The Giants draft 12th in this week’s 2014 draft. Coming off of a 7-9 season they need all the help they can get. As discussed in prior post, we think they did much to address most of the areas of real need in free agency. The only screaming and obvious need not addressed was tight end, a position that the Giants have not recently emphasized.
That deficiency is why many have mocked Eric Ebron to the Giants. He is a fast Tight End, with questionable blocking skills that has been compared to Niners tight end, Vernon Davis. Recently, there has been talk of him slipping in the middle to late part of the first round, potentially to the Jets.
If they were truly going for the best available player it is possible that Taylor Lewan, the Michigan State. He is a beast of an OT. The Giants made a big mistake by giving Will Beatty a big long term contact a year ago that may force them to live with him, but it’s hard to pass up a guy who could protect the QBs backside for 10 years. The safest pick may be Notre Dame Tackle, Zack Martin. He is known to be able to play almost anywhere on the line. The Giants, on paper, head into the season with each starters position nominally adequate, but with real potential question marks still at center (will Walton comeback strong after 2 years away), RG –will Snee be healthy and back to anything close to his 2012 form, and LT –will Beatty recover from a bad injury and an even worse 2013 season. Martin could really provide insurance at all 3 positions. He is not as talented as Lewan, but his adaptability is helpful.
The Giants are loaded at quality #2 receivers with Cruz and Randle (who would likely be a late first rounder if he came out now). Therefore, unless you can get Mike Evans, it makes no sense to get the slightly under elite status receivers that will be available when the Giants pick. Most think Evans will be gone to Tampa bay at number 7, but if he is available he needs to be considered. The last option for the Giants is Aaron Donald. People mention that Joseph left and needs to be replaced. That is incorrect. As the big run stuffer, Jon Hankins was brought in last year in the second round and will take that spot. Donald is a beast and a phenomenal athlete, but the criticism on him is his size (285 lbs). The truth is he would be the eventual replacement for Cullen Jenkins and would team very nicely with Jonathan Hankins.
Much of the Giants draft situation will be dictated by whether any quarterbacks are taken early in the draft. They are plentiful and teams think they can get them later in the round, so they may slip. My best case scenario is a couple of quarterbacks being taken early and good players falling to the Giants. It seems unlikely. A dream scenario may be a few available and the Giants drafting Donald and then turning around and trading him to the Bears for their first rounder (14th overall), and collecting significant compensation for that. Everyone seems to know the Bears would love to add Donald.
The Giants have received mixed reviews with respect to their activity in Free Agency. I am more bullish on their major signings, less so on their lesser signings. Their three biggest needs entering the offseason were Offensive Guard, Tight End and Cornerback. In 2 out of the 3 they signed the top Free agents on the market in Schwartz, the big guard from Kansas City, and Rogers Cromartie from Denver at Cornerback. They also addressed their needs in the kick returning game. However here, like in the cornerback, they signed one too many players. They didn’t need both Demps and Holliday. They are redundant and they likely would not have gone that way if they knew what was coming after. They made the same error at cornerback where they signed Thurmond and McBride before signing Rogers Cromartie. Nobody pays north of $2m per year for what will be a 4th cornerback (McBride). That turned out to be a bit of a waste. Additionally, Hosley could have easily held down the 4th cornerback spot.
Regarding tight end, it seems they believe they will be able to draft Ebron with the 12th pick in the draft. It seems to be a perfect intersection of value and need that should fall to them in this May’s draft. Losing the versatile Kevin Boothe who would have made an adequate backup at the various line positions hurts. He would have given some level of comfort regarding the risk at some other parts of the line. If Snee comes back close to what he had been pre-injury and William Beatty recovers from injury and poor play, they could actually have a sold line. They could turn a weakness into a strength. Not many quarterbacks or running backs look good when they are not getting acceptable blocking.
The decision made on Justin Tuck was the correct one. He had a bit of a bounce back year but it’s unlikely for someone at that age to get better. Despite improving from horrific 2011-2012 campaigns, his stats were a bit misleading as he got half his stats in only a couple of games. He is no longer a difference maker and it was wise to move on and not remotely match the absurd offer from the Raiders. He was a great Giant and we wish him well. The Giants will need a bounce back year from a now presumably healthy JPP as well as a big jump in caliber of play from Damontre Moore. If they get that, the line will be ok. Regarding Linval Joseph, he is a loss, but one that was anticipated in the prior year’s draft with taking Jonathan Hawkins in the second round. They did the same thing when they took Joseph with expectation he would replace Cofield a few years back. Neither will sack the quarterback much but both are strong on the point of attack. The Giants then re-signed Patterson who had a strong first half of the year but not a great second half. Kuhn coming back will be helpful. He showed good promise as a rookie –enough to be part of a solid DT rotation.
When you replace a weak spot in the lineup with a strong one, it materially changes the team. You are only as good as your weakest link, so these upgrades will be substantially helpful. I’m still a little worried about the offensive line. It could go very well, but it has too many question marks. Will Beatty come back healthy and in 2012 form? Does Snee still have anything left in the tank? Is Walton, the center signed from Denver who hasn’t played in almost 2 years ready to come back healthy? The answer to all could be yes, but if it’s not there could still be weakness without great depth. It’s one of the reasons I could actually see them drafting Zack Martin from Notre Dame. I’ll put out a draft preview later this week, but he would offer insurance all across the line. The insurance is needed. I don’t like giving up best talent for insurance but it could be necessary.
Some second tier free agents can still be signed after the draft. If the Giants don’t draft Eric Ebron at tight end, I can see them signing ex-Packer Finley to man the position.
Ari has been an avid Giants fan since 1979. He attends many home games and has attended the Giants last 2 Superbowl victories. This blog will talk about anything related to the New York Giants. Ari also blogs about the New York Knicks, at http://www.ariglassknicksblog.com