The Giants' secondary last season was much maligned and deservedly so. They allowed a league-high 4,782 yards through the air in 2015, just fourteen yards shy of the NFL single-season mark of 4,796 set by the Green Bay Packers in 2011.
That was mainly due to an unusual number of injuries to their young, untested safety group. The Giants had to comb the free agent market early on in the season, signing veterans Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl. Although both played competitively for the most part, they were available in-season for a reason.
Rookie Landon Collins ended up starting every game as a rookie, playing both safety spots along the way. Teams picked on the Giants through the air and succeeded most of the time. Hence, all the late-game collapses.
The cornerbacks were fairly solid, however. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ended up in the Pro Bowl and Trevin Wade played well in place of Prince Amukamara, who missed five games with a torn pec muscle. Prince has since left for Jacksonville via free agency.
This year, the Giants are bringing back that young safety group and have added a few additional pieces to their secondary through the draft and free agency.
The corner group will be augmented by the signing of Janoris Jenkins and the selection of Eli Apple with the No. 10 overall selection in the draft.
They will join DRC, Wade, Tremaine Jacobs, Leon McFadden and UDFAs Donte Deayton, Matt Smalley and Michael Hunter at training camp this July.
Bennett Jackson, who was one of those players injured last summer, will be tried at both safety and slot corner. The pre-camp starters are DRC and Jenkins with Apple expected to be fast-tracked into the mix, possibly at slot corner. Jenkins, Wade and Apple have all stood out so far at OTAs.
The safety corps sports Collins as the starter at one spot with a slew of others vying for the second slot. Currently, Nat Berhe is lining up next to Collins, but others will be challenging him all summer.
On Thursday, at the Giants' third OTA session, the safeties made their presence known.
"Rookie Darian Thompson, the Giants' third-round draft pick out of Boise State, started off a big day for David Merritt's safeties with an interception off backup quarterback Ryan Nassib," reported Dan Salomone of Giants.com. "He's picking up where he left off in college as the Mountain West's all-time interceptions leader, a record previously held by All-Pro safety Eric Weddle. Later on, defensive back Mykkele Thompson, a fifth-round draft choice in 2015, grabbed another off a tipped ball that shot straight up in the air. It's a good sign for the second-year man who missed all of his rookie year due to an injury."
Collins also had a pick and Salomone has pointed out that Collins is showing more range and depth against the pass, breaking up several deep patterns in the first few days of OTAs.
Justin Currie, a 2015 UDFA out of Western Michigan and UConn's Andrew Adams are also aiming to stick, but the competition at safety is going to be a fierce one in training camp.
Darian Thompson may be the player to watch this summer. He has all the tools to become exactly what the Giants' need in their back seven - a playmaker. But don't discount the rest of this group. Berhe, known as "The Missile" is a hard-nosed player and Mykkele Thompson appears to have fully recovered from the Achilles injury he suffered in preseason last year.
Tags: John Fennelly
The Giants will hold OTA No. 3 on Thursday as the heat and humidity makes its debut in the North Jersey region. They will break for the Memorial Day weekend and return to work on next Wednesday, June 1.
The first two OTA workouts went fairly well considering the linemen and linebackers had little to do but go through the motions. Some quick notes from the first two sessions.
Veteran CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was not in attendance for day one but showed up for the second. These sessions are voluntary, but he probably decided to show up after he saw that no one else was absent.
Head coach Ben McAdoo addressed the issue in a professional manner, but his undertones may have sent a message to DRC:
WR Victor Cruz, who says he is "100 percent," is working on the side for the time being. The Giants do not want him to suffer any setbacks and are holding him back until training camp.
"Right now, we're looking for him to get back here, and he's working to get back, for training camp," McAdoo said. "That's the goal. Small steps."
In his absence, the young group of receivers the club has brought in the past two offseason's are showcasing their talents. Geremy Davis, Sterling Shepard, Darius Powe and Roger Lewis are making their mark thus far. Tavarres King, who was on the club's practice squad last season, is also opening up some eyes. Let's not forget that Dwayne Harris is still the club's third receiver behind Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. He has been impressive as well.
RB Andre Williams has lost ten pounds this offseason and is down to 220. He is hoping that the weight loss will increase his quickness and get him back in the good graces of the coaching staff.
"I feel faster, stronger and more flexible and explosive than I've ever been," Williams told Giants.com. "I went from a size 36 waist to a size 32."
That can only help the third-year back who slipped down the depth chart in 2015 after scoring seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2014. Williams carried the ball only 88 times for 257 yards with one TD. His 2.9 YPC were a telling stat.
The Giants have an army of useful players in the backfield these days. Rashad Jennings will get the first touches as long as he's healthy. Shane Vereen is a close second. The addition of Bobby Rainey and UCLA standout Paul Perkins will put even more pressure on Williams this summer.
Williams, never known for his receiving skills, knows he has to become more of a complete back if he is going to stick with the club.
"I want to be well-rounded," he said. "I want to do everything. I don't want anyone saying I can't do something."
Nat Berhe is over his physical issues and is being given first dibs on the open safety spot alongside Landon Collins. Berhe was in this position last season at this time before he blew out his calf and missed the entire season.
He is being pushed by a bevy of youngsters: Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson, Darian Thompson, Justin Currie and UDFA Andrew Adams. Jackson, M. Thompson and Currie also missed the 2015 season with injuries.
Tags: Odell Beckham Jr. , Victor Cruz , John Fennelly
Organized team activities prohibit full contact. No one is hit the ground. They are mundane exercises for linemen and those who are paid to hit people.
So who does the focus shift to? The quarterbacks and the wide receivers. The Giants are endowed with both, so OTAs these days can end up being fun.
Odell Beckham Jr. is a walking highlight reel. Just watching him run routes is exciting. He has challenged the Giants' new cornerbacks, free agent Janoris Jenkins and first-round draft pick Eli Apple, who have both gotten a dose of the record-setting Pro Bowler. On a side note, Jenkins and Apple have performed as advertised thus far.
Another Pro Bowler, Victor Cruz, is being brought along with kid gloves after missing a season and a half to knee and calf injuries. Head coach Ben McAdoo told reporters Cruz is scheduled to practice in earnest once training camp begins in late July.
But there are others who have opened some eyes. Second-round pick Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma is expected to see extensive action in his rookie season. He is currently being "rolled in" to the offense, according to McAdoo, but Shepard has shown great hands and it won't be long before he's won the full confidence of quarterback Eli Manning.
Geremy Davis, a second-year player out of UConn who is known for his size (6-foot-2, 216 pounds) and strength, is pushing hard to stay high on the depth chart. He is currently either third or fourth depending on who you ask. Giants.com's Dan Salomone reported the following:
The Giants still have Dwayne Harris, primarily used as a kickoff returner last season, and Harris may end up seeing more time on offense now that the kickoff return has all been eradicated by the new touchback rules.
But some other receivers are gaining attention. Former Georgia standout Tavarres King seems to be catching on after stints with four other NFL clubs. He was classified as a project coming out of UGA in 2013, and perhaps the light has gone on here with the Giants.
"The Georgia product lit up today's highlight reel with a pair of long touchdowns from Ryan Nassib," Salomone wrote on Tuesday. "On the first one, he split two defenders with a sliding catch down the right sideline. He wasn't touched, so he popped back up in one motion and ran into the end zone. Later in practice, Nassib heaved another to King going the other way on the left sideline. The ball hung up in the air for a while before landing in the 6-foot-1 receiver's basket near the 10-yard line. King was able to catch it in stride and run it in the rest of the way for a touchdown."
Salomone also pointed out the exploits of two UDFA wideouts, Roger Lewis of Bowling Green and Darius Powe, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder who was on the other end of Jared Goff's salvos at Cal the past few seasons.
The Giants have a lot of depth at wide receiver this summer, and the competition will be interesting one to watch.
Tags: Dwayne Harris , Eli Manning , Geremy Davis , Odell Beckham Jr. , Ryan Nassib , Victor Cruz , John Fennelly
One of the biggest competitions to keep an eye on this summer at Giants' training camp is at safety. Landon Collins, the former Alabama star who started all 16 games last season as a rookie, will likely be one starter while the other spot will be hotly contested by at least five candidates.
On Monday, at the Giants' first OTA session, Nat Berhe got the nod at safety next to Collins ahead of Mykkele Thompson, Bennett Jackson and rookie Darian Thompson. Cooper Taylor, another safety hopeful, is not participating after undergoing surgery to address a sports hernia.
"I think, like the rest of the guys, it's his second year in the system and I think it's coming a little bit easier for him," coach Ben McAdoo said of Berhe. "They're communicating well back there and he looks good right now."
Berhe missed all of the 2015 season with a calf injury and was in line to challenge for a starting role last summer before being shut down for the season.
Tags: Nat Berhe
Earlier this month, New York Giants center Weston Richburg was interviewed by CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco and we learned several thinngs about the 43rd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Speaking primarily about his offseason regimen while training at former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley's Arizona-based "O-Line Performance Center", we learned he is serious about his craft and is not shy to call others out regarding their lack of dedication.
"The percentage of guys who are just OK to be there (in the league) is pretty high," Richburg told Prisco. "This is pretty rare. The majority of my offensive line is not doing anything right now."
A backhanded swipe in which Richburg explained to reporters yesterday as a comment that came out wrong, but it was still a telling one.
"Well, those things were taken out of context," he said at the first day of the club's OTAs. "Speaking on what I believe about the place I train, I think it is a great spot. I wish everybody could be out there because we do some really great stuff. Like I said, I will be out there every off-season until I am done playing."
