New York Giants Off-Season Plan

I wrote this article orginally at NFLmocks, but it pretains to the Giants so here it is.

Inspired by our sister site, withthefirstpick ‘s take on the Kansas City Chiefs I thought I should do the same thing for the New York Giants.

Eventually the roster has to be whittled down to 53, but not immediately.  My projected roster might be slightly larger than 53 after this all said and done, but I’ll try to keep it to as close to the 53 players I think will eventually make the team and I will not include players like Ryan Perriloux, Cahrles Scott and other players who will end up in training camp fighting for roster and practice squad spots.

Unfortunately there’s no CBA in place yet either, which makes this more difficult because free agency hasn’t occurred yet and that’s all speculation, but I’ll do my best.

Resign:

Ahmahd Bradshaw

Barry Coefield

Mathias Kiwanuka

Steve Smith

Derek Hagan

Deon Grant

Chase Blackburn

Kevin Boothe-Depending on cost because if the Giants are to inject some youth into their offensive line: Boothe, Suebert, O’hara, Andrews, and Koets are all potentially on the chopping block.

Bear Pascoe-This was the toughest call for me if I’m wearing the G.M. hat and putting my fan loyalty to the wayside. Pascoe is a versatile player who is everything fans love to see. He’s tough working, he’s willing to do anything and he’s serviceable, but he could most definitely be upgraded, as could all of the Giants tight ends. Unfortunately, the Jaguars franchised Mercedes Lewis, the Raiders put the 1st and 3rd round tender on Zach Miller, The Texans resigned Owen Daniels. Being that this is also a pretty weak tight end  draft class, Pascoe gets resigned.

Domenik Hixon-Gets an invite back to camp (if it’s affordable), but with the new kick off rules Hixon, and all Kick return specialists could see their value undermined. Still, Hixon is good WR depth, and can also return punts. Him remaining on the roster is contingent on him being fully recovered from his injury, and having his speed back to return punts and kicks.

However, Devin Thomas has more upside, great speed and height and also has kick return ability, so it’s not necessary to keep Hixon. On top of that, even though injury prone, Will Blackmon is a dynamic punt returner and not a terrible cornerback either so he could fill Hixon’s role.  The injury bothers me a lot, which is why this was a tough call for me.

Release/Let Leave

I’ll start with the few hardest ones. (This is made a bit harder without an accurate cap space to consider).

Brandon Jacobs–I love Brandon Jacobs, and this move is contingent on what the Panthers, Colts, Dolphins do with their running backs. So he’s not going to be released right away, but could be released based on how the free agency RB situation turns out-if I was running the Giants.

The other reason I think the Giants should consider moving on from Brandon Jacobs is because they just need to change the dynamic of the locker room. It’s been two years in a row the Giants have had a bad collapse in the second half of the season and it’s not being pinned on Jacobs, but the other out-spoken and/or leaders of the team Eli, Tuck, Osi, Antrel Rolle (out-spoken) are harder to replace than Jacobs is. The Giants situation is akin to the Mets epic collapses in the early 2000′s, the Mets decided to keep the same leadership and it didn’t work out. And it could just be time for the Giants to move on and tinker the dynamics in the locker room if they’re not going to do so at the head coaching spot.

Rocky Bernard-Bernard was suppose to be a pass rush specialist and provide depth, which he  has done (the depth part) but not worthy of the sizable contract he has now with the Giants. The Giants should release Bernard and use that freed up money to resign Barry Cofield.

Shawn Andrews-

Talented, but any time he played a full game last year his back acted up and he was useless. The Giants could hope he’ll stay healthy, but that’s an expensive risk if they don’t release him, which I think ultimately they will and probably should. Sad he really worked at making a comeback, but his body won’t let him.

Madison Hedgecock-Hedgecock was great in 2008, but hasn’t been very good the last two seasons and is replaceable. Even though he’s kind of a fan favorite and there might be some emotion involved in letting him go, he is not needed. If he’s not going to be an absolutely devastating run blocker, he doesn’t provide a lot of value on special teams, in the run game, or the pass game. He is useless to the Giants, in my opinion.

Dave Tollefson-A hard worker, but he’s no more than a rotational guy (with the Giants) and will make a sizable sum this year. This is as much for Tollefson as this is for the Giants. He could play a lot more on another team and will find a home somewhere.

Michael Johnson-Easy decision. After a decent 2008 he has not played well.

Jim Sorgi-Eli Manning is an Iron Man and Sage Rosenfels is better than Jim Sorgi. They don’t need both.

Keith Bulluck-He doesn’t want to come back to a part time role and the Giants don’t need him back.

