Scouting Reports Last Updated: April 29, 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 G.J. Kinne to the Practice Squad in September 2015. Kinne was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New York Jets after the 2012 NFL Draft. Since then, he has spent time with the Jets (2012), UFL – Omaha Nighthawks (2012), AFL – Antonio Talons (2013), and Philadelphia Eagles (2013-15). After spending two years on Philadelphia’s Practice Squad in 2013-14, the Eagles converted him from quarterback to wide receiver and running back. The Giants used him at safety in practice at times in 2015. Kinne lacks ideal size for a quarterback but he is a very good athlete with a decent arm. Tough, hard working, and competitive.
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.
As the team’s third-down back, playing in all 16 games with no starts, Shane 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 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. 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. He has only lost one fumble in his career.
After and up-and-down rookie campaign where he finished as the team’s leading rusher with 217 carries for 721 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns, Andre Williams had a very disappointing sophomore season in 2015. Despite playing in all 16 games, Williams’ productivity declined to 88 carries for 257 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and one touchdown. He also only caught one pass in 2015 after catching 18 in 2014. Williams is a big, powerful, north-south runner with decent speed. He is not terribly quick or elusive, and does not present much of a threat as an outside runner. Williams seems far less instinctive running the ball at the pro level than he did in college. Smart. He’s not a natural pass receiver.
Orleans Darkwa was the #4 running back on the Giants in 2015. He played in all 16 games with no starts and finished the season with 36 carries for 153 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown. 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 also has good hands despite only eight career receptions.
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.
Nikita 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. 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. He 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 (PEDs) and the Cowboys terminated his Practice Squad contract. The Giants signed him to the Practice Squad in December 2014.
The Giants signed Will 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Giants signed Myles White to the Practice Squad after he was waived by the Green Bay Packers in September 2015 and to the 53-man roster in October 2015. White played in 12 games with no starts and finished the season with only seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. White was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Packers after the 2013 NFL Draft. White played in seven games as a rookie, catching nine passes for 66 yards. He spent the 2014 season on Green Bay’s Practice Squad. White is an average-sized receiver with decent overall athleticism and speed. He demonstrated inconsistent hands in 2015 with the Giants. White is a good special teams player.
Geremy Davis was drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. He played in 10 games with no starts and finished the season with only two catches for 21 yards. Davis is a big, well-built receiver who lacks ideal speed and quickness. He adjusts well to the football, has a good catch radius, and has excellent hands. Davis isn’t much of a threat with the football after the catch.
The Giants signed Ben Edwards to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad in December 2015. He played in the final two games and finished the season with one catch for nine yards. Edwards was eligible to play in the NFL in 2014, but sat out the year recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury. The Giants originally signed Edwards after the 2015 NFL Draft, but waived/injured him in July after he pulled his hamstring during the June mini-camp. The Giants re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November 2015. 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.
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.
The Giants signed Anthony Dablé in February 2016. Dablé is a Frenchman who played for the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions of the German Football League in 2015. He supposedly speaks French, German, and English. Dablé caught 145 passes for nearly 2,500 and 32 touchdowns in his two seasons with the New Yorker Lions. He has very good size (6’5”, 215 pounds).
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.
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.
Jerome Cunningham spent the first five weeks of the 2015 season on the 53-man roster, was waived and signed to the Practice Squad in October, and then re-signed to the 53-man roster in early November. In all, Cunningham played in nine games with three starts, catching eight passes for 59 yards. Cunningham played college football at Southern Connecticut State University from 2009-2012, but remained unsigned until the Giants signed him in August 2014. An extremely well-built player who lacks ideal size for a true tight end, Cunningham is best suited for an H-Back-type role. He has good speed and catches the ball well. Cunningham is not much of a blocker.
Matt LaCosse was signed to the 53-man roster from the team’s Practice Squad in December 2015. He played in two games and finished with three catches for 22 yards. 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. 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. He is not much of a blocker.
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.
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.
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, but he may lack ideal overall athleticism and feet to remain at tackle in the pros. Hart is able to muscle and maul in the run game.
The Giants signed Emmett Cleary to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad in November 2015, but he did not play in a game. Cleary was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2013 NFL Draft. He has since also spent time with the Buccaneers, Raiders, and Bengals. The Giants signed Cleary to a reserve/future contract in January 2015. Cleary has good size but he’s not really a powerful, mauling-type player. He is a decent athlete who has played both right and left tackle.