Since the new CBA went into effect in 2011, players have had less time to train, hit and simulate football activities in the offseason. Richburg is the type of player that takes initiative and was a borderline Pro Bowler last season. He was considered a leader when the Giants drafted him, and he is assuming that role now that he has cemented his presence at center.
Richburg has been trying to get his linemates to join him at Bentley's camp, and has successfully recruited only guard John Jerry to date.
"Well [Jerry] is out there with me now, so like I said, I would love to have everybody out there. It is a great spot and we do a lot of good work," Richburg said. "We are not just bench pressing. We are doing things that are applicable to what we are doing on the field, so we may do a lifting movement but then go to the field and kind of show how that movement translates to what we do on the field in pass blocking or run blocking."
Guard Justin Pugh could be the next one to join, but he has his own offseason regimen that includes a rigorous MMA-style run by FOX Sports reporter Jay Glazer, a seasoned MMA enthusiast and trainer.
Ereck Flowers and Marhall Newhouse, the tackles, were both inconsistent at times last season, something the Giants are trying to fine tune this year. Flowers especially should embrace such an offseason program since the team has so much invested in him.
Richburg says he remains dedicated to the unit and believes he and the other players will continue to grow and bring the Giants' offensive line back to prominence.
"I really like the guys we have in our room," Richburg said, "and I think the fact that it stayed consistent personnel-wise says something about the group we have, and I think guys believe that we can do some really great things together, and it is just going to take that consistency, being out there as much as possible with that same group."
Richburg was asked his impression of new head coach Ben McAdoo's presence on the field at OTAs.
"It is great," he said. "He is a guy that is going to stay consistent and I think he has, even though his title has changed. He brings a lot of excitement; as you can see, there is a lot of music and things going on out here that kind of keeps it up-tempo, but it has been great so far, a lot of energy from the guys and it has been fun."
Tags: Ereck Flowers , John Jerry , Justin Pugh , Marshall Newhouse , Weston Richburg , John Fennelly
The Giants rolled out there revamped roster at the first OTA of the spring at the Quest Dignostics Training Center on Monday unveiling the new parts added over the past three months.
DT Damon Harrison, signed this offseason as a free agent from the Jets, sees OTAs as exercises that do not play towards his strength, which is to play a physical brand of football.
"It is tough because a guy like me, I am not finesse whatsoever. I don't know how to go out here and just run around," Harrison told reporters. "I am physical. I want to put my hands on someone, I want to bull rush, I want to do everything. You can't do that out here, so you kind of just do what you can but it is tough."
Harrison messed up an assignment and was suppsosed to run a lap as pennance but avoided it by convincing defensive line coach Patrick Graham to go over the play again. "Snacks", as he was known while with the Jets. said his style isn't going to change, but he's trying to incorporate that into defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's scheme.
"Coach Spags has things that he does totally different from what I am accustomed to," said Harrison. "You would think you would just be sitting in the middle stopping the run, which is what I am used to doing, but, no, there are some different things."
First round pick Eli Apple, the celebrated cornerback out of Ohio State, appeared confident and saw more action on Day One of OTAs with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a no-show.
"Getting more reps is definitely not a bad thing at all because you get more experience," said Apple. "You just naturally get more comfortable, but it will definitely be good to have him out there just so you can communicate a little bit and I can talk to him and pick some things off of him because I know he's a great corner."
Apple will be asked to shift to the slot corner position upon DRC's return. Janoris Jenkins, a high-priced free agent signed in March, will be manning the other corner.
"It was interesting. It was just different from the outside," Apple said of playing the slot. "You have to communicate a lot more. You've just got to make sure you're noticing everything on the field."
Apple did not play slot corner at Ohio State and the Giants are trying him there to get their best players on the field at the same time.
"It's not going to be an easy adjustment, for sure," he admitted. "I'm going to have to be in my playbook every day, talking to my coach and trying to pick the brain from other guys and get more experience out there."
On Monday, Apple had the unenviable task of trying to cover the Giants' superstar wide receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr.
"He runs his routes well," Apple said of OBJ. "He's a fast guy. It was fun going against him. They didn't throw the ball his way when I was going against him, but you can tell with his explosiveness and how he gets out of breaks. It's impressive."
Another WR, second round selection Sterling Shepard, has opened up some eyes already. QB Eli Manning is impressed thus far with the rookie out od Oklahoma.
"I thought he's done a good job of picking things up. You can see he's caught on," Manning said of Shepard. "He's caught everything that's been thrown at him these last couple of weeks on the field, so that's always a good start for a receiver if he can catch the football and he can definitely do that."
Head coach Ben McAdoo like what he's seen from Shepard as well.
"He missed the end of last week.," McAdoo said. "He was at the rookie premier, which is obviously necessary for our business now. He's made a good impression. He's conscientious in the classroom and he's a guy that's learning out here on the field. They have to be able to take what they learn in the classroom and get it to translate on the field and that's what he's working to do right now."
RB Paul Perkins, the Giants' fifth round selection, was not at Monday's session and McAdoo said Perkins would not be joining the club until mandatory minicamp in mid-June.
"It's going to be tough for Paul," McAdoo said. "He's a smart, conscientious young man. He's out there working at it. I know he wants to be here. He's chomping at the bit, but he's got to take care of his business out in California, and when he gets the chance to get back here, I'm sure he'll be ready to go."
Damon Harrison hasn't played a game for the New York Giants and he has already started delivering.
The Giants haven't gotten anything yet from the massive defensive tackle. His mother has.
His first gift went recently to his mom, Brunella Narcisse. The 27-year-old gave her something he has wanted to provide for a long time: her own house in Lake Charles, a city in southwestern Louisiana near the Texas border.
"I went down there and surprised her," Harrison said Monday after the Giants' first organized team activity under new coach Ben McAdoo. "It was a house that she had wanted for a while and she cried, and my fiancee cried as well. Everybody was emotional in the house."
Harrison admitted he cried a little, too, although he had wanted to keep that a secret - understandable for a 6-foot-4, 350-pound man the Giants hope can help shut down the opposition's running game.
An undrafted free agent out of William Penn University, Harrison did that with the Jets for four seasons. It earned him a five-year, $46.5 million contract with the Giants in March, with $24 million guaranteed.
It's the reason he can afford to buy his mom a home. >> Read more
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press
Tags: Damon Harrison
Here's what head coach Ben McAdoo said on Monday, the first day of OTAs for the Giants...
Q: General impressions on how the team looked and how your day went?
A: We've been building up through phase two to get ready for today. Obviously, mechanically we need to clean some things up - too many pre-snap penalties today. The defense was flying around pretty good, playing with some good energy and emotion. They had a good day today. No turnovers - that's always encouraging from the offensive side, but from the defensive side you want to get the ball out.
Q: Now that you're in OTA's now, is there something specific you're looking to take from it?
A: The objectives from OTA's is really learning and improving. You want to develop the fundamentals as best you can without pads on, work on communication - detail our communication there. Guys are really jockeying for position as far as where it goes for reps in training camp and the preseason games, whether they're available or accountable and understanding when we get to training camp, it's about building the team and it's about competing for jobs. It's more about learning right now and improving.
Q: How do you make those individual assessments right now, or is it too early?
A: The preseason games are the most important. Training camp padded practices are second. But everything counts. We're evaluating everything with these guys and every day counts, every meeting counts, every practice session helps. You need to be cautious evaluating players when they're just running around in their underwear.
Q: You had Eli Apple out with the starting group. What did you see from him?
A: We'll go in and we'll take a look at the tape. We're not going to rush to any evaluations on guys. What we're starting with right now is we're throwing guys out there to give them a chance to compete somewhat in OTA's. We've got to be smart using the word 'compete' but a chance to develop and a chance to improve. We'll see more when we get a chance to look at the tape.
Q: How does this OTA as a head coach compare with previous OTA's as the offensive coordinator?
A: My focus is more big picture than it is just looking at the offensive side of the ball. Spending my time with the special teams and jumping around to each individual position, spending some time with the tackling drills early in the LT period and ball security.
Q: Do you believe in a pecking order where veterans take priority or do you put guys where you think they are right away?
A: You used to believe that way. The offseason got a lot shorter and I think you need to be aggressive with young players and put them out there and see what they can do and see how they handle being in a pressure situation and see if they'll respond. Again, where we're at now is just the ground floor.
Q: You said they used to have more time in the offseason?
A: You used to have a lot more time in the offseason. You used to have five more weeks, I believe it was, in the offseason. Training camp used to be a lot longer and you used to get on the field a bunch more in training camp than you (do) now. I think you may have to push some guys into some situations that are uncomfortable and find out who's comfortable being uncomfortable.
Q: Before you could just put the veteran up there and see how it plays out?
A: See how it shakes out.
Q: What's the thinking behind naming it the LT period?
A: The game is about the ball. The game is about blocking and tackling and the more we can do to emphasize those three things, it's more important. In those three areas, this organization has a lot of rich tradition in each of those three areas. Putting names to the periods, putting a face with the period and with ball security and with tackling and with blocking, I think it hits home with players.
Q: Does it still feel like a lot of firsts for you, or are you past that in your mental approach?
A: I'm over it.
Q: Did Sterling Shepard work exclusively with the second group?
A: He was sprinkled in, whether it was in the jog-through or team periods, with the ones a little bit and I believe he had a rep or two with the threes. We're using all of those guys. We roll receivers in. You want to make sure they get a taste with each group there, the young guys especially.
Q: What did you see from him?
A: He just got back. He missed the end of last week. He was at the rookie premier, which is obviously necessary for our business now. He's made a good impression. He's conscientious in the classroom and he's a guy that's learning out here on the field. They have to be able to take what they learn in the classroom and get it to translate on the field and that's what he's working to do right now.
