Tag Archives: Tom Coughlin

Five Things We Learned From The Jaguars Game

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A Win is A Win

Even in the Preseason, winning is preferable to losing. The Giants played better on both offense and defense, beating the Jaguars by a final score of 22-12. Ryan Nassib threw for 217 yards and a touchdown, and James Jones caught 5 passes for 83 yards, as the Giants outscored Jacksonville 13-3 after halftime. It was a costly victory for the Giants, as another five players were lost to injury, including linebacker Jon Beason and safety Bennett Jackson, both with sprained knees. Mark Herzlich suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff, linebacker Tony Johnson suffered a knee injury, and rookie safety Justin Currie broke his ankle. Fourteen players did not suit up, and while many were precautionary and would have played if this were a regular season game, injuries are becoming a concern again for this Giants team.

If you watched until the bitter end, you learned a few things about your 2015 New York Giants, and today we take a look at five things you might not have known before last night’s game.

New York Giants: Six Burning Questions as Training Camp Opens

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Training Camp Opens Tomorrow

The annual football drought that is the NFL off season ends tomorrow for New York Giants fans as veterans and rookie alike report to the Quest Diagnostic Training Center for the 2015 training camp. It brings more questions than answers as injuries, attrition, and a John Mara ultimatum hang over the camp like the dense New Jersey summer humidity. As July turns to August, Tom Coughlin and crew will start to get answers, but Giants Nation may not like what’s revealed.

New York Giants Rookie Minicamp has Canadian Flavor

The Giants will hold their rookie mini camp next weekend, giving us out first glimpse of the 2015 draft class. The names of the players invited to attend have not been officially released by the team, but they are slowly leaking out and are being cobbled together by various media outlets covering the Giants, including Giants360 – more on that in a bit. Earlier this year, the Giants made a big splash when they signed the top offensive lineman from the Canadian Football League (CFL), Brent Jones, to a free agent contract. Yesterday, Giants360 learned that eight additional top Canadian rookie prospects have been invited to attend the rookie mini camp and impress the Giants coaching staff to earn one of the Giants 90 off season roster spots.

Giants Assistant GM Kevin Abrams

Giants Assistant GM Kevin Abrams

The Giants Canadian connection is Assistant General Manager Kevin Abrams, a native of Toronto, Ontario, who did his undergraduate studies at the University of Western Ontario. Abrams has been with the Giants since 1999, when he joined the team as a contract negotiator and salary cap analyst and has steadily risen through the ranks to his current position as Jerry Reese’s top lieutenant. According to Giants360’s source, Abrams is the reason the Giants are turning over every rock north of the border to find the best talent Canada has to offer in order to bolster the Giants roster.

University of Montreal linebacker Byron Archambault, a native of Montreal, Quebec, is the most impressive of the seven prospects scheduled to attend next weekend’s mini camp. At the CFL’s National Scouting Combine, Canada’s equivalent of the National Football League’s Scouting Combine, Archambault set a 2015 combine best 41 bench press repetitions. He was six short of the all time Canadian record, and ten below the NFL’s record of 51, set by Eastern Kentucky defensive tackle Justin Earnst in 1999. Earnst went undrafted and did not translate his combine record into a NFL career.

Byron Archambault

Byron Archambault

Archambault wasn’t done setting CFL combine bests on the weight bench, as he ran the best shuttle run, a test of explosiveness, with a time of 4.18 seconds. The NFL record is 3.81 seconds by Tennessee defensive back Jason Allen, who played for three different NFL teams from 2006 to 2013. Archambault is 5’11”, 243 pounds, and ran the 40 yard dash in 4.83 second. Archambault drew interest from American colleges following high school, but a snafu with his eligibility files, some with a hyphenated name, Byron Perez-Archambault, and others as Byron Archambault, prevented him from coming south for college. Arkansas was among the universities interested in him. Keep and eye out for the name Byron Archambault next weekend.

Defensive back Tevaughn Campbell turned heads when he set a CFL electronically timed 40 yard dash record with a time of 4.355 seconds. The former University of Regina player, 5’10” and 186 pounds, was second in both the broad jump (10 feet, 9 3/4 inches) and the Vertical Jump (38.5 inches). From Toronto, Ontario, Campbell has the good fortune to having an impressive set of skills at a position of need for the Giants, and will showcase his wares for Tom Coughlin and Steve Spagnuolo next weekend.

Sean McEwen

Sean McEwen

Two Calgary Dinos’ offensive linemen will join be attending. Sean McEwen is considered the 6th ranked prospect at the CFL combine, and recorded the fifth best bench press performance with 27 repetitions. At 6’2″, and 303 pounds, McEwen, from Calgary, Alberta, bring impressive size and strength in his quest to join the growing ranks of Giants offensive linemen. McEwen ran the 40 yard dash in 5.01 seconds. Dinos’ line mate Sukh Chungh will fit in well with the keyboard twisting names that Giants have added to the rosters of late. From Port Coquitlam British Columbia, he stands 6’4″, and weighs 300 pounds. Chungh ran the 40 yard dash in 5.27 seconds. Both will face the same challenge as Jones, adjusting to the different blocking angles in the American game, but as we learned in 2013, a team can never have enough quality offensive linemen.

Jacob Ruby hails from London Ontario, but played his collegiate ball at the University of Richmond. He is a mammoth offensive tackle, standing 6’6″ and weighing 312 pounds. Ruby runs the 40 yard dash in 5.26 seconds and started 47 games during his collegiate career.

Having caught passes from Colin Kaepernick at the University of Nevada, wide receiver Lemar Durant subsequently transferred to Canadian Simon Fraser University. In 25 games at Simon Fraser, he caught 175 passes, for 2,392 yards, and 28 touchdowns. Standing 6’2″ tall and weighing 233 pounds, Durant is a big target with decent speed, running the 40 yard dash in 4.55 seconds. The Colquitlam, British Columbia native is a dual Canadian/United States citizen.

Daryl Waud

Daryl Waud

Defensive lineman Daryl Waud attended Abrams alma mater, the University of Western Ontario, and is the third ranked prospect by the CFL Scouting Bureau. He was invited to play in the East-West Shrine game, and turned a few heads with the plays he made in the game. At 6’4″, 282 pounds, Waud runs the 40 yard dash in 5.12 seconds, giving him the size and speed needed to make an impact in the NFL. At the CFL Combine, Waud was disappointed by his performance, as he was largely shut down – by fellow Giants mini camp attendees McEwen and Chungh.

Add wide receiver Addison Richards to the fray, at 6’5″, 205 pounds, Richards is a red zone target in the making. Running the 40 yards dash at a respectable, but mid range4.63 seconds, Richards will not stretch the field like current Giants phenomenon, Odell Beckham, jr., but he will cross into the vacated slots in the defense left when Beckham whizzes by. Richards played in the East-West Shrine game, and showed that he was able to hold his own with the top American prospects in the game. He needs to improve his route running and skills at releasing off the line of scrimmage.

Some players on the Giants roster will be among the players attending the rookie mini camp, with the names being released later in the week. If Brent Jones is among them it will bring the total Canadian attendance to a total of eight players. Giants fans may find themselves saying, “Nice play, eh?” at Metlife Stadium in the fall.