The Giants signed Jake Rodgers to the Practice Squad in December 2015. Rodgers was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons waived him in early September. Rodgers is a developmental prospect with a nice combination of size and athletic ability.
The Giants signed Byron Stingily as an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers in April 2016. Stingily was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans waived him in September 2015 and he then signed with the Steelers in October 2015. In five seasons, Stingily has played in 20 regular-season games with nine starts (eight at right tackle and one at tight end). Stingily is an athletic lineman with good size. He plays more of a finesse, positional game. A better pass protector than run blocker, Stingily is not a physical player.
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.
The Giants signed Adam Gettis from the Practice Squad of the Oakland Raiders in December 2015 and he was on the active roster for the regular-season finale. Gettis spent two stints on the Giants’ Practice Squad earlier in the 2015 season (September 6 – October 15 and October 21 – November 4) before signing with Oakland. Gettis was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. The Redskins waived Gettis in August 2014. The Giants signed him off of the Practice Squad of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2014. Gettis lacks ideal size and power, but he is an athletic lineman with good mobility.
The Giants signed Ryan Seymour as an unrestricted free agent from the New Orleans Saints in April 2016. Seymour was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Since then, he has spent time with the Seahawks (2013), San Francisco 49ers (2013), Cleveland Browns (2014), Chicago Bears (2015), and New Orleans Saints (2015). Seymour has played in 11 games with just three starts. Seymour lacks ideal size, but he is a strong, smart, blue-collar over-achiever. Versatile, he has played all five offensive line spots.
The Giants signed Dillon Farrell as an unrestricted free agent in April 2016. Farrell was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Francisco 49ers after the 2014 NFL Draft. The 49ers waived him in September 2015 and he was signed by the Titans to their Practice Squad later that month. Farrell played in eight games with the 49ers in 2014 with no starts. Versatile, Farrell can play guard or center. He is more of a position-blocker than mauler at the point-of-attack. Farrell flashes in pass protection.
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 Shane McDermott to the Practice Squad in November 2015. McDermott was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Cowboys cut him in early September. He then spent a week on the Practice Squad of the Carolina Panthers in September. McDermott is a blue-collar, overachiever who lacks ideal athleticism and strength.
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.
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.
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 Stansly Maponga off of the Practice Squad of the Atlanta Falcons in December 2015, and he ended up playing in two games for New York. Maponga was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the 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. Maponga is a bit of a defensive end-linebacker ‘tweener as he lacks ideal size and can have problems with big linemen. He is a good athlete with fine speed and quickness as an end.
The Giants signed Brad Bars to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad in December 2015, and he ended up playing in two games for New York. Bars was signed as a rookie free agent by the Giants in August 2015 and signed to the Practice Squad in September. In college, Bar missed the 2013 season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon; he played in all 13 games in 2014 but was only credited with 10 tackles. Bars lacks ideal size for the position, but he is a decent athlete who plays hard.
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 signed Montori Hughes to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad in November 2015. He ended up playing in seven games as a reserve, and finished the season with six tackles. Hughes was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. In his two seasons with the Colts, Hughes played in 16 games with one start. The Colts waived him in September 2015 and the Giants then signed him to their Practice Squad. Hughes is a strong, mammoth nose tackle-type lineman who can hold his ground against the double team. He is a decent athlete for his size with some quickness to his game.
Louis Nix was signed by the Giants after he was waived by the Houston Texans in September 2015. He was active in four games but rarely saw any action. The Giants waived him in November and then signed him to the Practice Squad. Nix was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Texans. He has been plagued with injuries, having knee surgery in 2013 at Notre Dame, knee surgery in the summer of 2014 with the Texans, and then a wrist issue that landed him on Injured Reserve in September 2014 with the Texans. He never played in a regular-season game with the Texans. Nix is a strong, mammoth nose tackle-type lineman who can take on the double-team and hold the point-of-attack when healthy. Although Nix is a good athlete for his size, he is more of a run defender than pass rusher. Nix’s professionalism and work ethic were questioned in Houston.
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.
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 Jasper Brinkley in September 2015 after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys. He played in 15 games, starting nine at middle linebacker, and finished the season with 67 tackles, 1 sack, and 4 forced fumbles. Brinkley was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Since that time, he has spent time with the Vikings (2009-12, 2014), Cardinals (2013), and Cowboys (2015). Brinkley has played in 94 regular-season games with 42 starts. He missed the 2011 season due to hip surgery. Brinkley is a big linebacker who lacks ideal overall athleticism. He is a physical, two-down run defender who struggles at times in pass coverage.