Q: How much of a challenge is it going to be for Paul Perkins because he can't be here until mini camp?
A: It's going to be tough for Paul. He's a smart, conscientious young man. He's out there working at it. I know he wants to be here. He's chomping at the bit, but he's got to take care of his business out in California and when he gets the chance to get back here, I'm sure he'll be ready to go.
Q: It's still in the voluntary phase, but Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't here today.
A: DRC wasn't able to make it today. We look forward to getting him back here as soon as we can.
Q: Do you expect to have him here this week?
A: It's a voluntary opportunity, OTA's. If he's here, we'll coach him. If he's not, we wish him nothing but the best.
Q: Have you heard from him?
A: Like I said, this is a voluntary camp. We want all of our guys here. We feel it's important to developing the team and building fundamentals and working on communication and we can't wait to get DRC back.
Q: With the emphasis placed on defense, are you starting to see the group coming together?
A: It's early. It's early right now and it takes time. You have to go through something together to build that type of camaraderie that we're looking for. It takes time. We have to go through something together for that to happen and we're not going to rush it. It takes time.
Q: Victor Cruz didn't participate much in the drills. Is that part of the plan?
A: Right now, we're looking for him to get back here and he's working to get back to training camp. Small steps.
Q: How do you envision using Will Johnson? Is he a fullback, a tight end or both?
Q: What was it about him that made you bring him in?
A: We like Will. We feel he has some versatility on offense and special teams and he's been a good addition so far.
Q: With the way you built up the defensive line, are Nikita Whitlock's pass rushing days behind him?
A: I'm not going to answer any questions that are related to personnel and scheme right now. That doesn't help anybody here.
Q: Nat Berhe stepped in with the first team defense. What have you seen from him?
A: I think, like the rest of the guys, it's his second year in the system and I think it's coming a little bit easier for him. They're communicating well back there and he looks good right now.
Q: What are your impressions of Victor Cruz? He made his reputation before you got here.
A: Before he went down in 2014, he was really taking ownership of the offense. He was starting to come along and the thinking was disappearing for him. It's a shame the injury happened and right now we're looking for him to get back out here.
Q: Jason Pierre-Paul picked off Eli at one point during the walk-thru, and even though Eli just lobbed the ball, what do you think of that?
A: Nice catch.
Q: You seem comfortable in this role. Did you talk to any of your former head coaches like Coughlin or McCarthy before today started?
A: I've been doing this my whole life. This is an opportunity that I dreamed of and I'm just out here attacking the job.
The Giants begin the first of their ten OTAs Monday morning at the Quest Dignostic Training Center and there is a lot of newness to digest as the entire roster takes the field. There are many questions that need to be answered this summer and the process to find those answers starts today.
So, what will we be looking for in these ten non-contact sessions, which will include 7-on-7, 9-on-9 and 11-on 11 drills?
On offense, the focus will be on integrating the new additions and finding the right combination on the offensive line. The Giants are hoping second-round pick Sterling Shepard will emerge as a presence at wide receiver and take some pressure off superstar Odell Beckham, Jr.
Shepard will also be looked at as a possible replacement in the slot should Victor Cruz experience a setback. Cruz is not expectected to participate in team drills until training camp.
The Giants tried all winter and spring to find a veteran tackle to play on the right side to usurp the very average Marshall Newhouse. They did not find the right player and now Newhouse will be challenged by several youngsters -- primarily second-year player Bobby Hart.
TE Larry Donnell is not an automatic starter even though he has been cleared medically to play. Donnell will be challenged by Will Tye, who was named to the NFL All-Rookie team last season, and sixth-round draft choice Jerell Adams of South Carolina. Adams registered the fastest 40 time of any tight end at the NFL Combine this year.
The running back rotation from last year (Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams) are all returning, but Orleans Darkwa (fractured tibia) may be on the shelf indefinitely. Veteran Bobby Rainey, who played under OC Mike Sullivan in Tampa Bay, was signed and the club spent a fifth-round pick on the versatile Paul Perkins of UCLA. The competition is expected to raise the level of everyone's play this summer.
An interesting player added to the roster this offseason is FB Will Johnson, an excellent blocker who many feel will displace Nikita Whitlock. Whitlock may still make the team as a defensive tackle.
On defense, nametags may be in order with all the new faces. The Giants spent wildly -- and hopefully, wisely -- on free agent defenders this offseason. DE Olivier Vernon, CB Janoris Jenkins, DT Damon Harrison and LBs Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard were signed as free agents and DE Jason Pierre-Paul was re-signed to a one-year deal.
One of the big questions on defense is who will emerge at the safety position. Landon Collins, who started every game last year as a rookie, has the inside track on one of the positions, while Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Bennett Jackson and third-round pick Darian Thompson of Boise State will be vying for the other.
The CB position has been upgraded with the signing of Jenkins and the selection of Ohio State's Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick in the draft. They join Pro-Bowler Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to give the Giants a solid unit.
Most of all over the next few weeks, we will get a consistent dose of new head coach Ben McAdoo and his revamped staff. It will be interesting to see how the players respond to the new training regimen and high-energy practices.
The Giants did not take an offensive lineman in this year's NFL Draft despite having the position high on their wish list. At No. 10, they thought they a good shot at either Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley or Jack Conklin of Michigan State. They missed out on both.
The free agent market bore several candidates for the Giants, who were primarily looking for a right tackle. None of them signed with the Giants as they were looking for a left tackle gig, and the Giants are stubbornly unwavering in their committment to keep Ereck Flowers there. So, the search continues to upgrade the line.
The club has a steady five at the moment. Center Weston Richburg should have been a Pro Bowler last season and Justin Pugh has played well at left guard. In lieu of a spotty past, John Jerry has been both productive and reliable at right guard but the tackles. Flowers and right tackle Marshall Newhouse are the question marks at the moment.
Flowers was the team's right tackle last offseason until LT Will Beatty (who has since been released) tore a pec muscle and eventually missed the entire season. Flowers was cast into the fire at left tackle and he was schooled on a nearly a weekly basis. Newhouse, who was brought in to be a swing tackle, ended up playing 14 games on the right side.
The Giants obviously have been trying to upgrade over Newhouse this offseason but ot no avail. But there could be a reason why they aren't scorching the earth trying to find one. Second-year offensive lineman Bobby Hart is improving rapidly and could pose a legitimate challenge to Newhouse this summer.
Hart has reportedly lost 25 pounds this offseason in an effort to get quicker and become more durable. That hasn't hurt his strength, however. He started at nearly 340 pounds.
The former Florida State starting right tackle is a notoriously hard worker known for his dedication and punctuality. His production and talent are unquestioned, as well having been a member of FSU's national championship lineup in front of Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jameis Winston.
He could be the guy the Giants will eventually give the right tackle spot to, and it could happen early on. So far this offseason, we've seen Hart line up with the second team at right tackle.
Traditionally, the Giants have pieced together their offensive line through low-level free agent signings and mid-to-late round draft choices. Their starting lineup in Super Bowl XLII consisted of free agent RT Kareem McKenzie, two undrafted players (G Rich Seubert and C Shaun O'Hara), a second-round pick in G Chris Snee and LT David Diehl, a fifth-round pick.
They had a similar situation in SB XLVI. Diehl, McKenzie and Snee were joined by free agents David Baas at center and Kevin Boothe at guard. The current group has a higher pedigree and one would think they would be able to duplicate the success of the predecessors.
Pugh and Flowers are first-round picks, and Richburg was a high second. Jerry was rescued off the scrap heap after the "Bullygate" affair in Miami and Newhouse was on the verge of playing himself out of the NFL.
Here comes Hart, who may have gone undrafted had the Giants not taken him with the 226th overall pick two years ago. He is focused and has an opportunity. The Giants may have themselves another find on the offensive line.
Tags: Bobby Hart , John Jerry , Justin Pugh , Marshall Newhouse , Weston Richburg , Will Beatty , John Fennelly
The Giants spent over $200 million to upgrade their league-worst defense this offseason, but very few prognosticators and oddmakers are predicting improved results from last season's 6-10 finish.
"Football Outsiders recently predicted another 6-10 campaign in Ben McAdoo's first season as head coach. Bovada piled on by setting the Giants win total for the upcoming season lower than last year," wrote Jordan Raanan of NJ.com this week. "Bovada has the Giants win total at 8 for the upcoming season. It was 8½ last year."
Hard to fathom. The Giants were competitive in 2015, winning six games and were leading in five others only to squander those leads in the final two minutes. Their defense was identified as the culprit, surrendering 420.3 yards per game, mostly in the fourth quarter. It was the first time the Giants finished last in yards allowed in their 91-year history.
The defense would almost have to be better this season. If it does not improve, ownership cannot be blamed. They have shown they are committed.
The Giants decided to spend wildly to fill holes on the defense, signing the top pass-rusher (DE Olivier Vernon), interior lineman (DT Damon Harrison) and cornerback (Janoris Jenkins) and re-signing their best defensive end in Jason Pierre-Paul.
They also inked veteran linebackers Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard, drafted CB Eli Apple, safety Darian Thompson and LB B.J. Johnson. Johnathan Hankins, their best run-stopper, missed the second half of the season and rookie (Landon Collins) and two waiver-wire pickups (Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl) playing safety.
On offense, they are dynamic. They didn't add the big tackle they needed this offseason, but they added speed and versatility in the draft in WR Sterling Shepard, RB Paul Perkins and TE Jerell Adams. And, WR Victor Cruz is returning as well.
More good fortune has broken the Giants' way in the form of drawing the second-easiest schedule in the NFL this season.
