Giants should revisit signing Jacoby Jones

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Several notable NFL stars were unceremoniously released by their teams in the annual pre-free agency purge of overpriced veterans.

The Lions’ Reggie Bush, Green Bay’s AJ Hawk and WR/KR Jacoby Jones of the Ravens are now all free agents who are free to sign with any team. So… are the Giants interested?

I say yes to Jones, maybe to Bush and no to Hawk. All three players are either over 30 or will be by the time the season starts. The Giants are focused on bringing in younger players with more upside going forward. But… To read more of this story, click here

NFL pre-draft important dates

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The combine is over and now we prepare for the off-field portion of the NFL’s pre-draft season next week. The Giants  have already stated they intend to use the franchise tag on DE Jason Pierre-Paul if they cannot get his signature on a contract by 4 p.m. next Monday.

Other free agents the Giants are expected to attempt to re-sign are S Antrel Rolle, CB Walter Thurmond, FB Henry Hynoski, LB Jacquian Williams and S Stevie Brown.

Some other housekeeping items on the to-do list are tendering TE Larry Donnell and CB Chandler Fenner, who are both exclusive rights free agents this spring.

Here is a list of important dates leading up to the draft on April 30:  To read more of this story, click here

Giants offseason transactions: Preparing for free agency

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Catching you up on the Giants’ offseason moves thus far:

  • February 11 – Waived RB David Wilson, who missed the entire 2014 NFL season with a neck injury. The club will reportedly save $1.3 million in cap space by waiving their former first round pick.
  • February 11 – Signed OL Brett Jones, a free agent from the Canadian Football League to a three-year contract (2015: $435,000 2016: $525,000 2017: $615,000). No portion of Jones’ contract is guaranteed.
  • February 17 – Re-signed WR Kevin Ogletree to a one-year, $825K contract. Ogletree, 28, caught five passes in seven games after being signed by the Giants last October.
  • February 19 – Re-signed OL Dallas Reynolds to a one-year, $700K contract. Reynolds was a restricted free agent this offseason.
  • Feburary 24 – Waived DE Mathias Kiwanuka, a nine-year veteran with the team. The move frees up $4.825 million in cap space for the Giants.

Sometimes it’s the little moves that add up to a championship formula. The release of Wilson was simply a formality. Wilson essentially retired from football after doctors advised him to never strap on the pads again last spring. To read more of this story, click here

NFL Combine shines light on hidden gems

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The combine always has players that create a buzz, players that may or may not have been on the radar of many NFL teams. This year is no different. Now, before you ask, you can bet the Giants and their scouts already knew about these guys. Now we know.

USATSI_8401848_110579513_lowresDE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson (6’3″, 246) - Helped his draft stock a great deal the past few days and is now raked the 4th top pass rushing prospect in the draft by’s Mike Mayock. Even with the return of JPP and the rising prospects of Robert Ayers, Kerry Wynn, Devon Kennard and Damontre Moore, the Giants can always use another pass-rushing option. And a quality LB. Chances are Beasley isn’t the BPA come the Giants’ turn, but is things break right, he could be there at 41, when the Giants select in Round 2.

From Walter Football:

The star of the Combine on Sunday was Beasley. He raced a blazing 40 time after impressing on the bench press a day earlier. Beasley officially ran an official 40 time of 4.53 seconds. That blistering time was especially impressive considering he just added about 10-15 pounds of weight.

Beasley was impressive in the field drills as well. He was naturally athletic with a superb change-of-direction skills. Beasley can sink his hips, turn, flatten and accelerate. He showed that in the field work with a phenomenal display. After playing around 230 pounds, Beasley added some significant bulk to check in at 6-foot-3, 246 pounds. Considering the added weight he put on entering the Combine, Beasley’s great workout could help him to get pushed up draft boards by some teams.

Lance Zierlein of believes Beasley would be better suited at OLB in a 3-4 defense.

Projects as 3-4 outside linebacker. Considered one of the best pure edge rushers in the draft, but needs more sophistication to his approach. Has speed and explosion to become an absolute menace for a creative defensive coordinator. High-impact talent but needs to crank up competitive nature in order to reach his potential. To read more of this story, click here

Reese: WR not out of the question in draft

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants hit the jackpot last year with WR Odell Beckham Jr. at the NFL Draft. With an improving Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz (knee), who is expected to return in time for the regular season, the Giants could be considered receiver rich.

GM Jerry Reese feels that way, too, but he’s not averse to taking another WR high in this year’s draft.

“We will upgrade receiver. We will try to upgrade that spot as well,” Reese said during his Saturday presser at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “If Victor is back and Odell and Rueben [Randle], that is a pretty good core. There are a couple of other guys [such as] [Preston] Parker, there are some more names, [Corey] Washington and there are some young guys. If there is a good receiver, we will draft him.”

The key component of that statement is “if Victor is back”, which right now is in question. Cruz is rehabbing from a torn patellar tendon, considered one of the worst knee injuries a player can sustain.

