Kevin Gilbride Defends Eli Manning: Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who retired from the NFL in January, defended quarterback Eli Manning during an interview with ProFootballTalk on Tuesday. ESPN.com recently ran a story stating that the question of whether Eli is in decline “has not gone unasked” in the team’s front office.
“There’s been no deterioration of his arm strength, there’s been no lack of preparation and effort,” Gilbride said. “I think he’s going to be fine as soon as they solidify the offensive line. They certainly made a move to do that by bringing in three interior offensive linemen and as soon as they get somebody that’s going to be productive for them as an outside receiver. Victor Cruz is terrific, but they need somebody that when they go match up, bump-and-run (and) go win for them.”
Gilbride was also asked about Manning’s recent ankle surgery.
“If this (ankle injury) is just another minor procedure, which he’s had many before, he’s never been a guy that is dependent on his legs,” said Gilbride. “He’s never had to run to escape problems. He’s always solved the problems with his arm, his accuracy, his brain. None of that has changed.”
“I think that’s, to be honest with you, ludicrous,” Gilbride said of the notion that Manning is declining. “I think he’s going to be fine…He’s going to throw the ball to the right person and he’s going to throw it accurately.”
Matt Flynn Re-Signs With the Green Bay Packers: Unrestricted free agent quarterback Matt Flynn (Green Bay Packers) had been scheduled to visit with the New York Giants on Tuesday, but Flynn cancelled his visit and re-signed with the Packers on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, according to press accounts, unrestricted free agent quarterback Josh Freeman (Minnesota Vikings) was still expected to visit the Giants on Tuesday.
New York Giants Meeting with DT Kevin Williams: According The Star Tribune, unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Kevin Williams met with the New York Giants on Monday. Williams will continue to meet with the Giants on Tuesday and could be close to reaching a deal. The 33-year old Williams was drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Vikings. He is a six-time Pro Bowler who is on the downside of his career.
According to The Star Tribune, Williams had dinner with Giants Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn and other Giants defensive coaches on Monday. He will reportedly meet with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and members of the Giants front office on Tuesday.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Williams said. “I played 11 years in Minnesota. It didn’t work out there and this is my first visit with another team. I’m not sure how to feel. It’s all new to me.”
Williams was the Vikings’ first-round draft pick in 2003. A five-time All-Pro pick and six-time Pro Bowl selection, Williams has missed only five games, including just three because of injuries. He had 60 sacks, five interceptions and seven forced fumbles as a Viking.
“I knew eventually a team would reach out and show interest,” Williams said. “But I wasn’t worried about it. Either way, whether something works out [Tuesday] or doesn’t work out and I retire, I’m comfortable with that. I’m not a guy who’s worried about going home and leaving football behind. Football isn’t everything.”
“I had a good visit (Monday night with the Giants),” Williams said. “It’s different. That’s for sure. But I would like to keep playing, so we’ll see how it goes (on Tuesday).”
New York Giants Meeting with WR LaRon Byrd: According to The New York Daily News, the Giants will work out unrestricted free agent wide receiver LaRon Byrd on Tuesday. Byrd was waived by the Arizona Cardinals on April 4.
The 24-year old Byrd was originally signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. He made the team as a rookie but only played in four games, catching one pass for eight yards. He was waived/injured and later placed on Injured Reserve by the Cardinals in August 2013 with a concussion.
Byrd has excellent size (6’4”, 220 pounds) and is a good athlete, but he has been very inconsistent, including catching the football.
New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Guards and Centers
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
DISCLCAIMER: I broke the OL previews in to two categories, guards/centers and tackles. This can be difficult to organize because a few of these guys have the skill set to play different positions. But keep in mind that versatility is part of their grade and I am grading these guys where I think they would best fit for NYG.
Current G/C on NYG Roster:
Geoff Schwartz – 28 – Signed through 2017
Chris Snee – 32 – Signed through 2014
John Jerry – 28 – Signed through 2014
James Brewer – 27 – Signed through 2014
Brandon Mosley – 26 – Signed through 2015
Stephen Goodin – 26 – Signed through 2014
Eric Herman – 25 – Signed through 2015
JD Walton – 27 – Signed through 2015
Dallas Reynolds – 30 – Signed through 2014
Where They Stand:
Not so long ago, the inside of the NYG offensive line was a major strength that paved the way for a powerful, reliable unit. While they lacked the superstars, their presence was often overlooked by many, even fans. Last season’s struggle on offense was largely because of poor performance inside. The signing of Schwartz and hopeful resurgence of Snee could lead to the needed confidence of the starting pair of guards. However the issue resides behind them on the depth chart and between them at the starting center spot. JD Walton has some impressive tape attached to his name and I think he could be the guy in the middle, but there needs to be a better secondary option should his injuries arise or his level of play doesn’t return. When it comes to the depth, NYG has a bunch of guys with limited upside. It would be a major gamble to go in to the season with this current group. They have enough bodies for sure, but is the quality there? I don’t think so.
