Presenting some solutions at the safety position

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Just finished reading a column on the Giants’ needs in the upcoming draft (Rotoworld, Mar 25). Our colleagues John Norris and Evan Silva not only go through the team’s needs but who specifically the Giants might target.

The needs are no surprise: safety, offensive line and defensive end. The Giants are light at safety and have mildly addressed the other two positions in free agency.

From Silva: It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the Giants’ safety depth chart the worst in the league. Perhaps they’ll re-sign Stevie Brown, though he was benched last year for Quintin Demps, who is also a free agent. SS Antrel Rolle bolted for Chicago. Left behind are people named Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe, two former fifth-round picks who have combined to play 37 NFL snaps. Although his approach has differed based on his personnel, new DC Steve Spagnuolo generally uses one of his safeties in center field, the other as an in-the-box defender. The Giants need multiple additions at safety.

I agree. They need to get some fresh legs in here pronto. But the Giants won’t burn their first-round pick on a safety. None of the safeties in the draft are worthy of the ninth overall selection. And the Giants don’t operate that way, anyhow. They will take the best player available as they always do.

In this case, Norris believes that will be Nebraska DE Randy Gregory. I believe the Giants will shy away from Gregory now it has been revealed that he failed a drug test at last month’s Combine. They will probably select from a group that could consist of Iowa OL Brandon Scherff, WR Amari Cooper of Alabama, Louisville WR DeVante Parker and Washington DL Danny Shelton.

Norris is predicting the Giants will select safeties in the second and third rounds. Sounds reasonable to me the Giants target safeties early in the draft — it’s just the choices Norris names are not the sexy ones many mock draft experts have been bandying about:

Round 2 (40): S Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio) - Yes, safety. Specifically free. Despite playing only one season of college football, Rollins was a natural in terms of timing and ball skills. He is so fluid for the position. Rollins tested like a below-average athlete at defensive back, but I think he plays with quickness on the field due to his vision, recognition and angles.

Round 3 (74): S James Sample, Louisville - Evan gets his wish with back-to-back safeties. Gerod Holliman received a lot of attention in Louisville’s defensive backfield due to 14 interceptions. Sample is the better player, albeit at a different position. Sample is best as a split safety or closer to the line of scrimmage. He would be a nice complement to Rollins.

USATSI_5755390_110579513_lowresRollins (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) was a four-year starter on Miami’s basketball team and then joined the football team as a fifth-year senior. He played predominately at corner, but many see him making the switch to safety as a pro.

From Mike Huguenin of NFL.com:

During NFL Network’s coverage of the combine, NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock said Rollins’ ball skills are “unreal,” and also said he is “competitive, quick and tough.” But that speed might mean Rollins only can be a nickel corner or even a safety…Still, he has an intriguing upside — and it’s partly because of his inexperience.

“He’s going to go higher than people think,” said Mayock, who said he thinks Rollins will be a second- or third-round pick.

Sample is 6-2, 210 and and the kind of player the Giants could use as their box safety. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com on Sample:

Physical box safety with good meat on the bones and a willingness to play physical football. Sample is stymied by his lack of football experience, which plays into his lack of instincts and coverage talent at his position. Sample shows good play speed and ability to range, but needs more time to develop into a more complete player.

I agree these two players may be just what the Giants need. If you recall, the Giants won Super Bowl XLII with Gibril Wilson and James Butler at safety. Wilson was a fifth-round draft pick and Butler undrafted. Under Spagnuolo, the Giants just have to get the bodies in the door. These two identified above, along with last year’s fifth-rounder, Nat Berhe, could get the job done.
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Giants interested in LB Copeland

The Giants are one of a few teams interested in linebacker Brandon Copeland, according to reporter Adam Schefter (March 27).

Copeland was one of the players that attended the NFL’s Veteran Combine last week.

He is also being pursued by the Lions, Bengals, Chiefs, Colts, Eagles and Titans.

He has never appeared in an NFL game.

NFL Draft: Giants may pass on Gregory after positive drug test

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Many have mocked Nebraska DE Randy Gregory to the Giants in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft (including us). That may change now that it has been revealed that Gregory tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine last month (Jones, Mar 25).

USATSI_8293726_110579513_lowresThe Giants, who are rumored to be high on the 6’5″, 245lb pass rusher, may now back off should Gregory be available for them at No. 9. Even with the country and the NFL relaxing the laws and rules regarding marijuana use, the Giants are not about to take any risks with this pick. They need to get a starter, and/or a star, out of this selection. Gregory’s transgressions outweigh his upside – at this point, anyway.

