>\n\nWorst to First: 15. New York Giants \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 15. New York Giants

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/11/2010

After finishing the 2009 season with 4 straight games where they conceded over 40 points there's some mighty big questions for the Giants to answer this offseason. Not least how one of the best Defenses and best OLs in football suddenly drop to mediocre. Going through the Giants roster it seems like they're still stacked talent wise, but the suffered really badly with injuries last year. Jerry Reese is one of the best GM's in Football and he's compiled a roster with tons of depth in most positions but going through the catalogue of injuries it's not hard to see why they ended up losing so many games and finally fell to pieces down the stretch. Despite the struggles they still compiled an excellent passing offense and it was done with a mostly very young WR corps too so there is every reason to think that this Giants squad, with just a couple of additions, could seriously challenge for a Superbowl again this year.

Let's cast our eyes over the Giants roster and see what they've got that leaves me so optimistic for them in 2010 and what those few holes to fill could be.

2010 Free Agent Losses 2010 Free Agent Additions
David Carr QB (UFA), Kevin Dockery CB (RFA), Fred Robbins DT (UFA), Darcy Johnson TE (RFA) Jim Sorgi QB (UFA-cut), Deon Grant SS (UFA-cut), Antrel Rolle FS (UFA-cut)
2010 Unsigned Free Agents 2011 Potential Free Agents
C.C. Brown SS (RFA), Danny Clark OLB (UFA), Barry Cofield DT (RFA), Londen Fryar DB (UFA-cut), Derek Hagan WR (RFA), Domenik Hixon WR (RFA), Sinorice Moss WR (RFA), Antonio Pierce MLB (UFA-cut), Aaron Rouse SS (UFA-cut), Guy Whimper T (RFA), Gerris Wilkinson OLB (RFA)

Jay Alford DL (RFA), Chase Blackburn LB (UFA), Kevin Boothe OG (RFA), Kevin Boss TE (RFA), Ahmad Bradshaw RB (RFA), Scott Chandler TE (RFA), Zak De Ossie LB (RFA), Jeff Feagles P (UFA), Deon Grant S (UFA), Michael Johnson DB (RFA), Mathias Kiwanuka DE (UFA), Adam Koets OT (RFA), Sha'reff Rashad DB (XRFA), Steve Smith WR (RFA), Jim Sorgi QB (UFA), Dave Tollefson DL (RFA), Danny Ware RB ( RFA),

Quarterbacks No Need
What probably got lost in the Giants meltdown last year was that Eli Manning put together his best season as a Pro. 4000 yards and a 2:1 TD:Int ratio came as yet another improvement for Manning, Eli. David Carr has headed off to San Francisco and Manning, Peyton's long term backup Jim Sorgi has been brought in as his replacement. Backing up Mannings doesn't net you a lot of work anyway. Neither one of them misses games so the Giants have gone most of the time the past couple of years with just 2 QBs on the roster. This year may be no different. Rhett Bomar's on the roster, if he can develop during training camp they may keep 3 with a view to Bomar replacing Sorgi in 2011. Whatever way you cut it there's going to be no need in this draft for a QB.

Runningbacks Minor Need
Big Backs don't tend to have long shelf lives in the NFL. Especially not when they get the kind of blocking Brandon Jacobs got last year. After a career year in 2008 he fell off a cliff in 2009. Yes he had some injury issues but Ahmad Bradshaw did too and he stilled managed a much better return in 2009 than Jacobs did. Bradshaw isn't going to be a back you can count on to carry the load though. Danny Ware had a good preseason but guess what? He had injury issues too. As did last year's 4th rounder Andre Brown. And Achilles injuries are tough to come back from. So whilst the Giants are extremely deep at RB there's so many injury questions there I just don't quite know what to make of this situation. There's any number of ways they could go. They could count on all of them returning and being injury free, which given their history is pretty unlikely. They could look to trade 1 or more of them whilst they still have some value and draft a replacement. Draft rumours have them interested in C.J. Spiller so I guess they could be considering dishing one of the guys they have. But it's worth remembering that the Giants rushing game worked best as a 3 headed monster when Derrick Ward was around too. So maybe Bradshaw/Jacobs/Spiller is the future?

Wide Receivers No Need
Steve Smith entered the elite NFL WR group last year, 107 catches and well over 1000 yards + 7TDs. Right on schedule as a 3rd year WR. That's genuine #1 WR figures and as a 4th year player he could improve even further. Last year's first rounder Hakeem Nicks had a very good year for a rookie almost 50 catches 800 yards and 5TDs. Chip in Mario Manningham who stepped up big time last year, Domenik Hixon and massive work in progress Ramses Barden it's a really strong, and young looking group for the Giants. Sinorice Moss has been a disappointment but has been tendered as a restricted free agent. So has Derek Hagan who's mostly a special teamer. All in all I can't see much of a need here, they just need to let the young bucks they have develop further. If they can keep them together this is going to be a WR corps for other teams to envy for years to come.

