Scouting Reports Last Updated: September 1, 2014
Playing in his 10th NFL campaign, Eli Manning had his worst season since his rookie year. He finished the season completing 57.5 percent of his passes for 3,818 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 27 interceptions. His quarterback rating was a paltry 69.4. Not counting his rookie season, it was fewest touchdown passes Manning has thrown in a season. And it was the most interceptions that Manning (or any Giant) has ever thrown in a season. Encumbered by a terrible offensive line (sacked a career-high 39 times), unproductive running game (29th in the NFL), and inconsistent and sometimes unreliable receivers (wideouts, tight ends, and backs), Manning was not able to carry the team by himself. And when Manning tried, he often made poor decisions. Fifteen of his 27 interceptions came in the season’s first six games. And he had five interceptions in the Week 15 game against the Seahawks. Many of the picks were a product of errors by other players, but Manning was also too inaccurate and too careless with the football. It appeared that Manning’s confidence and trust in his protection and receivers waned as the season progressed. He became gun-shy in the pocket. The final kick in the ass came in the season finale when ironman Eli was forced to leave the game with a high ankle sprain. All in all, it was a terrible season with absolutely no positives other than the fact that Eli never complained and never made excuses. Manning was the first player selected in the 2004 NFL Draft and immediately traded to the Giants by the Chargers. The 33-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 seven 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 not played at that elite level in two years. Manning has excellent size and a strong arm. He is extremely tough and has never missed a game in 10 seasons. His 58.5 career completion percentage is partly a reflection of the team’s higher-risk, downfield passing offense and partly due to bouts of inaccuracy. From 2008-2011, Manning’s completion percentage was above 60 percent, but that decreased below 60 percent during the last two seasons. Manning excels in the mental aspects of the game. He 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 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. Manning was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2011, and played in the game in 2012 as a second alternate. When Manning is on his game, he is one of the most clutch performers in the NFL. In 2014, he will have to adjust to a new offensive coordinator with a West Coast Offense background.
Ryan Nassib was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He made the team as the #3 quarterback but was never active on game day and did not play. Nassib lacks ideal height and mobility, but he is a mentally and physically tough, well-built quarterback with a good arm. 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 Rashad Jennings as an unrestricted free agent from the Oakland Raiders in March 2014. Jennings was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He signed with the Raiders in 2013. In four NFL seasons, Jennings has started 17 regular-season games and has rushed for 1,677 yards and 13 touchdowns on 387 carries (4.3 yards per carry). In 2013, he started eight games and rushed for 733 yards and six touchdowns on 163 carries (4.5 yards per carry). He also caught 36 passes for 292 yards. Jennings is a big, physical, no-nonsense back who can punish defenders. He’s north-south runner who does his best work between-the-tackles or off tackle. He is good in pass protection only has lost one fumble in his career. Jennings has good hands as a receiver. A good special teams player, he has experience as a kick returner and has blocked two punts.
The Giants drafted Andre Williams in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Williams led the country in rushing in 2013 with 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he did not have one pass reception. Williams is a big, powerful, instinctive, north-south, downhill runner with decent speed. He is not terribly quick or elusive but he runs with good balance and body control. Williams breaks tackles and gains yards after contact. Williams has a tough, physical running style. He likes to punish opponents and is a good short-yardage back. Williams obviously needs to become more of a factor in the passing game but he reportedly caught the ball well at his Pro Day. Smart and competitive.
Released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in September, Peyton Hillis was signed by the Giants as a street free agent in October 2013 after injuries hit the running back position hard. Not really knowing the offense, Hillis was forced to play right away and ended up playing in seven games with one start. He finished the season with 73 carries for 247 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 96 yards. Hillis fumbled the ball twice. He also missed a game due to a concussion. Hillis was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. The Broncos traded Hillis to the Cleveland Browns in March 2010. Hillis signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in March 2012 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March 2013. Hillis is a bit of a halfback/fullback ‘tweener and he has experience at both positions. Hillis’ best season was in 2010 when he rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Browns and caught 61 passes for 477 yards and two touchdowns. Hillis is a big back and a decent athlete for his size. He’s a tough, physical runner between the tackles and has very good hands in the passing game. He is not quick, elusive, or fast. And because of this, he is not a good outside runner. The big negatives on him are that he has been somewhat injury prone and he has 15 career fumbles.