Darius Reynaud-Easy decision; he isn’t good enough to overcome the Giants deficiencies at blocking on special teams, and even though he was with the team the whole season they Giants didn’t to use him as a WR when their WR corps was decimated.

D.J. Ware-Another player fans like a lot (or at least fans want to see him get a chance to succeed), but he obviously isn’t a favorite of the coaching staff because he never sees the field. On top of that there’s a very nice class of mid to late running backs in the draft and a nice free agent class of running backs to boot giving the Giants plenty of options. I don’t think the Giants have to say good bye to him anytime soon, but I think eventually they do.

Michael Coe

Michael Clayton,  Duke Calhoun

Jamon Meredith

Cortuney Brown

With those releases the roster break down looks like this right now:

QB: (2)

Manning and Rosenfels

RB (1)

Bradshaw

WR (8)

Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve Smith, Ramses Barden, Derek Hagan, Domenik Hixon, Victor Cruz, Devin Thomas

TE (3)

Boss, Beckum, Pascoe

OL (9)

Diehl, Suebert, O’hara, Snee, Mackenzie, Beatty, Petrus, Koets, Boothe

DL (7)

Umeinyora, Canty, Coefield, Tuck, Kiwanuka, Joseph, JPP

LB (7)

Clint Sintim, Goff, Boley, Adrian Tracy, Chase Blackburn, Phillip Dillard, Zak De Ossie

CB: (5)

Webster, Thomas, Ross, Blackmon, Bruce Johnson

S (4)

Rolle, Grant, Phillips, Jones (IR),

K (1)

Tynes

P (1)

Dodge

As you can see, at the moment there are 47 players already on the roster (48, but Jones goes to IR)

Clearly, there would have to be some further cuts based on that roster (The WR position for sure) and that’s even before any sort of free agent signings and before any draft picks. With 8 draft picks this year   (the normal draft picks { minus round 5} + 2 compensatory picks in the 6th round). Making cuts this year is going to be tough for Jerry Reese.

Sign in Free agency: (obviously this is dependent on the CBA and is made much tougher for the Giants because if the draft happens first they can’t project who’ll be available, but this is an ideal situation. And with the news that the Judge Nelson is going to force the league and NFLPA into mediation something could happen soonish)

Manny Lawson, LB, San Fran 49ers-This should be the Giants #1 target in free agency (if/when it happens). Lawson is likely to hit free agency because he does not fit the pass rushing void for the 49ers as a 34 OLB. Lawson is not the player the 49ers thought they add when they drafted him. So while he didn’t do amazing things for the 49ers as far as getting sacks, Lawson is one of the best all around linebackers in the entire league. He has amazing speed, can cover as well as any linebacker in the league, helps out in the run game, and has good size at 6’5” and 240 pounds and would be a good fit for the Giants 43 defensive system where he could use his speed to make plays in space. And while I mentioned he didn’t put up huge sack numbers Profootballfocus ranks Manny Lawson as the 7th best Pass Rusher in the league last year in its pass rushing productivity metric, so he has that ability too.

Signing Lawson would also not force the Giants into the uncomfortable position of drafting a linebacker in the first round (which they clearly don’t want to do, ever). Lawson’s speed, and pure talent would also be a welcome addition to the Giants defense, and I think he could be very productive playing on a team that can get to the quarterback at will.

Despite how good Lawson is, the 49ers don’t intend on bringing him back Lawson except for “at the right price” which is always code for not bringing him back at all.

If they can the Giants Must sign Manny Lawson he’d make a huge difference on the team.

Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay Buccaneers-The Giants are a  legitimate  Superbowl contender with three adjustments to their team. They must fix their run game, improve their linebacker corps, and improve special teams (G-men might be the biggest winners in the new kick-off rule change).

Jonathan Goff is a nice player and, no I do not think the Giants will try to improve on Goff, but they could and perhaps should. If the Giants sign Ruud they could now have four linebackers they know could start: with Lawson, Goff, Boley, and Rudd that’s not a bad linebacker corps. Throw in Clint Sintim hope he steps it up this year, and the talented Adrian Tracy and you got something cooking there for once.

Ruud also fits well with Fewell’s read and react scheme with some Tampa 2 principles and if they could get Ruud cheap (he had a down year last year with the Buccaneers and they want to inject more 34 looks into their defense so he’s expandable to them) he could even be used as a passing down specialist. Pass coverage is not Goff’s specialty. So while it might be a little unorthodox to sign two good Free agent linebackers, it might be necessary for the Giants.