All of this apparently does not matter to the oddmakers. They want to see if the Giants, under rookie head coach Ben McAdoo, can put all of that new talent, and what's left of the old, together as a team.
The Giants opened the year as 40-1 longshots to win Super Bowl LI next February. Their odds dropped to 30-1 after the draft, but they are still big longshots to turn their fortunes around in 2016.
Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul , John Fennelly
The Giants will begin Phase 3 of their offseason workout program on Monday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Below is the schedule for the 10 sessions, which are voluntary -- but those are just words. Everyone on the roster is expected to be in attendance.
OTA dates: May 23-24, May 26, June 1-3, June 6-7 and June 9-10. Sessions are closed to the public. Mandatory Minicamp will be held June 14-16. No live contact is permitted during this period, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
Things to look for: Just about everything. There are so many new and moving parts with this team, heads will be spinning to see what new head coach Ben McAdoo has in store, and what his new players have in store for him.
The infusion of talent along with the coaching changes will make for an interesting few weeks. New faces such as DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins, LB Keenan Robinson, CB Eli Apple, safety Darian Thompson and LB B.J. Goodson will hopefully go a long way to bolster the league's worst defense last year.
On offense, the Giants will be monitoring the progress of WR Victor Cruz's health. He will be taking things slowly and ramp up during training camp. In the interim, the Giants will be focusing on how rookies WR Sterling Shepard, TE Jerell Adams and RB Paul Perkins will fit into their offensive plans.
The real question that needs to be answered is whether they will be physically fit for a whole season. Injuries have ruined the last three seasons and new strength and conditioning coordinator Aaron Wellman is bringing some unconventional training methods to the Giants this season.
Tags: John Fennelly
The Giants, along with the Cincinnati Bengals, attempted to claim QB Zach Mettenberger on waivers Tuesday before he was awarded to the San Diego Chargers, according to Field Yates of ESPN.
The Chargers, due to their 4-12 record last season, had priority over the 6-10 Giants and 12-4 Bengals.
A sixth round pick in 2014 by the Tennessee Titans, Mettenberger started 10 games over two seasons for Tennessee. The Titans were 0-10 in those games. The quarterback threw 12 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and had a completion rate of 60.3 percent. The Titans had waived Mettenberger on Monday.
The Giants currently have three quarterbacks under contract: Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib, and newly signed B.J. Daniels.
Tom Coughlin was ceremoniously discharged from his post as head coach of the New York Giants in January after 12 seasons and two Super Bowl champoinships. He made his departure appear like a resignation, but he fooled no one. He wanted to stay, but the Giants forced him out.
Coughlin immediately entertained other head coaching offers, one in San Francisco that was not a fit and the other in Philadelphia, a job in which he would not be calling the shots on who would be on his coaching staff.
He wisely walked away and decided to take a year off (or more) from coaching. He is expected to collect his $7 million for the 2016 season, another clue that he was dismissed. As he turns 70 this summer, he is thinking about how he will adjust without being a head coach for first time since 2003 and only the second year since 1994.
Coughlin spoke to Peter King of the Monday Morning Quarteback on Sunday about the prospect of returning to coaching:
Teams may not be interested in hiring a septuagenarian to be their head coach. Coughlin was ousted by the Giants, but many of his staff remains with the team, including his offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, who became Coughlin's successor.
Although Coughlin has appeared bitter these past few months as the have Giants moved on without him, he intends to dwell on the positives.
"I'm not gonna go there," Coughlin told King. "Fifteen years in the organization, and I'll stand by that. I'm disappointed how it ended, but I had a lot of great times there. I'll be rooting for them every time they play."
He must be wondering, however, why the organization stood idly by, letting the roster deteriorate, leaving him twisting in the wind. As soon as he cleared out his office, the club went on a wild spending spree and bought a new defense.
Tags: John Fennelly
This past offseason, the NFL Competition Committee changed the spot of the ball on a touchback after a kickoff from the 20-yard line to 25. Teams that stress special teams are going to have to shift their resources when formulating their rosters this season.
The rule will insure less kickoff returns, which means teams may choose not to employ kickoff returners and other specialists. They will just utilize what they have on their roster.
The new rule helps the Giants on coverage but hinders their return unit. Josh Brown, the Giants' placekicker, had the most kickoffs returned (54) last season and had only 37 touchbacks, 25th in the league.
On those 54 returns, the Giants held opponents to just 20.1 yards per, fifth-lowest in the NFL in 2015. They will be yielding five more yards per return should Brown choose to boot it as far as he can. He may opt for the "mortar" kick: A high, short kick aimed to pin the opponent back and induce a return.
'"I'm sure we are all going to research and see," Giants special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said when asked back in April what his strategy would be this season. "Obviously there [are] two schools of thought, one you bang it out and give them the ball at the 25 and the other one is you hang it up somewhere around the goal line with great hang time and location and you cover it and hope to gain -- tackle them inside the 20 or at the 20, so it is a five-yard swing there."
Quinn said he has been studying college tape to see which methods work best. The NCAA has used a similar touchback rule the last few seasons.
"They have had that rule for the last couple years and it is a mix," he said. "There are some teams that feel good about their athletic ability and hang it up there and try to keep it in and there are other teams that just bang it out so I think it will be a mix."
As for the receiving and returning end, the new rule will do very little for the Giants. Their return unit averaged 24.9 on 39 attempts last season, 10th best in the league. If the ball is in the end zone this season, however, it very likely they will attempt to take it out.
Last offseason, the Giants gave WR/KR Dwayne Harris a five-year, $17.5 million contract, which contains $7.1 million guaranteed and a $4 million signing bonus. That's a lot of money for guy who might return as few as 10 kickoffs under the new rule.
Harris was third in the NFL in kickoff return average with 28.7 yards per return on 36 attempts. The highlight, of course, was the Week 7 100-yard TD return against his former club, the Dallas Cowboys.
Harris' role will severely be diminished and he will have to establish himself as either a punt returner and as a backup receiver. To add to his challenges this season, the Giants signed RB Bobby Rainey, who averaged 24.7 YPR with Tampa Bay last season. Rainey is also a seasoned punt returner.
Tags: Dwayne Harris , Josh Brown , John Fennelly
The Giants had a historic offseason, signing big-ticket free agents and drafting six versatile and explosive players, three of whom may help their already powerful offense become more dynamic.
GM Jerry Reese came into the offseason with a long "to-do" list to try to rebuild the Giants' league-worst defense, and they added as many as six new starters through free agency and the draft.
But what about the offense? Here's a look at what's new and different this summer.
Unfortunately, the Giants missed out on adding a tackle that could help. Most of the veterans they courted in free agency did not want to play right tackle. The Giants are stubbornly sticking to the Ereck Flowers plan at left tackle and visiting free agents left the meetings without a contract because of it.
So, the will Giants go into training camp with the same starting lineup they finished 2015 with: LT Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RT John Jerry and RT Marshall Newhouse. Not impressive, but not bad, either. Several websites rank them in the middle of the pack, but they needed to get better.
The Giants signed some free agents this offseason to bolster the depth, but only one of the tackles on the current roster appear to be starting material -- last year's seventh-round pick, Bobby Hart. They need to find a veteran this summer to avoid sliding Pugh out to tackle again.
Eli Manning is the iron man of the NFL, and the Giants are banking on him taking every snap until further notice. His backup, Ryan Nassib, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and could leave via free agency next March. The Giants signed B.J. Daniels earlier this week.
The Giants had a running back-by-committe in 2015, led by veterans Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen. They ran the ball less than 40 percent of the offensive snaps and very rarely late in games. Jennings can be a beast when he gets going, but the Giants usually cut him off before he gets the chance. Vereen is basically a receiver and the other two runners, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa, did not get many touches and that may continue this season.
They added former Tampa Bay back Bobby Rainey, who had a bit of a breakout while Mike Sullivan was the OC there in 2013. He may be used as a returner.
The real shakeup comes with the addition of fifth-round draft pick Paul Perkins of UCLA. Perkins is on many "draft steal" lists this spring and promises to bring a new dynamic to the group and the Giants' offense. But in order to do that, the Giants must find a role in the offense for him.
Larry Donnell says his neck issues are behind him and Will Tye was named to the All-Rookie team last year, but that didn't stop the Giants from taking South Carolina's Jerell Adams in the draft earlier this month. Donnell has yet to put his game together and injuries have not helped. Tye is an excellent receiver and is still developing.
Adams could be the most complete tight end of the bunch. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash in his group at the NFL Combine and prides himself on his ability to block. He can also get up the seam and make the big play.
The Giants, like most teams, don't employ a fullback in the traditional sense. They rarely dedicate touches to the position and had Nikita Whitlock, a defensive tackle by trade, playing there last year. They signed former Pittsburgh Steeler Will Johnson, a fine blocker who can occasionally handle the football, last month to compete with Whitlock.
Odell Beckham Jr. is the centerpiece of the unit and has become one of the biggest stars in the NFL. Still, the Giants need to have support players around him in order for him to continue to shine. Victor Cruz, coming back after missing a year and a half due to knee and calf injuries, is expected to resume his role as the slot receiver. The Giants let Rueben Randle walk via free agency and filled his role by taking the explosive and productive Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma in the second round of the draft. He is also considered a steal by many.
The Giants are high on Shepard and still have plans for Dwayne Harris and Geremy Davis. With the kickoff all but going away, Harris will be considered for a bigger role in the offense this season. The Giants are deep here and have a slew of other free agent hopefuls looking to nail down the last one or two WR spots.
What they needed and didn't get ...
