NFL Free Agency: Small Moves Could Yield Big Results for Giants
John Fennelly , Lead Writer
As the Giants continue to tweak their roster with small, insignificant moves the football world hasn’t stopped to take a look at the sum of all of these moves. They’ve done well for the most part.
For anyone who believes the Giants aren’t a better team today than they were when the season ended, please write me and explain. I think they’re heading into the draft in pretty decent shape. Their shopping list is not a long one.
WR, RB, QB and punter are covered. The team could add another RB along the way, but nothing needs to be done. All the WRs are under contract through the end of this season and Rueben Randle should get an opportunity to display his talents. Former Florida star Louis Murphy could turn out to be a real steal.
Their entire starting offensive line is coming back. Like it or not, it’s more than most teams have going for them right now. Sure, they need some upgrades, but there are no questions about who is going to play where on Day One. The Giants are grooming some players to step in, and yes, I agree they need to draft a stud soon if they really want some long term security here.
The defensive line has a different look, too. The Giants needed to get the underachieving Linval Joseph some help. The addition of Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson is an upgrade from what they had in there last year. Don’t forget, Shaun Rogers – who missed all of 2012 – is still here as is Markus Kuhn, who the team loves. Marvin Austin will be given one more camp to prove himself, just in case you were asking.
The imminent move of Mathias Kiwanuka back to DE along with the further integration of Adrian Tracy and Adewale Ojomo will assist in getting the DE rotation back in order. We already have been told that JPP came into camp in less-than-expected physical shape in 2012, so you can be sure he’ll be more ready this summer than he was last. Justin Tuck, if injury-free, could return to form. Even with all of happening, I still would not be surprised if the team used a high pick on a pass-rusher.
TE has been covered with the signing of Brandon Myers, who is a more productive player than the man he is replacing (Martellus Bennett). I don’t think there’s much of an argument there. Myers needs to improve his blocking, and I believe the Giants have a coach in the building (Mike Pope) that can help with that.
They signed K Josh Brown to half of what Lawrence Tynes was asking. Brown is not as accurate as Tynes, but he can kick from greater distances and that also equates to more touchbacks on kickoffs.
My issues (as always) is in the defensive back seven. I would like them to use some high picks this year on upgrading these groups. The good thing right now is…they didn’t get worse the past few months. They do need to get better, however.
LB hinges on the MLB spot. Can Dan Connor and/or Mark Herzlich do the job better than Chase Blackburn? I think so. Both have better pedigree – Connor has to get back to the level he showed earlier in his career and Herzlich just need the reps to show it.
At OLB, they are bringing back Keith Rivers. If he stays healthy, he can be a factor. Big if, there…Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams will get a chance to play more, and Giants seem to be comfortable with that. I’m not. They need a playmaker in this group.
At safety, Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown are good start, but it’s second-year player Will Hill and FA addition Ryan Mundy that will define this group. Both should easily replace Kenny Phillips, who (IMO) was not playing at a high level in 2012. Not sure they will take a safety in the draft because they are bringing back Terrell Thomas, too, and they have talked about switching him to safety.
CB is where this team should look for an immediate starter in the draft. If Prince continues to improve, that will be huge for the Giants. They really need that to happen.
It looks like the word is out on Corey Webster. Even if he improves in 2013, opponents will challenge him repeatedly and he may not be up to the task (I’m being kind, here). Aaron Ross is back, and although I like him, he isn’t a strong cover guy. Not a good trait for a corner. He can, however, help in nickel situations. He does have speed, you can’t argue that.
I have an idea in my head on what the Giant should do. They won’t do it, of course. They have eight picks in the upcoming draft. Do you think that all eight players will make this roster? It’s safe to say no to that, if you want.
How about trading up in the first round for a player who I think would make the Giants’ defense at least 50% better: Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes.
At 6’2″, 210 and 4.4 speed, this kid can give the Giants something they haven’t had, well, ever. A big, fast, physical corner who teams will shy away from. He can match up with the bigger wideouts of the league as well as be a factor in the running game.
He’s not going to fall to the Giants at 19. They need to trade up to get him. They normally don’t and probably won’t. I think they should. Your take…..