Jul 202014
 
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New York Giants Defensive Backs (June 12, 2014)

Which of the Giants’ cornerbacks will fail to make the roster? Find out below - Photo by Connor Hughes

BigBlueInteractive.com puts the finishing touches on our training camp preparation today. Throughout the last few weeks, we’ve broken down each positional group heading into camp and yesterday took our guess at the offense’s final depth chart.

Now, we turn our attention to the defense and special teams.

There is no sure way to tell what is going to happen in training camp, what injuries will occur and what undrafted rookie jumps out to surprise a veteran, but we’re taking our shot anyway. Below you will find the final depth chart prediction from both Connor Hughes and Eric Kennedy.

CONNOR HUGHES’ FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (October 6, 2013)

Will Johnathan Hankins start opening week? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE LINE
LDE: Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers
LDT: Cullen Jenkins, Jay Bromley
RDT: Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson
RDE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore
Notable Cuts: Adam Kendrick, Emmanuel Dieke, Jordan Stanton, Kerry Wynn, Everett Dawkins, Markus Kuhn, Kelcy Quarles
Why?: While Mike Patterson has taken every rep with the No. 1′s this offseason, I just don’t see him fending off Johnathan Hankins for all of training camp. First week or so? Sure. 1-2 games of preseason play? Absolutely, but I see no scenario where it isn’t Hankins lining up with the starters come the regular season. With that being said, I see Mike Patterson getting a lot of playing time this year. It’ll be tough for any running back to find a hole in the middle of the Giants’ defense with those two at tackle.

Most of the cuts I have being made shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise with a slight exception for Markus Kuhn. I could very well see Kuhn winding up on the team’s practice squad, or making the team barring an injury, but he’s competing with Jay Bromley and Mike Patterson for this position. Will New York cut this year’s third-round pick? Will it cut the player that has taken every first-team rep? I don’t see it. Kuhn is a victim of the numbers game.

LINEBACKERS
WILL: Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger
MIKE: Jon Beason, Mark Herzlich
SAM: Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard
Notable Cuts: Spencer Adkins, Justin Anderson, Dan Fox, Terrell Manning
Why?: While I don’t believe Jon Beason will be ready to play the first 1-2 games of the season, I do think he’ll be healthy enough to make the Giants comfortable keeping just six linebackers on the team. The interesting thing about this year’s group is that four (Beason, Herzlich, McClain, Kennard) all have the ability to play the middle of the defense. Even if McClain goes down in the middle, the Giants have several others that can fill in.

One cut that I went back-and-forth on for a bit was whether or not Mark Herzlich would make the team or Dan Fox. Herzlich is in very warm water and if Fox can show similar value on special teams, he’ll get the nod. If not, I see Fox headed to the practice squad. This decision came down to a coin flip, Fox was tails and it landed on heads.

SAFETIES
SS: Antre Rolle, Quintin Demps, Nat Berhe
FS: Stevie Brown, Cooper Taylor
Notable Cuts: C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon
Why?: This is more of a ‘why are the Giants keeping five safeties’ than ‘why someone was cut.’ I did’t see any scenario (except injury) where Barnett or Gordon made the final 53, but would the Giants keep five at the position?

From talking to coaches and Cooper Taylor himself, it seems like last year’s fifth-round pick is in the team’s plans. This year’s fifth-round pick, Nat Berhe, has flashed during the offseason and I don’t think general manager Jerry Reese would cut a player drafted that high. Not to mention, there is zero guarantee Stevie Brown’s surgically repaired knee can hold up throughout the entire season. The crazy thing is, if Will Hill’s appeal had been won, one of them would be getting cut.

The biggest issue that keeping both Taylor and Berhe caused was the fact it all but sealed the fact the Giants can’t keep seven corners.

Charles James, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Can Charles James crack the Giants final 53-man roster?– © USA TODAY Sports Images

CORNERBACKS
RCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman
LCB: Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Charles James
NICKEL: Walter Thurmond
Notable Cuts: Jayron Hosley, Bennett Jackson, Travis Howard, Ross Weaver, Kyle Sebetic
Why? Every single logical scenario I played out in my mind had a very good player getting cut. There was no way the Giants could keep all their corners and whoever doesn’t make the team will wind up on someone else’s 53.

I’ll start with the first move: cutting Jayron Hosley. The fact the former third-round pick is serving a four-game suspension will keep him on the team early on. If Rodgers-Cromartie, Amukamara or Thurmond go down, Hosley will be activated and the other IR’d. But if everyone stays healthy, Hosley will be cut. From my understanding, the Giants have had enough with the underperforming, often-injured and now suspended corner.

The final roster spot that I believe is up for grabs is cornerback position No. 6. Assuming Trumaine McBride is healthy, I view him as a lock. That leaves both Charles James and Bennett Jackson. While Jackson may have an edge on special teams, James showed much more as a corner in the offseason. James also has value as a special-teamer, bringing it down to a coin flip. This will be a battle reported on extensively throughout camp and won’t be decided until the final cut-down day. Whomever shows more will get the spot. The Giants hope the other clears waivers so they can stash him on their practice squad.

One scenario I could see unfolding is one that involves Zack Bowman getting cut and both Charles James and Bennett Jackson making the roster. In order for this to happen, both James and Jackson will need to show they are as good on defense as the corner and can contribute equally as much on special teams. Bowman has excelled on special teams throughout his career and is regarded as one of the best in the league. It’ll be tough to unseat him, but not out of the question.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Josh Brown
KR: Quintin Demps
P: Steve Weatherford
PR: Trindon Holliday
LS: Zack DeOssie
GUNNERS: Charles James and Zack Bowman
Notable Cuts: Brandon McManus
Why?: The Giants gambled on a young, unproven kicker with a strong leg once before and it cost them a divisional title. I just cannot see coach Tom Coughlin risking it again. I’m not saying Brandon McManus is the next Matt Dodge, but Josh Brown has been doing it too successfully for too long to warrant a cut. He had a good season last year, proved he can kick at MetLife and still has a few good years left in him.

ERIC KENNEDY’S FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

DEFENSIVE LINE
LDE: Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers
LDT: Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson
RDT: Cullen Jenkins, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley
RDE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore
Notable Cuts: Adam Kendrick, Emmanuel Dieke, Jordan Stanton, Kerry Wynn, Everett Dawkins, Kelcy Quarles
Why?: Barring injury, I think this is relatively straight forward unless one of the rookie or street free agents really surprise. I think 2014 will be a “redshirt” year for Bromley similar to what Linval Joseph and Johnathan Hankins went through as rookies.  I don’t expect him to be active on game day much. The biggest question to me here is who starts opposite JPP? Kiwanuka, Ayers, or Moore?

LINEBACKERS
Perry Fewell’s misnamed WILL: Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger
MIKE: Jon Beason, Dan Fox
Perry Fewell’s misnamed SAM: Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard
Notable Cuts: Mark Herzlich, Spencer Adkins, Justin Anderson, Terrell Manning
Why?: Barring injury, I also think this is pretty straight forward with the exception of Dan Fox possibly beating out Mark Herzlich. Unless Herzlich dramatically improves in this camp, I’d rather go with someone with more potential. I think we’ve pretty much seen what Herzlich can do.

SAFETIES
SS: Antre Rolle, Quintin Demps (third safety)
FS: Stevie Brown, Cooper Taylor
Notable Cuts: Nat Berhe, C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon, Kyle Sebetic
Why?: In trying to get to 53, my biggest problem was finding room for either 11 defensive backs, 9 defensive linemen, six wide receivers, or five running backs/fullbacks. I’d prefer to keep Berhe, but barring injury (a big potential factor), I think the Giants keep 9 defensive linemen, six wide receivers, and five backs. I also think they keep six corners. My guess is they try to “redshirt” Berhe on the Practice Squad, especially given his lack of ideal size and overall athleticism.