An upgrade at tackle was in order and the Giants did not get that done. Newhouse is a serviceable starter, but he's a swing guy, not an every down option. They got beat to the punch in the draft for Michigan State's Jack Conklin and then ignored Laremy Tunsil during his freefall. There may be a veteran or two coming available next month they can bring in. They still have nearly $17 million in cap space to play with.
Projected Offensive Roster:
QB: Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib
RB: Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Paul Perkins, Bobby Rainey
C: Weston Richburg, Shane McDermott
G: Justin Pugh, John Jerry, Dillon Farrell, Ryan Seymour
T: Ereck Flowers, Marshall Newhouse, Bobby Hart
TE: Larry Donnell, Will Tye, Jerell Adams
FB: Will Johnson
WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Dwayne Harris, Geremy Davis, Myles White
Tags: Andre Williams , Bobby Hart , Dwayne Harris , Eli Manning , Ereck Flowers , Geremy Davis , John Jerry , Justin Pugh , Larry Donnell , Marshall Newhouse , Nikita Whitlock , Odell Beckham Jr. , Orleans Darkwa , Rashad Jennings , Ryan Nassib , Shane Vereen , Victor Cruz , Weston Richburg , Will Tye , John Fennelly
Former Giants QB and current NFL analyst Phil Simms said that re-signing DE Jason Pierre-Paul to a one-year deal was the Giants' best move of the offseason.
To me the best signing of all was Jason Pierre-Paul," Simms said, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. "I did a couple Giants games last year and looked on the field from the announcers booth. His stats were not much but I just said, 'Look at him! He's an incredible presence on the field with his size and everything about him. I think he's going to turn into everything he was many years ago."
Pierre-Paul wore a club on his injured right hand for the majority of last season after losing his right index finger and parts of other fingers in a fireworks accident.
He'll have added flexibility this coming season and Simms believes that will help.
"I thought he was a big, big factor last year with one hand," Simms said. "And I think that will get better."
Simms also commented on the Giants' recent draft and noted -- while saying nothing negative about CB Eli Apple -- that he thought the team should've taken a linebacker.
Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul
The Giants had a banner offseason, signing big-ticket free agents and drafting six versatile and explosive players --three on each side of the ball -- who promise to add speed and depth to their sagging roster.
They came into the offseason with a long "to-do" list and an ultimatum from ownership to improve the roster with focus on the defensive side of the ball. They did that, for the most part.
The goals in improving the defense this offseason were very clear: get better at every position. They made some bold strokes and spent a small fortune in the process.
The pass rush was augmented by the signing of DE Olivier Vernon and the re-signing of DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Both players will be in a rotation this season but can play the majority of snaps if needed. Vernon is a marked upgrade and will garner the attention of opposing offensive coordinators. JPP will have the benefit of a full offseason and training camp. The player to keep an eye on is DE Owa Odighizuwa, whose rookie year was wiped out by injuries.
The interior of line will get a huge boost from free agent Damon Harrison and a full season out of Johnathan Hankins, who missed the second half of 2015 with a torn pec. They have talent but the depth is still questionable. After Vernon, JPP and Owa at DE, the Giants have Kerry Wynn and a lot of question marks. They signed several UDFAs who could produce a surprise at camp...they hope.
After Harrison and Hankins on the interior line comes former third-round pick Jay Bromley, a player who must continue to improve. The rest of the group is going to have to sing for their supper at camp.
Fans keep getting on GM Jerry Reese to draft a linebacker. He would if there were any worth taking. The Giants were rumored to be hot for Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd, but the Bears jumped ahead of them at the draft and nabbed him.
They waited until the fourth round to take a linebacker -- B.J. Goodson of Clemson, a highly-productive "thumper" who may challenge for playing time early on. They also signed former Washington Redskins MLB Keenan Robinson, which they hope will be a low-risk, high-reward signing.
The Giants needed to upgrade at cornerback, and they did that in a big way. They let Prince Amukamara walk and signed Janoris Jenkins, the top corner in free agency. Then they took Ohio State's Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick int he draft. Those two hope to form an elite group along with veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The safety group is a collection of young studs who will be vying for both roster spots and playing time. Last year, they were set to hold open auditions for the two safety slots but four of the six contestants got hurt and Cooper Taylor was replaced by in-season free agent pickups Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl.
Rookie Landon Collins started every game and, without much support, was left to fend for himself. This summer, all of those safeties are back and healthy. The Giants are taking no chances this time, however. They selected Boise State's Darian Thompson in the third round, a player who's a born leader with a penchant for takeaways.
What they needed and didn't get....
Another top-rated pass rusher. The decision not to trade up for Floyd re-shuffled their entire draft board and the selection of Apple was deemed way to soon by many. They could have traded back five or more spots and still gotten him. The interior of the line is also missing one more piece. Don't expect them to ever take a non-pass rushing LB early in the draft. In this day and age, that is solid thinking. They also could have used a veteran safety to add to the madness in their defensive backfield.
Projected opening day defensive roster:
DE: Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Owa Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn
DT: Damon Harrison, Johnathan Hankins, Jay Bromley, Nikita Whitlock
OLB: Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, Jonathan Casillas, Mark Herzlich, Kelvin Sheppard
MLB: Keenan Robinson, Jasper Brinkley, B.J. Goodson
CB: Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, Trevin Wade, Bennett Jackson
Safeties: Landon Collins, Nat Berhe, Darian Thompson, Mykkele Thompson
Tags: Craig Dahl , Jason Pierre-Paul , Johnathan Hankins , Kerry Wynn , Landon Collins , Owa Odighizuwa , John Fennelly
The Giants, behind Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr., have developed one of the NFL's top passing attacks. It's about to get better according to Victor Cruz, who was the team's star wideout until Beckham burst on the scene and overtook him.
Big Blue is expecting Cruz to return to the field this summer after a year and half on the sidelines, laid up with knee and calf injuries. He and Beckham have become fast friends since OBJ joined the club in 2014 but have only shared the field a little less than four quarters.
The Giants hope that changes this season when they unleash the two Pro Bowlers simultaneously at NFL defenses. And that duo is about to become a trio with second-round draft pick Sterling Shepard joining the group.
Cruz, in an interview with the Daily News at a charity event on Monday, seemed to welcome the new addition.
"I think it's great," Cruz said. "I think it's just an added bonus, an added weapon for us to use, for Eli to have. Continue to cultivate him and have more guys that (are) able to make plays and do some big things with the football in their hands." He thought the triple threat of himself, Odell Beckham Jr. and Shepard could be fierce. I think we can be great."
As for the comparisons to himself? He sees it too.
"Yeah, absolutely," Cruz said. "You look at our game, you look at his game, you see the similarities there."
The Giants hope to use Cruz in the slot, his usual role, with Beckham and Shepard on the outside. The beauty of it is that Cruz and Shepard can swap spots due to their versatility.
Shepard is comfortable working with Beckham and Cruz, two players he has drawn comparisons to.
"You have guys the same size as you and you see them making plays every week. So why can't I?" Shepard said last week at rookie minicamp. "It's going to be what it's going to be. I'm coming in here ready to work. I've been in so many pressure situations in my life that overcoming them comes natural. Comparisons are always going to come. They came in high school and college. I just have to deal with it. I've done a good job with it so far, and I just have to keep going."
Shepard said he met with his new teammates and that they did not offer him much advice, but he seems to already know what to concentrate on.
"Not much," he said when asked what advice Cruz and Beckham might have given him. "I had a brief meeting with Victor and Odell. I think the biggest thing for me will be the speed of the game. Once I get the speed of the game down, I feel like I'll be adjusted. From high school to college, the speed of the game was a big thing. Then I heard some pros on TV say that speed was the biggest adjustment for them."
And that speed along with the explosive Beckham and the mercurial Cruz is what all the excitement is about. If all three are healthy and on their game, Manning will have a field day carving up defenses.
Tags: Odell Beckham Jr. , Victor Cruz , John Fennelly
The Giants have waived LB Uani Unga to make room on the roster for Lafayette CB Matt Smalley, reports Jordan Raanan of NJ.com.
Unga, 28, had 59 total tackles in 13 games for the Giants last season.
He dealt with a neck injury toward the end of the year.
Smalley, a 22-year-old who attended Lafayette, signed with the Giants after trying out at their rookie minicamp,
Tags: Uani' Unga
After rookie minicamp is in the books, the Giants are preparing to move into phase three of their offseason program and will begin organized team activities on May 27.
It will be the first time the rookies and the veterans will take the field as a team. The 10 OTA offseason workouts will be held on May 27-29, June 1-2, June 4, June 8-9 and June 11-12. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
Mandatory Minicamp will be held from June 16-18. Training camp begins the last week of July.
The Giants currently do not have any veteran players without contracts and have just three rookies still unsigned. Third-round safety Darian Thompson and fourth-rounder B.J. Goodson have not finalized their rookie deals, and the terms of UDFA running back Marshaun Coprich have also yet to be revealed.
This will be the first training camp with new head coach Ben McAdoo at the helm. Steve Spagnuolo returns as the defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan has been elevated to offensive coordinator.
Other returning coaches include Kevin M. Gilbride (tight ends), Lunda Wells (assistant offensive line), Craig Johnson (running backs), David Merritt (safeties), Tim Walton (cornerbacks), Ryan Roeder (offensive assistant) and Rob Leonard (defensive assistant).
New coaches on the staff are offensive line coach Mike Solari, quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti, Jr., wide receivers coach Adam Henry, Bill McGovern (linebackers), Patrick Graham (defensive line) and his assistant, Jeff Zgonina.
The Giants will enter camp with basically the same faces as last year in starting roles. It's the depth and backups roles that have been bolstered.
On offense, the Giants will trot out QB Eli Manning, WR Odell Beckham Jr., RB Rashad Jennings, LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry and RT Marshall Newhouse.