Michael Cox was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014. Cox was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. In 2013, he played in 14 games as a rookie with one start. But he only carried the football 22 times for 43 yards (2.0 yards per carry) and caught the ball three times for 12 yards. Most of his work came on special teams where he returned 20 kickoffs for a 21.8 yards-per-return average. Cox is a big, strong back with decent speed and elusiveness. He catches the ball well, but needs to work on his pass protection.
Henry Hynoski was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2013 with a fractured left shoulder. Hynoski also missed most of the offseason work, including training camp and the preseason, when he suffered an injury to his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and a chip fracture to the lateral plateau in his left knee in May. Before the injuries, Hynoski was developing into a very solid fullback. The strength of his game is his run blocking. He’s a big, strong, aggressive, and physical fullback with the right temperament for the position. Hynoski has not been used much as a runner or receiver though in 2012 he did have five carries for 20 yards and also caught 11 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Hynoski has good hands as a receiver, but he’s a bit stiff and straight-linish as an athlete in the open field.
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. However, in 2013 Cruz had his least productive season since becoming a starter in 2011. He finished with 73 catches for 998 yards and four touchdowns. In 2011-2012, he compiled 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. Cruz also missed the last two games of the season with concussion and knee injuries – the left knee requiring arthroscopic surgery. With the team’s outside receivers struggling, Cruz as the Giants’ primary slot receiver was often double-teamed. But Cruz was also held touchdown-less after Week 4 and ended up only scoring in just two games. He also only had four 100-yard receiving games, with three coming in the first four weeks of the season. Cruz has ordinary size and timed speed. However, he has very good quickness and plays faster than he times. 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 has really developed into one of the NFL’s better slot receivers.
Second-year player and 2013 2nd-round draft pick Rueben Randle started off strong but faded in the second half of the season. He also had issues from the beginning of the season at being on the same page with Eli Manning. During the six-game losing streak, six of Manning’s then 15 interceptions were directed at Randle. He played in all 16 games of the 2013 season with three starts, and finished with 41 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns. But he only averaged 2.5 catches per game, did not score in the last six games of the season, and only had one 100-yard receiving game all year (the opener). More was expected. Randle has a nice combination of size and athletic ability, and he has flashed the ability to be a big-time play-maker as a vertical receiver. While Randle is not a burner, he is fluid and smooth with good foot quickness and acceleration for a big receiver. He needs to improve his ability to read defenses and improve his route-running. Randle adjusts well to the football in the air and has good hands. Most of all, he needs to become a more consistently reliable performer so his quarterback can trust him. Randle was also the Giants’ primary punt returner in 2013, averaging 8.2 yards per return on 29 returns.
The Giants drafted Odell Beckham, Jr. in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Beckham was junior entry but a three-year starter at LSU. Beckham lacks classic size, but he is a well-built receiver with the speed, quickness, agility, and acceleration to separate and threaten defenses vertically. He has an explosive element to his game. Beckham has long arms and big hands, giving him a very good catch radius. Beckham runs very good routes, adjusts well to the football in the air, and has good hands catching the ball though he is guilty of an occasional drop. He is very elusive and dangerous with the football in his hands after the catch. He is a tough, aggressive, physical, competitive receiver who does not shy away from contact. Smart and hard working. Beckham is also a dangerous kickoff returner.
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, Jerrel Jernigan had a coming out party late in the 2013 season. In his first two years with the Giants, Jernigan played in 17 games and had a grand total of three catches for 22 yards. Through Week 14 of 2013, Jernigan had “amassed” 10 catches for 92 yards. Then in Weeks 15-17, Jernigan exploded with 19 catches for 237 yards and two touchdowns in addition to carrying the ball twice for 57 yards and a touchdown. Jernigan lacks size, but he is a quick, fluid athlete with good speed. Better suited to the slot position, it remains to be seen if the Giants can figure out a way to employ both Victor Cruz and Jernigan at the same time. Jernigan also returns kickoffs, averaging 23.4 yards per return in his first three seasons on 21 returns.
The Giants signed Preston Parker to a reserve/future contract in January 2014. Parker was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2010 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers waived him in September 2012. He was with the Saints in 2013 before they waived him in August. Parker played in 27 games with Tampa Bay, catching 44 passes for 596 yards and three touchdowns. Parker has average size but he has good quickness and hands. He also has experience returning punts and kickoffs.
The Giants claimed Corey Washington off of waivers from the Arizona Cardinals in May 2014. Washington originally signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Washington played at Division-II Newberry College. In his two-year career at Newberry, the junior college transfer had 95 receptions for 1,615 yard and 22 touchdowns. Washington combines excellent size (6’4”, 214 pounds) with good speed (4.52). Given his small-school background, he will need a lot of development.