CORNERBACKS
RCB: Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond (nickel), Bennett Jackson
LCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman, Charles James
Notable Cuts: Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley, Travis Howard, Ross Weaver
Why? The initial 4-game suspension of Hosley actually may work in the Giants favor. If someone else gets hurt in the first month of the season, Hosley is obviously a legit option. My biggest upset here is Bennett Jackson beating out McBride. Why? Jackson is a very good special teams player; McBride is not. Plus Jackson has a bigger upside. McBride may be only the fifth best cornerback on the team now and I think Charles James will surpass him this camp. I do wonder where DRC will line-up? One would think Amukamara would stay at RCB and DRC at LCB, but the Giants seem to  have indicated to DRC that he will cover the opposing team’s best receiver, which is usually the split end or X receiver.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Josh Brown
KR: Trindon Holliday
P: Steve Weatherford
PR: Trindon Holliday
LS: Zack DeOssie
GUNNERS: Zack Bowman and Bennett Jackson
Notable Cuts: Brandon McManus
Why?: Like Connor, the great debate I see here is at placekicker. Do the Giants go with the younger, strong-legged McManus over the old, proven veteran? I think Coach Coughlin will want to play it safe. Jerry Reese may not. Quintin Demps is a very good kickoff returner with nearly the same yards per return average as Holliday. And Holliday has had ball security issues. But Holliday is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. Six return touchdowns in two seasons? That’s Devin Hester in his prime territory. Bowman and Jackson may be the best duo of gunners the Giants have had in some time.

Jul 192014
 
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Eli Manning (10), Victor Cruz (80), New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

What’s the Giants’ starting offense going to look like in 2014? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the positional breakdowns in the rear-view mirror, BigBlueInteractive.com turns its attention to one final task before training camp begins in a few days.

Our prediction at the final New York Giants depth chart and 53-man roster.

There is no sure way to tell what is going to happen in training camp, what injuries will occur and what undrafted rookie jumps out to surprise a veteran. We know we’re good here at BBI, but predicting injuries? That’s a bit above our pay scale.

Below you will find the final depth chart prediction from both Connor Hughes and Eric Kennedy on the Giants’ offense. Tomorrow, we’ll debut the defense. Below each positional group, you’ll get some insight into why those players were selected, were there any surprise cuts and what factors went into the final decision.

CONNOR HUGHES’ FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – OFFENSE

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (May 20, 2014)

Can Ryan Nassib be the Giants’ No. 2 quarterback? – Photo by Connor Hughes

QUARTERBACKS:
1st String: Eli Manning
2nd String: Ryan Nassib
Notable Cuts: Curtis Painter
Why?: I’m not sold on Ryan Nassib, but looking across the Giants roster I just can’t envision any scenario where the team keeps three quarterbacks. Do I believe Nassib can lead the Giants if Eli goes down? No. But I don’t think Curtis Painter could, either. The Giants will roll the dice with Nassib barring a horrid display in the preseason.

RUNNING BACKS:
1st String: Rashad Jennings
2nd String: David Wilson
3rd String: Andre Williams
4th String: Peyton Hillis
Notable Cuts: Michael Cox, Kendall Gaskins
Why?: I went back to this positional group a few times to see if there was any situation the Giants keep just three backs, there isn’t. After how bad things went last year, the Giants want as many bodies here as possible. It was tough cutting Michael Cox, but between he and Hillis, I think Hillis is more polished and the Giants would feel more comfortable going with him. People forget, Hillis had a nice season last year.

John Conner, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FULLBACKS:
1st String: John Conner
Notable Cut: Henry Hynoski
Why?: This one really is a toss up and will be the last cut the Giants make. Both players have their highs and lows, but in the end I think Conner has more upside.

WIDE RECEIVERS:
1st String Outside: Rueben Randle
2nd String Outside: Mario Manningham
1st String Outside: Odell Beckham Jr.
1st String Slot: Victor Cruz
2nd String Slot/Outside: Jerrel Jernigan
3rd String Slot: Trindon Holliday
Notable Cuts: Marcus Harris, Travis Harvey, Preston Parker, Julian Talley, Corey Washington
Why?: Initially I put together a depth chart without counting the number of players I was putting on. Then, I went back and made ‘cuts’ based on how many players I needed to get down to. This was one of the positions I needed to rework. I had Marcus Harris making the team but removed him. Truly I believe Harris has a legit shot at making this team and it will be a camp battle between him and Mario Manningham. If Manningham isn’t 100 percent, Harris could be given the nod.

TIGHT END:
1st String: Adrien Robinson
2nd String: Larry Donnell
3rd String: Kellen Davis
Notable Cuts: Xavier Grimble, Daniel Fells
Why?: I think the third tight end competition will be a good one, but with the health questions regarding Robinson and Donnell, having a veteran there instead of an unproven rookie may be the team’s best bet. If Grimble is cut, I see him heading to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

OFFENSIVE LINE:
LT: William Beatty
Back-up: Charles Brown
LG: Geoff Schwartz
Back-up: Eric Hermann
C:  J.D. Walton
Back-up: Weston Richburg
RG: Brandon Mosley
Back-up: John Jerry
RT: Justin Pugh
Notable Cuts: Chris Snee, James Brewer, Troy Kropog, DeMarcus Love, Roger Gaines, Jamaal Johnson-Webb

Chris Snee and Pat Flaherty, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Snee was on the sideline for much of the Giants’ offseason workouts – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Why?: Initially I had James Brewer making the roster, but he was one of my final three cuts I needed to make. Chris Snee on the other hand, I never had making the team in the first place.

Throughout his career, Snee has been the ultimate Giant and everything the team could have wanted in a guard. Now? He’s a shade of his former self. I have little belief he’ll make it out of camp healthy and will retire before the season starts. He started a full-go during the non-contact portion of OTAs and couldn’t make it two weeks before a past injury flared up.

ERIC KENNEDY’S FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – OFFENSE

Sidenote: Trying to guess the final 53-man roster in July is more than a bit silly, especially since there will probably be one or two players on the final roster who are currently not on the team. But we thought this would spark some fun debate.

QUARTERBACKS:
1st String: Eli Manning
2nd String: Ryan Nassib
Notable Cuts: Curtis Painter
Why?: When Curtis Painter played last year, he looked horrible. The Giants have too much invested in Nassib to give up on him this soon. The Giants won’t have the “luxury” of carrying three quarterbacks this season. If they do, that would be a terrible indictment on Nassib.

RUNNING BACKS:
1st String: Rashad Jennings
2nd String: David Wilson
3rd String: Peyton Hillis
4th String: Andre Williams
Notable Cuts: Michael Cox, Kendall Gaskins
Why?: If David Wilson is healthy, I really like this group. I like the  physical nature and size of Jennings, Hillis, and Williams. And Wilson is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. Jennings, Wilson, and Hillis can all catch too. I see Hillis as a nice one-back runner/receiver/blocker, possibly as a third-down back. I’m not sure how many touches Williams will see as a rookie. I think Michael Cox can play in this league, but it’s a numbers game.

FULLBACKS:
1st String: John Conner
Notable Cut: Henry Hynoski
Why?: Hynoski is the favorite with many fans and the media, but I simply think Conner is the better blocker, receiver, and runner. He hits like Thor’s hammer and is a better athlete than given credit for. I love Hynoski, but he’s a bit on the stiff side.

WIDE RECEIVERS:
1st String (2-WR Set): Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz
1st String (3-WR Set): Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, and Victor Cruz
Reserves: Trindon Holliday, Jerrel Jernigan, Marcus Harris
Notable Cuts: Mario Manningham, Julian Talley, Travis Harvey, Corey Washington, and Preston Parker
Why?: The safe bet is Mario Manningham making the team. But I wonder how much a very serious knee injury – that he tried to come back from too soon last season – will impact his overall game which primarily based on speed and quickness (and not great route running and technique)? My gut says one of the relatively unknown reserves flashes enough ability and special teams production (as a coverman and blocker) to encourage the Giants to part ways with Manningham, who has very little special teams value. However, if Manningham shows more than Randle, all bets are off.

TIGHT END:
1st String: Adrien Robinson
2nd String: Larry Donnell
3rd String: Xavier Grimble
Notable Cuts: Kellen Davis, Daniel Fells
Why?: The safe prediction here would to be have a veteran on the roster, either Kellen Davis, Daniel Fells, or someone not currently on the team. But Davis and Fells have already bounced around the NFL and, rightly or wrongly, I think management is still intrigued with Robinson and Donnell’s upside (size, overall athletic ability, hands, blocking). Grimble has too much potential to chance him on the Practice Squad. Ultimately, I still see this as a rebuilding team and I don’t think you rebuild with guys like Davis and Fells.

OFFENSIVE LINE:
LT: William Beatty
Back-up: Charles Brown
LG: Geoff Schwartz
Back-up: Brandon Mosley
C:  J.D. Walton
Back-up: Weston Richburg
RG: Chris Snee
Back-up: John Jerry
RT: Justin Pugh
Notable Cuts: James Brewer, Eric Herman, Troy Kropog, DeMarcus Love, Roger Gaines, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Dallas Reynolds
Why?: Whether Chris Snee is capable of playing a full 16-game schedule is questionable at best. My guess is Tom Coughlin will make the same mistake the team has in the past with injured and fading players on the offensive line and give Snee most of the first-team reps in camp and allow him to start the season. It may be best to start Jerry, Mosley, or Richburg and cut ties with Snee. That said, my biggest concern on the line is the health status of Will Beatty, and his ability to rebound from a poor season. How much time will he miss in training camp?