The second wide receiver spot and slot receiver are expected to be won by the returning Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard. Larry Donnell will get the first crack at tight end, but he will be challenged by second-year player Will Tye and rookie Jerell Adams.
Veteran free agent Will Johnson is expected to overtake Nikita Whitlock at fullback. Whitlock may still make the team, however, but as a defensive tackle.
On defense, DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Johnathan Hankins will be joined on the defensive line by big-ticket signings DE Olivier Vernon and DT Damon Harrison. Owa Odighizuwa and Kerry Wynn are expected to be the DE rotation, and Jay Bromley is penciled in as the third defensive tackle.
The linebacker group is still a work in progress. Devon Kennard and J.T. Thomas return as outside linebackers, and Jasper Brinkley was re-signed as the middle linebacker, but all wil be challenged. Goodson will vie for a starting role and free agent Keenan Robinson could end up winning the middle linebacker job.
At cornerback, the Giants will try to figure out what to do with top draft pick Eli Apple. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is one corner, while free agent Janoris Jenkins is expected to be the other. Apple may be asked to play the slot corner, a position he did not play in college.
The safety positions are very much in play. There are many moving parts, but Landon Collins will be one of the starters. The other spot will have many potential suitors beginning with rookie Darian Thompson and third-year player Nat Berhe.
While all of the rookies could become breakout players, also be on the lookout for Berhe, Odighizuwa, OL Bobby Hart and WR Geremy Davis.
Tags: Bobby Hart , Damon Harrison , Devon Kennard , Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie , Eli Manning , Ereck Flowers , Geremy Davis , Jason Pierre-Paul , Jasper Brinkley , John Jerry , Johnathan Hankins , Justin Pugh , Landon Collins , Larry Donnell , Marshall Newhouse , Nat Berhe , Nikita Whitlock , Odell Beckham Jr. , Owa Odighizuwa , Rashad Jennings , Victor Cruz , Weston Richburg , Will Tye , John Fennelly
The Giants made several roster moves on Monday, as the team announced the signing of QB B.J. Daniels, WR Kardon Boone, WR Donte Foster, and DE Ishaq Williams. All four players participated in last week's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.
Daniels was a seventh-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. He appeared in eight games in 2015 with the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans, playing quarterback, wide receiver, and on special teams. He finished the season with one completion on two passes, six rushing attempts for six yards, two receptions for 18 yards, and five punt returns for 25 yards.
Boone has bounced around several practice squads over the last two years, most recently with the Indianapolis Colts. Boone went to school at LSU, where he played in 53 games with 11 starts, and caught 44 passes for 611 yards and eight touchdowns.
Foster signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent on May 5, 2014. After spending time with several practice squads, Foster was signed to a reserve / future contract by the Dallas Cowboys following the 2015 season. He was waived by the Cowboys on March 2. Foster attended Ohio University, where he had 167 receptions for 2,170 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Williams last played on a team in 2013, when he was one of five Notre Dame players suspended for alleged academic fraud. Williams played three seasons for Notre Dame, appearing in 35 games where he had 45 tackles, six tackles for losses, one sack, and one forced fumble. Williams is originally from Brooklyn, and played at Lincoln High School in Coney Island.
The Giants also announced the removal of four players from the roster. WR Ben Edwards, LB James Morris, QB Josh Woodrum, and TE Cedrick Lang were all waived.
Update, 10:29 p.m.: Ishaq Williams announced on Instagram that he has signed a contract with the Giants.
To say that Ishaq Williams is a long shot to make the Giants might be an understatement.
Players who come to rookie and free agent minicamps in the spring on a tryout basis usually don't make it past the three-day camp.
Williams has greater odds. The one-time Notre Dame lineman/linebacker has not played in roughly two years after being cited in an academic fraud investigation involving five players.
He played in an All-Star game in Texas in January, but that's been the extent of his football. He was able to keep his scholarship and is close to graduating, but it wasn't easy. He ballooned to 290 or so pounds and only recently got down to 253.
Williams refused to talk about the academic problems, saying his focus is on the future.
"I have this opportunity with all that happened and I still have the opportunity to move forward and chase my dream," said Williams, who played at Lincoln High School in New York City.
It's clear that Williams is trying to make an impression on Giants coaches. It seemed that he was going full speed on every play.
The Giants came into the new NFL season aiming to add some more zest to their already formidable offense. They are a "pass-first" outfit with the pitch-and-catch combination of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., but their running game has taken a back seat the past two seasons under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who is now the head coach.
The Giants passed on 61.7 percent of their offensive plays in 2015, which was the 12th highest percentage in the league. They rushed the ball only when they had to, it seemed, and broke away from the running game way too soon in many games.
They employed a four-man rotation last season, spearheaded by veteran Rashad Jennings (4.4 yards per carry, 863 total yards) and Shane Vereen, who had the team's longest run of the year at 39 yards. Andre Williams took a step back (2.9 YPC) and Orleans Darkwa showed flashes in his small sample of work.
In the offseason, the Giants signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey to augment a group that only rushed for five TDs all of last season. Then, they drafted Paul Perkins out UCLA in the fifth round of last week's NFL Draft and have since signed the highly productive UDFA Marshaun Coprich, who ran for over 5,200 yards at Illinois State.
The Giants' backfield is more crowded than ever these days, but the team feels they have lucked into Perkins, who has few flaws in his game and has been identified by many critics as one of the draft's biggest "steals".
Perkins is listed at 5-foot-10, 206 pounds and some have gone as far as to compare Perkins to former Giant great Tiki Barber and to Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Giants see Perkins as a player that can stay on the field for all three downs, and that is sending out a direct challenge to the rest of the running back corps.
On Friday, at the Giants' rookie minicamp, new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan explained how Perkins' presence is going to change the dynamic of the group this season:
"This guy (Perkins) is someone who is able to play on 1st and 2nd down and do the things you want him to do as far as run the football and pass protect and also his versatility on 3rd downs, it is just a great asset, and again, I think that position, along with all the positions, the more competition that you have that is going to allow the level of everyone's play to get better and that is what we are hoping for."
The Giants know they have a player in their midst that has an opportunity to be be special, a feature back. All that remains to be answered is if he can be successful at the pro level.
"Perkins has such great versatility," Sullivan said. "This is a guy who was a leader on his team, very bright, he is a three down back possibility and here is someone that can have the good hands to catch the football out of the backfield. You talk about third down and it is really the mental aspect of it, being able to have the awareness of who you have to block to protect the quarterback and he has that and he gets the tough yards. He has shown the ability off of his college tape to take the ball, hit the homerun ball so to speak, so there is just some versatility that makes us very excited to see if he can be someone that can be, not necessarily a situational guy but a guy that can be there for all three downs."
Perkins is a quick study and is already preparing to give the Giants what they are looking for - a complete back. He can run, catch and block and the Giants may finally be able to get away from the four-back rotation and run the football more this season, especially late in games to protect a lead.
Tags: Andre Williams , John Fennelly
Many of us got to know the Giants' scouting department in the fall of 2014 when the NFL Network ran a four-part documentary called "Finding Giants," which took us inside the process and life of NFL scouts.
One of those men was Chris Watts, who has served as the Giants' BLESTO scout for the past eight years. He'll now move to the team in a full-time role. From the Giants:
Before joining the Giants, Watts spent three seasons as a graduate assistant coaching the offensive line at Langston University in Oklahoma, his alma mater.
Replacing Watts as the BLESTO scout is Marquis Pendleton, who has served as an intern in the pro personnel department. Prior to that, he interned in the Giants' public relations department. Pendleton is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts.
So what is a BLESTO scout, you ask?
College scouting and recruiting is a whopping task for any single franchise to tackle on its own. With thousands of college players to scout, teams have formed alliances over the years to combine their information to make the process less daunting.
There are three scouting organizations that teams can join to pool their resources. Teams dedicate at least one scout to report to and from the group they join.
Quadra (formerly Troika) is a group consisting of the 49ers, Rams, Cowboys and Saints formed in the late 1960s. The National, which is the main organizer of the NFL Combine, consists of fifteen teams. (See the full history here)
LESTO (Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organization) was formed by the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1963. The Chicago Bears joined the next season and the name was changed to BLESTO. The Giants are one 12 teams using the BLESTO service these days.
The alliances and affiliations are constantly changing among the groups. Five teams, the Ravens, Patriots, Colts, Raiders and Redskins, do not subscribe to any of the above services, relying on their own talent departments.
Tags: John Fennelly
Justin Tuck received an unexpected call from Eli Apple, the Giants' newly minted first round pick, just a few days ago. Apple needed advice and only a few Giants had this particular set of expertise. How is it possible to be successful in New York?
Apple had called the right person. There aren't that many athletes that have found championship glory in this area over the last few decades. The Knicks are a satire of a well-run organization. The Jets are a tabloid dream. There is a reason Mets fans still adore the 1986 team. The Devils won their Stanley Cups in the shadows. Just the Yankees and Giants have had prolonged stretches of winning.
"Being in New York can be overwhelming, especially for a guy named Eli, for one," Tuck said, recalling his conversation. "Just to focus on his craft, he'll be fine. This place embraces a winner, so go win."
Tuck knows that creed well. He officially retired Friday, signing a one-day contract with Giants to reunite with the franchise that he'll always be aligned with and to leave with the right symmetry for his career. He was a lynchpin for the organization, winning two Super Bowls and finding his niche in the team's history. After nine years with the Giants and an 11-year career, Tuck is done, on his way to Wharton for an MBA and closing the door on a spectacular era.