Rutgers QB Gary Nova

Rutgers QB Gary Nova

It’s important to keep in mind that the undrafted free agent (UDFA) signing winds change as frequently as the tides in the days that follow the NFL draft. The Giants currently have 5 roster spots available for UDFA’s, and can always create more by waiving players. The following six have been rumored to have signed contracts to join the team, but can’t be confirmed without a statement from the team or seeing their name added to the official roster: Illinois tight end Matt LaCosse, Maryland linebacker Cole Farrand, Western Michigan free safety Justin Currie, Purdue running back Akeem Hunt, Cincinnati defensive end Brad Harrah and Tulane offensive tackle Sean Donnelly. Some new additions from Ralph Vacchiano’s The Blue Screen are wide receiver Taylor Belstering from Huntington College in Alabama, cornerback Qua Cox, who attended Jackson State and Colts camp last summer, and defensive tackle Donte Rumph, Kentucky, who was in Falcons camp last summer, and was interviewed by your author and Preston Bailey when he we both were guests on Bailey’s excellent Smash Mouth Sports program.

Other players reported to have accepted invitations to attend the Giants rookie mini camp are: Cincinnati defensive end Brad Harrah, Penn State defensive end Brad Bars, Tulane tight end Mat Marsifi, Southern Connecticut defensive end Carlif Taylor, and Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. Check back here frequently as Giants360 will update this list throughout the week as more information becomes available and we confirm the reports we’ve seen about the camp attendees.

Hello Jerry: Is the Offensive Line Complete?

When the Giants re-signed John Jerry on March 16th, speculation ran rampant as the reason for his rejoining the team. Was he brought back as depth or will be be competing for a starting job? Only Tom Coughlin knows for sure, but as Giants360 prepares for the NFL draft, the question of the starting five next September comes to for forefront. Are these five men already on the Giants roster, or will another big body be added on April 30th? The identity of four of the five offensive line starters are clear:

Beatty was the Giants best OL in 2014

Beatty was the Giants best OL in 2014

Will Beatty: While not a “Franchise” left tackle, Beatty is far from the worst left tackle in the National Football League. He suffered in 2014 from having to play next to a rookie line mate in Weston Richburg, but still ranked 14th in the Pro Football Focus (PFF) tackle ratings for the year. Beatty had two particularly bad games, and was called for 6 of his 9 penalties in those games. In 12 of the other 14, he rated average to excellent, and was the Giants best offensive lineman on most. Beatty is a stronger run blocker than pass blocker, and will benefit from having an experienced line mate next to him in 2015.

Weston Richburg: Forced into service earlier than anticipated due to injuries to Geoff Schwartz and Chris Snee, Richburg suffered through growing pains as a rookie. Also playing out of position at left guard, Richburg, a natural center, ranked 62nd out of 78 guards ranked on PFF. He still rated higher than Jerry. Struggling more with run blocking than pass protection, Richburg should see both ratings improve as he moves to his best position and will have spent an off season in a professional weight program. Expect a big jump in his second year as he will anchor the Giants line from the middle.

Justin Pugh: Pugh’s shorter than average arms were the subject of a recent Giants360 article, At Arms Length, that concluded that while a serviceable offensive tackle, Pugh’s best NFL position is guard. Better at pass protecting than run blocking, Pugh rated 40th among PFF tackles, despite an elbow injury that contributed to some of his 2014 struggles. He appeared to be exposed Week 6 in Philadelphia, the Sunday Night game where Pugh gave up 4 sacks to the Eagles, mostly to Connor Barwin, in a game that was reminiscent of Winston Justice’s September 30, 2007, 6 sack surrendering performance to the Giants Osi Umenyiora. Justice appeared to never mentally recover from that game, but to his credit, Pugh bounced back both physically and mentally to log four strong games to finish 2014.

Schwartz return to health will boost the Giants line

Schwartz return to health will boost the Giants line

Geoff Schwartz: His much publicized toe injury cost Schwartz, the big 2014 free agent signing on the offensive line, the first 11 games of the season. He returned from the Injured Reserve – Designated For Return list, had two good games filling in for the injured Pugh at right tackle, and then missed weeks 14-17 with an ankle injury. His healthy return will provide a big boost to the Giants line. Viewed as a left guard by the Giants, Schwartz’s best position is right guard, where all of his best career games have been. His versatility maybe be his best attribute, but to form the strongest possible offensive line, Schwartz would best be utilized as right guard.

After these four starters, the fifth man would have to come from among three linemen who each come with question marks. Any of them could fill the spot and provide a fifth body, but only one could potentially emerge as a strong lineman that could develop with the others to give the Giants another dominating line like the one that helped them win Super Bowls 42 and 46.

Brett Jones: Names the Canadian Football League (CFL) Most Outstanding Rookie in 2013 and Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman last season, Jones comes to the Giants as the top linemen in all of Canada. While his awards are encouraging, a quick perusal of previous Outstanding Linemen reveals that none have gone on to find success in the NFL. However, previous winners of the Outstanding Rookie Award include Cameron Wake, Super Bowl 49 star Chris Matthews, quarterback Tom Clements, although he is best known for his coaching work with the Green Bay Packers, and Leon Bright, who returned punts and kickoffs, with some limited success, for the Giants in the early 1980’s. Jones is the first offensive lineman to win the award, which speaks volumes about his talent. In Canada, defensive players must line up a full yard off the line of scrimmage, while that distance is only a football length (11 1/4 inches) in the NFL. This changes the blocking angles significantly and will require Jones to adjust his game accordingly. If he can make the adjustment, he could find the same success he had in Canada, and be a hidden star. If not, he just be a failed experiment at a veteran minimum salary.

Jerry's decent pass protection does not make up for his atrocious run blocking

Jerry’s decent pass protection does not make up for his atrocious run blocking

John Jerry: Jerry is the worst signing of the Giants 2015 free agent period. Brought back because of his considerable starting experience (61 career starts) and Coughlin’s preference for veteran depth on the team, Jerry rated above average just 3 times in his 16 starts last season. His run blocking was particularly atrocious, and while his pass blocking rates average to above average, it doesn’t make up for the liability he presents in the run game. Jerry ranked 66th among guards in 2014. Reviewing his historical PFF ratings, this is Jerry’s clear pattern across his five year career, and therefore, one that is unlikely to improve. If Jerry sees significant snaps in 2015, it will hinder the growth of the Giants offense.

Marshall Newhouse: Another veteran free agent signing, Newhouse was also added due to starting experience (36 career starts) and his familiarity with Ben McAdoo’s offense from his three season’s in Green Bay. Newhouse was the starting left tackle for the Packers 2011 and 2012 teams that amassed a 26-6 record, but he game up 9 sacks in each season, was benched in 2013, and allowed to leave as a free agent last season. After one year in Cincinnati, Newhouse was again on the market and signed with the Giants, presumably to serve as the swing tackle on the line. He is another player who will limit the offense if forced to play significant time.

Of the remaining linemen on the roster: Michael Bamiro (T), Emmett Cleary (T), Adam Gettis (G), Eric Herman (G), Tony Kropog (T), Brandon Mosley (G), and Dallas Reynolds (C/G), the only recognizable name is Mosley, and the only thing needed to know about him is he couldn’t beat out Jerry for the starting job last season. Herman is best known for his four game suspension to start last season for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. Reynolds is a journeyman re-signed to compete for a backup spot on the roster.

Peat may be the best put OT in the draft. But is he motivated?

Peat may be the best put OT in the draft. But is he motivated?

It’s been Giants360’s position since December that Jerry Reese will use pick 9 to add an offensive tackle who will open the season on the right side and push Pugh to guard, however, having more familiarity with the draft, there doesn’t seem to be a top 10 pick worthy at the offensive tackle position. Iowa’s Brandon Scherff is most frequently associated with the Giants in mock drafts, and is seen as the most complete lineman in the draft, however, he is more of a guard than a tackle, and the Giants already have one of those in Pugh. Andrus Peat, from Stanford, is a left tackle prospect with suspect motivation and some technique issues, who may struggle in his first NFL season. Others who are seen in the first half of the first round, but not the top 10 are Pitt’s T.J. Clemmings, LSU’s La’el Collins, and Ereck Flowers, from Miami (FL). None regularly crack the top 10 on the mock draft circuit.