Top 10 Grades:
1 – David Yankey – Stanford – 6’6/315: 79
2 – Travis Swanson – Arkansas: 6’5/312: 78
3 – Cyril Richardson – Baylor – 6’5/329: 77
4 – Trai Turner – LSU – 6’3/310: 77
5 – Xavier Su’a-Filo – UCLA – 6’4/307: 77
6 – Gabe Jackson – Mississippi State – 6’3/336: 76
7 – Conor Boffeli – Iowa – 6’4/298: 76
8 – Dakota Dozier – Furman – 6’4/313: 76
9 – Gabe Ikard – Oklahoma – 6’4/304: 75
10 – Weston Richburg – Colorado State – 6’3/298: 74
Day One Target:
David Yankey – Stanford
Before I discuss Yankey, just know that I don’t have any guards or centers with a first round grade. I would only support a selection here after a trade down in to the late 20s. But that aside, I do really like Yankey for the Giants offense. His versatility is a plus, as he played tackle and guard at a really high level. Yankey’s greatest trait is his straight and run blocking. He is a well-put-together 315 pounds with a strong base and heavy hands. He was heading towards a first round grade late in the year, but I noticed a deficiency in his pass blocking on closer examination. He struggles to keep his balance and his feet will get stagnant. Yankey may not be the day one starter that I initially thought he would be, but the high ceiling is certainly there. If he can be had, one way or another via trade, at the end of round 1, it may be worth it down the road.
Runner Up: Cyril Richardson
Day Two Target:
Travis Swanson – Arkansas
I have a much higher grade on Swanson than most. Although he graded out as a 2nd rounder, I think he could be there for the Giants 3rd pick. He is a huge body inside that moves exceptionally well at the second level against linebackers. I am most impressed by his ability to neutralize pass rushers up the middle though. That was a major problem for NYG this past year and I’m not so sure it has been solved. Swanson could make a move to guard, as he showed the movement ability necessary to do so at the Senior Bowl. If NYG wants to get bigger up front, Swanson would be the ideal center to bring in.
Runner Up: Trai Turner – LSU
Day Three Target:
Conor Boffeli – Iowa
I recently finished up my scouting of Boffeli; he almost slipped under the radar. I was really impressed with his ability to both anchor his position against bigger defensive linemen as well as move in space in a zone blocking scheme. His performance against Minnesota’s Rashede Hageman left an impression on me. He is a blue collar guy that I think would have fit in perfectly with the NYG offensive line a few years ago when it was considered one of the best in football. He is undersized and may need some extra time before he can be thrown in to the mix. That said, I would want a guy like him developing behind the starters more so than Brewer or Mosley.
Runner Up: Trey Hopkins – G – Texas (74)
Marcus Martin – C – USC (66)
I’ve seen it in a few different places that Martin is being considered the top center in this class. I didn’t see much of him during the season, but I have seen 4 games of his in the past two months. I don’t see a guy that can handle the NFL speed or power. He gets stood up way too easily and his feet are very heavy. Martin is not an impact run blocker, but merely a guy that just tries to get in the way. It worked at USC, but I think he’ll struggle to succeed that way in the league. Poor center play can be exploited really fast. I have him graded as a day three guy, round 5 or 6.
Runner Up: Jon Hilapio – Florida (52)
As I stated earlier, I don’t see a round one value with any of these guys. By no means does that mean I am down on this group though, as I see a lot of potential value throughout the draft here. NYG needs to bring in another interior guy from what I can see. I understand they are trying to develop Mosley, Brewer, and Herman but I would be fine with one of them getting the boot after training camp if a rookie comes in a shows more upside. The center position would be a main focus here if the value presents itself, as there talent there is questionable at best. If NYG wants to get back to a quality rushing attack as well as keep Manning upright for the back nine of his career, the situation inside needs to be addressed. Waiting too long could end up being a major limiting factor for this team.
New York Giants Interested in Sidney Rice: According to ProFootballTalk, the New York Giants are one of several teams interested in unrestricted free agent wide receiver Sidney Rice. The Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, and Carolina Panthers are also said to be interested in his services.
The 27-year old Rice was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. After four seasons in Minnesota, Rice signed with the Seahawks in July 2011. Last season, Rice tore the ACL in one of his knees and missed the rest of the season. The Seahawks released him in February 2014 in a salary cap-related move.
Rice – who is 6’4”, 202 pounds – had his most productive season in 2009 when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. That was his only season cracking the 1,000-yard mark. In three seasons in Seattle, Rice started 31 regular-season games and caught 97 passes for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns. Rice has been injury prone throughout his career. He has missed significant time with knee, hip, and concussion issues. Coming off of the ACL injury, Rice reportedly has been cleared to resume football activities.
Matt Flynn and Josh Freeman to Visit Giants on Tuesday: According to multiple press reports, unrestricted free agent quarterbacks Matt Flynn (Green Bay Packers) and Josh Freeman (Minnesota Vikings) will visit the New York Giants on Tuesday.
As we previously reported, the Giants are most likely looking for a veteran quarterback to help carry the workload during the team’s ten Organized Team Activity (OTA) workouts from May 28 to June 13 as well the mandatory mini-camp on June 17-19. Quarterback Eli Manning may be out of action until the start of summer training camp in late July, recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle.
Articles on the 2014 New York Giants:
- Giants will make playoffs in 2014? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
- Big Blue Morning: Giants a playoff team? by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
Article on the New York Giants and the 2014 NFL Draft: Giants draft 2014: Analyzing general manager Jerry Reese’s tendencies by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
Article on the New York Giants and the 2009 NFL Draft: Giants’ last five drafts: 2009 by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
Article on the New York Giants Offensive Line: How will Giants piece together O-Line? by Dan Salomone of Giants.com
Article on WR Mario Manningham: Manningham returns feeling tested by Kevin Connelly of Vindy.com
Article on DE Robert Ayers: Giants roster 2014: What’s the difference between Justin Tuck and Robert Ayers? by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger
Article on New York Giants and Post-Football Career Planning: Josh Brown plans early for life after NFL by Michael Eisen of Giants.com
BBI on Giants.com Big Blue Kickoff Live: The audio of Eric Kennedy being interviewed on Giants.com’s Big Blue Kickoff Live podcast on Monday is available at Giants.com. Eric joins the show at the midway point of the broadcast.