Osi Umenyiora is gone. Tom Coughlin was just pushed out. Tuck has retired. While Eli Manning remains, a centurion under center, the team around him is different that the title-winning vintage. There is a new head coach, a defense that has gone from a bedrock to frailty, and the constant churn of the NFL.
Tuck leaves, taking that generation with him, along with 66.5 sacks, four double-digit sack seasons and the heart and soul of one of the most destructive defensive-lines in NFL history. On his last day, he used his time on the podium, front and center in the auditorium at the Giants' facility, to look forward.
"The only reason why I feel confident in leaving is because I know i'm leaving in good hands," he said. "I want to have the same sentiment going forward and I think I do. I think Jason Pierre-Paul will shock a lot of people … I'm challenging these guys that I know have the ability to step up and be the missing piece that the Giants are missing."
For many years, Tuck was that piece. An overachiever that expected better of himself.
During his first mini-camp with the Giants as a rookie, Tuck sat at his locker festering with anger, still unhappy that he was just the 74th overall pick in the 2005 draft. He had left Kellyton, Al. -- a city with a population of 217 people -- made it to Notre Dame and then the NFL but even then every oversight stung him. Even now, he remembers that he came to the franchise at a time when Strahan was still going and Umenyiora was settled and that in 2006 the Giants drafted Mathias Kiwanuka, in the first round.
"There was some 70-odd people that were drafted before me that shouldn't have been and I believed it," he said. "To this day, I've used that as a crutch, I've used that as a chip."
Tuck wasn't a Hall-of-Famer, like Michael Strahan. He didn't notch as many sacks as Umenyiora. Or carry the sheer star power of Manning. But he was a building block for a defense that took down Tom Brady twice and played to the moment.
In Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants toppled the undefeated Patriots, Tuck had two sacks as a historic offense was shut down. In Super Bowl XLVI, he had two more.
Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants defensive coordinator then and now, marveled at his athleticism and versatility. Tuck manage to grab a snap at every defensive position except safety. A third-round pick became the prototypical player.
"Yeah, that's the way they're supposed to look," Spagnuolo said Friday. "Those defensive ends in the 4-3, that's the way they're supposed to look."
Tuck was also the type of character seen too infrequently in the NFL. He was outspoken and verbose in a league where personalities are sanded down and neutered, as if every original thought is a dangerous blow to the robotic uniformity front offices and coaches hope to build as pillars of their regime. His exit and his future reflect that. He used his press conference to endlessly needly owner John Mara about Boston College, his alma mater, and to announce that he was headed to the University of Pennsylvania for a graduate degree.
Mostly, however, Tuck wanted to pledge his fealty to the Giants again. He had left for Oakland for two years -- a coda to his career that will be forgotten. Tuck had made his name and his star with the Giants and they each benefitted.
Now, he was saying goodbye, capping an era that was now gone and already looking ahead to what comes next.
"Words don't express how I feel about this organization," he said. "This is not Justin Tuck's day. It's not. I don't want any of you guys writing that and saying that. This is just another day in the history of the New York Giants. Another day of collective effort of everybody in this family taking a young pup from Nowhere, Ala. and making him into the man you see here today."
Tags: Eli Manning , Jason Pierre-Paul
The Giants have agreed to terms with four of their recent draft picks: CB Eli Apple, TE Jerell Adams, RB Paul Perkins, and WR Sterling Shepard.
Perkins signed a four-year contract that includes a signing bonus between $250,000 and $300,000, Rotoworld reported.
The team also signed 14 undrafted free agents:QB Josh Woodrum of Liberty University, RB Marshaun Coprich of Illinois State, WRs Roger Lewis of Bowling Green, K.J. Maye of Minnesota, and Darius Powe of California, TEs Cedrick Lang of UTEP and Ryan Malleck of Virginia, DEs Romeo Okwara of Notre Dame and Mike Rose of North Carolina State, DTs Melvin Lewis of Kentucky and Greg Milhouse of Campbell, and DBs Andrew Adams of UConn, Donte Deayon of Boise State, and Michael Hunter of Oklahoma State.
Perkins has been compared to Tiki Barber in style and form. He is also a gamer like Barber, with a huge heart that is not afraid of the contact. He has shown exceptional versatility, excelling in all facets of the game: rushing, blocking, and receiving.
He is being perceived more and more as a three-down back and has made multiple "steal of the draft" lists this past week. His arrival could mean the end for Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa.
Tags: John Fennelly
It seemed appropriate that Justin Tuck ended his NFL career on a day the New York Giants had their draft picks, free agents and guys looking to make the team on a tryout in the building.
It was transition time for both, although Tuck had so much to offer the youngsters.
The kids could have easily looked at the defensive end taken in the third round in 2005 out of Notre Dame as a model of success. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion, a two-time Pro Bowler and a captain of the defense.
That's the surface of Tuck, the things that can be found in any biography. He was also a team player who retired on Friday knowing "he did it the right way."
© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press
The New York Giants rejected the New York Jets' offer of first- and second-round picks for the No. 10 pick last Thursday during the NFL Draft, according to the New York Daily News' Gary Myers.
The Jets wanted to trade up to try to land Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, regarded as a top-three player in the draft before he fell on draft night in part due to a video of him smoking from a bong attached to a gas mask that surfaced immediately before the draft began.
They offered picks Nos. 20 and 51 overall for the Giants' No. 10 pick, however the Giants did not want to risk having the player they coveted, cornerback Eli Apple, being selected between the 11th and 19th picks.
While the Jets "strongly considered" trading with the Dallas Cowboys for the No. 4 pick and had previously expressed interest in trading up for Tunsil, who said his social media accounts were hacked, they ultimately drafted linebacker Darron Lee with the 20th pick and quarterback Christian Hackenberg with the 51st pick.
Tunsil fell to No. 13, where the Miami Dolphins drafted him.
In a roundtable interview on Wednesday, Giants C Weston Richburg suggested that his teammates on the offensive line were relaxing right now instead of focusing on improving for this upcoming season.
"The percentage of guys who are just OK to be there (in the league) is pretty high," said Richburg. "This is pretty rare. The majority of my offensive line is not doing anything right now."
While it's difficult to fault a player for taking some time off, the third-year center hinted that players should still be training during the offseason.
"I know a lot of guys are just happy to be there," he said. "That's the difference between them and the guys who are here."
Richburg has spent his offseason in Arizona, training at the O-Line Performance Center.
I'm not quite sure if Richburg is sideswiping his teammates or all offensive linemen who don't attend these camps such as the one LeCharles Bentley is running. I know Pugh goes through rigorous offseason training, and at one time was working out with Jay Glazer at his MMA camp. So, he must be taking shots at the rest of the line - John Jerry, Marshall Newhouse and Ereck Flowers. I have not heard of any of those three attending any offseason training programs.
Tags: Weston Richburg
The Giants have waived TE Jerome Cunningham and S G.J. Kinne, the team announced.
Cunningham, 24, had eight receptions for 59 yards in nine games (three starts) for the Giants last season.
Kinne, 27, spent last season on the Giants' practice squad. He signed a reserve/future contract on Jan. 6.
Tags: Jerome Cunningham
The Giants will open their facility Thursday for their rookie minicamp to take a first look at their recent draft class and undrafted free agent signees. Scores of others will also be on hand on a tryout basis.
The 2016 draft class contains Ohio State CB Eli Apple, Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, Boise State DB Darian Thompson, Clemson LB B.J. Goodson, UCLA RB Paul Perkins and South Carolina TE Jerell Adams.
"The rookie minicamp is more of an orientation," head coach Ben McAdoo told NJ.com. "We want to bring them in, introduce them to the first install with normal down and distance install, teach them how we're going to practice, let them know where the restrooms are, and just get their feet wet a little bit."
"We're not going to be out there for three hours practicing, we're just going to introduce them to things. It's more of an orientation than anything...to see the building for the first time so when they get a chance to come in here with the vets and mix it up with the older guys, there's not much young bull going on and they at least know where they're going."
Many of the UDFA signings have yet to be confirmed, but the following players are expected to be in attendance for the minicamp:
Bowling Green WR Roger Lewis, Minnesota WR K.J. Maye, Virginia Tech TE Ryan Malleck, UConn safety Andrew Adams, Boise State DB Donte Deayton, Notre Dame DE Romeo Okwara, Campbell DL Greg Milhouse, NC State DE Mike Rose, Liberty QB Josh Woodrum, Illinois State RB Marshaun Coprich, East Carolina TE Bryce Williams, UTEP TE Cedric Lang, California WR Darius Powe, Kentucky DT Melvin Lewis, Lakeland College WR Mykel Esiobu and Oklahoma State DB Michael Hunter.
If you check the list, you'll see there are no offensive linemen in the group. Not sure what the Giants are thinking here, but there are rumblings they may pursue a trade for OT Anthony Davis of the San Francisco 49ers. Davis, who went to Rutgers, retired from football last year and has indicated he will return this season. He also has stated he no longer wants to play for the 49ers.
Tags: John Fennelly
Justin Tuck will sign a one-day contract and officially retire as a New York Giant on Friday, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.
Tuck was drafted by the Giants 74th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft. The defensive captain spent nine seasons with New York, racking up 60.5 sacks, placing him sixth on the team's all-time sack list. Tuck is also third in Giants history with 18 forced fumbles.
Tuck was a part of the Super Bowl XLII and XLVI championship teams, becoming the only player in NFL history to have multiple sacks in multiple Super Bowls. The defensive end made two Pro Bowl appearances (2008, 2010), and was First-team All-Pro in 2008 and Second-team All-Pro in 2010.
Tuck spent his final two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, where he had just six sacks in 20 games between the two seasons.