Reese will be working off of the Giants painstakingly created draft board, not one cobbled together by Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, or even the highly respected Gil Brandt. These rankings may look nothing like the “Draft boards” you’re seeing on “Path to the Draft” or hearing about on Sirius NFL radio. My preferred source of draft information, Nolan Nawrocki, does not release his book until April 15th, I will read the offensive linemen reviews fast and furious when my copy arrives.

If the draft simulators online are any indication, impact defensive linemen and both inside and outside linebackers drop off in the draft much faster than offensive linemen. Talented tackles and guards are available in the second and third rounds, while few impact defenders remain. This could indicate that the Giants will take a defender at 9 and wait until pick 40 or even 74 to add an offensive lineman.

When the season opens in September, if we look at the Giants starting offensive line, and again say “Hello, Jerry,” it could be another season of fits, starts, and frustration for the Giants offensive line, and leave us with an expression on our face like Wayne Knight’s in today’s featured image.

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At Arm’s Length

Scouts look for a variety of attributes that in an offensive tackle, some the player is born with, such as size, strength, intelligence, and quick feet, while others, like leverage, bend, and hand placement, can be taught and refined, if the athlete has the measurables that makes him a candidate likely to succeed at the position. Arm length is a physical characteristic important in an offensive tackle as it provides the leverage in blocking, and the one attribute that current Giants right tackle Justin Pugh lacks. But exactly how important is it?

To gauge the importance of this misunderstood, but frequently discussed physical trait, Giants360 went to one of our favorite resources, Pro Football Focus, and pulled the names of the offensive lineman that had the best and worst blocking ratings over the past three seasons. We then researched their arm length to see if there was a correlation between their ratings and their arms. It should come as no shock that there wasn’t, given the wide array of factors that makes for a successful offensive lineman, but something did pop out in the data. Pugh’s just over 32 inch arms lined up with the measurements for the top rated guards and centers in the league, and are below all but one of the offensive tackles that were part of our study. It should be noted that the this tackle, Washington Redskin Tyler Polumbus, was one of the low rated player.

All-Pro Tackle Joe Thomas' arms are only 1/2 inch longer than Pugh's

All-Pro Tackle Joe Thomas’ arms are only 1/2 inch longer than Pugh’s

Of the tackles that had the best overall seasons, top rating both run and pass blocking, all have arms that are a full inch or more longer than Pugh, with the exception of Joe Thomas, the All-Pro tackle for the Cleveland Browns, has arms only a half inch longer, and would appear to be an outlier. The top guards, Josh Sitton of the Green Bay Packers and Marshal Yanda of Baltimore Ravens, are on opposite ends of the spectrum, with Sitton’s arms measuring over 34 inches, and Yanda’s under 32.

Having long arms does not guarantee success, as tackle Bradley Sowell of the Arizona Cardinals proved in 2013. He had one of the worst combined blocking seasons of any offensive lineman in the past 3 years, and his over 35 inch arms did nothing to help limit the punishment Cardinals quarterbacks absorbed. Former Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons tackle Gabe Carimi also has arms over 35 inches long, but consistently ranks among the NFL’s wost blocking linemen.

What conclusion can we draw from this information? Pugh has performed admirably at tackle, despite being “poorly armed” for the position, and is better suited to play guard in the long term. Despite statements to the contrary, this has to be in the back of Tom Coughlin’s mind, as he’s a man who researches everything in excruciating detail, and he certainly knows the arm length of the most successful offensive tackles and guard throughout NFL history.

Clemmings has the longest arms among the top OL prospects

Clemmings has the longest arms among the top offensive line prospects

One of the options available at pick 9 or pick 40 for the Giants will be an offensive tackle, and selecting one to play one the right side would enable the team to move Pugh inside. The top 5 offensive linemen on the 2015 draft big board all have arm lengths longer than Pugh, and each would be a candidate to replace him at right tackle. Lining them up from shortest arms to longest, we have La’el Collins, LSU (33 1/4), Brandon Scherff, Iowa (33 3/8), Andrus Peat, Stanford (33 3/8), Ereck Flowers, Miami (34.5), and T.J.Clemmings, Pittsburgh (35 1/8).

While arm length won’t be the first consideration when evaluating these players, it will be one of the physical characteristics examined as Jerry Reese turns over every rock in an effort find that last piece of the puzzle to complete the Giants offense.

The signing of Marshall Newhouse and re-signing of John Jerry point to the Giants picking a lineman high in the draft. Both are experienced starters, with nearly 100 games started between them. Adding experience backups to the team is an indicator that there will be youth up front.

Second year player Weston Richburg will be the starting center, and star Canadian Football League lineman Brett Jones will compete for a starting guard job. A big, long armed mauler in round one or two complete the line, give the team maximum flexibility and competition, and most of all, make Ben McAdoo’s offense hit on all cylinders in 2015. Coughlin wants experienced linemen to fall back on should the youngsters struggle and their knowledge in the meeting rooms to help bring the less experienced players along.

If only they could lengthen Justin Pugh’s arms two or three inches.

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Dominoes

John Mara was at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Police Athletic League yesterday, and among his comments, he said that while he expects Eli Manning to sign a contract extension with the New York Giants, nothing is imminent. Earlier this week, Giants360 examined the implications of Ben Roethlisberger’s extension might have on Manning’s contract talks. The third member of the 2004 quarterback class, Philip Rivers, will not be signing an extension any time soon. Rivers said in an interview with Pro Football Talk that the Chargers potential move to Los Angeles is an impediment to his re-signing with the team.

Rivers is not anxious to re-sign

Rivers is not anxious to re-sign

There are several ways to interpret Rivers statement. One is to take it at face value, that he doesn’t want to go with the Chargers to Los Angeles. Although just over an hour north of San Diego, Los Angeles moves at a much different pace and Rivers and his wife Tiffany may not want to raise their six children there. From Alabama, the Rivers may be trying to force a trade to the quarterback needy Titans, the closest team to his home state that has a landing spot for him. Another option is this could all be a calculated negotiating ploy.

The Chargers have been scouting Marcus Mariota as a potential Rivers replacement, even though, drafting 17th, it would require a trade to acquire a pick high enough to take the Oregon quarterback. The bottom line is, if the Giants are waiting for a Rivers extension before finalizing a deal with Manning, they could be in for a long wait. From the way Mara was talking, a deal is in the works, but is not considered an urgent matter.

Mara spoke to the media at a ribbon cutting ceremony

Mara spoke to the media at a ribbon cutting ceremony

Mara addressed several other topics with the media yesterday, including free agency, where he referred to the overall pool of players in this year’s free agent class as “mediocre.” As had been reported, the Mara confirmed that the team had strong interest in Patriots safety Devin McCourty before he re-signed with New England on the eve of hitting the open market. Mara echoed the sentiments many have made about the contracts being made this off season, that some players are being “Over paid” and that the Giants were not interested in them once their price reached a certain level.

When asked about the Giants, Mara said the team still has several holes to fill, but that it’s, “So far, so good,” in free agency. He reiterated the team philosophy of building through the draft, stating that building a successful team, “Comes down to the draft, re-signing your own players, and free agency last.” He added that the team has had good draft in the past two years and needs another one in 2015.

