Aug 282014
 
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Giants.com Interview with S Antrel Rolle: The video of Tuesday’s Giants.com interview with safety Antrel Rolle is available at Giants.com.

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: Giants not scared to talk ‘championship’ by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Articles on the New York Giants Running Backs:

Article on TE Daniel Fells: Giants TE Daniel Fells likely to receive first-team snaps vs. Patriots team that dumped him last year by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants Linebackers:

Article on S Nat Berhe: Giants rookie check-in with Nat Berhe: ‘The Missile’ or ‘The Icebox’? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on PK Brandon McManus: NY Giants keep Eagles from getting kicker Brandon McManus by Stephen Lorenzo and Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Aug 182014
 
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Nat Berhe, San Diego State Aztecs (December 20, 2012)

Nat Berhe – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It didn’t take long for the quote to make its way down the grapevine and to Giants rookie safety Nat Berhe.

Speaking to the media earlier this month, safeties coach David Merritt was discussing the list of players who had impressed him during the preseason opener versus Buffalo. Eventually, he got to Berhe.

“The Missile,” Merritt said. “That’s going to be his new nickname because he is going to go in there like a missile.”

Sure enough, the coach’s words were near immediately presented to Berhe. His response?

“Who’s ‘The Missile,’” Berhe said with a laugh.

Since having the name all but written across his back, Berhe has done his best to hit just about anything that moves during practice and at games. On his first NFL snap, the 6-0, 194-pound Berhe ran headfirst into an offensive tackle, bounced off and then pursued the running back.

Nat Berhe, New York Giants (May 20, 2014)

Nat Berhe – Photo by Connor Hughes

The way he sees it, that’s how he’s always played football. He’s never thought much, he’s just gone out and done it. If anything ever needed to be done on the team, Berhe was normally the one to do it. That hasn’t changed now that he’s reached the NFL.

“Whatever the team needs me to do I’m going to do it,” Berhe said. “If that means playing fullback on punt, or running down on the kickoff. I’m willing to do it all.”

In his first three preseason games, Berhe has recorded seven combined tackles and frequently found himself around the ball. Still, there are aspects of his game that he admits he’s still working on.

During his time at San Diego State, playing the run was more of a “see ball, get ball” assignment. Now, Berhe is realizing who to match up with and when to match up with them. It’s no longer just about running to the ball, it’s about playing in gaps.

It’s all a learning curve for the 23-year old. The question now is how quick before it all clicks. Following Cooper Taylor’s injury versus the Indianapolis Colts, the Giants may need Berhe far sooner than originally anticipated.

This past Saturday, Taylor was carted off the field with a foot injury. Speaking to the media the following day, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team should expect to be without last year’s fifth-round pick for some time.

Cooper Taylor (30), New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Cooper Taylor returning a blocked punt for a TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Berhe heard the news on Taylor, a player who has been helping the rookie in his transition to the pros, and realized there was now an opportunity. Taylor had been working as the Giants second-team safety alongside Quintin Demps and behind starters Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown.

Theoretically, Berhe should now slide in next to Demps.

Demps, Rolle and Brown have all been players Berhe has been watching extensively whenever he gets the chance. Be it on the field, in the film room or how the group conducts themselves at meetings.

The way Berhe see it, each player has something they do exceptionally well, or, in his words, their “super powers.”

“Antrel is the ‘masked magician,’” Berhe said. “He’ll come down and show man, then get out and play cover two and you’re like, ‘Damn, how did he do that before the snap?’ Then you at Stevie and he’s just the master of the post. He can identify a route combination so quickly.

“Then there’s Q, he’s the all-around guy who can kind of play both. You take a little bit form each of them and try to add it to your game.”

So where does Berhe fit into the equation?

“I like to bring the boom,” he said.

Aug 112014
 
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Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) Updates: In case you missed it, original-content articles from BBI today:

August 11, 2014 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing on Monday were RB Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), FB John Conner (concussion), WR Victor Cruz (knee), WR Marcus Harris (hip), WR Jerrel Jernigan (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring), DT Mike Patterson (shoulder), LB Jon Beason (PUP – foot), and CB Jayron Hosley (foot).

WR Odell Beckham (hamstring) and TE Daniel Fells (knee) participated in individual drills.

