Giants have too many holes to fill all at once

From Matthew Cohen / SNYGiants contributor (Fennelly’s comments and notes are in italics):

John Mara has been widely quoted as saying that he wants to build through the draft. If the plan is to mostly upgrade the 2014 roster through the draft, is that a reasonable strategy?

Let’s look at the holes in the current roster. I’m going to look at the number of key players that the Giants need to compete and the holes they have by position. This is a very rough analysis at this point in the year especially given question marks about certain key players (e.g. Beatty, Hill) but I think that it should prove useful.

Quarterback
As I’ve noted, I believe that the Giants’ problems on offense were largely driven by the poor performance of their offensive line. Eli Manning is a good to very good quarterback.
Holes: 0

Fennelly: After the win over Washington, Eli’s consecutive start streak was in danger. Lucky for him (and the Giants) the season was over. He was in a walking boot and needed crutches to get around. Very doubtful he could have played the next week. Moral of the story: he’s human and they need to get better behind him soon, or else.

Running Back
I think that the Giants will have decent production from some combination of Cox and Wilson (if he returns) plus a likely reasonably priced Brown if he re-signs. The Giants run game was severely impacted by the poor performance of the offensive line and should improve if the line is rebuilt. John Conner was solid at fullback and is signed for 2014. While I’d love to see better backs, this is not a gaping hole.
Holes: 0

Fennelly: Disagree. This is a gaping hole. Wilson is not an every down back. Cox is average and Brown, if re-signed, has not played a full season to date. They are actually in the market for a No. 1 back.

Tight End
Adrien Robinson can’t be counted on; he hasn’t played. Brandon Myers is a free agent. Bear Pascoe is not a real receiving threat. The Giants need a tight end.
Holes: 1

Fennelly: Correct. They need a 6’6″ TE, too. Myers is too small and not physical enough to be a true Giant TE. We have no idea what Robinson brings to the table because he’s never been to the table.

Wide Receiver
Right now, Cruz and Randle are the starters and Jernigan is the 3rd wideout. Nicks is a free agent and I have no idea what will happen to him. I’m not sure if I should care. Teams need 4 wideouts in this day and age but the 4th can be picked up off the scrap heap, if needed. Given the likely 1-11 picks in the draft and the talent available, I would not be at all surprised to see the Giants draft a stud wideout this year but this is not a glaring hole at present.
Holes: 0

Fennelly: Cruz is better in the slot, so putting him on the wing weakens two positions. They need a presence on the outside to spread the field for him. Whoever that is – Nicks, Randle, even Jernigan – but Cruz should remain in the slot. Picking WRs off the “scrap heap” is not a viable strategy. See: Louis Murphy Jr.

Offensive Line
Pugh was very good in his rookie season. Let’s be optimistic and assume that Beatty will recover and be decent in 2014. Snee is done. Diehl is done. Baas better be cut. Boothe stunk and is a free agent. The rest of the guys are backups. The line stunk in 2013 and it killed the offense and the season. Eli had no time to throw and threw early often, leading to incompletions and interceptions. Or he got sacked. The Giants rushing attack was 3rd last in the league in yards per carry in 2013. I could go on but what’s the point? Holes: 3

Fennelly: No question. It’s hard to get stud lineman cheap in free agency, so they need to get o-line help in the draft. I will assume Beatty will recover from his broken tibia, but I’m not going to assume he’s going to play better in 2014.

Defensive End
Justin Tuck had 1.5 sacks in the first 10 games and then realized he was going to be a free agent. He had 9.5 sacks in the last 6 games. He was great against the run (as usual). JPP was hurt and ineffective as a pass rusher. Mathias Kiwanuka was ranked as one of the worst defensive ends in the game (Pro Football Focus). Damontre Moore is a question mark. He simply didn’t play enough. The Giants are a team built on pressuring the quarterback. They need to acquire a very good defensive end. I’m being generous – it might be 2 if JPP is done (which he might be).
Holes: 1

Fennelly: The Giants will bring Tuck back, but that won’t solve their problems. Kiwanuka may be asked to take a pay cut to stay. If not, sayonara.  JPP will have a full offseason and training camp, so he is likely to be better next season, barring any setbacks. Damontre is the key here. With one NFL season (and his 21st birthday) behind him, he may mature into a top pass rusher.