In my blueprint, the Giants are entering the season knowing they have enough competent linebackers for the first time in awhile.

Joseph Addai, RB, Colts.

Joseph Addai is not going to cost a fortune, like DeAngelo Williams is, but he’s still one of the best all around running backs in the league. He’s smart as can be and really understands the game of football. He blocks well in the passing game, catches the ball well, and would be an improved runner, running behind the Giants offensive line compared to the pathetic Colts run blocking he’s had to deal with his whole career. On top of that, Addai is a consummate pro; Addai is exactly the kind of back the Giants need, even though he is a bit aged.

I don’t think the Giants need to go all out in free agency this year. They have a very good core of players that they can just enter the season with if they augment that in the draft and upgrade their linebacker corps (Lawson, and Rudd) and improve their run game (Addai).

I’m also not saying this is the Giants plan of attack, just what I would consider if I were running the team.

I would be 100 percent down with signing CB’s Jonathan Joseph, or Nnamdi Asmougha clearly, and that would be ideal.  I just don’t think it’s likely the Giants will do that because I can see the Raiders resigning Asmougha, or the Eagles, or the Cowboys (especially if there is no cap). And the Bengals would be foolish to let Joseph go.

These are the only three signings I find necessary in Free Agency.

Which brings the total amount of players under contract to  50(well, players  that can realistically make the team next year. There are plenty of practice squad players and guys like Alex Hall who were on the roster at the end of last year that won’t make the team that still might be under contract and will come to training camp).

Draft:

I don’t usually like to predict trades because every team would trade down for the right price and it’s hard to find a suitor, but since this is my plan of attack I’m going to allow myself to trade down.  But what’s a suitable and realistic trade partner?  I’m going to use the Saints at 24th overall.

Sean Payton is aggressive and the Saints have shown they’re not afraid to trade away draft picks for someone they want (though so far it’s been for veteran players like Shockey and Vilma). Still, the Saints could use Dline help or they might be interested in Mark Ingram. The Buccaneers, Chiefs, Colts, and Eagles could all consider defensive line in front of the Saints. They may be willing to jump the Buccaneers for Justin Houston, Muhammad Wilkerson, Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Heyward, Corey Liuget, or whatever defensive line player they like the most that is still available while not giving up a lot to move up 5 spots.

So they switch first round picks with the Giants and kick the Giants a 3rd rounder as well.

In order to create a value for players and where they might land I’m using CBS Draft Scout’s prospect rankings.I’ll only pick players who are at or below the Giants pick on their prospect rankings.

1st Round: Pick #24 New York Giants: Jimmy Smith

I initially slated Kyle Rudolph here because I like Rudolph and I”m tired of seeing that extra Offensive linemen playing the TE spot and Rudolph is enough of a blocker to keep the team from having to do that anymore, at the same time he’s an excellent WR and even though he lacks blazing speed, he has tremendously soft hands.

He reminds me a lot Jason Witten coming out of college, and I think he would be a nice fit on the Giants as a blocker/receiver. The injuries do scare me off though. He wasn’t able to stay healthy at Norte Dame, so I went in a different direction.

I’m a huge fan of Jimmy Smith on the field. I also believe that one of the Giants biggest needs is an elite corernback and CB depth.

The cornerback depth is so bad on the Giants, last year they essentially refused to put anyone other than the first three corernbacks on the field last year. I’ve used this stat a million times, but according to football outsider they were #2 in the league  vs #1 WR, #7 vs #2 WR, and 31st vs all other WRs, which is terrible. This points to a poor job of coverage by people beyond Thomas and Webster (and also indicates that the linebackers are not carrying their weight in coverage, which should also be helped out by the additions of Lawson and Rudd. Both players have the ability to cover the short and intermediate part of the field. With an improved linebacker group Rolle would also be allowed to play further away from the line of scrimmage, which should help him avoid giving up some of the big plays the secondary gave up last year).

Caution: one thing this pick is entirely reliant on is a good interview with me (as hypothetical G.M.) if not, I’m looking towards Brandon Harris here,  if still available, (and he’d be my pick if he also fit what the Giants like to do…big cornerbacks), or the best player available like Gabe Carimi/Mark Ingram/Akeem Ayers/Kyle Rudolph/Muhammad Wilkerson/Martez Wilson

Jimmy Smith has been compared favorably to Nnamdi Asmougha as far has pure on-the-field ability coming into the league and that’s a fair comparison. Smith is  6’2  and 3/8 inches tall and runs a 4.42 yard 40 yard dash, and 24 reps on the bench press. He has ideal size, strength, and speed. He has the Asmougha look, but does he have the same makeup? TBD.

