*STATEMENT: Michael Boley could be an every down middle linebacker if the Giants need him to play that position.
*EISEN: Fact - Boley has the tools to be a successful middle linebacker. Physically, he's big and fast, though he might need to add some bulk if he's going to patrol the middle of the defense. He's comfortable getting the signals from Perry Fewell via the speaker in his helmet, as he did it for several games last season. Boley is a productive player; he was second on the team with 91 tackles in 2011. The Giants would probably like to keep Boley on the weak side, but wouldn't have to worry if he can handle middle linebacker if a change is necessary.
SCHMEELK: Fact - He is already the team's lead linebacker in nickel packages so he is used to having the radio in his helmet and communicating plays. He is the veteran of the group so experience won't be an issue either. He also has the speed to run sideline to sideline and has show the ability to use his speed to blitz. The only question is whether he can take on blockers, shed them, and fill the hole against the run. In what is becoming an increasingly pass-happy and finesse NFL, teams play their base defense less and less, making this option more attractive.
SALOMONE:Fact - A few weeks ago in a Sirius XM interview, Jerry Reese floated the idea of moving him from the weakside. With the injuries last season, Boley stepped up and showed he is capable of calling the signals, the usual role for a middle linebacker. Last year was a lot of spot duty, and Boley proved he could run a defense. The linebacker position will be interesting to watch unfold this year, and the first answer we get – either way -- could be coming in a few short weeks at the draft.
STATEMENT: Corey Webster will make the Pro Bowl in 2012
*EISEN:Fiction - Corey Webster is a very good player. But he prefers to do his job without fanfare or bombast. So unless he has something like a 10-interception season – which no Giant has done since 1968 – the Pro Bowl corners will likely be those who are louder or more well-known than Webster.
SCHMEELK: Fiction - Unfortunately, the Pro Bowl has a lot more to do with reputation than it does performance. Corey Webster has been one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the NFL the past five seasons but hasn't been recognized with a Pro Bowl appearance. At age 30, I would be surprised if that changed now, unless he has a huge spike in his interception totals.
SALOMONE:Fact - With six interceptions in 2011, he was tied with Pro Bowlers Carlos Rogers and Brandon Bowner (alternate) – one less than Charles Woodson. So he's capable of the statistics, and while these things also come down to prestige, another Super Bowl ring could give him some more attention.
STATEMENT: Mathias Kiwanuka will have a bigger role playing on the defensive line in 2012
EISEN:Fact - With an asterisk. Although he is not a marquee player along the lines of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora or Justin Tuck, Dave Tollefson did have five sacks last season. He is now a member of the Oakland Raiders. Tollefson was employed in several defensive line packages in passing situations. Someone will have to assume those duties. Kiwanuka, equally efficient as a linebacker or defense end, would likely be the top candidate. But the Giants could still acquire a veteran lineman or select one high in the draft who could perform those duties. Thus, the asterisk.
SCHMEELK: Fact - As teams play less and less of their base 4-3 defense, Mathias Kiwanuka will less playing time at linebacker. With Dave Tollefson signing with the Raiders, it opens up more snaps on the defensive line for Kiwanuka. Kiwi is one of the team's big playmakers on defense, and he seems to make more plays with his hand down. I expect to see him there more in 2012.
SALOMONE:Fact - Circumstances are beginning to lean that way. Kiwi embraced his hybrid role last season and came on strong against the run at some pivotal times. But with the departure of Dave Tollefson, there will be some reps to fill on the line and I think Kiwanuka would gladly snatch those up. *
STATEMENT: The Giants will look to add a QB in the NFL Draft
*EISEN:Fiction - I'm not saying the Giants won't add a quarterback. But saying they "will look to add" implies they are entering the draft intent on securing a quarterback. I don't believe that to be true. They are looking for the best players they can acquire. If a quarterback happens to have the highest grade when it's their turn to select, then the Giants could well add a young quarterback to their roster. But it's not a necessity.
SCHMEELK: Fiction - The Giants have their backup quarterback in David Carr and Tom Coughlin's history tells you that he does not like keeping a third quarterback on the active roster. If the team drafts a quarterback too high, it would be difficult to sneak him onto the practice squad. I suspect the team will try to develop Ryan Perrilloux and bring in a few undrafted free agents to compete with him.
SALOMONE:Fiction - I believe Eisen addressed this in one of his mailbags last month. Believe it or not, Eli Manning is entering his ninth NFL season. While sound front offices are always exploring contingency plans, that coming to fruition won't be for a while if the Giants stay on their current track. Manning, the league's new ironman, is on top of his game. The Giants just re-signed a trustworthy backup in David Carr. No need to use a draft pick on a quarterback yet.