Unfinished Business: Preliminary Look at New York Giants 2003 NFL Draft Needs

The preponderance of teams in the NFL have more needs than can ever be successfully dealt with in one draft and the New York Giants are no exception. So while the Giants hopefully addressed the tight end, wide receiver, tackle, and linebacker positions on April 20-21, other potential areas of concern remain.

Writing a “needs” article before the upcoming season has already been played is a dicey task. It is impossible to predict which players will excel, those who will disappoint, injuries, and the status of contract discussions. For example, it is quite possible that some rookie free agent the Giants have signed could really surprise and become an acceptable eventual starter. It is also possible that some veteran who the Giants were counting on turns out to be a dud. Will the Giants be able to re-sign Kerry Collins? Will they want to? What about upcoming free agents Michael Strahan, Luke Petitgout, and Dan Campbell? Who might suffer a knee injury that shortens a one promising career? It’s impossible to say.

So keep in mind these ever changing variables while I attempt to take a preliminary look at what positions the Giants may look at first and foremost in April 2003.

  • Defensive End: It is not likely that Michael Strahan will duplicate his stellar 2001 campaign, but he is still one of the very best – if not the best – defensive ends in the game. However, his unresolved contract status is a major cause of concern. Take away Strahan and the quality of overall defense changes dramatically for the worse. Strahan is a difference-maker and those players are hard to find. Even if Strahan is re-signed, there is no proven depth behind him or Kenny Holmes. It is hoped that Cedric Scott develops into a fine player, but that’s not a given. The only other players in the picture are no-names such as Dwight Johnson, Frank Ferrara, Rachman Crable, Sean Guthrie, and Matt Layow. Then there is Kenny Holmes – a high-priced free agent disappointment who may not remain on the roster unless he really comes on in 2002. There is a chance that the Giants may need TWO new STARTING defensive ends in 2003.
  • Defensive Tackle: The Giants are set with Cornelius Griffin and Keith Hamilton as starters. But there is always a chance that the Giants could move Griffin to defensive end if there is a crying need at that position and quality depth behind these two is still a concern. It is hoped that Lance Legree, Ross Kolodziej, Ryan Fisher, Matt Mitrione, or Brad Harris turns into a capable reserve. There is also a chance that Christian Peter could return. But adding a top-notch tackle would dramatically improve the quality of the defense by adding another play-maker to the rotation (keeping everyone fresher) as well as increasing overall flexibility in case the Giants do want to move people around.
  • Free Safety: For now, Omar Stoutmire is the designated starter and while some may fret over this, Stoutmire is a proven commodity who has started with the Cowboys and Jets. I am willing to bet that the combination of Shaun Williams at strong safety and Stoutmire at free safety will be a big upgrade over Williams at free safety and Sam Garnes at strong safety. That being said, getting a big-time play-maker at free safety would be a great move for the secondary.
  • Offensive Line: The big problem is assessing this position is that we have virtually no firm information to work with. It is possible that Chris Bober, Jeff Hatch, Rich Seubert, Jason Whittle, Mike Rosenthal, and Tam Hopkins will develop into capable players. It is also possible that some of these guys will not. Who develops and at which position will determine the drafting priority in 2003. Let’s pray that the line isn’t a big need in order for the Giants to address the defensive line instead.
  • Wild Cards: To me, the most significant potential variables to this analysis are (1) Kerry Collins, (2) Jason Sehorn, (3) Michael Strahan, and (4) the offensive line. Collins played well in 2000, but did not in 2001. The kind of performance he puts together in 2002 will go a long way in determining his future with the Giants. Plus, how realistic will his contract demands be? It is possible that the Giants may have to draft a quarterback high in 2003 if Collins stinks or wants too much money.The Giants are paying Jason Sehorn too much money to have him play yet another year either hurt or underachieving. Unless he returns to a consistent, upper-echelon performance, it may be best for the Giants to part ways with him and draft another young stud at cornerback. My guess is that this won’t be necessary, but it is certainly a possibility.As I mentioned above, it all depends on the contract with Michael. If he wants too much money, the Giants may have to let him walk.It is simply impossible to predict what will occur on the offensive line. The line could range from a hugely pleasant surprise to a downright nightmare. I’m not as concerned as most though my gut feeling tells me that the team needs to add a top-notch guard still.

What about the wide receiver and linebacker you ask? The Giants have a lot of young prospects at these positions with talent. It’s time for this talent to be developed on the playing field. I am reasonably confident that two of the young receivers and two of the young linebackers will become good players.

You can tell what my priority would be in 2003: the defensive line.