With no returning starters at the position, the Giants seized an opportunity to be aggressive in the draft and traded up to select unanimous All-American safety Landon Collins of Alabama with the first pick in the second round. The rookie was brought in to produce right away, and in the spring he was doing just that as he lined up on the top safety tandem. His counterpart during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp was Cooper Taylor, a former fifth-round draft choice who missed the entire 2014 season with a foot injury.
Meanwhile, second-year pro Nat Berhe missed most of spring workouts with a calf issue but will do all he can in training camp to make up for the lost time.
Also competing are Bennett Jackson, who is transitioning from cornerback, newly-signed veteran Jeromy Miles, Josh Gordy, undrafted rookie free agent Justin Currie, and fifth-round pick Mykkele Thompson.
2. DEFENSIVE END
While the Jason Pierre-Paul situation unfolds -- the sixth-year pro has not signed his franchise tender and reportedly suffered serious hand injuries during a fireworks accident over the July 4 weekend -- the defensive end competition will heat up among a deep mix of veterans, breakout candidates, and a promising draft pick. Robert Ayers Jr. and George Selvie are the most experienced players of the group while Damontre Moore, who is embarking on his third training camp, looks to build on the 5.5 sacks he had in 2014.
And then there is Kerry Wynn, who is one of the more intriguing players to watch this summer. Earning a roster spot as an undrafted rookie out of Richmond in 2014, Wynn waited patiently for 12 weeks to suit up and then made the most of it when he finally did, recording 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery in five games. Also high on the intrigue meter is third-round pick Owa Odighizuwa, who is as athletic as they come and had studied great Giants defensive ends like Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora before even joining the team.
3. RIGHT TACKLE
From the beginning of OTAs through the end of minicamp, the first-team offensive line remained steady with rookie first-round pick Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Justin Pugh at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, Geoff Schwartz at right guard, and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. Of course, the new-look unit was set in motion largely due to William Beatty suffering a torn pectoral muscle at the end of May that will cost the left tackle to miss five to six months.
But it is still a fluid situation while players like Brandon Mosley will try to factor into the competition this summer. The former fourth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2012 has played in just 22 games with one start at right guard in his career but has spent some time over the last two offseasons outside at right tackle, which could be his path to a starting role in 2015.
4. NICKEL CORNERBACK
New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was frank early in the offseason and said that nickel corner is a position the coaches are feeling their way through. Coming off a season-ending thumb injury, Trumaine McBride is the incumbent but will be challenged by Chykie Brown, Jayron Hosley, Mike Harris and Josh Gordy.
It will be a key position to identify with an upcoming schedule against some of the best and deepest wide receiver corps in the NFL.
5. RUNNING BACK
One of the Giants' biggest moves of the offseason was acquiring free agent Shane Vereen, who in February set the record for most receptions by a running back in Super Bowl history with the Patriots.
Check out photos of the Giants 2015 RBs unit
He joined a corps that is returning a healthy Rashad Jennings, the Giants' leading rusher last season in Andre Williams, and intriguing players like Orleans Darkwa.
"I think that as we get closer to games and time for the opener, we will find out more role defining roles for them," running backs coach Craig Johnson said. "Right now, I try to put them in every situation so I can see what they can do. I try not to say, for instance, 'Shane is only going to run the ball.' I want to see if Shane can catch the ball. I know he can, but I want to see if he can under pressure situations and vice versa.
I do that for all of our guys because that way you can kind of find out what they all can do. A great thing for this room is there is great competition because Rashad watches what Shane does and that makes Rashad play better, and then Andre watches it and so on. It creates great chemistry for the room. I feel good that all of them are pushing each other to really compete and be the best."