Jul 182014
 
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Trindon Holliday, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Trindon Holliday – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning next week, BigBlueInteractive.com concludes our break down of each of the team’s positional groups. We finish by looking at this year’s special teams.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Special Teams

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: For the most part, the specials of the New York Giants in 2013 were quite poor. The exception was PK Josh Brown who made 23-of-26 field goals (88.5 percent) with a long of 52 yards. In addition, half of Brown’s kickoffs (35-of-70) resulted in touchbacks. P Steve Weatherford was inconsistent. He started off poorly but improved as the season wore on. In 2013, Weatherford, averaged 46.9 yards per punt with a net average of 38.2. The usually reliable long-snapper Zak DeOssie had a poor snap against the Eagles that resulted in a touchdown.

Punt coverage was terrible. The Giants were 3rd-worst in the NFL in opposing punt return average (13.6 yards per return) and allowed three punts to be returned for touchdowns.

Kickoff coverage was better as the Giants were 9th-best in the NFL, allowing an average of 21.8 yards per return.

The Giants return game was not good. The Giants were 26th in the NFL in punt returns, averaging only 7.2 yards per return. WR Rueben Randle was the primary punt returner, averaging 8.2 yards per return with a long of 32 yards.

The Giants were 27th in the NFL in kickoff returns, averaging only 21.2 yards per return. The Giants tried a number of players with similar results, including RB Michael Cox (21.8 yards per return) and WR Jerrel JerniganRB David Wilson (24.7) had a bit more success on his limited number of returns.

In sum, the return yardage differential between the Giants and their opponents was too great, making it tougher for the Giants offense and defense and easier for the oppositions’ offense and defense. The Giants also gave up four special teams touchdowns.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The primary punter, kicker, and long snapper all return though it appears that Josh Brown will face a bit of a challenge from strong-legged place kicker Brandon McManus.

On paper, it appears the Giants dramatically improved their stable of returners with the additions of Trindon Holliday, Quintin Demps, and Odell Beckham, Jr.

Holliday has averaged over 27 yards per kickoff return and 9 yards per punt return in his career, including a total of six return touchdowns the last two seasons (three kickoff, three punt). Demps has also averaged over 27 yards per kick return and has two career kickoff return touchdowns. Beckham was a dynamic kickoff and punt returner at LSU.

Who will form the cover teams and blockers on returns remains to be seen. Newcomers CB Zack Bowman (ex-Chicago Bears) and CB Bennett Jackson (Notre Dame) have strong special teams reputations.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Trindon Holliday is a home-run threat every time he touches the football as his six career return touchdowns in the last two seasons indicate, including two returns for touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. However, he has major fumbling issues (10 lost in the last two seasons). Can the Giants improve his ball security?

David Wilson, New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Will David Wilson, if he is medically cleared (neck), be allowed to compete in the kickoff return game? Just two years ago, he set a team record with 1,533 kickoff return yards, averaging 26.9 yards per return. Same question regarding Odell Beckham…will the Giants seriously allow him to compete as a punt returner?

Based on comments from the coaches, Brandon McManus is more than an extra leg so his competition with Josh Brown will be more interesting than usual.

It’s not sexy, but the Giants have to find players who can do a better job of blocking for the returners and covering opposing returners. They need some headhunters out there.

ON THE BUBBLE: Trindon Holliday if he doesn’t fix his fumbling issues or show more than he has to date at wide receiver. There will only be one roster spot for Josh Brown vs. Brandon McManus. Brown is the reliable, experienced veteran, but he’s 35. McManus has the big leg but is a big unknown.

Tom Quinn, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (August 29, 2012)

Tom Quinn and Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Tom Quinn on the gunners:  “(Zack) Bowman, (Bennett) Jackson, we’re really excited about those two. Charles James continues to do well so it will be exciting to see those guys run down and cover punts.”

Quinn on Trindon Holliday: “His speed’s an asset, that’s for sure. He’s a strong guy for his size, ball security obviously will be his biggest focus once we start putting pads on and start knocking him around a little bit.”

Quinn on Brandon McManus: “I really like McManus, I liked him coming out. He went to Indy for last training camp and preseason and I thought he was really a good kicker coming out of Temple. He’s kicked in the northeast at a high level, he did all three so I think he’s got a real big upside once it all starts clicking for him.”

Quinn on Quintin Demps: “Demps, we’re real excited to have him. He’s been consistent in this league and explosive. He’s a legitimate number one kickoff returner for us. He runs with good size and he has a real good understanding of the schemes. He’s been great with all teams. A real leader, coming in likely to start and he’ll be able to contribute on special teams.”

PREDICTIONS:

Eric Kennedy - I may go down in flames with this prediction but I think Trindon Holliday finds a home with the Giants both a less mistake-prone kickoff/punt returner and factor on offense as a role player. I think the Josh Brown vs. Brandon McManus battle could be very telling in terms of where this team actually thinks it is as viable Super Bowl competitor. If they believe they are rebuilding, the choice may be McManus.

Connor Hughes - It’s hard to think of a unit that was worse than the Giants’ offensive line last year, but the special teams sure give them a run for their money. Truly, things couldn’t have gotten much worse for Tom Quinn’s squad and there is only up to go from here. I’m very, very high on the addition of Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps. While Demps may not have the touchdown returns, if he’s able to get the Giants the ball on the 30-35 yard line regularly it’ll pay huge dividends. Holliday, meanwhile, is the little spark plug the Giants have never really had on special teams.

During their prime, Willie Ponder and Domenik Hixon each were explosive, but none can match what Holliday can do when he’s ‘on.’ The ex-Bronco and Texan is electric and will take at least one to the house this year. If he can hold on to the ball…he may turn out to be one of the bigger acquisitions the Giants made this offseason.

The Giants’ coverage unit should also see improvements this year. Zack Bowman has excelled in the role throughout his career and Bennett Jackson had similar success in college. Barring injuries, I’m expecting to see vast improvements from the special teams.

FINAL DEPTH CHART:

Eric Kennedy - Trindon Holliday (kickoff and punt returner), Josh Brown (place kicker), Steve Weatherford (punter), Zak DeOssie (long snapper)

Connor Hughes - Quintin Demps (kickoff returner), Trindon Holliday (punt returner), Josh Brown (place kicker), Steve Weatherford (punter), Zak DeOssie (long snapper)

Jul 172014
 
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Antrel Rolle, New York Giants (November 17, 2013)

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to camp next week, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at this year’s safeties.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWNS: Safeties

Will Hill, New York Giants (October 27, 2013)

Will Hill – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: Things truly couldn’t have started much worse for the Giants’ safety unit in 2013. In the team’s third preseason game versus the Jets, Stevie Brown injured his knee returning an interception and was lost for the year.

Shades of C.C. Brown began to dance in the minds of fans… then Will Hill happened.

Hill returned from a four-game suspension to take over as the Giants’ starting safety opposite Antrel Rolle. Hill recorded 77 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and scored a game-winning touchdown versus the Lions. For 12 weeks, Hill flashed the play-making ability that made him one of the more coveted recruits out of high school. The safety played with reckless abandon, a never-ending motor and was constantly around the ball. As was the case versus the Redskins when Hill ripped the ball out of the hands of Pierre Garcon on fourth-and-1, preserving a Giants victory.

While the 24-year-old’s season was impressive, so was that of his safety counterpart.

Finally being allowed to play safety full time, Antrel Rolle put together his best season in a Giants’ uniform. The former first-round pick earned Pro-Bowl honors, finished with the team lead in tackles (98) and interceptions (6), recorded two sacks and forced fumble a fumble.

Behind Hill and Rolle, Ryan Mundy was solid in Perry Fewell’s signature three-safety package. The 29-year-old was a force down in the box and recorded 77 tackles, good for fifth on the team. Rookie Cooper Taylor saw limited action, mostly on special teams.

Quintin Demps, Kansas City Chiefs (December 15, 2013)

Quintin Demps – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Get this one out of the way early: After captivating the hearts of fans, Will Hill’s unbelievable season won’t get an encore. For the third consecutive year, Hill faced a drug-related suspension after his urine came up positive for marijuana. While the third-year player claimed it was for ‘second-hand pot,’ the six-game suspension was the last straw in a troubled career. The Giants cut ties with Hill, having warned him over and over again he was on his last strike. Ryan Mundy also left when the Giants’ chose not to renew his one-year contract.

The team re-signed Stevie Brown, who looks to have slid back into his starting safety position. Quintin Demps was brought over from Kansas City and Nat Berhe was drafted in the fifth round. C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon were brought in as undrafted rookies.

TRAINING CAMP STORYLINES: The health of Stevie Brown and his ability to ‘replace’ Will Hill may be the No. 1 question heading into camp. While Brown did record a league-high eight interceptions in 2012, many were a result of being in the right place at the right time and teams wanted to test the unproven Brown. Does he have the natural athletic ability that Hill has? No. Can he be serviceable? Yes. How serviceable? No one knows.

Cooper Taylor’s progression and the overall talent of Nat Berhe will worth keeping an eye on. Taylor has added muscle in the offseason, per the coaches request, and may be a sleeper to see increased playing time in his second year. In college, Berhe played San Diego State’s ‘Aztec’ position, a hybrid mix of the linebacker and safety positions. If he develops, he may make an immediate impact, but will need to climb the depth chart first.

ON THE BUBBLE: There really isn’t any big-name player that is in jeopardy of being cut. Right now, the Giants have seven safeties on the roster and figure to keep four or five. The odd men out? Most likely C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon. Cooper Taylor may be in warm water, but the odds of Jerry Reese cutting last year’s fifth-round pick are slim-to-none.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: David Merritt on what makes Quintin Demps a good candidate as the team’s third safety: “His speed, his ability to actually change directions and burst. Quintin has played back in the post for most of his career. One of the things that he told me when he first arrived was, ‘Coach, I want to be down near the box.’ So when he said that I said, ‘Well you know what, I’m going to give you all of the tools to hopefully help you be successful down around the box.’ His speed, his ability to change directions and burst is one of the valuable assets that he brings to the table.

“Because he’s played back so many years as a deep safety, being back 20 yards. When you’ve been back there for that amount of years you want to get down around the action. I think he probably has seen guys being down around the action, Berry that he played with in Kansas City, Pollard, the kid that was with him in Houston so he’s see all of these guys down around the action where he’s been back just as a safety valve. Now he’s down close to the box and he’s learning the linebacker aspect of it.”

PREDICTIONS:
Connor Hughes - I’m very, very concerned with Stevie Brown heading into the 2014 season. Not necessarily for his health, but simply because I’m not convinced he’s a starting-caliber player in the NFL.

Stevie Brown, New York Giants (October 7, 2012)

Stevie Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

What made Brown so good for the majority of the 2012 season was that he was allowed to play back in the ‘Kenny Phillips’ role. Brown would line up 15-20 yards behind the defense, wait for the deep ball and then track it down in the air. When Phillips played the position, teams stayed away from the deep pass. When Brown played it, they attacked him. The result? Eight interceptions.

If Quintin Demps can develop into a player that can play down in the box, as Merritt suggested he wants to do, then Brown can go back to playing the ‘Kenny Phillips’ role. It best suits him as he’s not an incredible player in the box. With that being said, can Demps play in the box? He’s unproven, just like every Giants’ safety not named ‘Antrel.’

I agreed entirely with the Giants decision to cut Will Hill. It was time. You can’t send that message to the locker room keeping him on the team. But looking over the roster, I just don’t see a viable replacement. The revamped and retooled cornerback position is going to have to carry the load. With their paychecks, that shouldn’t be a problem.

With that being said, there will be times Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie guesses wrong, it’s part of his game. Will there be a player behind him to catch his mistake? We’ll see.

Eric Kennedy - Losing Will Hill was a huge blow. The defense dramatically improved in 2013 once Jon Beason and Will Hill were inserted into the starting line-up. Hill looked like a future Pro Bowl free safety. He might have been the best player on the team last season. Now he’s bagging groceries. Stupid is as stupid does. Like Connor, I have my doubts about Stevie Brown. In 2012, he definitely had a nose for the football, but he also was missing in action on some big pass plays. In addition, he doesn’t hit or play the run like a big safety. I’d accept fewer interceptions if you could guarantee fewer big coverage breakdowns and better run defense.

The coaches have been talking up Quintin Demps more than his reputation in Philadelphia and Kansas City should indicate. Demps thinks he is better suited closer to the line of scrimmage and he may be right. Demps has the inside track on the third safety position in the Giants three-safety package. If he stumbles, Cooper Taylor has the physical tools to steal playing time.

My prediction is that 31-year old Antrel Rolle hasn’t peaked and will have an even better season in 2014. He’s the unquestioned leader of the strongest part of the defense. I expect that to motivate him, as well the fact that he’s entering the final year of his current contract. And I expect the talent at cornerback to allow him to take more chances to make plays on the football. He hasn’t returned a pick for a touchdown yet as a Giant (four times with Cardinals), but I believe he will do that twice in 2014.

FINAL DEPTH CHART
Connor Hughes - Antrel Rolle/Stevie Brown start. Quintin Demps third safety. Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe reserve. C.J. Barnett, and Thomas Gordon cut.

Eric Kennedy - Antrel Rolle/Stevie Brown start. Quintin Demps third safety. Cooper Taylor reserve. Nat Berhe, C.J. Barnett, and Thomas Gordon cut. My biggest problem is figuring out how the Giants get from 54 to 53. My gut says Nat Berhe makes the team, but I can’t see how the Giants can carry 11 defensive backs in addition to nine defensive linemen, six wide receivers, and five running backs/fullback. Something has to give. I’m guessing they try to sneak Berhe onto the Practice Squad. C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon have some talent too.

Jul 152014
 
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With New York Giants training camp beginning next week, BigBlueInteractive.com continues to break down each of the team’s positional groups until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at this year’s cornerbacks.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Cornerbacks

Prince Amukamara, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Prince Amukamara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: The one steady constant at cornerback in 2013 was Prince Amukamara at right corner. In his third year with the Giants, and his second as a full-time starter, Amukamara developed into the team’s best corner. Amukamara started all 16 games and finished the year with 85 tackles, 14 pass defenses, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles. Things did not go as planned at left corner. Corey Webster had issues with his hip, groin, and ankle. He only started two games before the Giants finally gave up on him and placed him on Injured Reserve in December. His primary back-up, Aaron Ross, only started two games before being placed on Injured Reserve in October with a back injury. Jayron Hosley was next in line but he suffered a significant hamstring in jury in Week 4 that sidelined him for the next five games and nagged him much of the rest of the season. Hosley played in 11 games with one start, finishing the season with just 9 tackles and 2 pass defenses. The player who benefited the most from these injuries was Trumaine McBride. McBride was an under-the-radar street free agent signing who ended up playing in 15 games with 10 starts. He finished 2013 with 37 tackles, 15 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Terrell Thomas, coming off back-to-back ACL tears in 2011 and 2012, was primarily used as the nickel slot corner. Though limited all year in practice, he played in all 16 games with seven starts and finished the season with 67 tackles, 1 sack, 7 pass defenses, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. Charles James was a rookie free agent who played in 12 games, almost exclusively on special teams.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Massive changes occurred at cornerback in the offseason. The only ones returning are Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley, and Charles James. The Giants have also decided to invite 2013 Practice Squad players Ross Weaver and Travis Howard to training camp.

Gone are former stalwarts Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and Terrell Thomas. 2013 Practice Squaders Junior Mertile and Chaz Powell were also waived after initially being re-signed in January.

The major new additions are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (from Denver, 5-years, $35 million), Walter Thurmond III (from Seattle, 1-year, $3 million), and Zack Bowman (from Chicago, 1-year, $730,000). The Giants also drafted Bennett Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: How good is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC)? Some believe he is capable of being one of the NFL’s elite corners, others say he is overrated. The Giants are expecting (and paying) him to be core impact player. If DRC plays as well as hoped, teams that avoided Prince Amukamara in 2013 will now come after him in 2014. How will he respond? Is he capable of making more plays in the football (only 1 interception per year in three seasons). Is Walter Thurmond as good as advertised as a slot corner? If DRC, Amukamara, and Thurmond live up to the hype, along the expected strong play of the safeties, the major overall storyline is the shifting of the strength of the defense from the front-end to the back-end.

ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants will definitely carry five, and quite possibly six cornerbacks. Barring injury, Rodgers-Cromartie, Amukamara, and Thurmond are locks. Another under-the-radar signing, Zack Bowman, who looked very sharp in the OTAs. Trumaine McBride had hip surgery in January and missed all of the offseason work. He may be on shakier ground than many realize. Continued injury (injury plagued in both 2012 and 2013) and drug issues (upcoming 4-game suspension) have really hurt Jayron Hosley’s chances to make the team. Charles James and Bennett Jackson have talent but will have to fight tooth-and-nail to make the team. Both are helped by their special teams ability however.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Peter Giunta on the Giants depth at cornerback:  “We’ve got 10 quality corners right now in the program…Bringing in two guys that started in the Super Bowl obviously helps…We have great depth at that position, the deepest I’ve ever had in my years in the league.

Giunta on DRC and Amukamara: “Yes (they can both cover another team’s top receiver). They both have the skill set and both have done it in their careers, gone out and played on the best guy. They’ll battle, they’ll compete and we’ll be able to have an advantage I think playing those guy.”

Giunta on Rodgers-Cromartie: “He’s got that other gear. He can run as fast as he needs to run to get up on top of a receiver, catch up to a receiver. He’s got that gear that’s incredible. He’s such a smooth athlete. His length is so good and his ball skills are fantastic. He’s got that great skill set where he’s got the speed to recover if he does beat, he’s got the quickness to recover. He’s got the length to reach out and knock balls away that other corners wouldn’t be able to get to and he’s got great hands to make plays on the ball in the air. He’s got what you’re looking for in a corner.”

Giunta on Amukamara: “He improved, he understands well, he communicates well, his instincts, his awareness are really developing. You can really see it in (OTAs) now, he’s on top of all of the stuff. Now he’s starting to gamble a bit and take some chances, which you like to see because you’re taking calculated guesses and risking, ‘Hey, I’m going to go make a play.’ That’s what you want. He’s developed that confidence in himself and the defense, he knows what’s coming.”

Giunta on Thurmond: “He does a great job of studying, he has a great awareness of what people are trying to do to him. He plays with great leverage, understands his drops as an underneath defender. He’s able to get there, get breaks off the quarterback. He’s got great vision and to play inside like that you have to have great vision of everything that’s going on around you, it happens so much quicker. Corner you’re using the sideline to help you but in (the slot) you have so much space, especially covering guys. He’s done a great job. He’s got great quickness and he’s a great (technician). You’ll see that when we’re able to put our hands on people in training camp.”

PREDICTIONS:

Zack Bowman, Chicago Bears (October 10, 2013)

Zack Bowman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eric Kennedy - On paper, this is the deepest unit on the team strongest group of corners the Giants have had in my lifetime. Of course, the proof is in the pudding. Moreover, each year, we have seen mental breakdowns in Perry Fewell’s secondary, often followed by a mid-season “dumbing down” in order to reduce blown coverages. Will that same issue rear its ugly head again in 2014 or will the Giants’ secondary carry this defense from the get-go?

Predictions? DRC and Thurmond become fan favorites with their play. Bowman becomes a more important addition than fans currently realize. I think Charles James is underrated but stuck behind the quality guys in front of him.

Connor Hughes - I am incredibly optimistic about the Giants’ cornerbacks heading into this season. More so this year than any year I can remember in recent memory. In the past, veterans on the last leg of their careers, bargain-bought free agents and low-end draft picks occupied the Giants’ secondary as the vaunted defensive line pressured the quarterback. As teams countered with quick-passes to reveal holes in the secondary, the Giants have countered by putting more money into the cornerback position.

I believe Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara can form one of the top three cornerback tandems in the NFL. I love the return of Trumaine McBride and the potential of Charles James. More than anything else, I can’t wait to see what Walter Thurmond III has to offer.

The first time Thurmond talked to the media, he told them he was the best slot corner in the league. He comes from a secondary the Giants’ believe they can collectively be as good and has an attitude to be the best. Of every acquisition the Giants made, the biggest I truly believe will be Thurmond.

FINAL DEPTH CHART:

Eric Kennedy - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond, Zack Bowman, Charles James, Bennett Jackson.

Jayron Hosley misses the first four games due to the drug suspension and could still be brought back depending on injuries. My longshot prediction is Bennett Jackson making it over Trumaine McBride, who was re-signed to a 2-year, $2.875 million contract this offseason. I think Jackson’s special teams play and overall potential keeps him on the roster.

Connor Hughes - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (RCB), Prince Amukamara (LCB), Walter Thurmond III (nickel), Trumaine McBride (dime), Zack Bowman (reserve), Charles James (reserve).

Jul 132014
 
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Jacquian Williams (57), New York Giants (January 22, 2012)

Barring injury, Jacquian Williams will be the Giants starting WILL linebacker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to training camp in just a couple weeks, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at the linebackers.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWNLinebackers

Jon Beason, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Jon Beason was solid in the middle for New York last year – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: In a year of mostly downs, the Giants’ linebackers were one of the team’s few bright spots in 2013. After acquiring Jon Beason via trade from the Carolina Panthers, the middle linebacker established himself as a force in the middle of the Giants’ defense. Beason finished with 93 tackles and an interception in 11 games. Outside Beason, Keith Rivers and Spencer Paysinger were solid in the team’s base 4-3 set while Jacquian Williams continued to establish himself as one of the better coverage linebackers in the game.

In 2012, the Giants defense was one of the worst against the run, finishing 25th in the NFL, but rebounded nicely last year. Coupled with a rebuilt interior defensive unit, the Giants rushed allowed an average of 108.9 rushing yards per game, good for 14th in the NFL.

Against some of the league’s best, the Giants played their strongest. New York held Jamaal Charles (KC) to 65 yards rushing, Matt Forte (CHI) to 67, Adrien Peterson (MIN) to 28, LeSean McCoy (PHI) to 94 in two games, Eddie Lacey (GB) to 27 and Marshawn Lynch (SEA) to 47.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Not much has changed at the linebacker position for the Giants. Beason was re-signed and Rivers was allowed to walk. The lone notable addition via free agency was that of ex-Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain. Devon Kennard was drafted in the fifth round out of USC and has earned early praise from the coaching staff.

Devon Kennard, USC Trojans (September 21, 2013)

Devon Kennard has impressed coaches – © USA TODAY Sports Images

TRAINING CAMP STORYLINES: Little disclaimer early on: not going to count the health/return of Jon Beason (broken bone/torn ligament in foot) as a ‘training camp storyline’ simply because it doesn’t involve camp. If and when he returns will be well after the team breaks on Aug. 14.

Devon Kennard is easily one of the biggest camp storylines this year. Throughout the offseason conditioning program, Giants’ coaches ranted and raved about the progress of the rookie USC linebacker. While words are often meaningless, their faith in the 23-year-old was put on display when Kennard was inserted in as starting linebacker after Beason went down in OTAs.

Injuries have stunted the growth of Jacquian Williams, but it appears he’s ready for a breakout. The former sixth-round pick is no longer a situational player as the Giants have named him their full-time starting WILL. Williams progression, and ability to stay healthy, will be worth following during the summer.

Mark Herzlich, New York Giants (August 18, 2012)

Could this season be Mark Herzlich’s last with the Giants? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ON THE BUBBLE: It looks like the premier camp battle will be between undrafted linebacker Dan Fox and formerly undrafted Mark Herzlich. In the early stages of his career, Herzlich was all but given the keys to the Giants’ MIKE linebacker position, but never capitalized and struggled mightily on defense. When Beason went down during OTAs, it was Kennard that filled in at the middle…not Herzlich. If Dan Fox can match what Herzlich can do on special teams, there’s a chance he’s given the spot on the final 53. Fox has good speed, is very intelligent and versatile.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Linebackers coach Jim Herrmann on Kennard: “His college career he played everywhere. He had like I think three different coordinators at USC. When he was there with Monte Kiffin he was a MIKE. He played in that system. So for him, he’s played all over so he’s got multiple talents and he’s a smart guy so it’s not anything new for him. And he gives us a lot of flexibility. He has some rush ability so on third down he could actually be a rush-type guy. The flexibility helps us. As you go into the season there are 46 guys out there, normally the linebackers get maybe five guys so somebody has to know dual roles and we’ve always had guys that could do that. He’ll give us that ability.”

On progression of Jacquian Williams: “This OTA and mini-camp he did a great job in our base stuff as a WILL. He’s a natural WILL in nickel, he did a great job with our WILL stuff in base. To me he made a big jump and big improvement this spring.”