Defensive Tackle
The Giants had a pretty good rotation at defensive tackle in 2013 with Jenkins, Joseph, Hankins and Patterson. Patterson and Joseph are free agents. Joseph will get paid in the $5 million per year range. That’s pricey but given what happened in 2012 when the Giants couldn’t stop the run, I can see the Giants potentially bringing him back. In any case, the Giants need at least 3 solid players in the defensive tackle rotation and there’s a one man hole here.
Holes: 1

Fennelly: No holes here, really. Markus Kuhn is the other tackle on the roster, and the Giants really like his toughness and motor. He’ll be healthier in 2014, so combined with the others, there are no openings.

Linebacker
Beason was decent enough in 2013 and captained a successful defense. Rivers was certainly adequate and good against the run. Both are free agents. I’d be shocked if the Giants don’t re-sign Beason. My gut is that the strong side position will be filled by Rivers or an inexpensive Rivers lookalike. Williams and Paysinger make a solid pass/run platoon on the weak side. Still, 2 holes here at present.
Holes: 2

Fennelly: Considering the Giants play five DBs most of the game, there’s no need to bring anyone in. Beason plays every snap and Spencer Paysinger and Jaquian Williams split the other snaps. Rivers only gets about 15-20% of the defensive snaps.  He has had little or no impact as a Giant. What the Giants needed was a productive leader at LB and they got it with Beason. Can they upgrade on the others? Sure, but I don’t see them doing that. Paysinger had a strong season in 2013.

Cornerback
Prince Amukamara was (according to Pro Football Focus) slightly below average as the primary corner after being fairly decent in 2012. Trumaine McBride, surprisingly enough, had the 4th lowest QB rating against (57.4) for all corners who played at least 50% of snaps. He’s weak against the run. Thomas was woeful in 2013 and he’s living on borrowed time with his injury history (and is a free agent). Jayron Hosley is a question mark. Webster is done (and in retrospect should not have been re-signed). He’s a free agent as well. You need 3 decent corners in today’s NFL and the Giants don’t have them.
Holes: 2

Fennelly: Agree with most of this. You can’t have enough corners in this league, so automatically there’s 2-3 openings every camp. Prince and Hosley are certain to return. The others will all have to convince Jerry Reese they are worth bringing back. 

Safeties
Rolle is an excellent safety and team leader. He’s under contract and should be back. Let’s be optimistic that Will Hill will be back and ganja free after his stellar season and that Cooper Taylor can contribute. My gut is that Stevie Brown comes back on a $1-$2 million prove it deal. The Giants should be ok at safety in 2014.
Holes: 0

Fennelly: Rolle is going nowhere as far as I can see. Ryan Mundy, who wasn’t mentioned, should be back, too. Brown has to show he is healthy for the Giants to bring him back.  After this season, the Giants have lost their appetite for players returning from injury, so his return is not a slam dunk.  Cooper Taylor is one of those tweeners that may or may not figure into the DB mix. The key variable here is Hill, who may be facing a stiff suspension from the NFL (possibly eight games) and the Giants may no longer be willing to stand by him this time around.

So, to sum up, here are the holes:
Tight End: 1
Offensive Line: 3
Defensive End: 1
Defensive Tackle: 1
Linebacker: 2
Cornerback: 2

That’s a total of 10 holes at present. I can see some of these being filled internally:
Beason
Rivers
McBride (likely, even if only as a 3rd corner)
Tuck (50/50)
Joseph (50/50)

So you are looking at 5-7 significant holes on the roster that need to be filled in 2014. If you look at the Giants’ history of playing rookies, 1-3 of these spots will come from the upcoming draft class.

So the Giants will either have to rebuild over 2-3 years or they will need to make some significant free agent signings. I’m betting that the Giants will choose the latter course and go after some free agents at defensive end, corner and the interior of the offensive line. I would not be surprised to see some significant dollars thrown at these positions (i.e. $5 million plus per year). Can the Giants afford to do this? That’s the subject of another post.

37 comments
vincent
vincent

Your being overly critical about this Giants defense especially their secondary. At the end of the day this defense finished as the 8th ranked defense in the nfl and could have been better if the first six games of the season the offense had not turned the ball over so many times. No team is perfect, and the defense on this football team is not the problem. The only problem needed to be solved on this team is the offensive-line. Period. End of story. There is no question regarding your QB situation, wether Nicks leaves or stays the Giants still have a formidable recieving corp with Cruz, Randle and the emergence of Jernigan. Myers is a question mark but Eli has won super bowls with Kevin Boss, Michael Matthews, Bear Pascoe and Jake Ballard......it's not an important position as far as Eli's passing game is concerned. David Wilson healthy splitting time with Andre Brown(if he's resigned) is fine with me, remember we won the super bowl with the worst rushing attack in football, these two are more then good enough to get the job done.