Asked about the draft, he said he doesn’t see the Giants taking another wide receiver in the first round, “Unless the value is just too good to pass up.” This refers to rumors that Amari Cooper or Kevin White, both highly rated wide receiver prospects in next month’s draft have been linked to the Giants. While pairing either with Odell Beckham would give the Giants the top starting receiving pair in the NFL, Giants360 has maintained that with significant needs elsewhere on the team, pick 9 will not be a wide receiver.

Mara mentioned Osi Umenyiora, saying that he “Should retire a Giant.” This likely means that Mara would favor giving him a ceremonial one day contract to retire in blue. Umenyioura has been making some free agent visits around the league, but has yet to sign a contract for 2015. Also asked about Jason Pierre-Paul, Mara said that the team would like to sign him to a long term contract, but is not opposed to him playing under the franchise tag this season.

Finally, Mara said that he is pleased with the choice of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator, but that Tom Coughlin alone made the choice. He did go on to say he agree with the choice.

Selvie will bolster the run defense

Selvie will bolster the run defense

The Giants have made two free agent signings this week to bolster their run defense. Kenrick Ellis had been languishing behind Sheldon Richardson on the New York Jets talented defensive line. He considers himself a run defender first, and will pair nicely with Jonathan Hankins to clog the middle of the field on early downs and in short yardage situations. George Selvie is a journeyman defensive end who played with the division rival Dallas Cowboys for the past two seasons. He is also an accomplished run defender who completes the Giants primary run defending line along with of Pierre-Paul, Hankins, and Ellis.

Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore can be deployed as pass rushing specialists in Spagnuolo’s NASCAR package along with three down players Pierre-Paul. Selvie was a college teammate of Pierre-Paul at the University of South Florida.

The signings to bolster the defensive line also makes it more likely that the Giants will select an offensive lineman with their first round pick next month. The Ellis and Selvie signings give the team depth and flexibility against both the run and rushing the passer along the defensive line and fill two of the five glaring holes that were remaining on the team. Another potential first round option is linebacker, although given the lack of emphasis the Reese-Coughlin administration has placed on this position, using a first round pick on a linebacker seems unlikely.

Tight end Daniel Fells, the veteran backup who had a quietly strong season was also re-signed this week. The strongest blocking tight end on the team last season, Fells also served as a mentor to young starter Larry Donnell and third stringer Adrien Robinson. Bringing him back is a good move and adds quality depth to the roster.

If the Giants shift their attention back to safety, Dawan Landry and Jeromy Miles remain the best available free agent options identified by Giants360 in out article My Kingdom for a Safety.  Ellis and Selvie were two of the linemen profiled in Reinforcing the Lines as strong run defending additions. Signing either of the free agent safeties would give the team the ability to select the best player available in the draft and truly put the best team on the field starting in September. Re-signing safety Stevie Brown would also be a good move to bolster the weakest position on the Giants roster.

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Giants360 Inaugural Mailbag

One of the best parts of having a highly interactive Twitter account is talking Giants football every day. It keeps the season alive and breathes life into the Giants360 vision statement – All Giants. All Year Round. To share that with you, we want to launch a weekly mailbag column and share some of these conversations with the group. Your questions may even spawn entire columns and others appear below with the Giants360 reply.  Send them with the hashtag #ASK360 to have your question considered for the column.

Newhouse's signing makes Barksdale unlikely

Newhouse’s signing makes Barksdale unlikely

Rick Stewart [@rickstew] asks: Is Joe Barksdale still an option as offensive tackle?

Giants360: It’s unlikely he’ll be signed at this point. Former Packer and Bengal Marshall Newhouse brought in on March 10th to serve as the swing tackle because of his experience starting on both sides of the line and familiarity with Ben McAdoo’s offense. Barksdale plays only right tackle and has been inconsistent in pass protection during his time with the Rams. Smart money has him returning to St. Louis.

Mr Perfect 170 [@mrperfect170] asks: What are the Giants doing at safety and defensive line?

Giants360: Stevie Brown is the most likely candidate to be re-signed for safety help, and there may already be some hidden depth on the roster. The search for a safety is remarkably similar to last spring’s quest for an upgrade at right end and it turned out the answer was right under our noses the entire time. Defensive line help will either come in the form of inexpensive second level free agents or through the draft. My instinct tells me it will be the latter, but don’t rule out a late signing.

Cooper is a luxury the Giants can't afford

Cooper is a luxury the Giants can’t afford

Giants Nation [Giants Nation__] asks: Do you think if Amari Cooper is available then the Giants are on the clock they will pick him?

Giants360: No. Cooper is a luxury the Giants can’t afford. Pick 9 needs to be either an offensive tackle to put the finishing touches on the offensive line or an impact defender to spark the kind of resurgence on defense that Odell Beckham, jr provided to the offense last season. Having Amari Cooper with Beckham and a fully healed Victor Cruz would be a receiving corps for the ages, but it would leave too many holes elsewhere on the team. The Giants are in “Win now” mode and have to draft accordingly.

 

The Real Rainman [@raygt40] asks: What’s the Giants next move at defensive tackle?

Giants360: It could be to stand pat if the coaching staff believes Jay Bromley is ready to take the next step and start. Of not, there are several second level free agents that would pair up nicely with Jonathan Hankins to plug the middle of the field. In our article, Reinforcing the Lines, several players are identified, with Kenrick Ellis and Sealver Siliga being those we like best. Giants360 has been calling for Markus Kuhn to be let go and his cap dollars reallocated since the season ended, either by a free agent with more promise or a 2015 draft pick. With only 90 roster spots fill, a player with his potential behind him, must be release sooner rather than later.

Berhe will be one of the starters

Berhe will be one of the starters

Mike Venditti [@TheRealMVenditti] asks: Safety? Safety? Safety? What’s their plan because I’m not seeing it.

Giants360: Two safety questions in one mailbag? It’s the predominant question on everyone’s mind, and therefore worth the additional space. Nat Berhe will be one of the starters. If Tom Coughlin and Steve Spagnuolo didn’t think he was ready, a more aggressive move would have been made in free agency. Rahim Moore’s contract with Houston is only a $3 million charge against their 2015 salary cap, certainly affordable for the Giants. There are still viable Limited Snap and Veteran options on the free agent market, one of which can be signed if the youngsters don’t pan out.

Kelli Lawson [@Happy2da9] asks: How can we improve both sides of the ball with only one top 10 draft pick?

Giants360: Fortunately, it’s one top 10 draft pick in each round, and the 2015 draft is deep in edge pass rushers, outside linebackers, and offensive linemen, three of the Giants four biggest areas of need. Their fourth, and possibly most critical, safety, is the weakest area in this draft. Conventional wisdom states that teams must find starters in the first three rounds of the draft in order for it to be considered highly successful. If you find a starter in the later rounds, you’re struck gold. Last season, the Jerry Reese found three starters in Beckham, Weston Richburg, and Devon Kennard. The jury is still out on Andre Williams and Bromley. Duplicating that stellar performance in 2015 will be a challenge for Reese, but if he can find an offensive lineman, linebacker, and defensive lineman that contribute immediately, the improvement you want will be realized.

Harris will be used on offense

Harris will be used on offense

Kyle Robinson [@Bobby Corduroy] asks: Other than Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham, jr,   What wide receivers do we have? Is there a need for anyone else?

