By: Tyler Henry
After a disappointing 0-6 start the Giants knew it was a long shot to make the playoffs. As the season went along and the playoffs seemed further and further away Giant fans knew big changes were coming in the 2014 offseason. Unlike the usual offseason for big blue, the Giants would be aggressive in Free Agency.
DE: Justin Tuck- Oakland Raiders
WR: Hakeem Nicks- Indianapolis Colts
DT: Linval Joseph- Minnesota Vikings
The Giants lost a few key pieces to their most recent Super Bowl run in Justin Tuck and Hakeem Nicks. Nicks and Tuck were vital to the Giants Super Bowl success just a few years ago. However, Nicks was not as effective last year for the Giants. The “star” wide out failed to score a touchdown the whole season in his contract year with Big Blue. Justin Tuck was with the Giants for both super bowl runs and some argue that he should have been the MVP in Super Bowl 42. The Giants would also lose their top defensive tackle in Linval Joseph. Going in to the offseason the Giants knew that the prices would be too steep for them to keep Nicks and Joseph but were hopeful that their captain Justin Tuck would give them a hometown discount to retain the former All Pro. Tuck would eventually sign with the Oakland Raiders after receiving a much more lucrative contract offer from Oakland. Nicks would sign a one-year deal with the Colts, which is a great fit for him playing along side Reggie Wayne and a great quarterback to deliver him the ball in Andrew Luck. Linval Joseph would sign a big money deal in Minnesota after four years with the Giants. Among those three key players the Giants also lost a few role players including running back Andre Brown, guard Kevin Boothe, tight ends Bear Pascoe and Brandon Myers, and safety Ryan Mundy.
CB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
RB: Rashad Jennings
OG/OT: Geoff Schwartz
With little cap space the Giants somehow found a way to make big splashes in free agency. After saying goodbye to long time Giants corners Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster, the Giants knew changes were coming in the secondary. They were able to sure up the secondary with additions including Zach Bowman, Walter Thurmond, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie while also resigning safety Stevie Brown. One of the more under the radar signings for big blue this offseason was safety Quintin Demps who brings not only leadership and experience in the secondary but in the return game as well. The Demps signing may end up being crucial for big blue with Stevie Brown returning from a major knee injury and Will Hill’s future with the Giants up in the air after he has failed a third drug test which he is currently appealing. The Giants also needed a replacement for Ryan Mundy who played pretty well for the Giants down the stretch last season.
Big Blue also retained free agents Jon Beason and Spencer Paysinger to go along with Jameel McClain to sure up the line-backing core.
They found a replacement for Justin Tuck by bringing in former Denver Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers. New York brought in Ayers at a much cheaper rate than they would have paid to bring back captain Justin Tuck. Big Blue will need a bounce back and healthy season for Jason Pierre-Paul and the emergence of Damontre Moore to continue as he looked promising in his rookie season.
In quite possibly the biggest free agent pickup for the Giants, They got a new running back Rashad Jennings and retained Peyton Hillis to sure up the backfield.
The offensive line was a major downfall for the Giants season last year. They responded by adding a number of free agent offensive linemen including Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, John Jerry, and Charles Brown. Even with signing of the four linemen who all have starting experience the Giants still had offensive linemen listed as a need when making their draft board.
Among all the free agent acquisitions the Giants were also able to bring back Henry Hynoski, Mike Patterson, Trumaine McBride, Josh Brown, and Mark Herzlich while also bringing back Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham and adding speedy return man. After Eli Manning went in for surgery this offseason the Giants quickly signed Josh Freeman as insurance. Though the Giants usually only carry one backup QB for Eli Manning there will be a lot of competition with Rusty Smith, Curtis Painter, Ryan Nassib, and now Freeman.
So the Giants came into the 2014 NFL Draft after a very aggressive offseason free agent period. Even after the assertive approach in free agency there were quite a few positions where the Giants still needed to address. Among them was Offensive Line, Wide Receiver, Tight End, and of course the Giants are always looking to bulk up the Defensive line. Traditionally the Giants wait to be on the clock and pick the best player available but with a deeper draft at so many positions it was even harder to tell where the Giants would go at number 12.
