After three straight losing seasons, the Giants made several changes this offseason in an attempt to get back to their winning ways. On the field, they improved at some positions, but their positions of need in previous years remains their positions of need to this day. Here are the moves the Giants made to earn a “B” grade for their offseason. thus far
Offseason grade: B
New arrivals: DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins, LB Keenan Robinson, LB Kelvin Sheppard
Re-signings: TE Larry Donnell, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, K Josh Brown
Departures: DE Robert Ayers, OL Geoff Schwartz, CB Prince Amukamara, WR Rueben Randle, DT Cullen Jenkins, S Brandon Meriweather, S Craig Dahl, DE George Selvie, DT Markus Kuhn, CB Jayron Hosley, OL Dallas Reynolds, CB Trumaine McBride
The Giants focused on the defense in free agency, adding some of the top players available. All of their additions are upgrades, but at defensive end and cornerback, they are improvements where they had someone good, but allowed them to leave in free agency. They added Olivier Vernon, who graded as our fourth-best 4-3 defensive end in pass-rushing productivity, but it comes at the expense of the departure of Robert Ayers, who was also in the top-10 at the position. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins had more interceptions and passes defended than Prince Amukamara, but he also allowed a higher catch rate, more touchdowns, and had more missed tackles. At linebacker, they added new players to the rotation, but no one that should inspire much optimism. Their other big needs heading into the offseason were at safety and offensive line, and at both positions they only had players leave without having clear upgrades at the position.
2016 NFL draft
- Round 1 (pick No. 10): Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
- Round 2 (pick No. 40): Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
- Round 3 (pick No. 71): Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
- Round 4 (pick No. 109): B.J. Goodson, LB, Clemson
- Round 5 (pick No. 149): Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
- Round 6 (pick No. 184): Jerelll Adams, TE, South Carolina
The Giants started their draft with an interesting pick with Eli Apple. It’s curious because New York has already invested a lot in their starting two cornerbacks, Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who are both solid players. None of those three players have much experience as a slot corner, and Apple is more of a press cornerback, where last year, the Giants played a lot of man-coverages. After that pick, the Giants did a nice job of finding players who both were a value at that point in the draft and fit a need. Both Sterling Shepard and Darian Thompson could be day-one starters. When Shepard was targeted last year, Oklahoma had an NFL passer rating of 135.9, which was fourth-best among all FBS receivers. Goodson, Perkins, and Adams could all work into rotations at their positions, thanks to their talent and New York’s lack of depth at those positions.
Over the course of the offseason, the Giants made sure their 2016 team would be an improvement over the 2015 version. After using 14 different players on the defensive line last year, they should have a much smaller rotation that, on paper, is one of the best in the league. Despite turning one big negative into one big positive, they still have several areas of weakness that will make it difficult to make a run in the playoffs if they are able to get there. They are a team that needs to win now, because Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger, but a lot of players need to improve quickly in order to make that happen.
New York Giants’ projected base defense in 2016:
New York Giants’ projected base offense in 2016: