Scouting Reports Last Updated: December 6, 2016
Statistically speaking, Eli Manning has had two very strong seasons in a row. He finished 2015 with 4,436 yards (second-highest total in his career and franchise history), 35 touchdowns (career single-season high and one short of the franchise record), and 14 interceptions (tied for second-lowest in his career since his rookie season). Manning also set franchise marks for passing attempts (618) and completions (387), completing 62.6 percent of his passes (third-best completion rate of his career). Manning’s 93.6 passer rating in 2015 was a career-high. Manning was the first player selected in the 2004 NFL Draft and immediately traded to the Giants by the Chargers. The 35-year old Manning owns practically every quarterback record in franchise history. He is 8-3 as a playoff quarterback and a two-time Super Bowl MVP. His best season was 2011 when he carried the Giants to the playoffs, highlighted by eight come-from-behind victories on a team with a poor regular-season defense (27th in the NFL) and running game (32nd in the NFL). Manning has excellent size and a strong arm. He is extremely tough and has never missed a game in 11 seasons. He only has a 59.3 percent career completion percentage though that figure has improved with the offensive emphasis shifting from a down-field, vertical attack to the West Coast system. Manning has the perfect temperament for playing in the New York metropolitan area as the intense media spotlight does not seem to faze him. He is very smart and hard-working. Manning excels in the mental aspects of the game. Manning reads opposing defenses extremely well. The coaching staff trusts him to make complicated pre-snap reads for both the running and passing games. On the negative side, Manning is still guilty of making the ill-advised, head-scratching throw when the smarter decision would be to throw the football away or take the sack. His gun-slinger mentality also causes him to make some risky throws in tight windows. A true pocket passer, Manning is not a threat to harm a defense with his feet. Manning was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2011, and played in the game after the 2012 and 2015 regular seasons as an alternate. When Manning is on his game, he is one of the most clutch performers in the NFL.
Ryan Nassib was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Since 2014, Nassib has been the #2 quarterback and only other quarterback on the 53-man roster. During that time, he has only seen very limited playing time with all of his regular-season throws coming at the end of two blowout losses. Nassib has completed 9-of-10 passes with one touchdown in his career. Nassib has average height, but he is a mentally and physically tough, well-built quarterback with a good arm and decent mobility. He is very smart and played in two pro style offenses in college. At the college level Nassib was a team leader and clutch player who had a history of winning games late.
The Giants signed Josh Johnson in early September 2016 after he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens. The 30-year old Johnson was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has spent time with the Buccaneers (2008–2011), 49ers (2012), Sacramento Mountain Lions (2012), Browns (2012), Bengals (2013), 49ers (2014), Bengals (2015), Jets (2015), Colts (2015), Bills (2015), and Ravens (2016). Johnson has played in 29 regular-season games with five starts – the last coming with Buccaneers in 2011. He has completed 96-of-177 passes (54.2 percent) for 1,042 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. In the 2016 preseason for the Ravens, Johnson completed 41-of-57 passes (71.9 percent) for 365 yards, 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. He also rushed for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries. Johnson is a mobile quarterback with good size.
Rashad Jennings had his most productive year in the NFL in 2015, starting all 16 games for the first time in his career and finishing the season with 863 yards on 195 carries (4.4 yards per carry) and three rushing touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown. Half of his rushing yards (432 yards) came in the last four games of the season as the Jennings became the feature back. Jennings was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2013 and the Giants in 2014. Jennings missed five games with the Giants in 2014 due to knee and ankle problems. Though not terribly dynamic, Jennings is a big, physical, no-nonsense, north-south runner who does his best work between-the-tackles or off tackle. He is a solid pass blocker and has good hands as a receiver. Jennings is a hard worker and a good presence in the locker room.
Paul Perkins was drafted by the Giants in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Perkins lacks ideal size and speed but he is a super-productive and competitive play-maker with excellent vision, balance, patience, and instincts. He can make something out of nothing in tight quarters and bursts through the hole. Perkins is very quick and elusive with superb change-of-direction ability. Perkins is a tough runner who plays bigger than his size, but he lacks power. Perkins is also very productive catching the ball out of the backfield. Team leader.
The Giants signed Bobby Rainey as an unrestricted free agent from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in April 2016. Rainey was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2012 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Ravens (2012), Cleveland Browns (2013), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2015). In his four NFL seasons, Rainey has played in 46 regular-season games with 11 starts. He has has 249 career rushing attempts for 990 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. Rainey has also caught 51 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns. In 2015 with the Buccaneers, his primary role was on special teams returning both kickoffs (24.7 yards per return) and punts (9.9 yards per return). Rainey lacks size, but he is a well-built runner with good instincts, balance, and quickness. He lacks power and has had issues with ball security with 12 career fumbles. Rainey catches the ball well.
George Winn was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2016. Winn was originally signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Texans (2013), New England Patriots (2013), Oakland Raiders (2013), Pittsburgh Steelers (2013), Dallas Cowboys (2013), and Detroit Lions (2014–2016). He’s played in 19 regular-season games with no starts, accruing just 74 yards on 23 carries (3.2 yards per carry). Winn is a hard-nosed, between-the-tackles runner. Good special teams player.
Shane Vereen was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2016 with a triceps injury that required surgery. Vereen was originally selected in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2015. As the team’s third-down back, playing in all 16 games with no starts, Vereen had his most productive year in the NFL as a pass receiver in 2015, catching a career-high 59 passes for 495 yards and four touchdowns. It was the most receptions by a Giants running back in a single season since Tiki Barber. Vereen also carried the ball 61 times for 260 yards (4.3 yards per carry). Vereen lacks ideal size and power, but he is an elusive back with good vision and speed. Vereen is one of the better pass-catching backs in the NFL as he runs good routes and has good hands. He is also solid in pass protection. Injury-prone in his first three NFL seasons, Vereen has not missed a game in the last two years.
Orleans Darkwa was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2016 with a lower leg injury. Darkwa played in 10 games with two starts for the Giants in 2016. He carries the ball 30 times for 111 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 12 yards. Darkwa was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in four games in September before being waived in October and signed to the team’s Practice Squad. The Giants signed him off of Miami’s Practice Squad in November 2014. Darkwa has average size and overall athletic ability, but he is a very physical, instinctive between-the-tackles runner. He lacks elusiveness and the ability to create on his own. Darkwa has good hands despite having only 10 career receptions.
The Giants placed Will Johnson on Injured Reserve in early September 2016 with a burner that he suffered in the first preseason game. The Giants signed Johnson as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in April 2016. Johnson was not drafted and signed with the Steelers in 2012. In four seasons with the Steelers, Johnson only missed one regular-season game, and started 20 contests. He has 31 career receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson is versatile with the ability to play H-Back, tight end, and fullback. He is a good lead blocker who can also catch the football. Johnson is a solid special teams player.
The Giants waived/injured Nikita Whitlock in late August 2016 and then placed him on Injured Reserve with a mid-foot sprain. He was then suspended in September 2016 for 10 games by the NFL for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. Whitlock was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but was cut and signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their Practice Squad. The NFL suspended Whitlock in November 2014 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and the Cowboys terminated his Practice Squad contract. The Giants signed him to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Whitlock surprisingly beat out fullback Henry Hynoski in training camp in 2015. Whitlock ended up playing in 14 games with five starts until he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2015 with a knee injury. He had no touches as a rusher or receiver. Whitlock has good size for a fullback and is a physical player, but he needs to become a more consistent lead blocker. A collegiate defensive tackle, Whitlock also received a limited number of snaps at defensive tackle in pass rush situations for the Giants in 2015. He finished the season with six tackles and a sack. Although Whitlock is extremely small for a defensive tackle, he gave opposing interior linemen fits at times with his quick pass rush moves. Whitlock is a good special teams player.
Odell Beckham is one of the game’s best players. He followed up his record-breaking rookie campaign with another superlative effort in 2015, finishing with 96 catches for 1,450 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns. Despite missing five games in his first two seasons, Beckham has accrued 187 catches, 2,755 yards, and 25 touchdowns – setting an NFL record for most receiving yards by a player in the first two years of his career. Beckham was voted Pro Football Writers of America “Rookie of the Year” after the 2014 season and will play in the Pro Bowl for a second time. Beckham was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. While Beckham lacks classic size, his long arms, big hands, and tremendous jumping ability give him a very good catch radius. Beckham is an explosive athlete with excellent speed, quickness, and agility. He is able to play multiple positions, including the slot. Beckham runs good routes, is very quick out of his breaks, adjusts exceptionally well to the football, and regularly makes the circus catch. He is very dangerous with the football in his hands after the catch. Competitive, smart, and hard working. A passionate player, Beckham’s biggest negative can be his on-field temperament. He was suspended by the NFL for one game in 2015 after losing his composure and taking cheap shots against the Panthers. Beckham has now painted a target on his back and will now have to deal with other teams trying to get under his skin.
Sterling Shepard was selected in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Giants. Shepard may lack ideal size, but he was arguably the best slot wide receiver available in the draft. Shepard is a very strong, extremely quick, and super-productive receiver with good speed. He plays bigger than his size due to his strength and excellent leaping ability. Shepard is an excellent route runner who knows how to get open. Sudden and creates separation. He is tough, fearless, and super-competitive. He attacks the football and has excellent hands. Runs well after the catch. Shepard has an outstanding work ethic and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has experience returning punts.
Victor Cruz did not play in any preseason or regular-season games in 2015. Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2015 due to a left calf injury suffered in August that never healed and required surgery. It is the third leg injury that Cruz has suffered since signing his big 6-year contract in July 2013, including arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in 2013 and career-threatening patellar tendon surgery on his right knee in 2014. It still remains to be seen if Cruz can completely regain his pre-injury physical ability. Signed as a rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft, the rags-to-riches Victor Cruz story is well known, culminating with his impact season in 2011, first Pro Bowl in 2012, and big offseason contract in 2013. In 2011-2012, Cruz compiled 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. However, in 2013, Cruz had his least productive season since becoming a starter in 2011, playing in 14 games and finishing with 73 catches for 998 yards and just four touchdowns. Cruz has ordinary size and timed speed. However, pre-injury, he had very good quickness and played faster than he timed. Cruz reads coverages well, runs good routes, and has a good understanding of how to get open against both zone and man coverage. Cruz has good hands and is capable of making the circus catch, though he sometimes will drop the easy reception. He is elusive after the catch and usually isn’t caught from behind. Cruz is a hard worker. He can play outside, but excels in the slot position.
The Giants signed Roger Lewis as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Lewis combines decent size and overall athletic ability. Lewis lacks ideal speed, quickness, and strength, but he makes big plays. Competitive, passionate, productive receiver who adjusts well to the football and has good hands. Film junkie.
Signed primarily as a top special teams performer, Dwayne Harris had his best year as a receiver in the NFL in 2015. He played in 15 games with six starts and finished the season with 36 catches for 396 yards and four touchdowns, surpassing his previous four-year total in Dallas of 33 catches for 418 yards and three touchdowns. Harris also became the first Giants player in 60 years to return a kickoff and punt for a touchdown in the same season. Harris was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Cowboys. The Giants signed him in free agency in March 2015. Though he lacks height, Harris is a well-built athlete with decent speed and quickness. He is tough and physical and an asset as a blocker in the running game. Harris can play in the slot and has decent hands. Harris is an exceptional special teams player, not just in the return game but on the punt and kickoff coverage units. He has four career returns four touchdowns and has won the “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week” award four times in his career.
The Giants signed Tavarres King to the Practice Squad in late September 2015. King was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He has spent time with the Broncos (2013), Panthers (2013-14), Jaguars (2014), and Buccaneers (2014-15). He has only played in two NFL games. King was waived by the Buccaneers in early September. King lacks ideal size, but he is fast and can get deep. He is not a physical player and is best suited as an outside receiver.
Darius Powe was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016. The Giants originally signed Powe as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Powe is a big receiver with decent overall athleticism.
Kevin Norwood was signed to the Practice Squad in November 2016. Norwood was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Norwood has spent time with the Seahawks (2014), Carolina Panthers (2014-2015), and San Diego Chargers (2016). The Chargers terminated his Practice Squad contract in November. Norwood has played in 10 regular-season games with two starts. He has nine career receptions for 102 yards. Norwood is a big (6’2”, 210lbs), physical possession receiver who runs good routes. He lacks ideal speed and quickness.
Ben Edwards was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve in May 2016 after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in one of his knees during the rookie mini-camp. Injuries have plagued Edwards who tore an ACL in college in 2013, an injury that caused him to miss all of 2014; pulled his hamstring in a June 2015 mini-camp, an injury that led him to being waived/injured; and sprained his knee in an April 2016 mini-camp. The Giants originally signed Edwards after the 2015 NFL Draft, waived/injured him in June, re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November, and signed him to the 53-man roster in December. He played in the final two games of 2015 and finished the season with one catch for nine yards. Edwards lacks ideal size and timed speed, but he is a quick receiver who plays faster than he times. Edwards runs very good routes, adjusts well to the football, and has good hands. He has experience playing in the slot and returning punts.
Forced into service due to injuries to other players, Will Tye was a pleasant surprise in 2015. He played in 13 games with seven starts, and finished the season with 42 catches for 464 yards and three touchdowns. Tye was voted to the Pro Football Writers NFL All-Rookie Team. Tye was originally signed as a rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. The Giants added him to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad in early October 2015. Tye lacks ideal height but he is well-built athlete with good speed for a tight end. He catches the ball well and can gain yards after the catch. Tye needs to improve as a blocker.
Jerell Adams was drafted by the Giants in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Adams is a tall tight end with long arms who needs to add more strength and bulk. Adams has the tools and temperament to develop into a good blocker. He plays with toughness and works to finish his blocks. Adams has good speed for the position and can threaten a defense down the field. He adjusts well to the football, has good hands, and runs well after the catch. Adams is a bit of a developmental project as he does need to work on his route running and overall technique. His work ethic has been questioned. Big upside.
Larry Donnell was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2015 with a neck injury. After a breakout season in 2014, Donnell had a disappointing 2015 campaign as his production dropped from 63 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns to 29 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He started all eight games in which he played in 2015. Donnell originally went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent the 2012 season on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell made the 53-man roster in 2013 and was active for all 16 games, starting one contest, but he only caught three passes for 31 yards. Donnell is a big, athletic target. A former collegiate quarterback and a very raw player when he came to the Giants, Donnell is still a work in progress. As a receiver, Donnell has a good catch radius, adjusts well to the football, and is capable of making the circus catch. He needs to do a better job of holding onto the football (four fumbles in 2014) and gaining yards after the catch, where he often looks clumsy. While Donnell gives a good effort, he still has a lot of work to do to improve as a blocker.