When the Giants went on the clock there were a few players gone who big blue reportedly had interest in, but there were also a few players of interest still on the board. With Eric Ebron, Taylor Lewan, Anthony Barr all off the board taken in the previous three picks, the Giants were left picking between Odell Beckham Jr., CJ Mosley, Zack Martin, and Aaron Donald. The Giants had just drafted offensive lineman Justin Pugh last year and felt the talent in Beckham Jr. was just too great to pass up. So the Giants went with Odell Beckham Jr. the wide receiver out of LSU to come in and replace Hakeem Nicks.
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 198 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.43 seconds
Bench Press: 7 Reps
Vertical Jump: 38.5 inches
Broad Jump: 122 inches
3 Cone Drill: 6.69 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 3.94 seconds
60 Yard Shuttle: 10.93 seconds
Beckham is a little small in my opinion especially considering Eli Manning doesn’t always throw the best pass for his receivers. However, Beckham Jr. was the best receiver still on the board and he is good after the catch and has been compared to DeSean Jackson, which if that’s the case is quite a fine pick.
A few picks later the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys drafted Zack Martin which will definitely test the Giants defensive line when the two teams meet next season as the Cowboys heavily bulked up their offensive line by picking Martin.
In the second round the Giants went out and drafted what the experts said was the best center in the draft in Weston Richburg out of Colorado State. A solid pick for the Giants is fully expected to be able to start right away and be a good player for New York for many years to come. He will have to earn his spot however as the Giants have already brought in J.D. Walton to fill the Center position.
Weight: 298 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.10 seconds
Bench Press: 25 Reps
Vertical Jump: 25.5 inches
Broad Jump: 106 inches
3 Cone Drill: 7.93 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.63 seconds
In the third round the Giants continued to fill their needs in the 2014 draft as the took Jayson Bromley a defensive tackle out of Syracuse University. Bromley will be a good addition to a young defensive line of the New York Giants. With Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore expected to play the end positions, Bromley will compete with 2013 second round pick Johnathan Hankins to get some snaps in the coming season. He will also have good veterans to learn from in Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins.
Weight: 306 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.06 seconds
Bench Press: 26 Reps
Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches
Broad Jump: 106 inches
3 Cone Drill: 7.92 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.78 seconds
In the fourth round the Giants took former Heisman candidate Andre Williams out of Boston College. The Giants needed a second back to compliment Jennings and with David Wilson’s health in question how could Giants fans not love this pick. Not only a good runner but unlike Wilson, Williams brings a presence the Giants were missing last year in a pass blocker.
Round five the Giants picked up Devon Kennard an outside linebacker out of USC and Nat Berhe a safety out of San Diego State. Then in round six the Giants took Cornerback Bennett Jackson out of Notre Dame to end their Draft without having a seventh round pick. These last three picks were really head scratchers to me. With a loaded secondary it is hard to imagine where Jackson and Berhe will fit in. In the case of Kennard, I’m not sure he makes much of a difference having to compete with Herzlich, McClain, Beason, Williams, and Paysinger. The Kennard pick reminds me a lot of the Phillip Dillard pick the Giants picked in the fourth round a few years back. To me it made more sense to take a gamble on a Tight End, as the Giants are very thin at that position.
Overall I think the Giants had an above average draft and a very successful free agency period. It always hurts when you lose key pieces to a recent Super Bowl run but in the end it’s exciting to see the Giants get younger.
The Giants roster has changed dramatically and they will be counting on many new acquisitions for the team’s success in 2014. The Giants will also be counting on young players to continue to improve, bounce back years, and strong returns from injuries for many of the players who were on the 2013 roster. These players include: Eli Manning, Chris Snee, Jason Pierre-Paul, Stevie Brown, Rueben Randle, and Victor Cruz.
PureSportsNY: Tyler Henry