Gregory claims he last smoked pot in December but still tested positive in mid-February, leading some to believe that he smoked more recently than that. He will now will enter the league in Stage 1 of the NFL’s substance abuse program. With the stakes so high these days, Gregory has been flagged and many teams will be apprehensive to take the gamble.

Not all teams will be so stringent, as we’ve seen in the past. Both Washington and Atlanta, who select before the Giants, are said to be still interested in Gregory.

Many Giant fans are against selecting Gregory regardless. He is purported to be a “tweener” that is better suited as a 3-4 OLB than a “hand-in-the-dirt” 4-3 DE. Others believe he would be perfect to backfill the role played by Mathias Kiwanuka, who was waived earlier this year.

Free agents will play significant roles for Giants

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants paid WR/KR Dwayne Harris a hefty contract this month according to most, but the coach revealed that Harris’ value goes beyond his play on special teams.

USATSI_8262614_110579513_lowres“Remember how we used to use [David] Tyree?” Coughlin said. “He would come in and be a blocker. That’s what Harris does. You see him on the field and you start thinking that way. And that part alone opens a lot of possibilities. Maybe you get back into the old fake, ghost screen stuff. So it just opens a lot of things up. Whether he becomes the third or fourth receiver or a special situation kind of player offensively, he wants to contribute on offense and he will be given that opportunity.”


Giant fans, as always, are curious about what the plan is at linebacker this season. Coughlin said that newly-signed JT Thomas and Jonathan Casillas would get a chance to win jobs.

“They will make contributions in both ways,” Coughlin said. “Thomas played very well against us (for Jacksonville last Nov. 30). Quite frankly, there is no better info as you get ready looking into free agency than people that have done well against you.

“Both will get plenty of opportunities. There is just more information about Thomas in normal down and distance situations than there is on Casillas. But we know they are both special.”


Defensive tackle is also a question mark this season. In addition to the recent draftees (Jon Hankins, Jay Bromley, Markus Kuhn) and Cullen Jenkins, Coughlin sees former Jet Kenrick Ellis and practice-squadder Dominique Hamilton as tow players to keep an eye on.

“Ellis is a big human,” Coughlin said. “The young man on our practice squad, Hamilton, is a big human, so I am looking forward to seeing what they can do, too … We realized that big dominating guy in the middle is a good starting point for the D-line.”

GEICO SportsNite: Coughlin on Beckham Jr.

On GEICO SportsNite, Tom Coughlin talks about how special of a talent Odell Beckham Jr. is and how the Giants plan to use the wideout on offense next season.

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Coughlin: iPhone’s Siri has no place on Giants 2015 squad

While the Giants might still be finalizing their 2015 roster, one thing is for sure, Siri, the voice of the iPhone, certainly won’t be making the cut if coach Tom Coughlin has anything to say about it (Daily News, March 25).

For Coughlin, the “lady on GPS” is nothing but a nuisance.

“Two weeks ago, I’m trying to get to a roller hockey game my grandson is playing,” he said. “Marc Ross (the Giants VP of player evaluation) has showed me how to talk to this phone. I don’t trust the lady on GPS. They don’t send you the right way. I hit the button, I go like this, ‘Park Ridge, New Jersey.’ She comes back on, she’s giving me directions. Now I figure out where I am. I hit the thing and say, ‘Thank you very much, I know exactly where I am now.’ She comes back and says, ‘You don’t have to thank me.’ I swear to God, that’s what she said. Then I couldn’t get her to shut up.”

But apparently this isn’t a new feud.

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Perhaps Siri could give Tom some directions on the sidelines during games…

“Siri, how do we stop all these big passing plays down the middle…?”

“Siri, why can’t we run the ball against these guys…?”

You get the picture…

Coughlin agrees Giants lack the numbers at safety

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Tom Coughlin expressed a concern Wednesday morning at the NFL meetings regarding the Giants’ dearth at the safety position. (Raanan, Mar 25)

Antrel Rolle“That’s an issue, no doubt,” Coughlin said. “We do have one more access to bringing in personnel, obviously the draft. We have a couple guys in the program, [Nat] Berhe we really like as a rookie as a special-teamer. We have injured players coming back that hopefully will help. There is concern, no doubt.”

The two safeties listed on the roster are Berhe and the oft-injured Cooper Taylor, who is entering his third season with the club and has yet to be assigned a position on the defense.

A third possibility, second-year CB Bennett Jackson, is coming off a season in which he was cut and then signed back to the practice squad. He then spent the season on IR after undergoing microfracture surgery.

Coughlin said switching Jackson was a “possibility” but then said he was player that “none of us know much about.”

After whiffing in free agency on the available safeties, the Giants will be looking for answers in the draft in the UDFA market this May.