The Giants waived/injured Matt LaCosse in late August 2016 and then placed him on Injured Reserve with a knee injury that required surgery. LaCosse was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Giants waived/injured him in early August with a hamstring injury. LaCosse then spent some time with the Jets in the preseason. The Giants re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November and the 53-man roster in December 2015. He played in two games and finished with three catches for 22 yards. LaCosse is a versatile player who played tight end, H-Back, and fullback in college. LaCosse has a good frame, but he needs to add bulk and get stronger. LaCosse has good speed and catches the football well.
Drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants, Ereck Flowers was immediately thrown to the wolves at left tackle due to Will Beatty’s season-ending injury. Flowers was also hampered by a painful high ankle sprain that he suffered before the season and kept aggravating all season. But Flowers toughed it out, only missed one game, and started 15 contests at a position where most young players struggle. Flowers is a huge, strong, powerful lineman who plays with toughness and a mean streak. He can muscle and maul defenders and is a very good run blocker. Flowers has the feet, agility, and overall athleticism to be a sound pass protector, but he needs to dramatically improve his pass protection technique. Flowers had his struggles at times against quick pass rushers, particularly in the second half of the season, when he may have hit that infamous rookie wall.
Drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants, Bobby Hart played in nine games, starting one at right tackle for the injured Marshall Newhouse in Week 13. Hart has excellent size and good strength, with just enough overall athleticism to play right tackle. Hart is able to muscle and maul in the run game.
Signed to be a reserve, back-up swing tackle, Marshall Newhouse was pressed into full-time service at right tackle after Will Beatty was lost for the season. Newhouse started all 14 games he played in, missing two due to injury (back, concussion). Newhouse was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He was the starting left tackle for the Packers in 2011 and 2012 before losing his starting job in 2013. Newhouse signed with the Bengals as a free agent in 2014 and he started five games for the Bengals. However, he struggled at right tackle for Cincinnati and was benched. The Giants signed him in March 2015. Newhouse has a very good combination of size and overall athleticism. Versatile, he can play both tackle spots. Newhouse is not a very powerful or physical player as a run blocker and he lacks consistency as a pass protector, where he still struggles at times.
The Giants re-signed Will Beatty in late August 2016 after releasing him in February. Beatty was placed on the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List in September 2015 as he was still recovering from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in May lifting weights. He remained on the PUP the entire season as a rotator cuff injury that required surgery also became an issue. Beatty started all 16 games at left tackle for the Giants in 2014 and had a solid season. He rebounded from a terribly inconsistent 2013 season, as well as a fractured tibia that he suffered in the regular-season finale at the end of that year. Since Beatty was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Giants, he has had issues staying healthy, including a broken foot in 2010, a detached retina in 2011, a back injury that caused him to miss offseason work in 2012, the broken leg in 2013, and the pectoral tear and rotator cuff injuries in 2015. Beatty is a big lineman with long arms and a very good athlete. When on top of his game, Beatty can mirror and slide with the best pass rushers, and is athletic enough to pull and engage defenders at the second level in the run game. However, Beatty is more of a finesse player. He does not play with a lot of strength and power and he is not a very physical or aggressive blocker. Beatty still has consistency issues.
Jon Halapio was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016. Halapio was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He has bounced around different leagues and teams including the Patriots (2014), Boston Brawlers (2014), Denver Broncos (2014–2015), Arizona Cardinals (2015), Brooklyn Bolts (2015), and Patriots (2016) again. He has not played in an NFL regular-season game. Halapio is stout and strong but lacks ideal height and athleticism for tackle.
Laurence Gibson was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016. Gibson was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He has spent time with the Cowboys (2015), Chiefs (2015), Falcons (2016), and Bears (2016). He has yet to play in a regular-season game. Gibson is a very athletic lineman with good height and long arms. A better testing athlete than football player so far, Gibson needs to play with more strength and power.
Justin Pugh was shifted from right tackle to left guard in 2015, where he played well. Pugh started 14 games in 2015, 12 at left guard, one at left tackle, and one at right tackle. He missed two games with an ocular concussion. Pugh was drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He started 30 games in his first two seasons, missing two games in 2014 with a quadriceps injury. He was voted to the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team after his 2013 campaign. Pugh lacks ideal size and arm length, but he is a good athlete who plays with fine strength, technique, and leverage. Pugh is smart, aggressive, and tenacious. Though not a mauler, he can get movement on his run blocks and he has the agility to do well in pass protection, though he needs to become more consistent in that area. He can pull and block defenders at the second level. Pugh is very versatile, able to play both tackle and guard spots, and probably even center in a pinch. He needs to stay healthy.