Julian Talley was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014. Talley was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but the Giants brought him back for another go in 2013. Talley spent most of the 2013 season on the team’s Practice Squad, but was signed to the 53-man roster in mid-December. He played in two games in 2013 but did not have a catch. Talley is a tall, thin receiver with good overall athletic ability. He lacks ideal speed, but is smooth and fluid with decent hands.
Marcus Harris was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a hip injury that required surgery on his labrum. The Giants signed Harris as a street free agent in August 2013 and he spent most of the season on the team’s Practice Squad. Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Detroit Lions after the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent time on Detroit’s Practice Squad in 2011, but the Lions waived him in July 2012. The Titans signed him in August 2012 but waived him a few weeks later. Before the NFL season started in 2013, Harris played in the Arena League caught 94 passes for 1,223 yards and 19 touchdowns. Harris has a decent size-speed combination. He flashed with the Giants during training camp and the preseason in 2014, even earning time with the first-team offense, before being played on Injured Reserve.
Trindon Holliday was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a hamstring injury that kept him out of most of training camp and all of the preseason. The Giants signed Holliday in March 2014 as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos (Denver did not tender him as a restricted free agent). Holliday was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. He spent time on and off the Texans’ 53-man roster/practice squad until waived for good in October 2012. The Broncos immediately claimed him off of waivers. Holliday only has two career receptions. In 25 regular-season games with the Broncos, he has served almost exclusively as a kickoff and punt returner. In 2013, he averaged 27.7 yards per kick return and 8.5 yards per punt return. Holliday has three kickoff and three punt return touchdowns in his career. However, he also has fumbled the football 11 times as a returner in his career. Holliday is very short (5’5”) but he has excellent speed and quickness. He is a very dangerous return man with excellent vision and instincts. He is a threat to score every time he touches the football. Obviously, his lack of size limits his potential as a wide receiver and he must improve his ball security.
Mario Manningham was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a calf injury that he suffered in the preseason finale. Manningham signed with the Giants as an unrestricted free agent from the San Francisco 49ers in March 2014. Manningham was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Giants. After four seasons and a Super Bowl ring, Manningham signed with the 49ers in March 2012. Manningham tore both the ACL and PCL in his left knee in December 2012. He was activated off of the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List in November 2013 and played in six regular-season games for the 49ers, catching only nine passes for 85 yards, before he was placed on Injured Reserve again. Manningham lacks ideal size, but before he tore his ACL and PCL, he was a very fluid athlete with good speed, quickness, and agility. However, in training camp and the preseason with the Giants in 2014, Manningham no longer looked like the same receiver.
Larry 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. Donnell combines very good size and overall athleticism. A raw player heading into 2013, he did not develop as the season progressed. Donnell has the physical tools, but it remains unknown whether he has the intangibles to develop into an NFL player.
The Giants signed Daniel Fells to a reserve/future contract in January 2014. Fells was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Atlanta Falcons after the 2006 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Falcons, Raiders, Buccaneers, Rams, Broncos, and Patriots. Fells has played in 71 regular-season NFL games with 30 starts. He has 92 regular-season receptions for 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns. He last played for the Patriots in 2012, playing in 13 games with four starts. Fells has some ability as a blocker and receiver, but he is inconsistent.
Adrien Robinson has not developed since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Giants. He was only active for two games as a rookie and 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. Robinson has the tools – he has good size and athleticism with good speed and agility for a big man. However, he was a very raw player coming out of college. It remains to be seen if he can develop into an NFL-caliber receiver and blocker.
Justin Pugh was drafted by the Giants in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games at right tackle and quickly became the team’s best offensive lineman. He was voted to the Pro Football Writers All-Rookie Team for his performance. Pugh doesn’t look the part as he lacks ideal size and has short arms for a tackle. But he is a good athlete who plays with fine strength, technique, and leverage. Pugh is smart, hard-working, 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. Versatile, the Giants think he can play both tackle spots, guard, and possibly even center.
After a very solid 2012 campaign in which he started 15 games at left tackle and was rewarded with a big offseason contract, Will Beatty started all 16 games at left tackle in 2013 but played poorly. He readily admitted that he was not playing well and the pressure of living up to a big contract was affecting his play. Worse, he fractured the tibia in his right leg in the season-finale. The injury required surgery and will likely hinder his preparation for the 2013 campaign. Since he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Giants, Beatty 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, and now the broken leg. Beatty is a big lineman with long arms and a very good athlete. When on top of his game, his can mirror and slide with the best pass rushers. However, he does not play with a lot of strength and power and he is not a very physical or aggressive blocker. Consistency was a huge issue in 2013. Sometimes he played well, other times he did not.
