New York Giants 1999 NFL Draft Needs
- Offensive Guard: RG Ron Stone is a solid player who is capable of being a very good player. Former starter LG Greg Bishop was allowed to leave via free agency. If the season were to begin today, reserve Lonnie Palelei (who is also currently unsigned) would probably start. He’s not a bad player and he is actually capable of improving, but the Giants would be well advised to add at least one more quality body here. Depth is also a concern.
- Offensive Tackle: I like LT Roman Oben a lot and I think he’s one of the better linemen in the game. RT Scott Gragg had another up-and-down season. He finished strong and there are hopes that new Offensive Line Coach Jim McNally will have a big positive influence on him. Toby Myles is also waiting in the wings. He’s a heck of an athlete, but he still has to prove if he can be a heck of a football player. Much depends on whether Gragg and Myles develop and if the Giants move Gragg to guard. If they really want Gragg at guard, then right tackle becomes the number one need, not left guard. Regardless, adding another body for depth and competition would be wise.
- Offensive Center: It looks like Brian Williams will be back. Even though he hasn’t played in two years, he’s an immediate upgrade. However, Williams will be 33 this year and it is not a certainty that he can ever play again. Lance Scott (who is currently unsigned) and Derek Engler are journeymen. Drafting a young, quality center would not only immediately help the depth situation, but also bring aboard Williams’ eventual replacement. A player who could play center and guard would be ideal.
- Halfback: Gary Brown is a solid, underrated halfback. He’s a power back with quick feet who occasionally can surprise teams outside the tackles. However, he has had an up-and-down pro career. Moreover, the depth situation is questionable if Brown gets hurt. Tiki Barber looks like a better situational player. LeShon Johnson is coming off of cancer treatment and hasn’t really done it in the pros to-date. Head Coach Jim Fassel has already said that he wants to add more big play-ability to his offense. The Giants will be looking for a back who can (1) back-up Brown, (2) add explosiveness to the offense, and (3) eventually become the starter.
- Tight End: Howard Cross is one of the best blockers in the game, but he is not a passing threat and he will be 32 this season. Pete Mitchell is one of the better pass catching tight ends in the game, but his poor blocking is a liability on offense. Look for the Giants to draft a tight end who can block and catch — a guy who will eventually replace Cross in 2000 or 2001.
- Special Teams Players: The Giants are simply terrible on special teams. They can’t cover kickoffs or punts well and can’t block for their own punt and kick returns. A lot of this may be due to the coaching. Much of it is that the team lacks quality special teams players. Curtis Buckley and Doug Colman are good on specials. Scott Galyon is too, but he’s coming off a serious knee injury. Shaun Williams looked good last year, but if he starts this season, then he will probably be pulled off of specials. To make matters worse, the Giants lost Brandon Sanders, one of their best special teams players, in the expansion draft. The Giants need to add as many quality special teams performers as they can. These type of guys usually come from the ranks of safeties, linebackers, and cornerbacks. The Giants need to find guys who have the speed, quickness, and attitude to do well on these suicide squads AS WELL AS become capable back-ups at other positions. If the Giants don’t drastically improve this area of their team, they will not make the playoffs.
- Right Defensive End: The success of a 4-3 defense is largely determined by the quality of the four down linemen. In a 3-4, it is the linebackers who are more important. The Giants lost DE Chad Bratzke in free agency. Cedric Jones will now start, but he hasn’t proven he can get it done yet. Some question if he has the functional football strength ever to become a good player in the NFL. In an emergency, the Giants can move Bernard Holsey over there. But if the Giants are ever to reach an elite status on defense, they need a top defensive end who can rush the passer from the blindside as well as be tough against the run. Perhaps Jones will become that player, but that’s putting a lot of eggs in one basket.
- Cornerback: Teams in the NFL today really need three solid cornerbacks due to all the 3-WR sets. The Giants have that in Jason Sehorn, Phillippi Sparks, and Conrad Hamilton. However, if one of these players gets hurt, the Giants are in trouble. Carlton Gray was waived and Kory Blackwell was lost via the expansion draft. Jeremy Lincoln is a journeyman. Also, it is likely that either Sparks or Hamilton will be gone next year. Adding a quality corner who can also help out on specials is a must.
- Linebackers: Weakside linebacker Jessie Armstead is one of the best in the game. Depth behind him is somewhat of a concern with the injury to Scott Galyon. On the strongside, Marcus Buckley is average and Ryan Phillips hasn’t impressed yet (though the coaches apparently still like him). Buckley is probably better suited for the weakside. Adding one or two more outside guys for competition/special teams play would be nice. Inside, Corey Widmer just signed a big deal. Behind him is Doug Colman who has looked decent when given a chance to play; he’s also good on specials. Pete Monty has been hurt most of his time in New York. This upcoming training camp will be an important one for him.
- Safety: I like SS Sam Garnes a lot. Shaun Williams can play free safety, strong safety, nickel cornerback, nickel linebacker, and possibly even cornerback. He will probably end up at free safety. It also looks like Tito Wooten and Percy Ellsworth may be back at least one more year. However, Tito has been up-and-down as a player and is not an emotionally stable person. Ellsworth won’t want to stay with the team next year as he wants to start. He is also a terrible special teams player. The Giants should add a least one safety who excels on specials.
- Quarterback: It is extremely difficult to win an NFL Championship without a top quarterback in this league. Kent Graham is assured of making the roster as either the starter or back-up in 1999. Kerry Collins will be given at least a two-year window of opportunity. The Giants are sending Mike Cherry to NFL Europe to get a better picture of him. Some in the organization really like him and the Giants already have two years of development invested in him. Since NFL Europe starts the same day as the draft, the Giants won’t have any additional info to work with by the time the picks start. Can the Giants afford to carry four quarterbacks on their roster? Can they afford not to?
Summary: The Giants NEED help on the offensive line, at halfback, at tight end, and on special teams. Added depth at defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, and safety is a concern — the latter two being more so for the 2000 season. It still wouldn’t be a shock to see the Giants draft a quarterback high.
(The top three are areas where premium draft picks — rounds 1-4 — could be spent).
- Offensive Line — Probably two.
- Tight End
- Special Teams Players
(More likely to be addressed lower in the draft and through rookie/veteran free agency).
- Defensive End
- Cornerback. Should be strong on special teams.
- Linebacker — Probably a strongside guy. Should be strong on special teams.
- Safety. Should be strong on special teams.
AREAS IN NEED OF POSSIBLE UPGRADE:
(All areas where premium draft picks — rounds 1-4 — could be spent).
- Defensive End