“Well, Daniels Fells actually took some time on the field with us,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Xavier Grimble still is over there with the trainers, but I am hoping that Daniel Fells is better tomorrow and maybe we can get Xavier Grimble pretty quick. He’s been out a long time for a rookie.”

“(Harris is) supposed to work tomorrow,” said Coughlin. “(Beckham) did individual. They said he did alright. Maybe they can extend it a little bit tomorrow, I hope…(Beckham) probably wasn’t full speed today, but he got out there and did some things. I won’t be able to ascertain until he takes some team snaps.”

“(Cruz and Jernigan) will be back tomorrow, I hope,” said Coughlin.

August 11, 2014 Tom Coughlin Press Conference: The transcript and video from Monday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at Giants.com.

August 11, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Monday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on the 2014 New York Giants: Camp Confidential: New York Giants by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on the New York Giants Offense: With Time Growing Short, New Offense Has Giants’ Attention at Last by Tom Pedulla of The New York Times

Article on RB Andre Williams: Andre Williams: How did Giants’ rookie RB do as a blocker vs. Steelers? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Victor Cruz’s confidence in new Giants offense hasn’t wavered by Howie Kussoy of The New York Post

Article on DE Mathias Kiwanuka: Relaxed Mathias Kiwanuka feels he can have his best season yet at 31 by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the New York Giants Defensive Backs:

Jul 182014
 
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John Mara, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Some Pre-Camp Thoughts From John Mara: New York Giants President and CEO John Mara spoke briefly to the press at a charity event on Thursday. Some interesting tidbits:

  • On the Giants very busy free agent period: “It’s not going to happen every year. We’re not going to have that kind of cap room every year. And listen: If you’re that aggressive every year, there’s something wrong with your organization. But you have to do it every once in awhile.”
  • On the team’s secondary: “(It is) a stronger secondary than we’ve ever had before.”
  • On whether RB David Wilson (career-threatening neck injury) will be able to play: “We expect him to be playing this year, but that is going to depend on what the doctors tell us. So far, all signs are that he’s going to be ready to go.”
  • On new Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo: “I like what I’ve seen so far, but he hasn’t called a play in a game yet. (The new offense) looks great on the practice field.”
  • On his prediction for the Giants in 2014: “I was the same idiot who said last year it was the best team we’d had in years and look what happened. So, yeah. The fans do deserve better and we did our best in the offseason. It’s not just a question of doing it on the field. We think we have the pieces in place, but until we start playing games it’s just hard to tell.”
  • On DE Justin Tuck playing for the Raiders: “It’s gonna hurt seeing him in a different uniform. This one’s really gonna hurt, because he was such a great player and a great citizen for us.”

Giants.com Q&A with Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo: The video of a Giants.com Q&A with Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo is available at Giants.com.

Giants.com Q&A with QB Eli Manning: The video of a Giants.com Q&A session with QB Eli Manning is available at Giants.com.

NY Post Q&A with Giants Play-by-Play Man Bob Papa: The positional battles Bob Papa will be watching at Giants camp by Justin Terranova of The New York Post

Article on the New York Giants Quarterbacks: Giants Training Camp Battle No. 3: Ryan Nassib vs. himself and Curtis Painter by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants Fullbacks: Giants Training Camp Battle No. 4: Henry Hynoski vs. John Conner at fullback by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on DT Johnathan Hankins: 10 Giants you should know when training camp begins: Johnathan Hankins by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Article on S Nat Berhe: 10 Giants you should know when training camp begins: Nat Berhe by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

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

Antrel Rolle – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWNS: Safeties

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

Will Hill – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quintin Demps – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stevie Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 112014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 21, 2012)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eli Manning Energized by New Offense: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was interviewed on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday. Manning spoke about the impact the new offense under Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo is having on him.

“It is tough, it’s not easy, but it has definitely re-energized me and brought an urgency to this time of year,” Manning said. “It’s definitely challenging. Each night, I’m staying up and preparing, and I feel like I’m in season right now with the amount of preparation I’m trying to put in to get ready for each practice.”

“Each practice is draining on you mentally, you’re thinking so much about everything that has to go on and the different calls,” said Manning. “But it is also exciting. As a football player, as a competitor, you like to be challenged.”