McGeorge
McGeorge

If it takes 2 -3 years to rebuild then Eli will be older and less effective.

The window has closed.  I think the Giants would have been better off tanking after 0-6 and getting a good young QB.  Given where they draft, its going to be hard to get back to where they were.

Skookaloop
Skookaloop

When you have a Clown,

that the Owner WILL NOT hold ACCOUNTABLE,

It's Pointless.....

Mara has Bought into the LIES....


EZ to see,

such Lack of Roster Depth...

You Can't Win in the Play-Off's,

without Roster Depth....

in a PASSing League,

REESE was Given the,

GOLDEN CHILD........

his Imperial Tunnel Vision,

has DAMAGED the NYG's for YEAR's, TOO COME !!!

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

Giants GM Reese will have arguably his toughest off season to rebuild this team. Reese by the way is partly to blame for the Giants downfall as his last two drafts and some of his FA signings have not panned out well. Some of the comments by the fans on the board are pretty good and it tells me how well New York Giant fans know their football. Look for my articles over the next few months on www.footballnation.com

1. I will breakdown Giants UFA/RFA and who should they keep.

2. I will also examine possible UFA targets the Giants should inquire about.

3. I will preview certain prospects that could be on the Giants radar.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

Ryan Mundy, who wasn’t mentioned, should be back, too.

He's an unrestricted free agent.  He's certainly in the mix to be re-signed depending on price and what the Giants do with the other options (Thomas, Brown, Hill and any available free agents).

psinap1
psinap1

Two words: Sammy Watkins at 12 would be a ridiculous steal. No reason to not think the giants can't add 2 solid lineman through FA, and draft a 3rd in round 2. I would look at FA RBs like McFadden and Mendenhall and bring back Brown. Both should be available at "show me" deals in my opinion. Wilson stays as a CJ Spiller type (maybe a little too high a comp). Bring back Beason and spend the rest of your cap by signing a true CB. The giants are about $17m under the 2014 cap, and could save another 14-16m by parting ways with Snee, Webster, Myers and Baas. Not to mention any new restructuring. That's more than $30million to spend. If they sign Mack and make him the #1 paid Center, his cap number would be about $10m, another 6-8 on a T and move Pugh inside as well. Draft a tackle in round 2, and bring in a low risk contract veteran to compete with said rookie. This still leaves you about $8m in cap space for a RB, CB and TE. Which might not buy you 3 studs but I would guess that 3 guys with cap numbers around 3m each would be solid upgrades. And depending on how they work the contracts they could easily give themselves more wiggle room to bring in a CB and RB. But grabbing Watkins would be a huge upgrade in speed on their offense.

rico
rico

The sad part is that there are so many holes to fill the Giants can't focus on one awesome FA when they need to sign 24 players...

rico
rico

Is Des Bryant a FA?  

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

Fennelly: No question. It’s hard to get stud lineman cheap in free agency, so they need to get o-line help in the draft. I will assume Beatty will recover from his broken tibia, but I’m not going to assume he’s going to play better in 2014.

I'm not saying it's going to be cheap.  The problem with Baas was not that the Giants were cheap, it was that Baas didn't play.  The Kareem McKenzie signing worked out terrifically well as an example of an expensive, good signing. 

I highly doubt that the Giants will be able to get 3 ready to start interior linemen in the draft.  My guess is that they sign 1 solid cheap veteran free agent, 1 expensive free agent and 1-2 draft picks with 1 hopefully being able to play in 2014. 

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

Here are snaps by the top 4 linebackers in 2013
Beason: 741
Paysinger 707
Williams 622
Rivers 429

The Giants had about 1,100 snaps and Rivers played about 40% of them.  They need another body here.  As noted, I don;t think that they spend much for it.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

Fennelly: No holes here, really. Markus Kuhn is the other tackle on the roster, and the Giants really like his toughness and motor. He’ll be healthier in 2014, so combined with the others, there are no openings.