Giants360: Jerry Reese has said several times that the team will not count on Cruz returning fully from his torn patellar tendon in 2015. With his game relying on elusiveness, there is concern about his ability to regain his “Shake and bake” skills that allow him to get open and make Cruz difficult to tackle. Rueben Randle will be back on the final year of his rookie contract and appeared to be hitting his groove during the final games of 2014. But the same was said of Jerrel Jernigan in 2013, and he was less than spectacular before a mid foot sprain ended his 2014 season, and has not been re-signed for this season.

Dwayne Harris 5 year, $17.5 million contract is a clear indicator that the Giants view him as more than just a kick returner and gunner on punt coverage teams. He will have a role in Ben McAdoo’s offense. Don’t forget about Marcus Harris, who caught everything thrown his way in training camp and in the preseason games before shoulder and hip injuries cut his season short before it started. He was on his way to earning the third receiver job to open the season with Beckham sidelined with hamstring issues. And last, but surely, not least, is Corey Washington, the 2014 preseason superstar, who caught four touchdown passes in five games. All eyes will be on him in OTAs and training camp to gauge his development and prospects for the 6’4″ Washington earning a larger role in 2014.

The Giants have the makings of a deep and dynamic receiving corps.

Scott Tucker [@stucker53] asks: What are the Giants plans to land a linebacker that the other teams might actually be afraid of?

Giants360: Devon Kennard flashed potential to be this type of player almost every day in training camp, but a hamstring injury slowed him in the regular season. Two linebackers were signed in free agency, J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas, both are young and fast, and Thomas’ 3 year, $10 million contract indicated he figures prominently in Steve Spagnuolo’s plans for rebuilding the Giants defense. One of the Giants coaches or scouts saw something in Thomas that is not evident to the rest of us. But the best chance for landing a fear inducing linebacker that will be the 2015 draft. Denzel Perryman and Shaq Thompson are two names bandied about frequently as potential second round options. Perryman, and inside linebacker, and Thompson, and sideline-to-sideline outside linebacker both bring reputations as hard hitting play makers who would boost the the thumping power of the Giants defense.

Under Reese and Tom Coughlin, linebacker has been an afterthought, with high draft picks rarely invested in the position. That would appear to be about to change in 2015, and we will find out in a month and a half.

Mariota. A Giant?

Mariota. A Giant?

Curtis Jordan [@InkedUpMessnger] asks: If Marcus Mariota is there at 9, do you think the Giants would bite? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Giants360: I am confident in setting those odds at 0%. With strong needs at other positions, and Eli Manning backed up by promising third year player Ryan Nassib, Jerry Reese can’t afford to use his first round pick on a quarterback. The question that does come to mind is, would he trade back for king’s ransom so Chip Kelly could be reunited with his college quarterback? I think the answer to that is also no, unless the Eagles were to offer a package of draft picks so overwhelming that it was it couldn’t be refused. Two division opponents helping one another in that way seems improbable, at best.

Mike D’Italia [@mikedital] asks: What positions do you see them addressing the rest of free agency?

Giants360: Reese’s efforts after day 1 seem to be focused on bringing back some of the Giants own free agents that haven’t connected with other teams. I’ve heard that there has been a consistent dialog between the Giants and Stevie Brown and wouldn’t be surprised if he were back in fold within the next week. The hold up may be the length of the contract. The Giants are also interested in bringing tight end Daniel Fells back. Given Fells sneaky good performance last season, I am surprised he didn’t catch on somewhere. The other name that’s been bandied about is linebacker Spencer Paysinger, although I’ve not sense their interest is as strong, especially because three linebackers were signed last week – Jonathan Casillas, J.T. Thomas, and Mark Herzlich.

As far as non-returning Giants, a veteran safety is on everyone’s wish list, and Dawan Landry seems to be sitting there for the taking, as does Jeromy Miles. The defensive linemen brought up earlier, Ellis and Siliga would both be solid additions. There area already 76 on the roster, and 8 draft picks will be added, along with a some undrafted free agents. With a hard limit of 90, Reese is running out of room to add players and will need to make some subtractions before further free agent additions can be made.

And that will do it for the first Giants360 mailbag. Thanks to all who submitted questions. If a duplicate question was received, the first person to sent it gets the shout out, so it pays to have a quick keyboard when I put up the 360 Bat signal for questions.

Giants360. All Giants. All Year Round.

Internal Solutions

Free agency rolls on, and Jerry Reese continues to re-sign his own players, with guard John Jerry being the most recent, an underwhelming in-house free agent brought back for another season in East Rutherford. Other teams are scooping up safety after safety, with Darian Stewart the latest to disappear from the market, signing a contract with the Denver Broncos yesterday. While the Giants have expressed interest in several of the safeties prior to their signing elsewhere, rumbles have grown louder about the team not signing anyone to replace the departed Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, and Quintin Demps. Unless they have and it’s gone unnoticed.

There are currently two players on the roster listed as safeties, Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor. Six are listed as cornerbacks, Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chandler Fenner, Jayron Hosley, Bennett Jackson, and Trumaine McBride. Four have the nebulous title “Defensive Back,” Thomas Gordon, Mike Harris, Josh Victorian, and Trevin Wade. Recent addition, the re-signed Chykie Brown, has not been added as of this morning. It is this third classification that sparked the idea that the solution at safety may be internal.

Planning, Coughlin Wrote the Book in it.

Planning, Coughlin Wrote the Book in it.

Tom Coughlin in a compulsive planner as documents in the “A Football Life” special about him on the NFL Network, and his latest book, “Earn the Right to Win.” With certainty, it can be said with comfort that there is a plan in place for the safety position, as there was tight end last season, when Larry Donnell emerged and played much better than expected. Giants360 dove deep and researched each defensive back’s history going back to their university days, to see which would be suitable candidates to play safety in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. Here are the results of that investigation.

Gordon is a safety. the third on the roster.

Gordon is a safety. the third on the roster.

Thomas Gordon, listed as a defensive back, is a safety by trade, making him the third safety on the roster behind Berhe and Taylor. Hosley, Jackson, McBride, and Wade are pure cornerbacks, with no history of playing safety, and are not candidates to change positions. Trumaine McBride will open the season as the slot cornerback, a position he played well last season, taking over for the injured Walter Thurmond, until he broke him thumb and was also lost for the year. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara both played some safety in college, however, but given their status as the Giants starting cornerback duo, it’s not realistic to see one being converted into a safety this season. Longer term, Rodgers-Cromartie’s future could be at free safety, as it would potentially extend his career, but 2015 would be premature for a change.

Josh Victorian is a 28 year old defensive back, signed to a futures contract on December 31, 2014, was listed as a cornerback when he came out of Louisiana Tech in 2011. His second position was free safety. Running the 40 yard dash (the 40) in 4.56 seconds, the 5’10”, 190 lb Victorian is an unknown, lacking information in both the draft guides Giants360 has saved since 2005 and on the internet. He is likely a camp body and does not figure prominently into the Giants season plan. The probability of his converting to safety is a firm toss up at 50%. Even if he converts, he’s a long shot to make the team.

Chykie Brown's lack of run support skills make him a poor candidate to convert

Chykie Brown’s lack of run support skills make him a poor candidate to convert

Chykie Brown is one of the cornerbacks picked up when the Giants suffered a rash of injuries at the position last season, and played well enough to make an impression on the coaching staff and he was re-signed last week. He previously played for the Baltimore Ravens, where Spagnuolo coached the past two season, giving the defensive coordinator additional insight into his talent. When Brown came out of Texas in 2011, he was listed as both a cornerback and free safety, however, his scouting report cites passive tendencies in run support, which are reinforced in his player rating on Pro Football Focus (PFF). The 5’11”, 190 lb Brown is fast, running the 40 in 4.37 seconds, but his lack of strong tackling skills translates into an only 25% likelihood that the 28 year old will be converted to safety.