Manning underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle in April. It was originally feared he would miss all of the offseason workouts until training camp. But Manning has been a full participant during the Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices that began in late May.

“This has been huge, just getting in the offense,” Manning said. “It’s one thing to listen to a play being called or watch plays being run — you may think you have a good grasp of it, until you’re out there and you gotta pull the trigger, you gotta make a call, you gotta change a play and you’re doing it live, and with the defense, and make all those little decisions. It was huge.”

Manning suffered the ankle injury during the regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins on December 29. Despite the fact that the injury required him to wear a protective boot for several weeks and did later require surgery, Manning said he might have played if there was another game following the 20-6 win over Washington.

“I was having the conversation with the trainers a little bit,” Manning said. “It would’ve been my instincts to say ‘Yeah, I can play.’ I could’ve muscled through it. It would’ve been a lot of shotgun, I think. The good thing it was my left ankle, it wasn’t my right ankle where you’re planting and pushing off and stuff. But it would’ve been a challenge. It would’ve been interesting to see how it would’ve worked out if we had a game the next week.”

LB Jamal Merrell Works Out for Giants: According to The Star-Ledger, undrafted rookie free agent Jamal Merrell (Rutgers) was scheduled to work out for the New York Giants on Wednesday. The Giants had also worked out Merrell before the 2014 NFL Draft. Merrell was signed by the Tennessee Titans on May 12 after the Draft, but the Titans waived him a week later.

According to The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, the Giants worked out at least 10 free agents on Wednesday, including TE Tom Crabtree (ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and rookie free agent WR Denzell Jones (Central Connecticut State). None of these players have been signed.

CB Victor Hampton Signs with Bengals: As previously reported, rookie free agent CB Victor Hampton (South Carolina) had been scheduled to work out with the Giants this week. However, Hampton signed with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday. NJ.com is reporting that Hampton was schedule to meet with the Giants on Wednesday.

Giants.com Q&A With Safety Nat Berhe: The video of a Giants.com Q&A session with safety Nat Berhe is available at Giants.com.

Articles on QB Eli Manning:

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Victor Cruz prepared for role as one of Giants’ leaders by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on LB Mark Herzlich: Giants LB Mark Herzlich continues to use his magic touch by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Giants.com Videos from New York Giants OTA Practices:

Quotes: WR Victor Cruz on former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells addressing the team last Tuesday: “It was dope, man. It was cool to see him. I’ve met him on the field briefly but never in that kind of setting to hear what he has to say and talk to him…Just his presence alone, what he brings to the table, it was pretty inspirational to see him and have him there. He still brings the fire. He still has it. It’s pretty cool to see.”

May 202014
 
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Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (May 20, 2014)

Ryan Nassib – Photo by Connor Hughes

May 20, 2014 New York Giants Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of Tuesday’s media Q&A sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Articles on Wide Receiver Odell Beckham:

Article on Tight Ends Adrien Robinson and Xavier Grimble: Robinson, Grimble could fill void at TE by Kieran Darcy of ESPN.com

Article on Offensive Linemen Geoff Schwartz and Weston Richburg: New Giants linemen getting outside help by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

BigBlueInteractive.com on Giants.com Big Blue Kickoff Live: The audio of Eric Kennedy from BigBlueInteractive.com being interviewed on Giants.com’s Big Blue Kickoff Live podcast on Tuesday is available at Giants.com. Eric joins the show at the 30-minute mark of the broadcast.

May 202014
 
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Nat Berhe, New York Giants (May 20, 2014)

Nat Berhe – Photo by Connor Hughes

The New York Giants’ media day has wrapped up and is complete. Below you will find a few quick hits and tidbits that stood out from today’s player availability portion.

