Three Giants writers debate the key takeaways from offseason practices:
The 2017 offseason workout program is officially over.
For the last eight weeks, the Giants practiced at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, and they won't be back until training camp at the end of July. In this week's "Cover 3" on Giants.com, we talk about the biggest takeaways from the offseason.
The team stayed relatively healthy. I know this seems simple and obvious, but isn't it really the most important thing? Sure, it's great that Evan Engram's role grew in the offense as the spring went along and Brandon Marshall seemed to grow with Eli Manning, but neither of those is more important than the fact that the team didn't lose any of its players to a significant injury that would cost them time in the regular season.
These workouts in the spring are important with essential goals that need to be accomplished, and players can sometimes get hurt. It is a price you have to pay to get good work in. Fortunately for the Giants, they didn't suffer any major injuries. They even showed some nice progress from players whose 2016 season ended due to injury, like Jason Pierre-Paul, Darian Thompson, Shane Vereen and Geno Smith. The team should be more or less full strength heading into training camp and ready to make a run at the NFC East title.
The pieces are in place. That's my biggest takeaway from the offseason. Everyone knows about the talent on the roster, but the coaching staff has now settled in, too. Three offseasons ago, the Giants installed a new offense. Two offseasons ago, they installed a new defense. Last offseason, they hired a new head coach. On top of that, the Giants a year ago had one of their biggest free-agent hauls in team history, and the best-case scenario happened with all the additions fitting in perfectly. That added up to 11 wins and the team's first postseason appearance since winning Super Bowl XLVI. Now the Giants return with essentially the same starting lineup and coaching staff after making some additions here and there. There were no major adjustments to be made this offseason, and that usually leads to success. Just look at other teams around the NFL.
While the 2016 offseason was all about revamping the defense, this offseason was about bolstering the depth chart and providing competition across the board. I think we got a glimpse of the latter throughout the offseason program. On offense, just about every position has a nice mix of veterans and rookies, which is a theme up and down the roster. I've been most impressed with the tight ends and the versatility showcased within that group from free agent signee Rhett Ellison to this year's first round pick Evan Engram to Matt LaCosse, who I wouldn't overlook now that he's finally healthy. Aside from tight end, the offensive line was another spot the Giants looked to improve this offseason, and based on how personnel was lined up during OTAs and minicamp, it will be interesting to see how free agent addition D.J. Fluker fits in, as well as rookies Adam Bisnowaty and Chad Wheeler. There's also plenty of competition at quarterback behind Eli Manning, running back and wide receiver.
This narrative continues on the defensive side of the ball where there are plenty of battles between veterans and rookies. This year's second round pick Dalvin Tomlinson, Robert Thomas and Jay Bromley are all in the mix to replace Johnathan Hankins at defensive tackle, and the fourth corner position is wide open with free agent signee Valentino Blake, Michael Hunter and Donte Deayon all candidates. The same can be said for the third defensive end spot with a number of familiar and new faces all competing, including Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, Devin Taylor and rookie Avery Moss, just to name a few. Several players will be battling for the free safety spot led by Darian Thompson, who missed all but two games last season, and another second-year player, B.J. Goodson, has a golden opportunity to claim the starting middle linebacker job. You never know when injuries will impact a team, so it's hard to predict when someone on the depth chart will be needed to take on a bigger role. That's why competition is so important during the course of the offseason and training camp.