Tight Ends Minimal Need
So Kevin Boss is no Jeremy Shockey. He's still a damn solid NFL TE and posted another good, but not great return in 2009. Worth noting that there's suddenly a big competition for looks in this Giants offense too. The only issue I see is he could be a free agent in 2011. He will be restricted though provided no new CBA changes that. I'm not sold on Travis Beckum fitting really well as the #2 TE but they thought enough of him out of college to use a 3rd rounder on him so clearly they see more use for him than me. Bear Pascoe's a blocking TE who may or may not make the roster, depends how many they want to keep. Ramses Barden with his size could even be a candidate to be the emergency TE considering the impending logjam at WR. It is a good draft for TEs this year, if they'd like to improve on Boss they could take a chance on another guy like Dennis Pitta but I'd say it's unlikely. You can't have too many complaints about the Giants Skill position players last year. But there's plenty of work to do on the Defense and maybe the Offensive Line so I don't see Tight End being much of a priority.

Offensive Line Major Need
Speaking of Offensive Line I think it's time for the Giants to take a look at this. For the last few years they've boasted one of the best lines in Football but not so much last year. Jerry Reese has alluded to the possiblity of sophomore William Beatty taking over at Tackle this year and David Diehl moving inside to replace struggling Guard Rich Seubert. Most of the other guys are fine though Shaun O'Hara at Center will be 33 before the season. Getting up there in years a bit. So it might be a good time to search for his long term replacement. Which brings Maurkice Pouncey into play. Probably capable of playing OG as a rookie and eventually moving to Center it would allow them to not rush the rookie into a key position like Center. Mike Iupati could be another possibility as a Guard. It's got to be a real consideration but if Reese feels Beatty and Diehl can cover the Left side it lessens the immediate need. But worst case scenario is no Left Guard and a fast aging Center. Has to be something they look at, and look at early. Dropping into Round 2 you may get guys like Vladimir Ducasse, or possibly even Anthony Davis who has some concerns. Davis is more Tackle but is the type who could be started out inside before moving to Tackle later on. He should be a first rounder but if one of the 1st round tackles were to drop, it could be him.
Defensive Tackles Minimal Need
The Giants run about 15 deep on the DL but still 2009 was tremendously disappointing. Down on sacks, and down on rush defense. Giving up 21 rushing TDs is really too many and they dropped in just about every statistical category you care to mention, becoming much more prone to the big play than in 2008. So what happened? Well firstly Barry Cofield who fulfills an important but unsung job on the DL was coming off an injury and he didn't really look quite right. Hopefully he'll be back to his best this year but he's a potential free agent as he's only received a tender, not a long term deal. Alongside him big things were expected from big name free agent Chris Canty. The only big thing he produced was probably his medical bill for the year as he missed game after game after game. His replacement Jay Alford started out nicely but also got hurt. Canty did eventually come back but took some time to displace the now departed Fred Robbins. Canty was converting from Dallas' 3-4 DE slot to the 4-3DT slot too which would not have helped him. Rocky Bernard was pretty awful coming over from Seattle. Probably too early to call Canty a free agent bust but Bernard could be one to go if they pick up a player in the draft. If Alford can come back and Canty is healthy they should be ok.

Defensive Ends Minimal Need
Much like Cofield, Justin Tuck apparently got hurt early in the season but played through the injury like the soldier he is. Offseason surgery might not have him quite ready for offseason activities but it's starting to become obvious why the Giants struggled last year. Too many players not playing anywhere near 100% health. Osi Umenyiora has had well documented issues with being benched for Mathias Kiwanuka last season. Threats to retire, etc. But ultimately the Giants won't want to trade him and he'll probably be back. Being as he was coming off a lost 2008 with a major knee injury it's reasonable to say he may not have been 100% last season either. Kiwi couldn't reproduce his pass rushing antics of 2008 either. So it's a down year for pretty much everyone on the DL and that's reflected in the scorelines. But these are all quality performers when healthy and it appears most, if not all of them should be back to full health. This Giants D used to truly terrorise QBs when they had 4 legit pass rushing options, perhaps they could rotate Clint Sintim into that role some in 2010? With Kiwi and Dave Tollefson free agents after this season it may pay to pick up that 4th pass rusher in the draft. It'd give them another option this year as well as covering them in 2011. Could they do that with their first pick? Sure. If Jason Pierre-Paul or Derrick Morgan are about they could be the shot in the arm this D needs to get back on track. Essentially I feel like this Giants team is way better than their record and they don't have many glaring holes. As such they're picking from a position of strength and could just go for a true best player available pick. If that's a Defensive End, don't rule it out. Morgan would probably be the more likely pick for the Giants who have a history of going to more conservative (ie less boom or bust type) picks.
Linebackers Major Need