Charles Brown was signed by the Giants as an unrestricted free agent from the New Orleans Saints in March 2014. Brown was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Saints. Brown started five games in 2011 and three games in 2012, but finished both seasons on Injured Reserve (hip in 2011 and knee in 2012). He started the first 14 games of the 2013 at left tackle but was then benched for the final four games, including two playoff games. Brown looks the part with good size, long arms, and overall athleticism. But he is not overly tough or aggressive. Brown flashes the ability but he is not consistent. He struggled at times in pass protection at left tackle and he needs to cut down on the number of penalties (holding and illegal uses of hands). Brown is versatile, having started at both tackle spots.
After two seasons of relative inactivity, James Brewer finally got his chance to play in 2013, being active for all 16 games and starting eight, mainly at left guard. On an incohesive offensive line that seemed to be changing parts almost every week, it was difficult to get a good read on Brewer who undoubtedly struggled at times. Brewer was drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. He was only active for eight games – with no starts – his first two seasons. Brewer is very big and appears light on his feet, but he needs to become a tougher, more physical player and more consistently reliable. If not, Brewer is probably not the answer.
Nick Becton was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014. Becton was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Becton spent time on both the Chargers’ 53-man roster and Practice Squad last season, only appearing in one game. Becton has a nice combination of size (6’6”, 323 pounds), long arms, and athleticism.
Mark Asper was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2014. Asper was originally drafted by the Bills in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Bills waived him in August 2012, and he then spent time with the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars before returning to the Bills in September 2013. In two seasons, Asper has played in seven games with no starts. The Giants claimed Mark Asper off of waivers from the Buffalo Bills in July 2014. Asper has very good size and is versatile with experience at tackle, guard, and even some center. The Giants played him at tackle during the 2014 preseason, where he struggled in pass protection.
Troy Kropog was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a foot injury that he suffered in training camp. The Giants signed Kropog to a reserve/future contract in January 2014. Kropog was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans waived him in September 2012 and he then spent time with the Jaguars (2012), Vikings (2012-13) and Redskins (2013). Kropog has a decent combination of size and athleticism, and he is a hard worker. But it hasn’t come together for him at the NFL level. Kropog has never started an NFL game since drafted. Versatile, he can play both tackle and guard.
Rogers Gaines was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury in August 2014. Gaines was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. The Ravens waived him in August 2013. The Bears signed him to their Practice Squad in September 2013. The Giants claimed Rogers Gaines off of waivers from the Chicago Bears in May 2014. Gaines has excellent size and long arms. He is a good athlete for his size. He improved throughout the 2014 preseason at right tackle for the Giants.
The Giants signed Geoff Schwartz as an unrestricted free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs in March 2014. Schwartz was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He has spent time with the Panthers (2008-10), Vikings (2012), and Chiefs (2013). Last year with the Chiefs, Schwartz started seven regular-season games. Schwartz has excellent size and can maul people as a run blocker. He is very solid in pass protection. Schwartz is versatile – he is able to play guard or right tackle.
The Giants drafted Weston Richburg in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Richburg was a 4-year starter at Colorado State. Richburg combines decent size with very good overall athleticism for a center. He is a good pass protector who has the size and strength to anchor against big tackles and the feet and balance to keep up with quick rushers. Richburg lacks ideal power as a run blocker, but he plays with very good leverage and tenacity. Mobile and agile, Richburg, can block at the second level and pull on outside runs. Smart, tough, aggressive, competitive, and a team leader. Versatile, Richburg can also play guard.
After missing his entire rookie season with an ankle injury, Brandon Mosley was active for 13 games in 2013. He rarely saw the field, but got his big chance in Week 16, starting against the Detroit Lions at right guard. Mosley did not look bad at all on the game’s first drive, but he unfortunately broke his hand on that first possession and that was it for him. The injury required surgery. Mosley has good size and athletic ability. He also has collegiate experience at playing tackle. It remains to be seen how good an NFL player he can become.
The Giants signed John Jerry as an unrestricted free agent from the Miami Dolphins in March 2014. Jerry was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. Jerry started 10 games as a rookie, three games his sophomore season, and all 32 regular-season games at right guard the past two seasons for Miami. Versatile, Jerry also has some experience playing at left tackle. Jerry looks the part with very good size and long arms. He is a good athlete who can pull and block at the second level. Jerry flashes both as a run blocker and pass protector, but he is not as physical and aggressive as he should be in the run game. He has had issues with keeping his weight down since college. Jerry was cited as one of the main culprits in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal.