Smith was also very productive at Colorado to match his great measurables. Depending on where you get the stat from Smith gave up 12 completions Combined the last two years…and was targeted under 30 times. In the Big 12, which is extraordinary considering he played across from another NFL prospect-Jalil Brown.

He’s as physically gifted as Prince Amukamara or Patrick Peterson, but might not be as dedicated to his craft which is why the interview would be very important and why he could still be available at 24th overall.

2nd Round: pick #52: Christian Ballard, DL, Iowa

This is what I would do, not what the Giants would do. Ballard is, perhaps, the most underrated player in the first two rounds of the draft. He’s an explosive defensive linemen, who has and can play all over the line. In my scenario, the Giants have released Rocky Bernard which essentially gives them three defensive tackles who are very stout vs the run and average to pretty good rushing ht epasser (Canty, Coefield, Joseph…to be seen). Ballard is 6’3 and 283 pounds so he’s more of a 34 DE size than he is a 43 defensive tackle based on size, but he could be a defensive tackle pass rush specialists.

There are three people I’ve talked to who personally say that Ballard is this year’s version of Tyson Alualu (can’t remember 100 percent which three but, I’m confident Chris Stueber of CBS draft scout, and Lance Zierlein of Houston Chronicle’s Zreport are two of them).

They told me that Ballard is a player that fans don’t talk about, but that some team is is going to absolutely fall in love with and he’ll go anywhere from late round one to round two.

Ballard would be an excellent addition in NY with his versatility to play DE or rush from the inside on passing downs. Marvin Austin is very talented and could be the pick here, but I think he has a good chance of going much earlier than the Giants second pick.

3rd Round pick 83: Cling Boling, G, Georgia

from CBS draft scout: It’s not hard to project Bolding as a starter in the NFL down the road for a demanding and sophisticated system like the Giants.

I’m  putting Boling here because I haven’t been giving enough consideration to the Giants offensive line schematics and Boling seems like a Giants kind of offensive linemen. Even though he’s slated to play guard with the Giants, I think he could eventually learn center and some people believe he could manage it outside at tackle (I’m not in that camp). Still, Boling’s versatility to play up and down the offensive line makes him seem like a good fit for the Giants who like their linemen to be versatile. Boling could go as high as the mid 2nd round and is one of the top interior linemen prospects in this draft. He has the agility, football understanding, and ability that he could eventually play center in time if that was something a team wanted to make him do.

Boling could also get out in space and pull and help out in the screen game.

The other offensive linemen I like in this range are Michigan’s Stephen Schilling, and Leigh’s Will Rackley. Schilling though might not fit the Giants because he’s more of a small space blocker and the Giants like their guard to be able to pull and move around a bit.

The other pick I Considered here was Mason Foster, who was still  available on CBS Big board, but I just can’t imagine he would really still be available in the draft in the third round with how weak this class is.

Or K.J. Wright. If the Giants feel that they will not be able to obtain a linebacker once free agency starts this is perhaps a better direction, even though Boling is pretty good value in round two.

3rd Round pick #88: Shane Vareen, RB, Cal

Shane Vareen is one of my favorite running back prospects in this class. He’s short and stout, but has good enough speed and good strength (31 reps on the bench press).

He can run inside, outside, and catch the ball out of the backfield. Now he’s not going to go the distance every time he touches the ball, but that’s OK. The Giants get a lot of big plays from their Wide receivers and even Jacobs had his fair share of 20+ yard runs despite not having excellent straight line speed.

I know I signed Joseph Addai as a free agent, but I think with Addai, Bradshaw, and Vareen the Giants will once again, finally have three running backs they can all count on and that can all produce.

Plus this combination of running backs are nearly interchangeable, yet offer different enough things to give teams a different look. All three can catch the ball out of the backfield as well to provide Eli the best safety valve he’s had since Tiki retired.

I think the Giants should have three running backs they can reliant on since they are stubborn enough to not alter their play calls based on who is running the ball.

4th Round #117: Jaiqwann Jarrett, S, Temple

I’m choosing Jarrett over Robert Sands as a personal preference, even though Sands has tremendous upside and is an intriguing option for the Giants as a player who could also play the “Deon Grant role” next year.

I like Jarrett’s tenacity, and he seems ideal for the Giants 3rd Safety position that Fewell likes to use, even if he would use it less if they had a competent linebacker corps.

Wes Bunting told me he sees Jarrett as a 5th round player, but the Giants would have to grab him in the 4th because they have no 5th round pick, and the safety class is weak so there might be some reaching at this position.