On UDFA Dan Fox: “To me he’s another guy, one of the young guys who’s got a lot of intelligence. He can play multiple roles. He actually played all three spots this spring, MIKE, SAM, WILL, he plays in our sub. Any time you’ve got a smart guy like that who football just comes natural to him, that gives him a chance. He’s got to make the team on special teams, obviously, that will be his biggest deal when he comes back. For me, as a position coach, being able to say, ‘Hey look, he has multiple roles on defense, he can play a lot of positions,’ that helps his chances. To me, that’s what you want.”

PREDICTIONS:
Connor Hughes - I believe this linebacking unit may be the best (when healthy) that the Giants have had in quite some time. Jameel McClain is a force against the run, intelligent, savvy and a vocal leader. Jacquian Williams (when healthy) has proven he has the raw and natural athletic ability that few at his position possess. Beason (again, when healthy) showed last year he’s an every down linebacker in the NFL and arguably the best in the middle the Giants have had since Antonio Pierce.

Despite all the above, the one player that most intrigues me is the one no one has seen in pads yet: Devon Kennard. The amount of praise Kennard has been given from the coaching staff is noticeable. Everyone from Tom Coughlin, to Perry Fewell, to Jim Herrmann has raved about the rookie. The fact the coaching staff already seems to have locked him in as a starter if McClain is forced to the middle with Beason out is telling. To get Kennard on the field – in pads – against the speed and talent level of the NFL will be a true tell if the Giants snagged a steal in the draft.

Eric Kennedy - Maybe it’s more wishful thinking than a realistic scenario, but I expect Jon Beason to be back by the opener. But obviously, the Giants need him back soon and they need him close to 100 percent. The way he impacted the overall defense with his presence last season was a pretty serious indictment on the Giants’ organization on their de-emphasis of the linebacker spot. If Beason is OK, the good news for the Giants is they now have two confident, cerebral leaders at the position in Beason and Jameel McClain. I’m curious to see McClain on the field. The Ravens said nice things about McClain, but they didn’t make a big effort to keep him. I wasn’t overly impressed in the limited 2013 film I’ve seen of McClain. But he was coming off of a serious neck injury so he may do better a couple of years removed from the injury.

Jacquian Williams has excellent tools but he has to stay healthy and play more physically than he has in the past against the run to prove he is an every-down linebacker. I actually like Spencer Paysinger more than most; at the very least, he is a very good special teams player.

STARTING UNIT WEEK 1?

Stevie Brown and Jon Beason, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Will Jon Beason be available for Week 1? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Connor Hughes - I’m sticking with the fact I don’t believe Beason will be ready versus the Lions. WILL – Jacquian Williams; MIKE – Jameel McClain; SAM – Devon Kennard.

Eric Kennedy – My gut says Beason will do everything he can to be out there on opening day. Starters will be Jameel McClain, Jon Beason, and Jacquian Williams.

WHO MAKES THE TEAM?
Connor Hughes – Jacquian Williams, Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard, Jon Beason, Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger. Dan Fox (PS).

Eric Kennedy – Jacquian Williams, Jameel McClain, Jon Beason, Spencer Paysinger, Devon Kennard, and Dan Fox.

Jul 112014
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (June 18,2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to camp in less than two weeks, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at this year’s defensive line.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Line

Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: The 2013 defensive line performed adequately, helping the New York Giants finish 8th in total defense (10th against the pass and 14th against the run). But those figures may have been inflated by the Giants facing some incredibly poor quarterbacks/passing offenses. The chief problem for the Giants was their best player up front, Jason Pierre-Paul, had his second subpar season in a row. Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and he never seemed to fully rebound from that procedure. He flashed some of his old form in Week 10 but also suffered a shoulder injury in that game which caused him to miss the last five games of the season. He finished 2013 with only 27 tackles and 2 sacks in 11 games. Statistically, the most productive player was Justin Tuck, who rebounded with a strong season (63 tackles, 11 sacks, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles) after two down seasons in a row. Mathias Kiwanuka played in all 16 games, with 10 starts at right defensive end. He finished the season with 41 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Damontre Moore was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft. However, an early preseason shoulder injury disrupted his development, and while Moore flashed on special teams, he did not make much noise at defensive end when given a limited number of snaps.

The Giants were pretty stout inside with Linval Joseph (59 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble) and Cullen Jenkins (31 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles). Backing them up were Mike Patterson (23 tackles), Shaun Rogers (9 tackles), Johnathan Hankins (16 tackles), and Markus Kuhn (1 tackle). Rogers started two games but was placed on Injured Reserve in November in a move that appeared to be designed to give Hankins more snaps as well as keep Kuhn, who had been on the PUP recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in 2012.

Overall, the slow-but-sure aging and departure of past stalwarts such as Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck – combined with two down season by JPP – has largely taken the bite out of the once-formidable outside pass rush. Tuck had 11 sacks in 2013, but six of those came against the Redskins. The other ends combined for only eight sacks on the season while the tackles chipped in with only eight as a unit.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants did not show much interest in re-signing 31-year old Justin Tuck and he is now in Oakland. Gone too is the Giants best defensive tackle of the last couple of seasons, Linval Joseph, who signed a big contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Again, it did not appear that the Giants made much of an effort to re-sign him. The Giants also did not choose to re-sign Shaun Rogers, who remains an unrestricted free agent.

Robert Ayers, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Robert Ayers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The main additions are DE Robert Ayers (UFA from Denver Broncos) and DT Jay Bromley (3rd round draft pick). The Giants also have brought in rookie free agents ends Kerry Wynn, Emmanuel Dieke, and Jordan Stanton as well as tackle Kelcy Quarles. Practice Squad DE Kendrick Adams, who has spent time with the Jaguars, Buccaneers, Lions, Browns, and Bengals, was re-signed. DT Everett Dawkins, who has spent time with the Vikings, Cowboys, and Buccaneers, was added as street free agent in June 2014.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Will Jason Pierre-Paul regain his 2011 form? Who will start opposite of him – Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers, or Damontre Moore? Who will start at defensive tackle with Cullen Jenkins? How many defensive tackles will the Giants keep?

“(Moore) made good, steady progress,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin in June. “He’s, naturally, a year later, a year more into it so he’s more comfortable with what’s going on. It’s not one of those things where you don’t notice that he’s out there because he does have a correction here or there. We like what we see. His continued development in the weight room with just some added muscle and strength, a little bit more size is something that will help a lot.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Barring injury, it would seem that JPP, Kiwanuka, Ayers, and Moore are locks to be the four defensive ends. Jenkins, Hankins, and Bromley are probably sure bets at tackle. Do the Giants keep four or five tackles? It could come down to a serious battle between Markus Kuhn and Mike Patterson.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Robert Nunn on Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins:  “I thought Damontre really took a step forward (this offseason) and Hankins really took off at the end of last year and has done a great job in the offseason working out, coming in in really good condition…I like where they are at now.”

Mike Patterson (93) and Kelcy Quarles (97), New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Mike Patterson (93) and Kelcy Quarles (97) – Photo by Connor Hughes

Nunn on Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson: “They’re solid guys, solid veteran guys. And they understand where they are in this stage of their career and we’ll have to take care of them through training camp. Both of those guys have had outstanding offseasons, I thought Mike came in here in really good shape. Cullen’s always been in good shape ever since I’ve been around him. We’ll see where it goes. Again, it’s so hard to tell, we’re so limited in what we can do in the offseason now but they’re in great shape and a really good frame of mind and have done a really good job with leadership with the younger players. We’ll see where it goes.”

Nunn on Markus Kuhn: “He had an outstanding offseason, really outstanding practices. He and Hankins, they’ll definitely get more reps in training camp than Mike P and Cullen if everything goes as planned. He showed up every day. When we go out there and go in team situations Markus was, there wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t call his name out in a positive manner.”

Nunn on Jay Bromley: “You know, he’s come in very willing to learn. He’s very green, very raw but hey, he’s got to get started. Those guys are the ones that really suffer as far as how limited we are with what we can do. He needs all the work he can get but he’s shown enough that hey, he’s got to show up when the pads come on. We’ll see when that happens.”

PREDICTIONS:

Eric Kennedy – The Giants will have problems rushing the quarterback. Unless Kiwanuka, Ayers, or Moore can get to the passer on a consistent basis, Jason Pierre-Paul may be in for a rough season. Without a viable threat opposite of him, JPP will be the focal point of other teams’ blocking schemes. Kiwanuka and Ayers have flashed throughout their veteran careers, but they have yet to become (and may never become) guys who the other teams really worry about. To be frank, when Moore played DE last year, he didn’t look good. Perhaps he will show more now that he is healthier and stronger. I think Hankins has the tools to be better than Linval Joseph and if the Giants can get another good, solid season out of Jenkins, they’ll be fine inside. I’d prefer to keep only four defensive tackles, but I think 2014 will be a redshirt season for Bromley and thus the Giants will be forced to keep both Patterson and Kuhn.

