giants aren’t complaining. They desperately needed offensive linemen, especially in the wake of Justin Pugh’s departure. Hernandez will be able to open up huge running lanes for Saquon Barkley.

66. Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia A Grade
This should be considered a steal. Lorenzo Carter could’ve gone in the second round, so the Giants did well by staying patient and securing him atop Round 3. The one concern with Carter is his medical issue, but if he can remain healthy, he’ll be a very productive edge rusher in New York’s new 3-4 scheme.

69. B.J. Hill, DT, N.C. State B+ Grade
A big, run-stuffing nose tackle absolutely makes sense for the Giants, who continue to add new personnel for their 3-4 scheme. I had Hill late in the second frame, so this makes sense from a range persepctive. New York seems to be having a strong draft thus far.

108. Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond A+ Grade
I don’t understand why Kyle Lauletta wasn’t selected on Day 2. He easily could’ve been taken on Day 2, and it could be argued that he’s the fifth-best quarterback in the class. Kyle Lauletta could definitely replace Eli Manning in a year or two and become a solid starter in the NFL.

139. R.J. McIntosh, DE/DT, Miami A Grade
General manager Dave Gettleman strikes gold again. R.J. McIntosh was a very disruptive interior presence for Miami last season, and he could’ve been taken a round or two earlier. He’s a nice fit as a five-technique in the Giants’ new 3-4 scheme.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
Many didn’t expect the Giants to collapse like they did in 2017, but it was fairly predictable. The team had many phantom victories the year before, and they didn’t fix their problems in the offseason. With their horrible blocking and pedestrian quarterback play already weighing them down, all of the injuries the Giants suffered absolutely crushed them.

Offseason Moves:
  • Giants cut WR Brandon Marshall
  • Giants sign S William Gay
  • Giants sign S Michael Thomas
  • Buccaneers acquire DE Jason Pierre-Paul
  • Giants sign WR Cody Latimer
  • Giants sign G Patrick Omameh
  • Giants sign DE Kareem Martin
  • Giants sign OT Nate Solder
  • Giants sign RB Jonathan Stewart
  • Giants cut CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
  • Giants acquire LB Alec Ogletree from Rams
  • Giants cut P Brad Wing
  • Giants re-sign G John Greco

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Eli Manning is no longer a decent starting quarterback. He can still manage a team with a great defense, offensive line and running game deep into the playoffs, but he’s a pedestrian passer at this stage of his career. The Giants will consider a quarterback in the first round.

    2. Two Offensive Tackles: Aside from quarterback, the Giants’ No. 1 priority is finding better blocking. Ereck Flowers has not done well at left tackle, but he could be better at guard. However, two tackles are needed, so this is something New York will definitely need to focus on this offseason. Signed Nate Solder

    3. Two Linebackers: Linebacker has been the Giants’ biggest defensive hole for a very long while. B.J. Goodson is the only good player the team has at the position. Jerry Reese refused to address this area, but perhaps the new regime will. Traded for Alec Ogletree

    4. Guard: Justin Pugh is an important free agent who could be franchised. If not, he’ll need to be replaced. Signed Patrick Omameh

    5. Center: Both of New York’s centers are also free agents. This is a need that will have to be addressed if Weston Richburg isn’t re-signed.

    6. Running Back: The Giants haven’t maintained a strong running game in a long time. Luckily for them, there will be tons of talent at the position in the second round. Signed Jonathan Stewart

    7. Cornerback: The Giants should think about adding another cornerback in the wake of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s release.

    8. Wide Receiver: It was obvious that Brandon Marshall would be a bust signing because he regressed with the Jets in 2016. A third receiver to join Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard should be acquired. Signed Cody Latimer

    9. Defensive End Depth: Olivier Vernon slacked off this season, and the Giants may have to part ways with him soon. Regardless, the Giants should find some depth at defensive end this spring. Signed Kareem Martin

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2018 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Nate Solder, OT, Patriots. Age: 30.
      Signed with Giants (4 years)

      Nate Solder isn’t coming off his best year, as he dealt with early leg injuries and never recovered. However, he gutted it out and didn’t miss a game. Solder has struggled with health in recent years, and he’ll turn 30 in April, so he isn’t going to be rated nearly as highly as he once was.