Eric Herman spent most of 2013 on the Practice Squad before being added to the active roster in late December. He was never active on game day. Herman was drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Herman is a big, strong mauler who struggled with quickness and speed at the collegiate level. Herman needs to develop as a pass blocker in order to make it in the NFL.
The Giants signed J.D. Walton in March 2014. Walton was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He started 32 regular-season games in 2010 and 20011 and the first four games of 2012 until he missed the rest of the season with a severe left ankle injury that required surgery. Walton had a setback on the ankle during the following offseason and underwent a second surgery in June 2013. He missed all of training camp and the preseason and was placed on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Broncos waived him in December 2013 and Walton was then claimed off of waivers by the Redskins. Walton has average size and athletic ability for a center. However, Walton is a smart, tough, instinctive, hard-working technician. Walton will not overpower people in the run game, but he works hard at sustaining his blocks and is a solid pass protector.
The Giants signed Dallas Reynolds in October 2013. Due to injuries, he ended up playing in the last three games of the regular season. Reynolds was originally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2009 NFL Draft. From 2009-2011, he spent time on the Eagles’ Practice Squad. In 2012, Reynolds played in 16 regular-season games with 14 starts. The Eagles waived him August 2013. A limited athlete, Reynolds is smart and tries hard. He has experience at both center and guard, but he has struggled when called upon to start.
Jason Pierre-Paul has had two down seasons in a row since his stellar 2011 season when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. Those numbers plummeted to 66 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2012 and 27 tackles and 2 sacks in 2013. 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 that caused him to miss the last five games of the season and which also may require offseason surgery. How well can he recover from these injury issues and regain his old form? 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 (22 career pass defenses and 2 interceptions). As a pass rusher, he can beat blockers with both power and movement skills. However, he would become a more productive pass rusher if he could improve his initial quickness off the snap (he’s often the last lineman to move). Pierre-Paul is a very good run defender both at the point-of-attack as well as in backside pursuit. In order for him to reach the next level, Pierre-Paul must learn how to deal with double teams on a consistent basis.
Mathias Kiwanuka has shifted between defensive end and linebacker ever since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He primarily played linebacker for the Giants in 2007 and 2010-12, and defensive end in 2006, 2008-09, and 2013. In 2013, 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. Kiwanuka combines good size and overall athleticism, but he has not developed into a consistently disruptive player, especially as a pass rusher. He seems best suited as a top reserve.
Damontre Moore was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Moore lacks ideal size and timed speed, but he was a very disruptive player at the college level and he impressed his Giants’ coaches and teammates until an early preseason shoulder injury disrupted his development. While Moore flashed on special teams, including blocking a punt that was returned for a touchdown, he did not make much noise at defensive end when given a limited number of snaps. Moore finished the season with 11 tackles and 1 forced fumble. He needs to add strength and bulk in the offseason.
The Giants signed Robert Ayers as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in April 2014. Ayers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL by the Broncos. In five seasons with the Broncos, Ayers has played in 72 regular-season games with 27 starts. In 2013, he played in 15 games with three starts and finished the season with 29 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Ayers never lived up to his lofty draft status in Denver. For two seasons (2009-10), he was miscast as a linebacker. Ayers has good size for a defensive end and is a decent run defender. He has flashed at times as a pass rusher, but he only has 12 career sacks. Versatile, Ayers can move inside in pass rush situations and he has experience playing in a 2-point stance given his experience at linebacker.
Kerry Wynn was signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Wynn has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He needs to play with better leverage to make it at the next level as he is too easily blocked. Team captain at the University of Richmond.
Jordan Stanton was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014. Stanton was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Stanton earned All-Colonial Athletic Association accolades for recording 56 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 8 sacks in 2013. Stanton has decent size and flashes some ability, but he did not really standout in the 2014 preseason.
Cullen Jenkins was signed by the Giants in March 2013 after he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins was originally signed by Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent after the 2003 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but spent time in NFL Europe and then re-signed with the Packers in 2004. Jenkins played with the Packers (2004-10) until he signed with the Eagles (2011-12). In 2013, with the Giants, Jenkins finished the season with 31 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Jenkins lacks ideal size and is on the downside of his career, but he still is a solid two-way defensive tackle who can play the run and rush the passer. Versatile, he has experience as a defensive tackle and defensive end in the 4-3, and as a defensive end in the 3-4.