The Giants signed J.T. 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 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. 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.
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 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.
Uani ‘Unga played far more 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 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 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.
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.
James Morris spent two stints each on the team’s Practice Squad and 53-man roster in 2015. He played in six games, primarily on special teams, before being placed on Injured Reserve in December 2015 with a quad injury. Morris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Patriots placed him on Injured Reserve in August 2014 after he tore his ACL in a preseason game against the Giants. The Patriots waived him in September 2015. Morris is a blue-collar type with good size, but he lacks ideal overall athleticism.
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.
Tramain Jacobs alternated between the Practice Squad and the 53-man roster twice in 2015. He ended up playing in five games but only saw limited action and finished with just 3 tackles. Jacobs was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in three games as rookie after spending nine weeks on Baltimore’s Practice Squad. Jacobs finished the season on Injured Reserve with a thigh injury. The Ravens waived Jacobs in August 2015. Jacobs is an average-sized corner with good speed and quickness.
The Giants signed Leon McFadden off of the Practice Squad of the Arizona Cardinals in October 2015, but waived him in December after he had played in just two games. The Giants then re-signed him to the Practice Squad. McFadden was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He played in all 16 games as a rookie with two starts. The Browns waived him in August 2014. Since then, he has spent time with the Jets, 49ers, and Cardinals. McFadden is an average-sized corner with good speed and quickness.
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.
Cooper Taylor made the roster in September and was on the active game-day roster for three-of-six games before being waived in October. He was then re-signed to the Practice Squad in November and then promoted to the 53-man roster again two weeks later. Just as Taylor was receiving more playing time, he suffered a concussion and missed the final two games of the season. In all, Taylor played in six games and finished with just 11 tackles. Taylor was selected in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. He simply has not been able to stay healthy, missing six games in 2013 with shoulder and hamstring injures, the entire 2014 season with a fractured foot, and two games in 2015 with the concussion. Taylor is a big safety with decent overall athleticism. He has flashed at times in both coverage and as a 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.
Bennett Jackson was placed on Injured Reserve before the season started in September 2015 after tearing the ACL in his right knee in the second preseason game. The Giants drafted Jackson in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, he was waived, signed to the Practice Squad, and then placed on the Practice Squad/Injured List with cartilage damage to his left knee injury that required microfracture surgery. Jackson converted to cornerback from wide receiver at Notre Dame. The Giants shifted him to safety during the 2015 offseason. Jackson is a bit of a corner/safety ‘tweener. While he he has good speed and coverage skills for a safety, he lacks ideal size and physicality for the position. Before he was injured, Jackson was receiving first team reps at safety and as the team’s nickel corner.
Mykkele Thompson was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2015 after rupturing the Achilles’ tendon in his right foot. Thompson was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. 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.
Justin Currie was placed on Injured Reserve in August 2015 after fracturing his right tibia and ankle in the second preseason game. Currie signed as a rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. Currie is a big safety with some athleticism who is better against the run than the pass. He is a good hitter and tackler.
The Giants drafted Darian 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.
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.
Josh Brown’s two best seasons have come with the Giants past the age of 35. Brown made 30-of-32 field goal attempts in 2015, a franchise-record 93.8 percent success rate, and topping his own record of 92.3 percent (24-of-26) in 2014. He has also hit long field goals of 53 yards in both seasons. In just three seasons, Brown has scored 350 points, ninth best in franchise history. The only downside is that two of Brown’s misses were factors in late-game losses. In the past two years, over 61 percent of his kickoffs have 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 as a free agent in 2013, he kicked for the Seahawks (2003-07), St. Louis Rams (2009-11), and Cincinnati Bengals (2012). He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate after the 2015 campaign.
The Giants signed Tom Obarski to a reserve/future contract in January 2016. Obarski was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft, but he did not make the team. Obarski has a strong leg for field goals but does not kick off as well for distance.
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.
The Giants signed Tyler Ott in late December 2015 after team placed Danny Aiken on Injured Reserve. He played in the regular-season finale. Ott was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2014 NFL Draft. He did not make the team, but spent time with the Patriots again and the St. Louis Rams before the 2015 season.