Ahead of the new league year, the Giants.com crew discusses the biggest storyline for the team in this week's edition of Cover 3.
John Schmeelk: There could be a couple of ways to go this answer. First, there are the wide receivers, but the group is not that interesting. The draft is deep with wide receivers and it is likely the Giants address the position in the first or second round.
Then, there's the defensive line, where Leonard Williams has been franchised and Dalvin Tomlinson was lost as an unrestricted free agent. Could the Giants figure out a way to bring Tomlinson back? It was important, but not something that should have a huge impact on the near- or long-term success of the franchise.
So, it's back to the offensive line … again. Except perhaps for winning games, the development of Daniel Jones is the most important aspect of the 2021 Giants season. It is impossible for a quarterback to develop without good pass protection. The offense cannot be opened up without better play from the offensive line in passing situations. How will the Giants complement the young offensive linemen on this team with competition? Ideally, the starting offensive line would look something like this (L to R): Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, Matt Peart. All five of those players would be on their rookie contracts and, if they develop enough, be a great foundation for the team to build around. They must continue to develop and improve, which is no guarantee for any player. Although Dave Gettleman has professed confidence in the group, Joe Judge is a proponent of competition. Which veteran guards and tackles will compete with those young players to make them their earn starting jobs in 2021? They might be able to find quality interior linemen in the second wave of free agency at a low cost due to a depressed salary cap-impacted market. Or will the Giants try to add another highly talented lineman in the NFL Draft?
Dan Salomone: Will the Giants sign or draft those elusive offensive playmakers we've heard so much about? Or both? Accentuated by the season-ending injury to Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants are in the market for offensive weapons this off-season. Gettleman made that clear in his season-ending press conference in January, and he hasn't changed his mind two months later.
"Every team needs playmakers, let's be honest," Gettleman said. "Good Lord willing, Saquon will be 100 percent and obviously he'll make a huge difference. A healthy Saquon obviously makes a big difference, but, again, you're always looking to add good players. And, oh, by the way, we're not playing until September, so we've got free agency and we've got the draft, and we'll see how it plays out. It's not like we don't realize what we need, but, again, at the end of the day it's also about adding really good players. You can never have too many good players at any positions. Sure, we have our eye out for that, but we also have our eye out for guys that fit us culturally and fit where we're trying to get to."
Lance Medow: On defense, the big question is whether they'll be able to work out a long-term deal with Leonard Williams to avoid having him play on the franchise tag for the second straight year and provide the Giants with some additional cap space. That could very well help the team re-sign players like pending free agent Kyler Fackrell and maintain continuity on defense.
On offense, the biggest story line and, perhaps, one that trumps working out a long-term deal with Williams is adding playmakers to improve the overall production of the unit. The Giants scored just 27 touchdowns (two on defense) in 2020, so that's less than two per contest and a big reason why the Giants averaged under 20 points per game and finished 31st in the NFL in scoring offense. Regardless of what happens with the defense, those numbers have to improve on the opposite side of the ball if the Giants want to be in the hunt for a playoff spot this season. The outlook of the team will depend on its ability to find the end zone.
View NFL.com's updated rankings of the top 101 free agents of 2021 ahead of the new league year, which begins March 17.