Johnathan Hankins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. In 2013, Hankins played in 11 games as a reserve. He finished the year with 16 tackles. Hankins is a big, strong, run-stuffing defensive tackle with good athletic ability for his size. He is a better run defender than pass rusher. Hankins is very stout at the point-of-attack and can take on double-team blocks. He is also athletic enough to pursue and chase down the line of scrimmage.
Mike Patterson was signed by the Giants in April 2013 after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Patterson was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by Philadelphia, where in eight seasons he played in 115 regular-season games with 99 starts. Patterson underwent brain surgery in January 2012 to repair an arteriovenous malformation. He played in just five games in 2012 before being placed on the reserve/non-football illness list with pneumonia. With the Giants in 2013, Patterson played in all 16 games with one start, and he finished the season with 23 tackles. Patterson lacks ideal size and isn’t much of a pass rusher, but he’s steady against the run.
Markus Kuhn spent the first half of the 2013 season on the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List before being activated to the 53-man roster in November. He played in the last five games of the season, but only saw limited playing time and finished the year with only one tackle. As a rookie in 2012, Kuhn was an active member of the defensive tackle rotation before tearing the ACL in one of his knees. He was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2012. Kuhn played in 10 games in 2012 with one start and finished the season with eight tackles and four pass defenses. Kuhn was selected by the Giants in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Kuhn was born in Germany and was only a one-year starter in college. He has a nice combination of size and athletic ability. Kuhn is a high-energy effort player who can be disruptive with his quickness and intensity. Kuhn is a better run defender than pass rusher.
The Giants drafted Jay Bromley in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Bromley was a 3-year starter at Syracuse. He combines decent size and strength with good athletic ability. Bromley is more of a 3-technique disruptor than 1-technique run stuffer. He has good initial quickness and will penetrate into the backfield against both the run and the pass. Bromley hustles and pursues well. When Bromley plays with good leverage, he can be very difficult to block. But he plays too high at times. Bromley is a very hard worker both on and off the field. Team leader.
The Giants acquired Jon Beason in a trade with the Carolina Panthers in October 2013. He played in 12 games with the Giants, starting his last 11 at middle linebacker. In those 12 games, he finished with 93 tackles and one interception. Beason was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Panthers. He is a three-time Pro Bowler (2008-2010). Beason missed most of the 2011 season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He also missed most of the 2012 season with a torn right ACL, an injury that required microfracture knee surgery. Beason lacks ideal size, but he is a decent athlete with very good intangibles. He is smart, tough, instinctive, energetic, and productive, and has brought leadership and gravitas to a linebacking corps sorely needing all of those qualities. Beason is a better run defender than in coverage, where he sometimes struggles against better athletes in space. Beason is a good hitter and tackler.
In his third season with the Giants, Jacquian Williams played in all 16 games with eight starts. Williams finished 2013 with 58 tackles and 9 pass defenses. Williams was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants. His 2012 season was sabotaged by a PCL knee injury that caused him to miss six games. Williams lacks size, but he is extremely athletic. He is more of a run-and-chase player who is developing into a fine coverage linebacker. Williams flashes as a blitzer, but he can struggle with the running game due to his lack of size.
The Giants signed Jameel McClain in March 2014. McClain was originally signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft. In six seasons with the Ravens, McClain started 55 regular-season games with 54 of those starts coming in the last four seasons. A serious neck injury (spinal contusion) suffered late in 2012 caused him to miss the first six games of the 2013 season on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The Ravens released him in February 2014. A defensive end in college, McClain has good size and he is versatile – he has experience playing both inside and outside linebacker. He is an aggressive, hard-working, tough, physical player who is solid against the run. McClain lack ideal overall athleticism and isn’t as strong in pass coverage. McClain was a well-respected team leader in Baltimore. Good special teams player.
In his third season with the Giants, Spencer Paysinger saw his playing time increase dramatically as he played in all 16 games with 10 starts. Paysinger finished 2013 with 74 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pass defense. Paysinger was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Paysinger is a decent athlete who has gotten bigger and stronger. He has also improved his run defense and become a more forceful hitter and tackler. Paysinger is a good special teams player.
The Giants drafted Devon Kennard in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Kennard is is DE/LB ‘tweener who played both 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 strongside linebacker at USC. Kennard has also played middle linebacker. He has good size and strength for a linebacker, but lacks ideal overall athleticism for the position. Kennard has long arms, good strength, and plays with leverage. He tackles well and is not bad in coverage. He has been injury prone with significant injuries to his knee (ACL), thumb, hip, and chest in his career, all requiring surgery. Team captain and highest GPA on team at USC.