Relegated to a reserve role for the first half of the season, John Jerry started the last eight games as injuries became a factor on the offensive line. He had started all 16 games at right guard in 2014. Jerry was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Dolphins where he started 45 games in his first four seasons in the NFL. The Giants signed Jerry as an unrestricted free agent in March 2014. Jerry looks the part with very good size and long arms, and he flashes both as a run and pass blocker. But he simply is not consistently reliable, technically sound, and physically tenacious enough blocking for both the run and the pass.
Adam Gettis was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016 and to the 53-man roster in November 2016. Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He has spent time with the Redskins (2012-2013), Steelers (2014), Giants (2014-2015), Raiders (2015), and Giants again (2015-2016). Gettis has played in 14 regular-season games with no starts, 13 of those games coming with the Redskins in 2013. Gettis lacks ideal size and power, but he is an athletic lineman with good mobility. Versatile, he can play both guard and center.
Weston Richburg is quietly developing into one of the game’s best centers. In his second season in the NFL in 2015, Richburg was shifted from left guard to his more natural center position. He started 15 games at the pivot, missing one game with a high ankle sprain. Richburg is an average-sized center, but he is a good athlete who plays with good leverage and tenacity. Mobile and agile, Richburg, can block at the second level and pull on outside runs. He is smart, tough, and aggressive.
Brett Jones was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2015 after spraining the MCL in his knee on the preseason finale. Jones was originally drafted by the CFL Calgary Stampeders in 2013. He was named the CFL’s “Most Outstanding Rookie” after that season. Jones was also named the CFL’s “Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman” in 2014. He signed by the Giants in February 2015. Jones lacks size but he is well built with good overall athleticism for the center position. He is a tough, aggressive lineman and very smart.
The Giants signed Olivier Vernon as an unrestricted free agent from the Miami Dolphins in March 2016. Vernon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. In the last three seasons, he has played in every regular-season game with 46 starts, averaging 55 tackles and 8.5 sacks per year. Vernon is a very good two-way player who is disruptive against both the run and the pass. He can get heat on the quarterback from both the end and tackle positions, similar to Justin Tuck, and gets a lot of hits on the quarterback.
Jason Pierre-Paul suffered serious and permanent injuries to his right hand from a July 4th fireworks accident, including the amputation of his index finger and severe damage to his thumb and middle finger. He returned to the playing field halfway through the 2015 season, wearing a large club that made it impossible for him to grab and tackle with his right hand. Pierre-Paul started the eight games he played in and finished the season with 26 tackles, 1 sack, and 6 pass defenses. Pierre-Paul was drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Giants. His best season came in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. After two down seasons in 2012 and 2013 (total 8.5 sacks), Pierre-Paul rebounded in 2014 with 77 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last five games of that season. Pierre-Paul has an excellent combination of size, strength, and athleticism. When healthy and focused, Pierre-Paul can be an explosive, disruptive difference-maker. His tremendous wingspan helps him to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage (34 career pass defenses and 2 interceptions). As a pass rusher, he can beat blockers with both power and movement skills. Pierre-Paul is a very good run defender, both at the point-of-attack as well as in backside pursuit. He can be vulnerable to misdirection such as on read-option plays. Pierre-Paul’s intensity, focus, and effort have been questioned at times. Now permanently-damaged goods, it is doubtful he will ever regain his 2011 form.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa’s rookie campaign was a virtual wash. Hamstring and foot injuries caused him to miss 12 games and he finished the season with only three tackles. The Giants drafted Odighizuwa in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Odighizuwa is an extremely well-built and athletic defensive end with long arms and huge hands. He plays with power and strength and is a good run defender. He is a versatile player who can play inside in pass rush situations. Odighizuwa flashes explosive pass rush ability but he needs more technique work in that area. In college, Odighizuwa developed a reputation as a hard working, competitive team leader with a non-stop motor. He missed his 2013 collegiate season due to two hip labrum surgeries.
The Giants signed Romeo Okwara as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Okwara has excellent size and arm length. He is a good athlete with fine first-step quickness. He looks the part and plays hard. Okwara is physical and an aggressive tackler. He flashes as both a run defender and pass rusher but needs more development. Okwara plays too high and gets hung up on blocks too frequently. He doesn’t appear overly instinctive.
In his second season with the Giants, Kerry Wynn did not have the impact that many had hoped. Wynn played in 15 games, starting seven, and finished the season with 53 tackles, no sacks, and two pass defenses. Wynn was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2014 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he flashed in the five games he played in with 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 1 interception. Wynn has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. While he is a decent run defender, Wynn was a complete non-factor on the pass rush in 2015.
