Three Giants writers discuss what the first Giants roster under Dave Gettleman could look like:
In this week's Cover 3, our writers discuss what we could see from Dave Gettleman's first roster as the Giants' new general manager.
Change. Too generic for you? How about change on the offensive line? He singled out the offensive line (though perhaps only because he was asked about it specifically) at his introductory press conference. I would expect there to be significant reinforcements for the Giants up front on both sides of the ball over the next few months. The Giants only have two returning starters under contract on the offensive line (tackle Ereck Flowers and guard John Jerry), with decisions looming on center Weston Richburg and guard/tackle Justin Pugh. The Giants also have to decide on Flowers' fifth-year option.
Do not discount the importance of bolstering the front seven on defense as well. Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson and Devon Kennard are all free agents, and B.J. Goodson struggled to stay healthy with extended playing time. The teams needs linebackers. They also need depth behind defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul. Both players are on the field nearly every play, and the Giants need to be able to trust the players behind them enough to give them more extended breaks.
Gettleman's own words at his press conference are the perfect way to close this answer: "In terms of team building, I'm old fashioned. Offense scores points, defense wins championships."
I would be remiss without saying the incoming head coach, whomever he may be, is going to dictate a lot of this as well. The new coach will bring in his own philosophies and staff, so let's hold some reservation. With that said, we saw what direction the Giants wanted to go in the hiring of Gettleman, and the head coach will reflect that. And that direction points to the trenches.
Every coach says every week that his team needs to stop the run first, then run the ball, then rush the passer. It is one thing to say it, it's another to have the personnel and commitment to do it. I think Gettleman clearly laid out his vision for the roster when he stated that "big men allow you to compete." He learned that from Tom Coughlin during their days together, which yielded some pretty good results. Gettleman brought that approach to Carolina, where he took a pair of 315-pound defensive tackles with his first two picks in his first draft as general manager.
From there, it's all about finding the right players in free agency, not necessarily the biggest stars. Gettleman made his career dissecting film, unearthing diamonds in the rough like Shaun O'Hara and Antonio Pierce during his first tenure with the Giants. "Culture is critical," Gettleman said. The tone has been set.
In his introductory press conference, Dave Gettleman made it very clear he puts great value in the trenches, or as he calls it "the hog mollies." Based on his tenure with the Panthers, there's some evidence to support that approach. Gettleman selected at least one defensive lineman in four of the five drafts he ran for Carolina. The same trend occurred with offensive linemen, as 2016 was the only year he didn't select a player from that position group. It's important to note that his second-round pick in 2013, defensive tackle Kawann Short, made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and was rewarded with a long-term contract extension last spring. His third-round selection in 2014, guard Trai Turner, made consecutive Pro Bowls in 2015 and 2016. His fourth-round pick in 2015, tackle Daryl Williams, was just named second-team All-Pro this season. I would expect Gettleman to continue to focus on the talent on both lines with the Giants by evaluating the current group and infusing some fresh faces through free agency and the draft. He signed an offensive lineman during free agency in each of his last two seasons with the Panthers.
A big part of the Panthers' identity while Gettleman served as GM was a strong running game and a solid defense. After parting ways with Josh Norman in the spring of 2016, Gettleman rebuilt the secondary through the draft, and in 2017 he selected running back Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick to provide a complement to veteran Jonathan Stewart. While he still has talent to work with in those two areas, as Gettleman mentioned during his introductory presser: "I don't care what position it is. You can never have too many great players at one position." That means he won't shy away from stocking up the depth chart, something the Giants could certainly focus on given the impact of the injury bug this past season.