Mike Harris is another player brought in to fill the void created by the excessive injuries in 2014. The 26 years old was re-signed on February 19th, long before he would have become a free agent. As a rookie coming out of Florida State in 2011, Harris’ scouting report called him a aggressive tackler, a ball hawk, but a player who struggles to make plays when his back is to the ball. It also calls him a player that is at his best when he lines up off the line of scrimmage and lists his him as both a cornerback and free safety. The 5’10”, 188 lb Harris is a strong candidate to move to safety given his history and scouting report, but a review of his PFF rating for the past three seasons shows a player who has struggled in run support, a key attribute in a successful safety, and we give him a 67% chance at being converted.

Fenner has the size, skills, and youth to convert. He will be a safety in 2015.

Fenner has the size, skills, and youth to convert. He will be a safety in 2015.

Chandler Fenner made the Giants practice squad last summer and was promoted to the active roster in mid-October. Only 24, Fenner entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Holy Cross and bounced around several teams before catching with the Giants during their hour of need. He played the best among the emergency cornerbacks, according to the PFF ratings, showing the top coverage and run support ratings, albeit in limited action, and was tendered on March 5th as an Exclusive Rights Free Agent. Having the size at 6’1″, 189 lbs, good speed at 4.55 in the 40, and a reputation as a physical defender, Fenner was considered a free safety first and a cornerback second when he was a draft prospect. Given all the evidence, he is the most likely candidate to be converted, and Giants360 is putting the probability at 75%.

Note: Article was updated to remove Ron Parker as an option. He has signed with the Chiefs for 5 years, $30 million.

Stevie Brown is still available and the Giants are still trying to re-sign him, however, with two safeties still needed on the roster, and the 2015 draft offering a shallow pool of candidates, converting Fenner or Harris, will provide depth and competition at the position. Their history and talent supports the possibility, as does the Giants modus operandi, with Mathias Kiwanuka moving from defensive end to linebacker and back under Coughlin. Even if one of the remaining free agent safeties is signed, additional depth will be needed, so keep your eyes and ears open and wait for the announcement that one of these men is changing positions. You heard it here first.

Giants360. All Giants. All Year Round.

 

Giants Free Agency: Tight Ends

Under Tom Coughlin, the tight end position has been a revolving door. He inherited Jeremy Shockey, who talked his way out of town, and other than one season of Martellus Bennett in 2012, no player has distinguished himself. Kevin Boss was solid, but never spectacular, and everyone wants to forget the Brandon Myers experiment. Larry Donnell had a decent season in 2014, and has showed potential. The exclusive rights free agent will certainly be re-signed, but he’s not going to be confused with Mark Bavaro any time soon.

The Giants expect Donnell to further develop in 2015

The Giants expect Donnell to further develop in 2015

Bavaro is the gold standard by which all Giants tight ends will forever be measured. A tough, devastating run blocker, he paved the way for Joe Morris and Ottis Anderson’s finest season’s on the ground. When not knocking opponents down, he would run down the middle of their defense and haul in clutch passes from Phil Simms, none more memorable than the Monday Night in San Francisco when he dragged everyone but the groundskeeper with him before finally succumbing. Donnell is a big target, at 6’6″ and 265 lbs, and although relatively slow in the 40 yard dash at 4.91 seconds, creates mismatches with his height and the box out skills he learned on the basketball court.

Daniel Fells came to the Giants in 2014 after missing the 2013 season, not due to injury, but because he was unsigned. The 6’4″, 252 lbs, 7 year veteran quietly had a solid season, turning in good efforts as both a run blocker and receiver. He posted 16 receptions in 20 targets, with 188 receiving yards and 4 touchdown. While no one will confuse him with Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, Fells may be an under-the-radar solid second level signing in free agency and secure a low end starting role or share a spot with a young player as he did with Donnell. Reese will certainly attempt to re-sign him, but given the lack of quality players on the free agent tight ends on the market, that may prove a difficult proposition.

Robinson made it on the field last season

Robinson made it on the field last season

Adrien Robinson and Jerome Cunningham are also on the Giants roster. Robinson has never filled the potential advertised when he was taken in the 4th round of the 2012 draft. He was able to stay on the field in 2014 and make small contributions, but he was firmly the third tight end. Cunningham is an interesting, raw prospect out of Southern Connecticut State University, the 6’3″, 214 lbs rookie spent most of the season on the practice squad after impressing the coaches throughout training camp. If he takes a leap in his second season, he might supplant Robinson.

To be a truly elite tight end in the NFL, a Rob Gronkowski, a player must be able to block for the running game and present match up problems for opposing defenses. No player in this year’s free agency class meets that standard, and therefore there are no “Premium” players listed below. Now that everyone is thinking “What about Jordan Cameron? And Julius Thomas?” an explanation is in order.

Cameron has suffered a concussion severe enough to cause him to miss games in each of the past three seasons. Given the NFL’s added scrutiny of player head injuries following the legal action taken by former players (Lay the blame there, not on the owners, Roger Goodell, or the officials), signing Cameron comes with increased risk. He is also a horrific run blocker, which explains why the Browns running game has been lackluster despite a good offensive line. Cameron has started 29 games in the past three seasons and put up an impressive 124 receptions for 1,567 yards receiving and 10 touchdown despite the revolving door at quarterback in Cleveland, but he is not worth a long term contract or big money given his injury risk and lack of run blocking skill.

Julius Thomas entered the NFL in 2011, not 2013

Julius Thomas entered the NFL in 2011, not 2013

Julius Thomas came into the league in 2011, but no one heard of him until 2013 when he burst onto the scene with a huge opening night game against the defending world champion Baltimore Ravens. He missed the majority of the 2011 season with an ankle injury and then was stuck behind Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreesen on the depth chart in 2012. The coaching staff and John Elway started to notice him in late that season, which fueled his 2013 emergence. Thomas is almost as horrible a run blocker as Cameron and has continued to struggle to stay on the field with ankle injuries during the past two seasons. This combination of issues, and his high asking price, makes signing him a gamble, and one the Giants can’t afford to take.

With no “Premium” player on the horizon, we will start our review by looking at the the mid level free agents that can be brought in to compete to be role players on the team. Performance information cited in the article is gleaned from profootballfocus.com, while contract information is taken from overthecap.com. Both are solid resources for the serious NFL fan.

Limited Snap/Improving Players:

Green is a blocking tight end that would fit the Giants well

Green is a blocking tight end that would fit the Giants well

Virgil Green, 26, 6’3″, 248 lbs, 5th season, Denver: The opposite of Thomas, Green came into the league in the same draft class as the blocking tight end and has excelled in his role. An average receiver at best, Green has also bested Thomas in the injury department, staying relatively healthy over his 4 NFL seasons. Starting 14 of 41 career games, including 9 of 13 last year, Green would be a bargain signing in a league that pays for fantasy football statistics over a quality blocking at the position. He would complement Donnell and help power the Giants running game.

Luke Stocker, 26, 6’5″, 255 lbs, 5th season, Tampa Bay: Coming off a hip injury that saw him land in injured reserve for the 2013 season, Stocker did not transition well to the Lovie Smith regime in Tampa. After starting 11 games in 2012 and playing in all 16, Stocker was seen as an ascending talent. Those numbers dipped to 7 starts in just 13 games last year, and his performance dropped off commensurately. The Giants could sign him for the veteran minimum and attempt to revive his career.