Stansly Maponga was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016. Maponga was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. From 2013-2014, he played in 24 regular-season games with no starts, accruing eight tackles, one sack, and two fumble recoveries. The Falcons waived Maponga before the start of the 2015 season. The Giants signed Maponga off of the Practice Squad of the Falcons in December 2015, and he ended up playing in two games for New York. Maponga is an athletic lineman who flashes on occasion as a pass rusher.
Jordan Williams was signed to the Practice Squad in December 2016. Williams was originally signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jets (2015) and Miami Dolphins (2015-2016). He has good size.
The Giants signed Damon Harrison as an unrestricted free agent from the New York Jets in March 2016. Harrison was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jets after the 2012 NFL Draft. In the last three years, Harrison has started every regular-season game for the Jets. In 2015, he accrued 72 tackles and 0.5 sacks. The 6’4”, 350-pound Harrison is one of the NFL’s best run-stuffing nose tackles. He does not get much heat on the passer.
After a breakout season in 2014 when he started all 16 games and accrued 51 tackles, 7 sacks, 3 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble, Johnathan Hankins had a disappointing 2015. Although he started all nine games he played in, he missed the remainder of the 2015 season with a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery. Hankins’ numbers fell to 30 tackles, no sacks, 1 pass defense, and 1 forced fumble. Hankins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants and played in 11 games as a reserve his rookie year. Hankins has excellent size and strength, and he has good overall athleticism. He is a stout run defender. Hankins was much more productive rushing the passer in 2014 than he was in 2015.
Jay Bromley saw his playing time and productivity dramatically increase in his second season. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants, Bromley played in eight games with no starts as a rookie, finishing the season with only five tackles. In 2015, Bromley played in all 16 games, starting four, and finished the season with 36 tackles. Bromley combines decent size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He improved his play against the run in 2015. Bromley has yet to register a sack at the pro level, but he did flash at times applying pressure on the quarterback in 2015.
The Giants claimed Robert Thomas off of waivers from the Carolina Panthers in September 2016. Thomas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Washington Redskins after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Redskins (2014-15), Seahawks (2015), Patriots (2015), Dolphins (2015), and Panthers (2016). To date, Thomas has only played in one regular season game. Thomas is a big, strong tackle who plays hard.
Devon Kennard missed two games in October with a hamstring injury and the last five games with a foot injury that landed him on Injured Reserve. Kennard started the other nine games and finished the season with 58 tackles, four pass defenses, and one interception. It was the second injury-plagued season for Kennard who missed four games in 2014 with hamstring and toe issues. Kennard was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. Kennard has excellent size and strength and plays the run well. While he lacks ideal speed and quickness, he’s a good overall athlete who is improving in coverage. Kennard flashed as a blitzer as a rookie (4.5 sacks) but not in 2015 (no sacks). Unfortunately, he has been injury prone at both the college and pro levels.
The Giants signed Kelvin Sheppard as an unrestricted free agent from the Miami Dolphins in April 2016. Sheppard was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in April 2013 and signed with the Dolphins in September 2014. In five NFL seasons, Sheppard has only missed three regular-season games, starting 45 contests. In 2015, he started 13 games and finished the season with 105 tackles and two pass defenses. Sheppard has good size, but he’s a journeyman who doesn’t make many game-changing plays.
The Giants signed Jonathan Casillas in March 2015. He played in 15 games with seven starts in 2015, finishing with 88 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 pass defenses, and 1 interception. Casillas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New Orleans Saints after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has played for the Saints (2009-11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-14), and Patriots (2014). Casillas lacks ideal size and has issues against the run, but he is speedy linebacker who is good in coverage. He is a good special teams player.
The Giants signed Keenan Robinson as an unrestricted free agent from the Washington Redskins in March 2016. Robinson was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He has been an injury-plagued player who has missed time in 2012 (four games with right pectoral tear), 2013 (entire season with left pectoral tear), 2014 (three games with a knee injury), and 2015 (four games with a shoulder injury). Robinson’s best season was in 2014 when he started all 13 games he played in and finished the year with 109 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. He played in 12 games with eight starts in 2015 and finished with 63 tackles and one interception. Robinson has a nice combination of overall athleticism and size. Versatile, he can play inside and outside linebacker. Robinson is an instinctive, productive player who plays with a reckless style. He is more of a run-and-hit linebacker than stout run defender at the point-of-attack. He needs to improve his overall tackling consistency. Robinson is solid in pass coverage.
Mark Herzlich remains primarily a reserve linebacker and special teams player who occasionally is called upon to start. Herzlich played in all 16 games with three starts in 2015, and finished the season 30 tackles and one forced fumble. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has started 17 regular-season games in his five seasons with the Giants, eight of which were in 2014. Herzlich was regarded as one of the better collegiate linebackers in the country before missing the 2009 season with life-threatening bone cancer, which in turn led to him having a career-threatening titanium rod inserted into his left femur. Herzlich has very good size but is a sup-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer.