  • A lot has been made of Giants’ fourth-round draft pick Andre Williams and his size. Is he big? Is he powerful? Well, I can say from looking at him first hand, he’s all the above. The guy is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL as he’s built, fit, and just a big guy.
  • Sticking with Williams, I asked him if he had talked to free-agent acquisition Rashaad Jennings and compared play styles. Being a bigger running back in the NFL, you need to carry yourself different as you take quite a bit of additional hits. Jennings has had success with this. Williams said he has not talked to him about that yet, as he has buried himself in the playbook.
  • Jay Bromley spoke to the media for quite awhile, mostly about his weight. The defensive tackle didn’t gain much college interest as he was always smaller, and began his Syracuse career at 260 pound. Four years later, he played his senior season at 296. Bromley said the coaches have told him they want him around 315-320, but “If I can ball at this weight, they won’t say anything.”
  • I asked Bromley what kind of player he expects to be at the next level. Does he view himself as a run-stopper, pass-rusher, or all the above? He said, bluntly, “I want to get after the quarterback.”
  • One of the more impressive interviews of the day was given by first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. and it became very evident very quickly why New York fell in love with him. The kid has a great attitude for the game, is very hungry to perform and is incredibly well spoken. While GM Jerry Reese spoke after the draft pick about Beckham being used primarily outside, the LSU alum said he has also put in some work inside.
  • One more quick thing on Beckham: It had been rumored that he would be a logical choice at kick returner, that’s not the case. Beckham said that he has been told they may use him at punt returner, but nothing was mentioned with kick returner. That job seems reserved, per Beckham’s words, for Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps.
  • By far and away the player that stood out the most was Adrien Robinson. The oft-injured tight end seems very dialed in knowing his chances are wearing out. He seems in good shape, down 15 pounds and looking to make it 20, and seems to truly love the new offense. Unlike before, Robinson and his fellow tight ends will be moving around quite a bit, including in the backfield.
  • The more Robinson talked, the more I couldn’t help but wonder if Brandon Myers wasn’t just a year too early for the Giants. The way the new offense plans to utilize the tight end seems to fit his skill set perfectly. That, and Jermichael Finley.
  • The one alarming thing that stood out about Robinson was when he mentioned his weight from last year. The 25-year-old played at 285 pounds and that wasn’t per the coaches request.
  • No one has put on any pads, but Nat Berhe has everything off the field you want from an NFL player. Heart, toughness, is built very well and looks to be in great shape. Berhe also said he models his play off of Antrel Rolle. Again, no pads have been put on, but he’s my bet for one of those hidden gems found in the draft. 

———

In The Corner Forum, we asked you, the fans, if you had any questions for the players. Here are some of those answered:

From Peter S - I’d ask Adrien Robinson if he feels that this can be the year he establishes himself as the tight end the offense needs to be complete?
— Robinson made it very evident on multiple occasions that this is his golden opportunity. “This is my third year” was mentioned several times.

From Dan in the Springs - (Nassib) Compare/contrast this new offense and the one you played in at Syracuse?
— Nassib was pretty short with his interview today. He said there was “some” carry over.

From ANGPASS - Could (Walton) play tomorrow if there was a game?
— Walton said that he was ready to play Week 10 of last year and he is 100-percent healthy.

From ANGPASS (Walton) – Would he as comfortable playing guard as he would center?
— He said he has not played guard before and that he’s a center.

From Viggie - What position do they envision Devon Kennard playing? LB or DE or is he going to be some type of hybrid?
— The Giants are right now primarily using Kennard as a MIKE/Middle with the intention of working him at SAM/Strong Side as well. Kennard said he prefers SAM because it allows him to get after the quarterback. I asked him personally if he could put his hand in the dirt, similar to Kiwanuka, and play DE, he said if the coaches asked him to he would, but that hasn’t been mentioned yet.

From ChathamMark - (Richburg and Walton) Not ‘can’ they play guard, but how much guard have they actually played in their careers.
— Richburg has played some at guard; it doesn’t seem like Walton has at all. From Walton’s own words, he’s a center.

From NewBlue - (Will Hill) Why man?
— Will Hill is in the building for NYG, and according to The Star-Ledger‘s Conor Orr, seemed in good spirits. Orr saw Hill before we were brought out to the podium.

Many of you asked questions on Xavier Grimble, unfortunately I was unable to get to his presser. He spoke at the same time as I believe Bromley, which was the one I was covering. Apologize for that, but we will get transcript up ASAP.

