Based on what we’ve seen and heard this offseason, Giants.com read the tea leaves and looked at what could be Big Blue’s priorities in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Giants’ top brass made no bones about it after a 7-9 season: the offense needs to be fixed. That process began in the trenches as they added four veteran offensive linemen in free agency, but there’s still work to be done to the core of an offense that finished 28th in both yards and scoring last season. “We think we’ve upgraded in some places and obviously we’ll continue to look and see if there are more players available,” general manager Jerry Reese said last week when asked to assess the state of the offensive line. “We feel like we’ve upgraded some spots and got a little bit younger in some spots, too.”
The line wasn’t the offense’s only problem last year. Everyone could shoulder the blame in generating just 18 touchdowns through the air while Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions and had his worst passer rating since his rookie season. That was compounded when Hakeem Nicks, who had 311 catches for 4,622 yards and 27 touchdowns in five seasons with the Giants, signed as a free agent with Indianapolis. We don’t know exactly what new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system will look like, but the Giants need to generate more plays in the passing game to alleviate some of the pressure.
Manning has thrown to four different No. 1 tight ends in the past four seasons. While the Giants quarterback did turn in some of his best seasons and won his second Super Bowl MVP award in that stretch, the two tight ends returning to the team are Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell, who combined have three career catches. Meanwhile, the team did sign Kellen Davis, 6-7, 265, in free agency, but he has 50 catches in six NFL seasons while being used primarily as a blocker. “I think every team wants a Pro Bowl-style tight end, they want a couple of Pro Bowl wide receivers, they want a Pro Bowl running back,” Reese said. “Sure, you’d like a big, strapping tight end. Sure.”
Like wide receiver, the defensive line lost production to free agency. But it has two spots to fill. The defensive co-captain Justin Tuck signed with Oakland this offseason and three-year starter Linval Joseph went to Minnesota. The Giants do have players waiting in the wings in Johnathan Hankins, Damontre Moore, and Markus Kuhn, but you can never have enough pass-rushers or run-stoppers.
They may not be in the early rounds, but Reese has drafted more linebackers (7) than any other position since he took over as GM in 2007 -- more than defensive ends (4), defensive tackles (5), cornerbacks (6), etc. The Giants solidified the group by re-singing Jon Beason and bringing in Jameel McClain, but they could use more impact in building off the defense’s top-10 finish last season.