B.J. Goodson was drafted by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Goodson has a nice combination of size and strength with just enough overall athleticism. Goodson is a stout, physical run defender who can stack and shed at the point-of-attack. He is also adept at avoiding blockers and getting to the ball carrier. Goodson will hit you and is a strong, reliable tackler. He lacks ideal range, recovery quickness, and closing burst. Though not a strong suite, Goodson is better in coverage than advertised, showing good awareness. He also flashes as a blitzer. Goodson is a smart, tough, consistent player and team leader. Versatile, Goodson can play all three linebacker spots.
Deontae Skinner was added to and released from the Practice Squad multiple times in 2016. He also was signed to the 53-man roster in October and again in December. Skinner was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Patriots (2014-2015) and Eagles (2015-2016), the latter waiving him on August 22. Skinner is a big, instinctive linebacker with decent agility but who lacks speed.
Ishaq Williams was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016. The Giants originally signed Williams after he impressed as a tryout player during the May 2016 mini-camp. Williams was out of football since 2013 after being implicated in an academic dishonesty scandal at Notre Dame. Williams has a nice combination of size and overall athletic ability.
The Giants placed J.T. Thomas on Injured Reserve in September 2016 after he suffered ligament damage to his left knee in the regular-season opener. Thomas was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The Bears waived him in August 2013 and he was claimed off of waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants signed Thomas in March 2015. He played in 12 games with 11 starts, missing three games in November and the last game with ankle issues, ending up on Injured Reserve. Thomas finished the season with 46 tackles, but had no sacks, pass defenses, interceptions, or forced fumbles. Thomas lacks ideal size, but he’s a good athlete who runs well. Versatile, Thomas can play all three linebacker positions. He is also a good special teams player.
Uani ‘Unga was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve in May 2016 after suffering an undisclosed injury. ‘Unga suffered a serious injury to his right knee (ACL, MCL, and meniscus) during his last year in college in 2013 and was not drafted. The Giants signed him to the team’s Practice Squad in December 2014. ‘Unga received far more playing time than expected in 2015 due to injuries to other players. He played in 13 games with three starts, and finished the season with 59 tackles, 4 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. ‘Unga lacks ideal size but he is a decent athlete who is smart and plays hard. He was up and down in both run defense and pass coverage in 2015.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has played well in both of his seasons with the Giants. In 2015, he missed one game with a concussion but started the other 15 games and finished the season with 58 tackles (career high), 13 pass defenses, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. Rodgers-Cromartie also scored twice on defense. On the downside, he had a couple of more opportunities for pick-6 touchdowns slip through his fingers. Rodgers-Cromartie was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and signed with the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and the Giants in 2014. Rodgers-Cromartie combines superb size and overall athletic ability, including speed, size, and leaping ability. Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the better cover corners in the NFL and capable of shutting down even top wide receivers. He improved his toughness as a hitter and tackler in 2015. Rodgers-Cromartie made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and in 2015, the latter as an alternate.
The Giants signed Janoris Jenkins as an unrestricted free agent from the Los Angeles Rams in March 2016. Jenkins was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. In his four seasons with the Rams, Jenkins played in 60 regular-season games with 58 starts. He has 49 career pass breakups and 10 interceptions, five of which he has returned for touchdowns. Jenkins is an average-sized corner with excellent speed and quickness. He is an instinctive coverman who has gotten better each year. Jenkins plays well in both man and zone coverage. Jenkins makes plays on the football, but is known as a bit of a gambler and will also give up the big play. He is not a physical run defender or strong tackler. Jenkins plays with a cocky swagger, but there are also some character concerns, including a drug charge in college.
The Giants drafted Eli Apple in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Apple started 27-of-28 games for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Apple combines good size with excellent overall athletic ability, speed, and quickness. He has the physical tools and plays a physical game. He demonstrates very good aggressive man coverage skills and makes plays on the football (22 pass defenses the past two seasons). However, Apple needs to improve his overall coverage technique and reading routes. Apple makes a lot contact with receivers in coverage, drawing flags. He has a big upside.
Trevin Wade surprisingly became the team’s nickel corner in 2015, when he was a bit of an up-and-down performer. Wade played in all 16 games with three starts, and finished the year with 52 tackles, 6 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble. Wade was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He has spent time with the Browns (2012-13), Saints (2013-14), and Lions (2014). The Giants signed Wade to a reserve/future contract in January 2015. Wade is a decent-sized corner with only average athletic ability and speed. He flashes solid cover skills but will also give up the big play.
Coty Sensabaugh was signed by the Giants in October 2016 after he was waived by the Los Angeles Rams. Sensabaugh was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Rams signed him to a 3-year, $15 million contract in March. Sensabaugh has played in 61 regular-season games with 29 starts. Sensabaugh is an average-sized corner whose strength is playing the slot nickel corner spot.