“When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket,” said Reese. “Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.”

The Giants may not have a clear picture of Cruz’s progress come draft day and if I hear Reese correctly, he’s not sounding confident he’ll be getting back the Victor Cruz of old.

The news may not be all bad for the Giants however. Saturday at the combine, a star WR has emerged and may be available to them when their turn to select arrives.

From Rotoworld:

West Virginia WR Kevin White “tested off the charts and then translated that athleticism during the positional drills at Lucas Oil Stadium, standing out with his routes and hands,” wrote CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler.
White was Saturday’s biggest star, posting a 4.35 40-yard dash. “White also impressed during the QB-WR positional drills with quick hands and steady concentration in the gauntlet, not breaking stride or slowing to adjust to passes,” Brugler wrote. “He is at his best tracking the ball over his shoulder and extending to attack the ball away from his frame, which he showed during passing drills on vertical routes downfield.” The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is likely to be a top-10 pick in April.”

White is big, fast and appears to be an ascending player. He may not even make it to No. 9 when the Giants select, but the possibilities are intriguing.

Combine Notes: Searching for that franchise LT

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

What am I looking for at this combine? As a Giant enthusiast, I’m looking for players that dominate in the trenches. The Giants have a glut of players that possess average height, weight, strength and speed. What they need going forward are a few players of exceptional size and strength.

In short, no one on the Giants’ current roster scares anyone. This spring, they need to find players that do. The objective is to win the battle in trenches. If I’m the Giants, I’m looking to grab one starter on the OL (preferably at LT) and one difference-maker on the defensive line.

It’s time. Yesterday, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the offensive line beef was prominently on display. So, who caught my eye? Well, some, but no one who jumped out.

On the offensive line, not many of the top prospects are not projecting as franchise LTs. That’s disappointing. With the ninth overall pick, the Giants were hoping to land one. They still could, but it doesn’t appear there is one that is complete enough for them to spend a top-10 pick on.

Miami’s Erick Flowers is a fine run blocker, but needs to upgrade his pass protection. Iowa’s Brandon Scherff and LSU’s La’el Collins are said to be better suited for the interior line. Stanford’s Andrus Peat looked too bottom-heavy and slow.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock thinks FSU center Cameron Erving can be a “Pro Bowl” player. Erving can play multiple positions on the line, even tackle. His top OT is Pittsburgh’s TJ Clemmings, but he’s coming out early and was primarily a RT in college.

Oregon’s Jake Fisher (6’6″, 306) stock is rising this spring. If he can last until the second round, he would be considered a steal. He was a key player at LT for the Ducks last season and was a huge factor in QB Marcus Mariota’s Heisman season.

At TE, the pickings are slim. Of the bunch, Minnesota’s Maxx Williams, who’s father Brian was the Giants starting center in the 1990’s, looks to be the best prospect here, but he’s not considered a first – or even a second – round talent.

I can say that if Florida DE Dante Fowler falls to the Giants in the first round, they’ll take a long look. Or maybe a short one. He seemed very natural with the media Friday. We’ll see how he does when the DLs and LBs take the field on Sunday.

Combine Notes: Tom on Cruz, Kiwi, Nassib

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

On Thursday, we printed Tom Coughlin’s comments at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis (BBB, Feb 19). We learned that he is unconcerned about his status, that he considers coaching in the NFL a year-by-year proposition. He said talks about a contract extension was underway.

We also learned that the Giants are serious about retaining JPP and Antrel Rolle, but we already knew that.

We also were told the defense, under returning DC Steve Spagnuolo, will be more sophisticated and that Ben McAdoo had shown growth in his first season as the offensive playcaller.

So, what else did we learn?

Victor Cruz is working his way back from a torn patellar injury.

USATSI_8139925_110579513_lowres“He has worked very hard. He looks good,” Coughlin said. “It is a very regimented rehabilitation program. He has done a good job with it. He is where he should be. I think very shortly he is going to start running.”

That is a good sign. Cruz began running on a treadmill in December. When he’ll be able to return in full is still unknown. The timetable for a patellar injury is generally longer than other knee injuries. The Giants are hopeful that Cruz is able to participate in training camp.

There is still a lot gray area here. Cruz may return but will he be the same? He relies on his shiftiness and ability to change direction at will. This injury may rob him of some of that ability.

Cruz was injured shortly after Odell Beckham, Jr. made his NFL debut, so we never got to see the effect of having both star wideouts on the field at the same time. Coughlin was asked how Cruz’ presence effects Beckham.

“Two very, very talented individuals, two guys that have been extremely productive,” the coach said. “Obviously the more weapons you have, the better the opportunities are. The only thing any of these guys are interested in is winning. That is all we talk about. The complementing each other, complementing our team, helping our team win – that is what it is all about.”

Mathias Kiwanuka’s Giant career may be over. To read more of this story, click here