May 192014
 
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Devon Kennard, USC Trojans (September 21, 2013)

Devon Kennard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants Sign Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg, Devon Kennard, Bennett Jackson: The New York Giants officially announced on Monday that they have signed 2014 NFL Draft selections:

  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (1st round)
  • OC Weston Richburg (2nd round)
  • LB Devon Kennard (5th round)
  • CB Bennett Jackson (6th round)

The Giants signed RB Andre Williams (4th round) and S Nat Berhe (5th round) last Friday. The only unsigned draft pick is DT Jay Bromley (3rd round).

Article on the New York Giants and the 2014 Salary Cap: Salary Cap Update: Giants have enough money to sign draft picks, plus $5M coming June 1 by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Article on RB Rashad Jennings: The Dork Diet and Geek Streak of Giants RB Rashad Jennings by Sarah Toland of SI.com

Article on RB Andre Williams: Giants think they have a steal in Williams by George O’Gorman of The Trentonian

Article on DE Kerry Wynn: Giants draft 2014: Get to know your priority free agents with Richmond DE Kerry Wynn by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger

Article on DT Jay Bromley: Giants rookie Jay Bromley worth rooting for by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on LB Devon Kennard: Giants Draft Picks: Who has best chance to surprise this season? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com

Articles on S Nat Berhe:

May 172014
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (May 8, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Review: Eric’s Take

The New York Giants are not reloading; they are rebuilding. And while this rebuilding project does not reach down to the foundational level (head coach and quarterback), the offensive coaching staff was almost completely revamped (three new coaches, two re-assigned); core players have retired or been allowed to leave via free agency; an unprecedented 16 players were added in veteran free agency; and an additional 18 players have been added since the draft started.

Despite all of these roster additions, the New York Giants were not able to address every need in the 2014 NFL Draft. Team leadership was surprisingly candid about this immediately after the draft.

“In personnel, sometimes you can’t get everything,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “You can’t just waive a magic wand.”

“You get seven picks, and you can’t take everything you need,” said Marc Ross. “You can’t have first round picks at every pick that you want and things that you think you need.”

How does a team that has added 34 players in the past three months still have significant holes? Because for a variety of reasons, too many picks in the last six NFL Drafts have not worked out and are no longer with the team. Hence the need for a major rebuilding project.

So before we look at what the Giants accomplished, let’s look at what they did not accomplish.

Ideally, the Giants would have liked to have added premium draft picks at the offensive tackle, tight end, defensive end, and linebacker positions. But as Reese and Ross said, you can’t do everything you want in one draft when you have so many needs.

Tight end has gotten more attention from fans, but the Giants have a glaring question mark at tackle. Will Beatty is coming off of a bad season and a significant injury that will hamper his preparation for the 2014 season. If he isn’t ready or struggles again, the passing and running games will suffer. Charles Brown, a former 2nd round pick of the Saints who was brought in for depth and insurance, struggled in New Orleans with inconsistent pass protection and penalties. The Giants could shift Justin Pugh to left tackle, but then who plays right tackle? Geoff Schwartz? Even he admits he is a better guard. James Brewer? He hasn’t taken the bull by the horns since drafted in 2011. Brandon Mosley or Stephen Goodin? Still relative unknowns.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin was surprisingly honest about his desire to add a tight end in the draft. “It has to work out for you and all of a sudden, bang, a couple guys were gone in that 2nd round and you say, ‘Wait a minute, how deep is that position and then who?’ Two of them (who we liked) are (drafted by other teams),” said Coughlin. “Yeah it’s a concern.”

So the Giants will have to hope that one of the following step up: journeymen Daniel Fells or Kellen Davis, or the talented but so far disappointing Adrien Robinson or Larry Donnell. I still would not write off the possibility of signing free agent Jermichael Finley if he can pass a physical.

On paper, the strength of the Giants defense seems to have shifted from the defensive line to the secondary. If true, I can’t recall at time when that was ever the case. Now the Giants must pray that Jason Pierre-Paul regains his 2011 form after two bad seasons. They must also pray that Damontre Moore develops into a quality pass rusher. Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers are not bad players, but they don’t scare anyone. Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck are just memories now. In 2014, the Giants may struggle to rush the passer.