Connor Hughes - For all the questions concerning the Giants’ roster heading into training camp, the regular season and beyond, I don’t believe any have as many unknowns as the defensive line. Throughout the course of the offseason, the Giants put their emphasis on the secondary. Gone were the days of loading up on pass rushers. Instead, the team signed and signed again big-name and high profile defenders in the secondary. I agree with the change in philosophy, but I have very little faith in those up front.

Mathias Kiwanuka appears to be in the tail end of his career, who knows what JPP will take the field (if he even gets on it), Cullen Jenkins is older, Johnathan Hankins has yet to be an every-down player and Mike Patterson doesn’t have much ability outside stopping the run. Justin Tuck is in Oakland, Jay Bromley is a rookie. If one or two injuries hit the group…things could get ugly fast.

Granted, things could go the complete other/positive way. Robert Ayers could excel in a new location, JPP could be the Pierre-Paul of 2011, Kiwanuka could revitalize his career, Hankins could be a force and maybe Bromley steps up. I’ve thought long and hard about the positives of the defensive line, and I’ve come up with a bunch, but for every one good there are two negatives. Who knows, maybe the secondary can mask the guys up front. That philosophy certainly worked in the reciprocal fashion over the last seven years.

FINAL DEPTH CHART:

Eric Kennedy – Mathias Kiwanuka (LDE), Johnathan Hankins (LDT), Cullen Jenkins (RDT), and Jason Pierre-Paul (RDE). Reserves: Mike Patterson, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, Robert Ayers, and Damontre Moore.

Connor Hughes – Mathias Kiwanuka (LDE), Johnathan Hankins (LDT), Cullen Jenkins (RDT), Jason Pierre-Paul (RDE). Reserves: Mike Patterson, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, Robert Ayers, and Damontre Moore.

Jul 092014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Can the Giants’ line keep Manning upright in 2014? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to training camp in less than two weeks, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at the offensive line.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: Years of failing to install a contingency plan up front caught up to Jerry Reese in 2013. As injury after injury hit the offensive line, few, if any, reserves were waiting in the wings to step up. The Giants entered the season with a starting line of: William Beatty, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee and David Diehl. By the end of the season…all had landed on the injury report. Quarterback Eli Manning was sacked a career-high 39 times and the deep passes that the Giants had so much success with in previous seasons were eliminated because there wasn’t time to throw. In the end, even Manning himself suffered an injury. Things were bad, very bad. It was a nightmare that ultimately forced Kevin Gilbride to ‘retire.’

Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs (August 24, 2013)

Geoff Schwartz was the Giants big signing in 2014 – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: With how terrible things were last year, changes up front were inevitable. Kevin Boothe left for Oakland, David Baas was released and David Diehl retired. The Giants signed notable free agents: J.D. Walton (C), Geoff Schwartz (G), John Jerry (G) and Charles Brown (T) while drafting Weston Richburg (C/G) in the second round. It was a complete and much-needed overhaul.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: While there are many, the health of guard Chris Snee tops the list. Since being drafted out of Boston College, Snee has been a staple on the Giants’ line and considered one of the best guards in the NFL. But the years in the trenches have taken their toll on the 32-year-old. His 6-3, 310-pound frame is bruised and battered and Snee’s hardly the player he was when entering the league over a decade ago. When the Giants reported for their offseason conditioning program, Snee was a full participant, but that quickly changed. His elbow flared, sidelining Snee for the majority of the workouts.

Even when Snee is healthy, he isn’t the same player he used to be. The fact he’s already being held out of non-contact practices doesn’t bode well. Will Snee make it out of training camp? Will he hang up the cleats? If he realizes he can no longer play, who steps up at right guard? There are many questions on the Giants’ offensive line (William Beatty), but many center around the health of Chris Snee.

Chris Snee and Pat Flaherty, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Snee was on the sideline for much of the Giants’ offseason workouts – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ON THE BUBBLE: Two names truly stick out: John Jerry and James Brewer. Since being considered an up-and-coming lineman for the Giants, James Brewer has yet to capitalize on the opportunities the team has given him. Now, he finds himself working with the third unit and his days in blue may be numbered. Jerry, meanwhile, is waiting to hear on his punishment for his involvement in the Miami Dolphins bully scandal. There’s a lot of hype around Jerry and talk he could be perfect in the Giants’ scheme, but his baggage may be enough to have the Giants pull the plug before even flipping the switch.

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Pat Flaherty on the new faces in the offensive line meeting room: “Change is going to happen, we all know that. I like it, I really do. I mean, do I miss? You always miss people that you’ve been around for a lot of years, sure. But we all understand in most businesses that there is going to be change on sometimes a daily basis, most of the time on a yearly basis and that’s the profession that we’re in right now. So it’s a challenge because we have a mixture of youth and some veterans that come in from other teams that have to learn a whole new offense, as myself. Any time you have that type of… when you’re a competitor as you are as a player and a coach you kind of grab a hold of that and it’s fun. It is.”

PREDICTIONS:

John Jerry, Miami Dolphins (November 17, 2013)

Is John Jerry the answer if Chris Snee can’t go?– © USA TODAY Sports Images

Connor Hughes - I’m just not sold on the Giants’ offensive line yet. I like the addition of Geoff Schwartz, but that solidifies one of the five question marks from left to right. Of every player that could step foot on the field to protect Eli Manning, I have faith in two: Justin Pugh and Schwartz. J.D. Walton has battled injuries, William Beatty is a huge question mark, who goes for Snee if/when he can’t? John Jerry wasn’t exactly a stud in Miami, Brandon Mosley and others on the line haven’t shown much. The Giants made their splashes in free agency and the draft on the offensive side of the ball, adding weapon, after weapon, after weapon…but none will matter if Eli Manning isn’t protected. Last year, Manning ended up injured in the final game of the season. There’s a big part of me that believes he could end up with the same fate far sooner in 2014.

Eric Kennedy – I have to disagree with Connor a bit here and say the #1 question mark on the offensive line – and one of the top three question marks for the entire team – is Will Beatty. Coming off of a fractured leg and possibly an undisclosed knee injury, it remains to be seen when Beatty will be able to practice with the revamped first-team offensive line. He needs the practice. Not only to rebound from a very poor 2013 campaign, but also to develop chemistry and cohesion with LG Geoff Schwartz. The Giants can survive without Chris Snee, I’m not sure they can perform well without Beatty returning to his 2012 form. The “wild card” here is Charles Brown. He has talent, but was very inconsistent at left tackle in New Orleans.

My prediction is that J.D. Walton turns out to be a much more valuable addition to the team than many initially thought. He is a no-nonsense guy who will get the job done and bring some leadership to the unit. Walton and Geoff Schwartz will settle down the middle of the offensive line. I also look for Brandon Mosley to develop and possibly challenge for a starting spot.

STARTING LINE WEEK 1?
Connor Hughes - William Beatty (LT), Geoff Schwartz (LG), J.D. Walton (C), John Jerry (RG), Justin Pugh (RT).

Eric Kennedy – Will Beatty (LT), Geoff Schwartz (LG), J.D. Walton (C), Chris Snee (RG), Justin Pugh (RT). (I also think John Jerry, Charles Brown, Weston Richburg, and Brandon Mosley make the team).

Jul 072014
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to camp in less than a month, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Tight Ends

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: During the 2013 offseason, the New York Giants decided not to pay big bucks in order to retain Martellus Bennett who signed with the Chicago Bears. To replace Bennett, the Giants signed free agent Brandon Myers from the Oakland Raiders. The undersized, slow, and not overly athletic Myers was a significant step down as a blocker and receiver. He finished 2013 with 47 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns. The #2 tight end was again the hard-working, but physically unimpressive, Bear Pascoe, who had a grand total of 12 catches for 81 yards and no touchdowns. Much was expected of the physically-talented duo of Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell. Neither developed and long-time tight end coach Mike Pope was fired at the end of the season. Robinson, who was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft, was only active for two games as a rookie. He missed virtually all of the 2013 season with a foot injury he suffered in the preseason. When he did return in Week 16, he immediately sprained his knee. In two seasons, Robinson has played in three games and he has no career receptions. Donnell went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent 2012 on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell made the 53-man roster in 2013 and was active for all 16 games, starting one contest. He finished the season with only three catches for 31 yards.

