Offensive Line and Linebacker Trump Secondary in Giants’ Needs

Jim Mancari , Contributor

What unit stood out last year as the one that needs the most improvement this offseason? It was the Giants’ secondary, right?

Countless times, the Giants gave up huge plays in the secondary, especially on third down, which kept the opposing offense on the field.

Big Blue was near the top of the league in giving up passing plays of more than 20 yards. Stevie Brown had a breakout season, but that was pretty much all the positive recognition this unit received.

However, when delving deeper into the Giants’ needs, holes along the offensive line and at the linebacker position trump any potential additions to the secondary.

The Giants actually have very talented football players in the secondary. If the team chooses to re-sign Brown, they’d be bringing back the NFL’s runner-up in interceptions (eight).

Antrel Rolle can still be a valuable asset, especially as a vocal leader. Prince Amukamara’s season was delayed a few weeks, but he seemed to take more positive than negative strides in 2012. He’ll be expected to keep improving next season.

Terrell Thomas, a former Pro Bowler, will be back from injury, and he’ll likely provide depth at both the cornerback and safety position. Jayron Hosley had his growing pains last season, but he too has tremendous upside.

Of course, Corey Webster took much of the criticism for having a poor season, and there’s still certainly a chance that the Giants either restructure his contract or cut ties with him altogether. Sure, he’s not a $7 million a year player, but he’s a good football player that may benefit from a second chance. The Giants could do much worse in the secondary than having Webster as a starter.

So that’s pretty much what the Giants’ secondary will look like next season – pretty similar to this past season.

But as for the offensive line and linebackers, the Giants will need some impact players whether through free agency or the draft.

All signs point to Big Blue taking either an offensive lineman or a linebacker with their 19th overall pick. That will hopefully help, but one body won’t be enough.

If the Giants wind up losing Will Beatty and Chase Blackburn, the team will likely be relying on young players to fill the void. Mark Herzlich and James Brewer could be the guys who step up.

No knock on Herzlich or Brewer as football players, but – merely based on inexperience – a full season of them would seem to be more of a concern than a full season of the personnel in the Giants’ secondary.

With the salary cap situation like it is, Jerry Reese and Giants should be focusing their efforts first on Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, then on improving the offensive line and the linebackers’ corps, and lastly on the secondary.

We’ll see how it all plays out hopefully soon, but let’s have faith in the Giants’ secondary because that unit will likely remain intact.

Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.