Richard Gordon, 27, 6’3″, 262, 5th season, Kansas City: Having played very sparingly last season behind Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano, Gordon’s performance up ticked. Already a veteran of four NFL team in as many seasons, a series of nagging hand, hamstring, and toe injuries have slowed Gordon’s development. Another bargain basement player with potential, the Giants could bring Gordon in for a look-see for the veteran minimum and let him go in August if things don’t work out. The worst case scenario is an injury settlement, which is usually half of the player’s salary.

David Ausberry, 27, 6’3″, 235 lbs, 5th season, Oakland: Ausberry is a highly talented, but oft injured tight end who has been penciled in as starter for the Raiders each of the past 2 season before a shoulder injury ended his 2013 season and foot and knee injuries derailed 2014. In limited snaps, Ausberry rated out well as both a blocker and receiver, would be another veteran minimum contract player, and if he stays healthy might fulfill the potential the Raiders have seen all along.

Veteran Players:

Veteran Spaeth is a devastating run blocker

Veteran Spaeth is a devastating run blocker

Matt Spaeth, 31, 6’7″, 270 lbs, 9th season, Pittsburgh: A devastating run blocker, Spaeth is also a huge red zone target with average hands. He started 18 games for the Steelers over the past 3 seasons, and played in 35, as his 2013 season was cut short with a Lisfranc injury. Spaeth came back strong in 2014, playing in 15 games with 8 starts, and is just the kind of blocker needed to make the Giants running game purr like a content kitten.

Jacob Tamme, 29, 6’4″, 234 lbs, 8th season, Denver: Tamme is a receiving tight end who holds his own as a blocker. He followed Peyton Manning fro Indianapolis to Denver, and will therefore be hard to pry away from the Broncos, but given is relative good health, strong receiving skills, and veteran leadership, the Giants would be smart to look at bringing him in if Fells signs elsewhere. Tamme did suffer a concussion in 2011, but has not since, making the future risk seem minimal.

James Casey, 30, 6’3″, 235 lbs, 7th season, Philadelphia: Casey plays fullback in addition to tight end and signed a 3 year, $12 million contract with the Eagles before the 2013 season. Released last month in a salary cap move, he will not realize the last $4 million of that deal. Casey is an average blocker and good receiver with no serious injury history. Signing him would provide veteran leadership for Donnell and provide insight into the Eagles offense to Steve Spagnuolo. That’s worth at least $2 million, isn’t it? Or maybe $1.5?

A Pascoe return could replace Fells, if he moves on.

A Pascoe return could replace Fells, if he moves on.

Bear Pascoe, 29, 6’5″, 257 lbs, 7th season, Atlanta: Pascoe was with the Giants from 2009 to 2013 before signing with the Falcons for the veteran minimum last off season. A veteran minimum reunion would seem to be in order if the Giants need a replacement for Fells. Pascoe is known for his blocking skills, plays some fullback, and has not missed any games due to injury over the past three seasons. Plus Bear is a good nickname for a tight end; Pascoe’s given name is McKenna.

There are only about two dozen unrestricted free agent tight ends poised to hit the market when free agency open next Tuesday afternoon. With Larry Donnell’s emergence as a receiving threat, the Giants need is not as dire as it seemed a year ago at this time, but his lack of skill as a run blocker will hold their offense back from reaching it’s full potential. Blocking can be taught and Donnell is a willing student, bringing in a strong blocker like Spaeth, Pascoe, or Green will provide a role model and run down specialist to help push the pile. Keep an eye on Cunningham, he could be the next free agent surprise to burst onto the scene.

The author is interested in paid writing opportunities and can write about general NFL, Fantasy Football, and obviously, has a strong working knowledge of the Giants. Interested parties can contact him at footballgiants360@gmail.com.

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Giants Free Agency: Stuffing the Roster at DT

Defensive Tackle Jonathan Hankins had a breakout year in his first as starter for the Giants, but the team still struggled mightily to defend the run. The lack of a another run stuffer at defensive tackle is a big part of the issue, along with linebacker, and one that can be addressed in free agency, with multiple options available to fill this need.

Bromley's development is an unknown factor

Bromley’s development is an unknown factor

Mike Patterson started 8 games at defensive tackle in 2014, and did not defend the run well, his primary role for the team. He is a free agent and not expected to be re-signed. Veteran line mate Cullen Jenkins accept a salary reduction to return, but is viewed as a pass rusher and has never been a strong run stuffing tackle. Second year player Jay Bromley was raw as a rookie, and while he will be given a chance to step up and claim the starting job next to Hankins, the team must be prepared if he is still not ready after being picked in the third round last May out of Syracuse. He was widely viewed as a reach with potential at that point in the draft.

Kuhn's minimum salary should be reallocated

Kuhn’s minimum salary should be reallocated

Markus Kuhn rounds out the returning defensive tackles for the Giants and, as regular readers are aware, Giants360 is calling for him to be released and his salary cap dollars reallocated. We have identified fourteen free agents for your consideration, although two are only listed due to their name recognition. Some will fill the run stuffing role identified as missing from the Giants roster as it is currently configured, other would provide competition for Jenkins as the pass rushing tackle. Free agents are broken into categories based on their experience, performance history, and therefore, anticipated cost to the team. Performance information is gleaned from watching NFL football and from profootbalfocus.com, while salary information comes from overthecap.com.

Premier Options:

These are players in their prime that are hitting the free agent market and will command bigger contracts. Some will be starters, others will be highly compensated role players that will fill a need for the Giants, if acquired.

Suh is the most talented and most troubled player on the free agent market

Suh is the most talented and most troubled player on the free agent market

Ndamukong Suh, 28, 6’4″, 207 lbs, 6th season, Detroit: The top defensive tackle on the free agent market, Suh may also be the top overall defensive free agent. Unquestionably talented, both as a run defender, and beastly pass rusher, he comes with many character red flags. As recently as week 17 of this past season, Suh had an incident where he stomped on Aaron Rodgers injured calf. While claiming it was inadvertent, his history raised doubts and he was in danger of being suspended for the Lions playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. A starter of all 78 of his career games, Suh has an astonishing 36 career sacks, all from the defensive tackle position. He also regularly harasses the quarterback, having almost 50 quarterback hits and 120 quarterback pressures in the past three seasons alone. His $22.4 million salary in 2014 puts him in the quarterback stratosphere, while his questionable character will scare away many teams, including the Giants. Suh is not a Tom Coughlin type of player and would be a poor influence on Damontre Moore. There is also an outside chance Detroit franchise tags him to the tune of $27 million for 2015.

Nick Fairley, 27, 6’5′, 291 lbs, 5th season, Detroit: Suh’s partner in mayhem, Fairley comes with his own set of warning signs as his work ethic has been questioned since he entered the NFL in 2011. He has started only 30/46 career games, and only 8 in 2014, missing half the season with a knee injury. The talented defensive tackle is strong against both the run and the pass, with 13.5 career sacks. A more financially reasonable option to Suh, the buyer must be beware, as receiving a long term contract might demotivate Fairley in the style of Albert Haynesworth. If the right coach can tap his unreached potential, he can be a much better player than he’s shown, although he’s undoubtedly benefited from playing next to Suh, who draws attention from opponent’s blockers. Fairley is another player that does not fit the Giants mold.

Pot Roast would look good in blue.

Pot Roast would look good in blue.