Xavier Grimble, USC Trojans (November 3, 2012)

Xavier Grimble – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants had no interest in bringing back Brandon Myers (now with Tampa Bay) and Bear Pascoe (now with Atlanta). Robinson and Donnell return. Publicly, the Giants said they wanted to add a tight end in the draft but there were only so many tight ends who they liked and they regarded Weston Richburg a better value in the second round. In the offseason, the Giants added free agent journeymen Daniel Fells (who has spent time with six other teams but didn’t play in 2013) and Kellen Davis (two other teams; 50 catches in six seasons), as well as undrafted rookie free agent Xavier Grimble (USC).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Is there a legitimate starting-caliber tight end currently on this roster? If so, who is it? The pressure is on new tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride, Jr., who failed as a wide receivers coach in 2012-13 and whose last and only previous tight end coaching experience was with Georgetown University in 2006. Can he help do what Mike Pope was unable to do and that is get Robinson and Donnell to play better?

General Manager Jerry Reese hasn’t given up on the two youngsters. “We expect those two young guys (Robinson and Donnell) to come on, and they can be dynamic if we can get them going,” said Reese in June.

“I think we have a nice group there,” said new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo about the five tight ends currently on the roster. “We have big men in the room, I like the way they think about the game, I like the way they’re moving around on the field. When we get the pads on that’s when we’ll really know where we are.”

ON THE BUBBLE: Everyone. Anyone can become the starter and anyone can be cut.

Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Kevin Gilbride, Jr. on Adrien Robinson:  “He’s working incredibly hard to learn. That’s something that, going in, just knowing him as a personality not as someone I’ve taught before, I didn’t know. He’s in there, he’s taking copious notes, he’s answering questions very well. What we need to do is we need to get him to be able to transition that onto the field. He’s made strides, there’s no doubt that he’s made strides but there needs to be a lot more. The more in detail we get with him, sometimes he loses some of the basics as far as the techniques are concerned and we’ve got to get some carry-over with it.”

PREDICTIONS:

Eric Kennedy – There isn’t anyone on this roster who currently will scare an opposing defense. But is there even another Jake Ballard type here?

Adrien Robinson has been a major disappointment, but some of that was outside of his control. A very green rookie on college team that rarely threw the football to the tight end, he was forced to miss OTAs his rookie season because of an NFL requirement prohibiting players from universities using trimesters from participating in those activities. Mike Pope said that really set him back. He flashed some last offseason before being sidelined for the entire season with injuries. But both Robinson and Donnell do have intriguing physical tools. They are both big, athletic, and can catch the football. If they have the necessary toughness and desire, and if they can be coached up with the proper technique (all big “ifs”), at the very least, they should become good blockers. Don’t discount Larry Donnell. He could really surprise.

Connor Hughes - Baring an injury, Adrien Robinson is set to have a big, big season in 2014. From what we’ve seen in the early goings from the Giants offense, the days of the tight end being a “safety valve” are far in the past. New coordinator Ben McAdoo wants to use them often and as a focal point of the offense, not an after thought. With that being said, Robinson’s skill set is one I believe perfectly suits what the team is attempting to accomplish. Robinson has size (6-4), speed and the athletic ability to stretch the field. Countless times throughout the Giants’ offseason conditioning program, the tight end flashed what he can do…he just needs to stay healthy. If he can’t? Larry Donnell will be waiting in the wings.

FINAL DEPTH CHART:

Eric KennedyAdrien Robinson (1), Larry Donnell (2), and Xavier Grimble (3), Kellen Davis (Cut), Daniel Fells (Cut)

Connor Hughes – Adrien Robinson (1), Larry Donnell (2), Kellen Davis (3), Xavier Grimble (PS), Daniel Fells (Cut)

Jul 052014
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Can Victor Cruz excel in Ben McAdoo’s offense? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the New York Giants reporting to camp in less than a month, BigBlueInteractive.com is breaking down each of the team’s positional groups from now until July 21. Today, let’s take a look at this year’s wide receivers.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Wide Receivers

2013 YEAR IN REVIEW: Well, it certainly wasn’t pretty. What was expected to be the team’s strength quickly turned into a great weakness. The quarterback wasn’t on the same page as the wide receivers, the receivers weren’t on the same page as the quarterback and when the two did mesh the offensive line didn’t Eli Manning enough time to get them the ball. There’s no other way to put it, the season was a complete disaster. Statistically, Victor Cruz (73-998-4), Hakeem Nicks (56-896-0) and Rueben Randle (41-611-6) never all clicked at the same time. One positive though, Jerrel Jernigan showed promise in the final two games of the season.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants added to the receiver meeting room quite a bit, both in free agency and the draft.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (September 16, 2012)

Hakeem Nicks left via free agency after a disappointing 2013 – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Mario Manningham returns after two years in San Francisco and Trindon Holliday comes over from Denver. Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted in the first round out of LSU. A few names left via free agency, such as Hakeem Nicks (IND) and Louis Murphy (TB).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Every wide receiver that played in Kevin Gilbride’s offense last year has said the same thing about new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system this year: Less reads, quick passes. In the past, the Giants’ offense was predicated on stretching the field and going deep. Now, it appears as if those deep posts and streaks are quick slants and screens. It will be interesting to see how Gilbride’s wideouts fit into McAdoo’s offense. Cruz, Manningham and Beckham Jr. (in college) have all displayed the ability to make people miss with the ball in their hands; they may excel with McAdoo more than ever.

The use of Trindon Holliday offensively and the health of Mario Manningham will also be interesting. Throughout the offseason conditioning program, Holliday flashed again…and again…and again. He’s very dangerous in space, but has seldom been used on offense. Can McAdoo find a spot on offense? When healthy, Manningham is a dominant deep threat who can cause people to miss in space. But..is he healthy? The 28-year-0ld didn’t participate in OTAs or mini-camp.

ON THE BUBBLE: There’s the normal candidates who are fighting for a practice squad position (Corey Washington, Julian Talley, Preston Parker, Travis Harvey, Marcus Harris), but one name to keep an eye on as a potential cut is Mario Manningham. If the former second-round pick is finally healthy, he has a home with the Giants. If not? He could be cut in favor of another young target. The Giants have never been a team to give a roster spot to someone based on their name.

Odell Beckham (13) and Zack Bowman (31), New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Odell Beckham and Zack Bowman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

FROM THE POSITIONAL COACH: Sean Ryan on receiver Odell Beckham Jr.: “I think Beckham is a dynamic, dynamic player. I think he can be very good. We’ve got to, again, help him get rid of the mistakes that young guys make, help him to see the different things coverage-wise and disguise-wise that he’ll face in this league that maybe he didn’t get in college, but he’s got the ability to be a very explosive wide receiver.”

PREDICTIONS:
Connor Hughes - I’m very, very intrigued to see what players like Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr., Trindon Holliday, Jerrel Jernigan and Mario Manningham can do in Ben McAdoo’s new offense. Everything we’ve been told and seen throughout the offseason suggest a high-tempo, fast-paced, quick-pass offense that is predicated on getting the receiver the ball in space. We’ve seen Manningham have success in that role, Cruz too. Beckham Jr. did it all throughout college and Holliday as a returner. Gone are the long developing deep passes, I believe this offense fits these receivers perfectly. Then again, if Manning doesn’t have the time to get them the ball…none of it will matter.

Eric Kennedy – Like Connor, I see a group of wide receivers who run well after the catch. The key will be Eli’s ability to accurately hit them in stride in order for them to do damage after the reception. And while fewer reads reduces the mental strain on the quarterback and receivers, it also reduces the mental strain on the defense. Routes will be more predictable and there will be more pressure on receivers to physically beat opposing defensive backs to get open. The top three will undoubtedly be Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham, and Rueben Randle. With defenses focusing on Cruz early, I look for Beckham and Randle to make a lot of big plays. Randle, more than anyone, seems more at peace with the new system. My “wild card” is Holliday. The Texans and Broncos never really used him on offense (two career catches). My gut tells me Ben McAdoo becomes enthralled with his play-making ability in space and designs a handful of plays for him per game.

WHO MAKES THE CUT?:
Connor Hughes - Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Trindon Holliday, Jerrel Jernigan, Mario Manningham, Rueben Randle. (Marcus Harris ends up on practice squad).

Eric Kennedy – Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Trindon Holliday, Jerrel Jernigan, Marcus Harris.