With the loss of stalwart LB Antonio Peirce and last season's starter Danny Clark it's a pretty bare looking LB corps. Clint Sintim will be counted on to replace Clark ont he strongside. It could be a tough season for him though, he was a good pass rusher in college but didn't have to drop into coverage a lot. He's a potential beast if things go well for him. Michael Boley should hold down the weak side and guys like Chase Blackburn, Brian Kehl and Jonathan Goff are good depth but I don't see a real dominator for the middle here. So at #15 we really have to start looking hard at Rolando McClain. If he's still there of course. If he is I think this is one of few genuine holes and McClain could fill it from Day One. Anytime I think you're missing a starter I'm probably going to list it as a Major Need and whilst Blackburn and Goff probably wouldn't let anyone down in the middle but the Giants can realistically hope to be a Superbowl Contender this year. McClain could do a lot more than not let you down. McClain *should* be gone by #15 in which case would Sean Weatherspoon represent too much of a reach? Weatherspoon may actually suit new DC Fewell's idea of what a Linebacker should do anyway.

Cornerbacks Minor Need
...and the littany of injuries continues into the secondary. Aaron Ross, a former 1st rounder was lost for most of the season. The Giants best cover guy Corey Webster had some niggles and missed a few games at the tail end of the season too. Ross sounds like he's going to have to fight for a starting gig against Terrell Thomas, pretty much the only member of the Giants secondary who didn't suffer injuries last year. With 5 Interceptions, although he got picked on and he did give up some big plays, he also made some big plays. Whilst you may not want to call any of the Giants Corners top notch but they do ok with help from up front and from the a Safeties. Regardless should Joe Haden fall this far (I can't believe he would but...) he'd be a very enticing pick for the Giants. But they have 1 good starter and 2 guys who could man the other side so at worst this is Minor Need and I think it could easily be Miminal.

Safeties Minimal Need
There's still questions about Kenny Phillips being able to ever play again. When I hear the phrase "bone on bone" in relation to a knee it makes me cringe. Even if he can come back this year Phillips' career will presumably be pretty short. Which is a shame, he's a very talented kid and the Giants missed him hugely last year. His absence is without doubt a major factor in the number of big plays given up and the drop off in secondary play. Antrel Rolle's been (I think) overpaid to improve the Giants secondary. Without doubt he will, he's got good hands and instincts, he's going to pick some off, I just think they're paying a lot of money for those big plays. If Phillips can come back the Safeties are going to look pretty imposing. If he's done, well I can see Rolle struggling unless they get him some help. As the Giants also signed Deon Grant, presumably to cover Phillips return  they could be happy to go into the season but it's also possible Grant just gives them an option so they don't have to reach for a Safety. I won't rule out a draft pick but in reality I think it's unlikely to be in rounds 1 or 2. Myron Rolle in round 3 or 4 perhaps? We'll see.

Specialists No Need
Even if they have plans to replace Lawrence Tynes the Giants already have Sam Swank signed up for training camp. Not that they're looking to replace Tynes. Ditto for Jeff Feagles. He's very likely to be the punter again but there's already a camp leg signed in Aussie rules guy Jy Bond.

Return Game Minor Need
Domenik Hixon is a good punt returner but didn't repeat the magic on kick offs. They could definitely look for some improvement there. If they did get C.J. Spiller he'd be a natural fit.

Dream Day One
 1.15 Rolando McClain LB Alabama
2.46 Anthony Davis OT Rutgers
Player Visits
Steve Maneri TE Temple
Denzel Burrell LB Virginia
Jack Corcoran FB Rutgers
Kevin Haslam OT Rutgers
Zaire Kitchen S Rutgers
Chris Perri DT Stony Brook
Sean Lee LB Penn State
Adrian Tracy DE William & Mary
Chad Jones S Louisiana State
James Starks RB Buffalo
Dominic Randolph QB Holy Cross
David Caldwell S William & Mary
Ryan D'Imperio LB Rutgers
Jerome Hayes LB Penn State
Sean Lissemore DT William & Mary
Jesse Rack TE Buffalo
Rolando McClain ILB Alabama
Navorro Bowman LB Penn State
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah CB Indiana (PA)
Vincent Rey LB Duke
Nate Collins DT Virgniia
Shamar Graves TE Rutgers
Darryl Jackson DT Kean
Eric Olsen C Notre Dame
Dave Sinisi RB Monmouth
Fendi Onobun TE Houston
Michael Johnson LB North Alabama
Amari Spievey CB Iowa


Last Edited: 04/11/2010

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