Jerry Reese learned a valuable lesson in 2013: a good linebacker can dramatically improve the entire defense. Jon Beason proved to be an impact addition, not just because of his play, but perhaps more importantly due to his leadership. But Beason has had some significant injuries and the Giants still lack big-time playmakers at the outside positions. In a perfect world, the Giants would have added a top linebacking prospect. Jameel McClain may help, but he was just a guy in Baltimore. The Giants can get by with what they have (Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams), but there is little depth and no special players.

OK, so let’s look at what the Giants did accomplish in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Adding an impact wide receiver was critical and the Giants appear to have done just that with the selection of Odell Beckham, Jr. in the 1st round. Last season, teams simply took Victor Cruz out of the game and dared the other receivers and tight ends to hurt them. They couldn’t. If Beckham develops into the player as hoped, the Giants will have the outside threat they have lacked since Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season when Hakeem Nicks became a shadow of himself. Beckham has it all except height. Since Eli Manning tends to throw the ball high, additional height would help but Beckham is very quick and fast, runs great routes, can make circus catches, and perhaps most significantly in the new Giants offense, is a tremendous run-after-the-catch receiver. Eli Manning has worked with Beckham in passing camps and fully endorses the selection. Unusually, there already seems to be chemistry there. Most encouraging is that there are reports that at least a half-dozen teams were trying to trade up to snag Beckham. He was picked right where the rest of the NFL seems to have expected him to go. Now if Rueben Randle could just develop, the Giants will be in very good shape at wide receiver.

In round two, most fans thought the Giants would draft an offensive tackle or tight end. But many were also thinking guard or center and the Giants arguably picked the best center in the draft with the selection of Weston Richburg. Richburg lacks ideal size, but most NFL centers are in the same size range (6’3”, 300lbs). He has everything else – strength, agility, quickness, smarts, work ethic, leadership qualities. Temperament wise, he has been compared favorably to Richie Seubert. J.D. Walton may start, but Richburg has the look of a 10-year starter. The Giants may even consider moving Richburg or Walton temporarily to guard if necessary. Richburg was expected to be drafted in this area of the draft and the only criticism that can be leveled here is that he was a “luxury” pick given the needs at tight end and tackle.

Fans debated before the draft how big a need was the defensive tackle position, especially given the free agent departure of Linval Joseph. Some said it was a big need. Others said they were relatively comfortable with the players behind Cullen Jenkins and Joseph’s replacement, Johnathan Hankins. But with the selection of Jay Bromley in the 3rd round, the Giants made it clear they wanted to add another quality prospect to compete with Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn, as well as groom behind the 33-year old Jenkins. Bromley is the most controversial selection by the Giants. Most “draft experts,” and even Bromley’s agent, expected him to be drafted in rounds 4-6. Fans such as myself who have watched YouTube clips of him (always a dubious exercise) have come away with mixed evaluations. Some see a prospect who struggles at the point-of-attack while others have seen a guy who can penetrate and disrupt. Regardless, how Bromley develops or doesn’t develop will be a big factor in how this draft is evaluated years from now. To be brutally frank, the Giants have really struggled with their 3rd round selections (Jayron Hosley, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum, Gerris Wilkinson) not to mention bad luck with others (Chad Jones and Jay Alford). What we do know about Bromley is he is a guy who is easy to root for (see this outstanding New York Daily News article), he’s a New Yorker who grew up a Giants fan, and he does have good quickness and tenacity for the position. In addition, Bromley was a team captain at Syracuse. The Giants feel he can get bigger and stronger without affecting quickness. Jerry Reese went so far as to compare him to a shorter version of Chris Canty. In my personal view, ultimately, for Bromley to work out, he has to play far more stout at the point-of-attack then I saw on the limited YouTube video that I watched.

There was an intriguing post from BigBlueInteractive.com contributor Ross. Through the grapevine, he heard the following from a former employee of the Philadelphia Eagles:

Each year, teams think they found a few guys that are off the radar and can get them later in the draft for various reasons: injury, small schools, overshadowed etc. This year, one of those guys was Bromley. He said there was a buzz about him in recent weeks and thought he would get drafted earlier that the so called draft experts projected. He’s a “sleeper” and thought many teams wanted him. He said that he is the type of guy that no one talks about as so many teams are interested and they hope he slips. He said no one will work harder than him and Giants got a really good player. Said he was a sure 3rd round pick in his mind and also used the Chris Canty comparison as player type. Thought the Steelers or Bears would grab him in the 3rd which means that he didn’t think it was a reach at all.