Still, what Jarrett does well fits the Giants defensive scheme well and I think he’s worth the 4th rounder here for the Giants.

Let me mention this real quick before making the next few picks: To me once teams get past the 4th round in the draft, the only thing that matter is drafting players that can make NFL Rosters because most late round picks do not develop into anything and are out of the league in a couple of years. Just draft players who can eventually start for you, or fill a niche like on special teams so all of the following picks are players I think can eventually start and/or be good reserve guys.

6th round #185: Jah Reid, T, UCF

One of my favorite late round sleeper prospects in this draft. Jah Reid is a RT only, but he’s a monster at right tackle. He’s a hammer in the run game. He’s a late round version of Gabe Carimi. Carimi is more athletic and a better pass blocker, but Reid has the size, strength, and tenacity to excel as a RT in the league. At over 6’7 inches tall and approaching 330 pounds Reid has ideal size for the tackle position. He’s a former basketball player, and a bit raw in his technique, but he doesn’t need to come in and be an immediate starter. And if the Giants insist on running the 3TE formation with an extra OL Reid could be that guy. Reid can definitely develop into the starter for Kareem Mackenzie soon.

6th round #188 (comp pick): Henry Hynoski, FB, Pittsburgh

In my scenario the team has released Madison Hedgeock and Bear Pascoe is back to being the third tight end. Hynoski is one of the best full back prospects to enter the draft in awhile. In fact, there are a lot of good draftable full back prospects in this draft (Sherman, Marecic, and Havili are all draftable centers). The Giants Fullback situation wasn’t great last year, even though Pascoe brought his lunch pail to the game on Sunday and tried his hardest, he’s tall for a full back and could be best suited as a 3rd TE reserve full back incase of injury to Hynoski.

6th round #192 (comp pick): Demarcus Van Dyke, CB

Burn baby burn. Van Dyke was over shadowed by the excellent Brandon Harris. But Van Dyke can help out on special teams now and develop into a starter eventually. The Giants need to add speed to their defense and Van Dyke has plenty of it…He was the fastest man at the combine.  He also has pretty good size (again this is based off of CBS draft scout’s big board…his upside could get him higher than this in the real draft for sure).

Update: Last night after I wrote this piece I saw on twitter that Chris Steuber says that some scouts are comparing Demarcus Van Dyke to Dominique Rodgers Cromartie coming into the draft and if that’s true there’s no way possible he makes it into the 6th round.

Other players I like late our Brandon Bair, DE,  Oregon.   Or Mark Herzlich out of Boston College, Scott Lutrus LB UCONN, and CB Richard Sherman Stanford

7th Round # 221: Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU

Jake Kirkpatrick is a player that is all over the boards. He’s not on Mockingthedraft’s big board and he’s very low on cbs draft scout’s big board. He’s also low on draftinsider.net’s big board(6th or 7th round pick), ditto National Football post (in the 200′s on their big board ranking).

Clearly, there are a lot of people who feel he’s a 7th round player. Well I say” Jackpot!” to that. Kirkpatrick can become the eventual starter at center for the Giants and they don’t need to use a first round pick on, in my  opinion, the overrated Pouncey if they could get Jake Kirkpatrick or Kris O’Dowd late in the draft.

With these 9 picks the roster now sits at 60 (59 once Jones goes onto IR, or PUP or whatever list he’s going on for next season).

QB (2)

Eli manning and Sage Rosenfels

RB (4)

Bradshaw, Addai, Vereen, Hynoski

WR (8)

Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve Smith, Ramses Barden, Derek Hagan, Domenik Hixon, Victor Cruz, Devin Thomas

TE (3)

Boss, Beckum, Pascoe

OL (12)

Diehl, Suebert, O’hara, Snee, Mackenzie, Beatty, Petrus, Koets, Boothe, Boling, Reid, Jake Kirkpatrick

DL (8)

Umeinyora, Canty, Coefield, Tuck, Kiwanuka, Joseph, Ballard, JPP

LB (9)

Clint Sintim, Goff, Boley, Adrian Tracy, Chase Blackburn, Phillip Dillard, Zak De Ossie, Lawson, Rudd

CB: (7)

Webster, Thomas, Ross, Blackmon, Bruce Johnson, Van Dyke, Jimmy Smith

S (5)

Rolle, Grant, Phillips, Jones (IR), Jarrett

K (1)

Tynes

P (1)

Dodge

What do you guys think? Leave your thoughts. What’s your blue print for the New York Giants?

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Tags: Draft Free Agents New Yokr Giants Off-season

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