The Giants are currently down 2 defensive tackles from their 2013 team.  Linval Joseph (596 snaps) and Mike Patterson (413 snaps).  Can Kuhn and Hankins both step up and play close to the level of Patterson and Joseph for a full season?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'd rather have 3 guys I know I can count on.

joeknix
joeknix

I sure hope we can target Alex Mack at Center.  The dude is a 2 time pro bowler and is still in his 20's.  I have no idea how much money he's going to command but I'd love to kick this off-season by locking down a legit center . . . it would be good for Eli and our run game to have an anchor in the middle.  Perhaps it's wishful thinking but he's really, really high on my offseason wish list.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

Fennelly: Picking WRs off the “scrap heap” is not a viable strategy. See: Louis Murphy Jr.

For a 4th wide receiver, it's not an unreasonable one.  Murphy was a 5th wide receiver for the Giants in his first season.

psinap1
psinap1

The glass is half full. I like your enthusiasm. I agree in the defense but next year the giants might not be down 20 points and this time teams will attack more. I think the Giants need to upgrade their DBs. I like Prince a lot - how did Calvin Johnson do against them? But the OLine is def a huge problem. They need to address it with veterans in the FA market so that they have no quantities. Use the draft to upgrade the playmaking...here is where I plug Sammy Watkins again. Dude is electric and would instantly change this offense.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@McGeorgeThey have enough cap space to do it if they draft wisely and sign some solid free agents.  The defense was decent in 2013.  The offensive line ruined the season.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@psinap1Generally sensible.

1) There are hits to releasing Snee and Baas so the net savings in 2014 are small.

2) Mack will be very expensive.  The Giants don't generally sign top tier free agents.
3) The Giants need to sign a DE as well (or re-sign Tuck).

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@ricoThe Giants generally don't sign A free agents to top tier contracts.  They go for B+ guys and spend the big bucks locking up their own guys.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@ricoAfter next year at present.  The Cowboys will lock him up.  Jones is a star-driven GM and will pay whatever it takes irrespective of whether it makes sense.

psinap1
psinap1

What were the snap counts once Beason started full time?

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@joeknixHe'll cost $8 million per year.  I doubt that the Giants will pull that trigger.

Brian Webster
Brian Webster

@Matthew Cohen Louis Murphy Jr wound up being 5th string because he was so terrible but most were expecting more from him before the season started. This offseason with Nicks a FA and Cruz and Jernigan both better in the slot and Randle nowhere near a given as a #1 or even a #2 on the outside I think the Giants definitely need to be looking for more than a guy off the scrap heap.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

Also, Victor Cruz was a scrap heap pickup.  That didn't turn out so badly. 

You only have so many dollars and so many draft picks.  You can't have studs 4 deep at every position, especially ones with less contact (e.g. wide receiver) where players can play more snaps.

Peter Sinapi
Peter Sinapi

Those savings include the actual cap numbers. Numbers are provided by bleacherreport. Mack, at $10m, would be the top paid center in the game. I think you got to do it. The Giants have the cash and space if needed.

By the way in psinap1 as well, finally set it up on twitter.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@psinap1Dunno but in any case, linebackers get hurt.  You need a fourth guy given the number of snaps even if you play a lot of base nickel.  Especially given that Williams is weak vs the run.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@SNYGiants@Matthew CohenMaybe.  The Giants have Hankins and Jenkins already.  They like a 3 man rotation.  Kuhn is either a 4th man or the 3rd.  Joseph was their best DT but he'll get $5mm/yr plus and the Giants have a lot of needs and a finite amount of money.

I'd personally rather spend the money on CB, DE and OL where the cupboard is more bare.

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen

@Brian Webster@Matthew Cohen If we want to look at 2013 results, we should just throw our hands up and root for the Jets.

Randle has the skills to be a #1/#2 guy and he's produced at times.  One has to plan on the assumption that the line will be fixed and Eli will have enough time to find receivers.  Also that the coordination issues will be fixed either by more reps or by simplifying route trees.

A #4 receiver should not get that that many snaps and is not a priority when your offensive line can't block and your defensive line can't rush the passer. 


Having said that, I'd love for the Giants to sign another top receiver and, as noted, would not be surprised if that were their #1 pick.

Brian Webster
Brian Webster

@Matthew Cohen Cruz was a UFA that's much different. A scrap heap pickup to me is a guy who's been elsewhere and failed to various degrees.