    2. Kareem Martin, DE/OLB, Cardinals. Age: 26.
      Signed with Giants

      Kareem Martin has never registered multiple sacks in a season throughout his career, but he’s a solid, jack-of-all-trades outside linebacker who is solid in run support and coverage.

    3. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Giants

      Jonathan Stewart is a big name, but he hasn’t played up to it in a couple of seasons. He has failed to reach four yards per carry in each of the past two years. Many injuries throughout his career have compounded and weighed him down – he hasn’t played a full season since 2011 – and at 31, he appears to be finished.

    4. Patrick Omameh, G, Jaguars. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
    5. Will Gay, S, Steelers. Age: 33. — Signed with Giants
    6. Michael Thomas, S, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
    7. Cody Latimer, WR, Broncos. Age: 25. — Signed with Giants

    New York Giants Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Justin Pugh, G/OT, Giants. Age: 28.
      Signed with Cardinals (5 years)

      Justin Pugh is one of the best guards in the NFL, but had to play out of his position at right tackle this year. He’s a mediocre right tackle, but he needs to start in the interior to be most effective.

    2. Weston Richburg, C, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with 49ers (5 years)

      Weston Richburg is a talented center, but it’s scary that he missed most of 2017 with a concussion. He played in just four games with the head injury, which doesn’t bode well for his future.

    3. Ross Cockrell, CB, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with Panthers

      Ross Cockrell had been a solid starting cornerback for the Steelers, so it’s odd that they only got a conditional seventh-round pick for him after acquiring Joe Haden. Cockrell is a decent player who won’t turn 27 until August.

    4. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Giants. Age: 32.
      Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was once known as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, but that’s not the case anymore, given his age (32 in April). Rodgers-Cromartie struggled last year. He wasn’t horrible, but definitely had a down season. He also clashed with coaches, prompting his release. Rodgers-Cromartie can still contribute, and perhaps he’ll have a rebound season, but his best days are certainly behind him.

    5. John Greco, G, Giants. Age: 33.
      Re-signed with Giants

      John Greco was one of the top players at final cuts last summer. Greco is 33, but he was a solid starter two years ago, and he should still be effective.

    6. Jay Bromley, DT, Giants. Age: 26.
      Jay Bromley, at 6-3, 314, is a capable run defender who is still young enough – 26 in May – to improve his game.

    7. Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants. Age: 26.
      None of the Giants’ running backs were any good this past season, but Orleans Darkwa was the best of the bunch, averaging 4.3 yards per carry despite some horrific blocking in front of him.

    8. Brett Jones (RFA), C, Giants. Age: 27.
      Tendered by Giants (2nd round)

      Brett Jones did a solid job in relief of an injured Weston Richburg this past season. He’s passable as a starter, but would ideally be a strong backup.

    9. Geno Smith, QB, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with Chargers

      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 at just 27, which is why I’m giving him two stars, but I don’t have much hope for him.

    10. Brandon Marshall, WR, Giants. Age: 34.
      Signed with Seahawks

      Brandon Marshall probably should be a 1.5-star player, but I thought I’d give him a write-up for everything he’s done. Marshall has enjoyed a great statistical career, catching 100-plus passes in six seasons. Unfortunately, there has always been controversy following him, and he’s never helped a team reach the playoffs. Now 34, Marshall’s playing days appear to be over, as he has severely declined over the past two seasons.

    11. Devon Kennard, OLB, Giants. Age: 27. — Signed with Lions (3 years)
    12. Shane Vereen, RB, Giants. Age: 29.
    13. D.J. Fluker, G/OT, Giants. Age: 27. — Signed with Seahawks
    14. Keenan Robinson, OLB, Giants. Age: 29.
    15. Devin Taylor, DE, Giants. Age: 28.
    16. Tavarres King (RFA), WR, Giants. Age: 28.
    17. Brad Wing, P, Giants. Age: 27.
    18. Jonathan Casillas, OLB, Giants. Age: 31.
    19. Kerry Wynn, DE, Giants. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Giants
    20. Nat Berhe, S, Giants. Age: 27. — Signed with Steelers
    21. Dwayne Harris, WR/KR, Giants. Age: 30. — Signed with Raiders
    22. Mark Herzlich, ILB, Giants. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Giants
    23. Robert Thomas (RFA), NT, Giants. Age: 27.

    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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