As disappointed as many fans were with the “reach” of Bromley, they were equally excited about the Giants drafting RB Andre Williams, the nation’s leading rusher and Heisman Trophy candidate, in the 4th round. Name recognition goes a long way in making the average fan happy around draft time. That said, Williams looks like a very good value selection. A little oddly, running back was not perceived as big need by most Giants fans. This probably had to do more with talent issues at other positions than the true state of affairs, especially given David Wilson’s unsure status. In addition, while I’m a fan of Rashad Jennings, it’s still unknown if he can be the “bell cow” at running back. Williams is a throwback. He’s a big, powerful, bruising running back who seems more out-of-style in today’s pass-happy game. The biggest knock on Williams is his hands. He did not have a single reception in 2013 at Boston College. He also needs to hold onto the ball better (10 fumbles in three seasons). The Jennings-Williams duo gives the Giants backfield an entirely different feel. This is a sledgehammer combination that can wear down a defense if – and this is big “if” – the Giants can block for them up front.

Nat Berhe, the first of the Giants two 5th rounders, is an undersized heat-seeking missile who loves the physical side of the game. He is a big hitter and aggressive tackler. He also is another smart guy and former team captain. At worst, he should excel on special teams. At best, he could become the new in-the-box safety/linebacker in Perry Fewell’s three-safety package. “Well, you can compare it to the third safety role, that Deon Grant role as we’ve called it,” said Marc Ross. “That would be the most natural fit. This is what (Berhe) did and this is what that role was (in college).” The biggest knock on Berhe, other than his size, is that does not make many plays on the football in the air (five interceptions in three seasons).

The second 5th rounder, Devon Kennard, is one of those DE/LB ‘tweeners who the Giants have liked to draft in recent years, but who may not be a good fit for a 4-3 defense. Kennard is big, physical, smart, a team leader, and flashes as a pass rusher. But what we don’t know is if he has the quickness, agility, and speed to play linebacker at the pro level against pass-happy NFL offenses. I envision him as the equivalent to Mathias Kiwanuka (when he played at weakside linebacker), but the Giants have talked about him possibly being a candidate at middle linebacker. I question if he has the overall athleticism for that move. Some had projected Kennard to be drafted much earlier than the 5th round so this at least appears to be a good value selection.

The Giants final pick – CB Bennett Jackson in the 6th round – is also a good value pick. He was projected by some to go higher than this as well. Jackson is a former wide receiver who was converted to corner for the last two years of school at Notre Dame. Another team captain, he was limited his senior season by a shoulder injury. He is size-speed project with good intangibles but he faces stiff competition and numbers at the corner position on this roster. His best immediate prospect may be the Practice Squad unless he kicks ass on special teams in the preseason.

As for the 10 rookie free agents signed after the draft, the three most intriguing are TE Xavier Grimble, DT Kelcy Quarles, and DT Eathyn Manumaleuna. Safeties C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon also started a ton of games in the Big 10. Even had the Giants not had a huge need at tight end, Grimble would be an interesting signing. He has a nice combination of size, overall athleticism, and hands. His productivity at USC was hampered by injures and Lane Kiffin’s offense. He could surprise. Quarles was expected by some to be drafted as high as the 2nd-3rd round, but some have questioned his maturity and character. Manumaleuna may lack ideal size and athleticism, but he’s a disruptive football player who can play the run. The Giants also loaded up on defensive ends (Kerry Wynn, Emmanuel Dieke, and Jordan Stanton) and linebackers (Dan Fox and Justin Anderson), hoping one may be a diamond in the rough. Interestingly, 9-out-of-10 of the rookie free agent signings were on the defensive side of the football. None were on the offensive line.

Overall, this appears to be a respectable group. The Giants look like they have future starters in Beckham, Richburg, and Williams. Much depends on Bromley. Did the Giants reach again in the 3rd round or find a gem? The Giants will have to wait until 2015 to address their other needs at offensive tackle (unless Beatty rebounds), tight end (unless someone surprises), defensive end (unless Damontre Moore turns into a stud), and linebacker. The rebuilding project continues.