The New York Giants finished the 2013 season with 7 wins in their final 10 games, but a dreadful 0-6 start left them wondering what could have been. The Giants ended up 3rd in the NFC with a record of 7-9 and have now missed the playoffs in back-to-back years since winning the Super Bowl in 2011.
One of the Giants biggest problems last year was their inability to run the football. New York ranked 29th in the league with a mere 83.3 yards/game on the ground. It’s been pretty clear that improving this area is one of the top goals this offseason. New York beefed up their offensive line with the free agent signings of guards Geoff Schwartz (Chiefs) and John Jerry (Dolphins), along with center J.D. Walton (Broncos) and tackle Charles Brown (Saints). The Giants also got a great deal on running back Rashad Jennings, who has averaged a respectable 4.3 yards/carry in four seasons with the Jaguars and Raiders. The only other notable addition offensively was the return of Mario Manningham, who spent the first four years of his career in New York before playing the last two in San Francisco.
It wasn’t just the offense that the Giants addressed in free agency. New York bolstered their secondary with the signings of corners Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Broncos) and Walter Thumond III (Seahawks). They also added in defensive end Robert Ayers (Broncos), linebacker Jameel McClain (Ravens) , safety Quintin Demps (Chiefs) and corner Zackary Bowman (Bears).
While New York has added a lot of key pieces, they also lost several quality players, including defensive tackle Linval Joseph, defensive end Justin Tuck, wide out Hakeem Nicks, running back Andre Brown, guard Kevin Boothe, safety Ryane Mundy, tight end Brandon Myers, center David Baas and corners Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross.
The Giants now shift their attention to the upcoming draft, in which they will have seven picks. New York will select No. 12 overall in the first round. While they don’t have any picks in the seventh round, they were awarded a compensatory selection in the 5th round. Here’s a quick look at the five positions the Giants need to target when they are on the clock.
Starter Will Beatty is still around, but he was awful last year protecting Eli Manning’s blind side. While Schwartz is capable of moving outside, neither or he or Brown would provide the type of upgrade at the position the Giants are looking for. New York used their first round pick last year on Justin Pugh, who was rock solid at right tackle. While the top two left tackles will likely be off the board when the Giants are up at at No. 12, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went after Michigan’s Taylor Lewan or Notre Dame’s Zack Martin.
Starting tight end Brandon Myers signed with Tampa Bay, leaving the Giants without a reliable intermediate target for Manning. New York will have the option of waiting until the 2nd or 3rd round to find a replacement, but they could also secure this position for several years to come by drafting North Carolina Eric Ebron if he’s still available in round 1.
The loss of Joseph leaves the Giants without a dynamic interior pass rusher up front. While they still have a couple capable starters at the position in Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, both are on the wrong side of 30. Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald and Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan are a couple more players the Giants could be targeting with their first round pick. Either way, expect New York to address this need at some point in the draft.
If the opportunity presents itself, New York could look to upgrade either outside linebacker spot held currently by Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams. There’s a possibility that McClain could replace Williams on the strong side, but that’s not a sure thing. Again it’s not a huge need, but one they would definitely benefit from if they were able to improve.
The addition of Ayers kept this from being a major need, but I still think it’s one that they will be looking to add some more depth. The Ayers is a quality player, but he’s a drop off from Tuck. The Giants do still have Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka, but it’s no secret that they covet this position more than other on the defensive side of the ball.
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