Terrance Knighton, 28, 6’2″, 295 lbs, 7th season, Denver: You know him as “Pot Roast,” but he’s also known as a run stuffing force that will be leaving Denver as a free agent. The rumor is he will follow former Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to Oakland where Del Rio is now head coach, as Knighton followed him from Jacksonville to Denver, but given the need the Giants have for a strong run stuffing presence, they would be wise to reach out to Knighton’s agent. If Pot Roast wants a Super Bowl ring, he’s unlikely to get it as a member of the perpetually rebuilding Raiders, and might consider an alternative offer. A starter of all 16 games in 2014 and 81 of 93 in his career, Knighton will not come cheap, and will be looking to top his $2.75 million dollar salary for 2014. A 3 to 4 year deal averaging $4 to $5 million might pry him away from Del Rio and pair him up nicely with Hankins and clog up the middle of the Giants defense.

Dan Williams, 27, 6’2″, 330 lbs, 6th season, Arizona: Far and away the best run defender available on the free agent market, Williams also holds his own against the pass. He struggled with a foot injury in 2014 and only started 6 of 16 games for the Cardinals, and has started just 40 of 70 career games. Williams would be viewed as a role player, starting games and playing next to every down player Hankins on run defending downs and then giving way to Steve Spagnuolo’s NASCAR pass rushing package in long yardage situations. Still young, he would likely seek a contract averaging $2.5 to $3.5 million per season, but has room for continued development as a player.

Stephen Paea, 26, 6’1″, 306 lbs, 5th season, Chicago: Williams polar opposite, Paea brings pass rushing skill, but struggles against the run. He started all 16 games for the Bears last season, but could be displaced as the Bears are switching from a 4-3 to a 3-3 under new head coach John Fox. A younger option to Cullen Jenkins, and probably sign-able to the same $2 million per season, Paea is a player the Giants might want to explore. Competition breeds success in the NFL and almost one third of the salary needed could be found by releasing the ineffective Kuhn.

Improving Players/Limited Snap Options:

Kenrick Ellis, 27, 6’5″, 346 lbs, 5th season, New York Jets: Ellis is strong run defender, but not accomplished rushing the passer. Playing only defensive tackle, he has only one career sack, and 5 starts in 47 games, with none in 2014. Talented, but stuck behind some premier players one the Jets defensive line, Ellis comes with potential and will be looking to improve upon his $797,500 salary for 2014. He may follow former Jets head coach Rex Ryan to Buffalo. Ellis has a limited history on special teams, an area he would need to contribute there as a role player on the Giants.

Klug rushes the passer and excels on special teams

Klug rushes the passer and excels on special teams

Karl Klug, 26, 6’3″, 275 lbs, 5th season, Tennessee: Klug is a pass rusher that plays both defensive end and tackle. With 5 starts in 64 career games and none in 2014, Klug is an inexpensive option to bring in to compete with Jenkins. His flexibility will appeal to Spagnuolo, as will his 14.5 career sacks, while his veteran minimum salary will appeal to Jerry Reese. Klug’s spectacular special teams play would be a welcome addition to the team.

Jared Odrick, 27, 6’5″, 301 lbs, 8th season, Miami: An accomplished pass rusher who held his own against the run in 2014, Odrick started all 16 games for the Dolphins last season. He has played outside linebacker and defensive end, in addition to defensive tackle throughout his career, offering the flexibility similar to Mathias Kiwanuka that Spagnuolo covets in a defensive player. His 2014 salary of $2.8 million would have to be viewed as a ceiling rather than a floor, given his history of ankle injuries, but he is more than a veteran minimum player. He would also need to improve his special teams play.

D’Anthony Smith, 28, 6’3″, 280 lbs, 6th season, Seattle: Smith is an extremely limited snap option that has shown promise as a run defender and also plays linebacker, end, and tackle. Born in Berlin, Germany, Smith could replace Kuhn as the German born player on the roster, if the Giants are determined to have one. However, in Smith’s case, his potential would remain in front of him. A veteran minimum player, Smith would need to contribute on special teams, something that’s he’s not historically done, in order to make the Giants roster.

Veteran Options:

Some have been released due to salary cap concerns, while others have played out a contract and seek to continue their career by catching on with another team. These veteran player’s ascending days are behind them, but they can still contribute, most likely in a limited role capacity, and are past the point in their career of seeking a big money contract.

Mosley is a veteran run defender

Mosley is a veteran run defender

C.J. Mosley, 31, 6’2″, 314 lbs, 11th season, Detroit: Mosley is a stronger run defender than pass rusher, but has 14 career sacks in his career. Another player than may have benefited from playing next to the dominating Suh, Mosley started the 8 games last season that Fairley missed due to injury. He could be signed for the veteran minimum and would be a strong contributor on special teams.

Henry Melton, 28, 6’3″, 280 lbs, 6th season, Dallas: One of the multiple free agents that may be coming out of Dallas as the cap strapped Cowboys try to find enough room to fit Dez Bryant’s $12.8 million under the salary cap. The coming week will be very telling as Jerry Jones again maneuvers to mortgages the future and try to win now. Melton is a spectacular pass rusher who struggles to defend the run, and has had knee injuries end each of his past two seasons. In 2013, he tore an ACL and missed 13 games, while his 2014 season ended before the Cowboys improbable playoff run when a bone bruise saw him go on injured reserve last December. Melton is highly talented, and, when healthy, a force to be reckoned with on passing downs. He played for $2.6 million in 2014 and has 20.5 career sacks as a defensive tackle. He would be a rotational player as his snaps need to be limited to preserve his health, and the Giants would need to consider him as competition for Jenkins roster spot.

Chris Canty, 32, 6’7″, 286 lbs, 11th season, Baltimore: A former Giant and Cowboy, the oft injured Canty left New York for greener pastures in Baltimore and picked up another Super Bowl ring in the process. A salary cap cut this past week, Canty made a statement that he does not intend to retire, and is still an effective run defender. He started 11 games for the Ravens in 2014 and appeared in 35 of 48 over the past three seasons, but has had eye, calf, and knee injuries over his career than have limited his game day availability. If he were to sign, for the veteran minimum or slightly more, Canty would be a run stopping role player who, like Melton, would need to be on a snap count to keep him healthy.

Back in Blue? Might Prodigal Giants Cofield Return?

Back in Blue? Might Prodigal Giants Cofield Return?

Barry Cofield, 30, 6’3″, 305 lbs, 10th season, Washington: Another former Giant who left for a big money contract in 2011, Cofield suffered a high ankle sprain that limited him to just 8 games and 3 starts in 2014, and was released in a salary cap move by the Redskins. Playing nose tackle for the Redskins, Cofield was a more effective pass rusher than run stuffer, but was effective as both for Spagnuolo in his first stint as defensive coordinator, and a reunion might prove fruitful, if Cofield’s contract demands are reasonable.

Kendall Langford, 29, 6’5″, 275 lbs, 8th season, St. Louis: A solid run defender who has played only defensive tackle since 2012, Langford was a salary cap cut by the Rams. He started just 4 games in 2014, and Jeff Fisher could not justify his high salary, which was $6 million in 2014. As a role player, Langford would have to accept a more reasonable $2 to 2.5 million, which still might be more than the Giants are willing to pay, considering some of the other veterans that have hit the market in the past few days. Langford’s history of poor special teams play would also work against him.

With multiple options available on the free agent market and more being added, seemingly by the hour, it makes sense for the Giants to add defensive tackle depth and competition in free agency allowing them to concentrate on filling their needs at linebacker and defensive end in the draft. Plucking two of the men off this list not named Suh or Fairley, one a run stuffer, and one a pass rusher, would round out the group coming into camp and provide strong competition. If Jay Bromley makes a leap forward in his second season, this group could go from relatively weak to a team strength in short order. Ideally, Knighton and Cofield would be those names, but we never seem to live in an ideal world, do we?

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