The Giants signed Leon Hall in August 2016. Hall was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. In his nine seasons with the Bengals, Hall has played in 121 regular-season games with 105 starts. Hall started four of the 14 games he played in 2015, finishing with 44 tackles, nine pass defenses, and two interceptions. He also won “AFC Player of the Week” for his performance in a December game against the St. Louis Rams. The aging Hall is a physical press corner who tackles very well. He is very experienced and technically-sound. The strength of Hall’s game is his ability to cover receivers out of the slot position. Versatile, Hall has also played safety in some packages. Hall has suffered two Achilles’ tendon injuries (2011 and 2013) that has robbed him of some of his explosiveness. Hall also had back surgery this offseason to repair a disc injury. He is a hard worker and team leader.
Michael Hunter spent time on both the Practice Squad and 53-man roster in 2016. The Giants originally signed Hunter as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Hunter has a nice combination of size and speed. He is a physical, press corner who was up-and-down during the 2016 preseason for the Giants.
Donte Deayon was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016 and placed on the Practice Squad/Injured Reserve in October 2016. The Giants originally signed Deayon as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Deayon is a fluid, dimunitive corner with very good quickness and leaping ability. He is tough and confident, but struggled at time for the Giants during the 2016 preseason.
Landon Collins was thrown to the wolves as a rookie and took his lumps. He started all 16 games, accruing a team-high 112 tackles, as well as 9 pass defenses, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. Collins’ solid hitting and tackling were offset by his struggles in pass coverage as opposing teams often targeted the middle of the field in the passing game. Collins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. He is a big, tough, physical safety who lacks ideal quickness and recovery speed. Collins is good hitter and tackler and plays the run very well. How much he is able to improve his coverage skills will ultimately determine his ceiling as a player.
Andrew Adams was signed to the Practice Squad and then the 53-man roster in September 2016. The Giants originally signed Adams as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Adams lacks ideal height and speed but he is a well-built, athletic safety with good quickness. He is a good hitter and tackler.
Nat Berhe was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2015 before the season started after having surgery to remove a blood clot in his calf that caused him to miss virtually all of the spring and summer practices and the entire preseason. Berhe, a 5th round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, played in all 16 games his rookie season. Although he was mainly relegated to special teams, Berhe did see some time on defense and finished the season with 10 tackles. Berhe lacks ideal size and speed, but he is smart, physical, and aggressive.
Eric Pinkins was signed to the Practice Squad in October and the 53-man roster in November. Pinkins was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, who moved him to linebacker. Pinkins was waived by the Seahawks in September 2016. He has played in six regular-season NFL games with no starts. Pinkins has a nice combination of size and speed, but his instincts have been questioned.
Christian Bryant was signed to the Practice Squad in late November. Bryant was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. The Rams waived him in September 2016. He then spent time on both the Practice Squad and active roster of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals waived him in November. Bryant has played in 11 regular-season games with no starts. Bryant lacks ideal size and speed, but he a good athlete and an aggressive player with fine intangibles.
Darian Thompson was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2016 with a foot injury that required surgery. The Giants drafted Thompson in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Thompson is a big, physical safety who lacks ideal overall athleticism and speed. Big hitter and aggressive in run support. He is an intelligent, disciplined, instinctive center-fielder against the pass who makes plays on the football (19 career interceptions). Plays faster than he times – smooth with no wasted motion. Hard working and competitive. Team leader.
Mykkele Thompson was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2016 after injuring his knee in Week 2. Thompson was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. He missed all of his rookie season after rupturing the Achilles’ tendon in his right foot during the preseason. Raw, Thompson is a former quarterback and wide receiver converted to cornerback and then safety in college. Thompson is a bit of a corner-safety ‘tweener. He is tall and thin with good speed, but he lacks ideal quickness for cornerback and ideal physicality for a safety. Thompson is versatile and smart. He is a good special teams player who blocked three punts in college.
Punters, Kickers, and Snappers:
The Giants acquired Brad Wing from the Pittsburgh Steelers by trade for a conditional 7th-round draft pick in September 2015, replacing the popular-but-declining Steve Weatherford. Wing responded with a strong season, averaging 44.5 yards per punt (38.9 net). He had 33 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line, tying a team single-season record. An Australian, the left-footed Wing was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2013 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but he made the Steelers roster in 2014. Wing combines a strong leg with good directional placement skills. He also holds for both field goals and place kicks.
The Giants signed Robbie Gould in October 2016. Gould was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2005 NFL Draft. After brief stints with the Patriots and Ravens, Gould signed with the Chicago Bears in October 2005. He played 11 seasons with the Bears (2005-2015). In his last season in Chicago, Gould was 33-of-39 (84.6 percent) on field goals. Forty-seven percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
After never missing a game for the first eight years of his NFL career, Zak DeOssie ended up missing the final four regular-season games of 2015 with a wrist injury that required surgery. DeOssie is one of the NFL’s most consistent long snappers, being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. DeOssie was drafted as a linebacker by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He is now strictly a special teams player. Aside from his long snapping duties, DeOssie also excels in punt coverage.