Mark Herzlich played in all 16 games and started two games at middle linebacker in September. But the acquisition of Jon Beason in early October suggests the Giants were not happy with his play. He finished the season with 42 tackles and 1 pass defense. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. Herzlich was regarded as one of the better collegiate linebackers in the country before missing the 2009 season with bone cancer, which led to him having a titanium rod inserted into his left femur. Herzlich has very good size, but appears to lack the overall athleticism needed to start in the NFL. He is a solid special teams player.
Dan Fox was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014. Fox was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Fox is a smart, tough player with decent size, but he lacks ideal overall athleticism. Fox did not really standout during the 2014 preseason for the Giants.
The New York Giants signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as an unrestricted free agent from the Denver Broncos in March 2014. 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. In 2013, he started 13 regular-season games and finished the season with 31 tackles, 14 pass defenses, and three interceptions. Rodgers-Cromartie is tall, thin corner with very good overall athleticism. When motivated and focused, he is one of the better cover corners in the NFL and can shut down his opposing receiver. But Rodgers-Cromartie is an inconsistent player whose effort and dedication have been questioned at times in the past. He not a very physical player or tackler.
In his third year with the Giants, and his second as a full-time starter, Prince 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. Amukamara was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Giants, but his initial season was a virtual wash due to him suffering a broken foot that required surgery very early in training camp. Amukamara also battled a high ankle sprain and hamstring injuries in 2012, but played in 13 games with 11 starts. Amukamara combines good size and overall athleticism. He has good speed and quickness and usually does a good job of keeping his opponent quiet during a game. Amukamara flashes in run defense with his hitting and tackling. To reach the next level, however, he has to make more plays on the football.
The Giants signed Walter Thurmond III as an unrestricted free agent from the Seattle Seahawks in March 2014. Thurmond was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Seahawks. He missed much of the 2011 and 2012 seasons recovering from a broken leg (fibula), playing in only eight regular-season games. In November 2013, he was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Last season, he played in 12 regular-season games, with three starts, and finished with 33 tackles, six pass defenses, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. Thurmond combines decent size with good speed and quickness. Smooth in coverage. He is one of the better slot corners/nickel backs in the NFL. Thurmond obviously has off-the-field concerns.
It did not receive much attention when the Giants signed Trumaine McBride to a Reserve/Future contract in January 2013, but McBride ended up being the team’s starting left cornerback. McBride played in 15 games with 10 starts, and he finished the season with 37 tackles, 15 pass defenses, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. McBride was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The Bears waived him in September 2009. He has also spent time with the Cardinals, Saints, and Jaguars. McBride lacks ideal size and speed, but he plays with good quickness and instincts. He only has three career interceptions, two coming in the 2013 regular-season finale.
The Giants signed Zack Bowman as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears in March 2014. Bowman was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Bears. In six seasons with the Bears, Bowman has played in 73 regular-season games with 23 starts. In 2013, he started seven games and finished the season with 48 tackles, 8 pass defenses, and three interceptions. Bowman has good size and plays the run well. Though not a flashy player, he is solid and steady in coverage. Bowman is a good special teams player.
Bennett Jackson was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014. The Giants drafted Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Jackson converted to cornerback from wide receiver at Notre Dame and could project to safety. He has good size and decent speed for a corner, but may lack ideal quickness for the position. He is a good hitter and tackler. Jackson was a team captain at Notre Dame and a good special teams player.
Chandler Fenner was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014. Fenner was originally signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but the Seattle Seahawks signed him to their Practice Squad in December 2012. He missed all of 2013 with a knee injury that landed him on Seattle’s Injured Reserve. The Giants signed Chandler Fenner in August 2014. Fenner has a nice combination of size and athleticism and he plays a physical game.
The 2013 season was a disappointment for Jayron Hosley. After injuries sidelined Corey Webster and Aaron Ross in September, Hosley’s chance to possibly start was sabotaged by a Week 4 hamstring injury that sidelined him for the next five games and nagged him much of the rest of the season. Hosley finished 2013 with one start in 11 games, finishing the season with just 9 tackles and 2 pass defenses. The Giants drafted Jayron Hosley in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he had his ups and downs, playing in 12 games with six starts. But he also missed four games with hamstring, shoulder, and quadriceps injuries. Hosley lacks ideal stature, but he is athletic with good speed and quickness. He flashes good ball skills but has been inconsistent and injury prone. Hosley can return punts.
Finally allowed to play principally at safety instead of slot corner, Antrel Rolle responded with his finest season in his 9-year career. Rolle started all 16 games and finished with 98 tackles, 2 sacks, 12 pass defenses, 6 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Rolle was originally drafted as a cornerback in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. After three inconsistent seasons at corner, the Cardinals moved him to free safety in 2008. Rolle was signed by the Giants in March 2010 after the Cardinals cut him in a salary-related move. One of the better coverage safeties in the game, Rolle has good speed and range. Due to his experience as a cornerback, unlike most safeties, Rolle can play man coverage and has often been called upon to play the slot corner position. He is a good tackler and run defender. Rolle has become one of the key leaders of the defense. He also has been very durable, never missing a game in his four seasons with the Giants. Rolle has been voted to the Pro Bowl twice (2009 and 2010) and named All Pro twice (2010 and 2013). He also played in the 2013 Pro Bowl as a second-alternate.
Stevie Brown was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2013 after tearing the ACL in his left knee in the preseason. Brown had a tremendous season in 2012, intercepting more passes in a single season by a Giant in 44 years. That year, Brown played in all 16 games, started 11, and finished with 76 tackles, 11 pass defenses, eight interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Brown was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The Raiders released him in September 2011. After a brief stint with the Carolina Panthers, Brown was signed by the Indianapolis Colts. He played in eight games with the Colts in 2011. Set to become an exclusive rights free agent, Indianapolis did not tender him, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. The Giants then signed him in April 2012. Brown has superb size for a safety and is fast for his size. He lacks ideal quickness. In 2012, Brown not only became a ball hawk, but also became a dangerous returner after the interception, averaging over 38 yards per interception return. The big question with Brown was 2012 a fluke?
The Giants signed Quintin Demps as an unrestricted free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs in March 2014. Demps was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He has spent time with the Eagles (2008-09), Houston Texans (2010-12), and Chiefs (2013). In 2013, Demps has his best season as a defensive back, starting six regular-season games for the Chiefs and finishing with 35 tackles, nine pass defenses, and four interceptions. He also returned 33 kickoffs for 992 yards and one touchdown (30.1 yards per return). Demps has decent size for a safety. He has good range and can make plays on the football. However, Demps has been very inconsistent throughout his career, not starting a game in his first five seasons with the Eagles and Texans. Demps is a very good special teams player.
The Giants drafted Nat Berhe in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Berhe was a 4-year starter at San Diego State where he played a hybrid safety/linebacker position. He projects to safety or slot corner in the pros. Berhe lacks ideal size and speed, but he is an instinctive, tough, aggressive, productive defender who plays hard all of the time. Berhe is a fluid athlete. He flies around the field and plays faster than he times. Berhe hits hard and makes a ton of tackles. He does not make many plays on the football in the air. A team leader, Berhe is a very competitive, smart, and confident player who loves the game. He should do well on special teams.
Cooper Taylor was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2014 with a semasoid bone issue in his foot that required surgery. Taylor also was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2013 with a hamstring injury that caused him to miss three games. He also missed three games earlier in the season due to a shoulder injury. Cooper was selected in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. A heart condition caused him to slip in the draft. Taylor has an excellent combination of size and athleticism. He played in 10 games for the Giants in 2013, serving almost exclusively on special teams. Before his latest injury, Cooper was impressing with his play during training camp and the preseason.
Punters, Kickers, and Snappers:
After two solid seasons with the Giants in 2011-12, Steve Weatherford was much more inconsistent in 2013. Weatherford was a busy man, punting 91 times, up from 58 in 2012. He had a rough start to the 2013 season but regained his old form in the second half of the year. In 2013, Weatherford, averaged 46.9 yards per punt with a net average of 38.2. But there seemed to be more line drives and erratic directional punting by Weatherford and three of his punts were returned for touchdowns. He did have 25 of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Before coming to the Giants, Weatherford played for the Saints (2006-08), Chiefs (2008), Jaguars (2008), and Jets (2009-2010).
Josh Brown was signed by the Giants as an unrestricted free agent from the Cincinnati Bengals in March 2013. He had a strong season in 2013, making 23-of-26 field goals (88.5 percent) with a long of 52 yards. Half of his kickoffs (35-of-70) resulted in touchbacks. Brown was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Before coming to the Giants, he kicked for the Seahawks (2003-07), St. Louis Rams (2009-11), and Bengals (2012).
Zak DeOssie is usually one of the NFL’s most consistent and better long snappers, being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. However, one bad punt snap resulted in a touchdown in 2013. 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.