I don't really hold these one-day contract deals very highly, but this one is outside the norm. Tuck will always be a Giant in everyone's eyes and will go up on the team's Ring of Honor one day soon. He was one of the classiest and amiable players I have ever been around and also one of the best Giants' defensive linemen in their history. The fans have always held him in high regard and, although he finished his career in Oakland, his heart was still with the Giants.
The Giants did not select a defensive lineman in last week's NFL Draft, a unit that many felt they would continue to target at any and all costs. Following the Ernie Accorsi axiom that you "cannot have enough pass rushers", critics still believe the Giants are one pass rusher short of having a dominant front.
The return of a healthier, and hopefully more effective, DE Jason Pierre-Paul paired with the addition of DE Olivier Vernon and DT Damon Harrison via free agency, give the Giants three top-level players in their front four.
Throw in DT Johnathan Hankins and DE Owa Odighizuwa, both who had their seasons shortened by injuries last year, and the Giants have the makings of a solid, if not a formidable defensive line.
Also returning are DE Kerry Wynn and DT Jay Bromley. Others held over from last season include DTs Montori Hughes and Louis Nix III and DEs Brad Bars and Stansly Maponga.
UDFAs getting a shot this summer on the defensive line are DE Mike Rose of NC State, Greg Milhouse of Campbell and Notre Dame DE Romeo Okwara.
Analysis: With Patrick Graham coming over from New England as the new line coach, the approach will naturally be to stop the run and get after the quarterback, but to also dominate the way the team did in its Super Bowl years.
A DE rotation will be difficult to implement as Vernon and JPP are warriors who rarely come off the field. Vernon played 81% of the Dolphins' defensive snaps last season while JPP, in his eight games, played nearly 92% of the snaps.
They won't be asked to play that many snaps this season so they will be fresher in the fourth quarter. The Giants will rely on Wynn and Owa to take a good 30 or more percent of the snaps in 2015 and hope they calculated correctly this offseason that this group will be good enough to make a significant difference.
That wil be made easier by the massive defensive tackles they have on their roster. The Giants are hopeful that the starting combination of Harrison and Hankins will be dominant in stuffing the run and getting pressure up the middle.
Graham will likely use a rotation of players at the DT position. Most teams do, and it makes sense as the players are bigger and carry more weight on their bones. Jay Bromley must show improvement if he wants to continue to see increased snaps. Hughes and Nix were in-season adds last year and now must make the team coming out of camp.
The Giants would like to avoid using Nikita Whitlock in the rotation, but he's shown that he is a gamer and may be hard to cut. He does not have the size but he does have the skill.
Will we see the return of NASCAR? I'm betting yes. The Giants want to get speed on the field and into the pass rush. It is possible they line up four DEs at times with JPP, Vernon, Owa and Wynn. Not quite the group they had a few years back, but not bad, either.
Bllitzing is also an option. They have several DBs now that can come off the edge and more flexibility at linebacker this season.
The bottom line is if the Giants can stay healthy along the defensive front, the rest will take care of itself. Staying healthy, however, has been a major challenge for this team the past several seaon
For the first time in their history, the Giants came away from the NFL Draft table without an offensive or defensive lineman. For a team whose goal was to get bigger and tougher in the trenches this season, they sure didn't show it in the draft.
They got beaten to the punch on Michigan State OT Jack Conklin, believed to be atop their board in last weekend's draft, and then passed on Laremy Tunsil, who was in free fall after several issues came to light to damage his stock.
But the Giants never looked back after that. The Giants had several attractive lineman options to choose from as the draft went on, but when their turn arrived in each round, they selected to go in a different direction with players at different positions ranked higher on their board. You have to commend them for sticking to their board, but what is the plan now to revamp the offensive line?
What we know...Ereck Flowers is the left tackle, Weston Richburg is the center, and Justin Pugh will be at right guard. The suddenly productive and durable John Jerry appears to have solidified his spot at left guard. Like it or not, that's four of your top five right there.
Right tackle, currently occupied by Marshall Newhouse, was the position they were trying to upgrade. They didn't, but GM Jerry Reese is standing by his decision to bypass the offensive line in the draft.
"We have a couple of veterans out there on the right side that people don't give enough credit, and they get bashed and blamed on a lot of things on the right side,'' Reese told WFAN's Mike Francesa on Monday. "They're solid pros.''
"We'll continue to monitor the waiver wire and look for help with respect to the offensive line,'' Reese added. "It's not like we can't get out there and play at a high level with the players we have on our offensive line.''
The Giants are developing several players on their roster with the hopes of becoming starters at some point down the line. Bobby Hart, a seventh-round pick out of Florida State in last year's draft, will not turn 22 until August. He has shown marked improvement, and the club has been lining him up at right tackle with the second unit this spring.
The Giants are bringing back four lineman that were with the team last season, and that they want to give a full training camp to: Canadian import Brett Jones, Emmett Cleary, Jake Rodgers and Adam Gettis. They also signed free agents Dillon Farrell, Ryan Seymour, Shane McDermott and Byron Stingily.
McDermott and Farrell will vie for the backup center job. Jones, Gettis and Seymour will get looks on the interior, and Cleary, Stingily and Rodgers will be tried as tackles.
Scouring through the UDFA signings, the Giants have not added an offensive lineman there, either. It is still early. It is very possible the Giants find a veteran tackle after the June 1 cut date, which usually yields a slew of overpaid veterans that could not be released by teams earlier in the year due to salary cap ramifications. There is currently no list of those players, but the rumors will start to escalate soon.
Tags: Ereck Flowers
The New York Giants will visit with free-agent cornerback Leon Hall on Tuesday, Mike Garafolo reports.
Hall, 31, recorded two interceptions and 55 combined tackles in 14 games with the Cincinnati Bengals last season. Hall has spent his entire nine-year career with Cincinnati, playing 161 games and totaling 26 interceptions and three touchdowns.
The Giants, who drafted cornerback Eli Apple in the first round on Thursday, are still looking for depth in their secondary, according to Garafolo. New York lost cornerback Prince Amukamara to Jacksonville earlier in the offseason, but signed Janoris Jenkins when free agency began.
Jerry Reese insists that his war room was not caught off-guard last Thursday when the Titans and Bears traded up in front of the Giants to select OT Jack Conklin and LB Leonard Floyd, the general manager told Mike Francesa on WFAN Monday.
"When somebody don't know what they're talking about, it's easy to depict it that way," Reese said about critics suggesting the Giants were unprepared and, as a result, ended up reaching for Eli Apple. " … We had our board stacked. We had went through this scenario many times, and we thought that was one of the possibilities that could happen, and our mind was clearly made up that we would be happy with Eli Apple as our pick as No. 10."
Reese says the Ohio State cornerback was the top player on the Giants draft board at the time of the pick.
"He was an easy pick, and it was a value pick, No. 1, because he's the highest player on our board and was a need pick because we have two corners, and like I said during the draft, if you only have two corners, you're one corner short in this league," Reese said to Francesa.
Reese had to know that Tennessee wanted Conklin and Chicago wanted Floyd. He said the price to trade up was not "too high" and there was no acceptable deal on the table to trade back. So, with nowhere to turn, the Giants took Apple at No. 10. They wanted him and they got him. There were other players they could have taken there, such as Hargreaves, but the Giants liked Apple better. They wanted to get more physical and Apple fits that need better than Hargreaves.
Antrel Rolle, the durable, vocal Pro Bowl safety who played for the Giants for five seasons from 2010-2014 and was an integral piece of the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI-winning defense, is a free agent again after being released by the Chicago Bears over the weekend.
Rolle played all 16 games in each of the five seasons he was here in New York and had only missed one game the previous four seasons in Arizona. The Giants signed Rolle to a five-year, $37 million deal in 2010, which at the time, made him one of the highest-paid defensive backs in NFL history. He collected every penny.
Last March, the Giants chose to let Rolle walk via free agency, a move which turned out to bite them in the backside. He ended up signing a three-year deal with the Bears.
Rolle, 33, played in just seven games last season because of ankle and knee injuries. Chicago placed him on injured reserve in December, after the safety suffered a serious knee injury on the practice field.
Rolle, who lasted only one season in Chicago, signed a three-year contract last offseason, but he collected all the guaranteed money ($4.9 million) in the first year of the deal. The Bears clear $2,718,750 worth of salary-cap space with the move.
Rolle is now seeking a new home and the first doorbell he hopes to ring is 1925 Giants Drive in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
"You know my first choice would be home, man,'' Rolle told The Post on Monday morning. "And what I mean by home, that's New York.' "That's a franchise that I love. There's a difference in playing for a franchise because that's where your contract is, that's where you're supposed to play. It's just where I want to bring my assets, where I want to help the franchise, the city, the players. It's family for me. That's where I would want to reside and just go out there and play ball.''
The Giants are likely to send Rolle away with a "thanks but no thanks", but keep him in the back of their minds until their current plan at safety is settled. He believes he can still help his former team.
"Do I believe I can come in and start? There's no freaking doubt about it,'' Rolle said via The Post. "I know what I did playing with an ankle sprain in Chicago, the talent is still there. The Giants have added some phenomenal talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It's only gonna be that much better, it's only gonna be that much sweeter, to be honest with you.''
The Giants are moving on, however. They have Landon Collins, Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson and the recently drafted Darian Thompson. It's doubtful the Giants will look to bring back Rolle, but with their injury history, everything is in play.
It's rare that the New York Giants are commended on their draft class so soon after the draft. Forget the fact that they did not select any offensive or defensive lineman with any of their six selections.
They clearly were in the market for an offensive tackle and and a pass rusher, but showed discipline in staying in their lane and selecting players they knew could help them at other positions. Keep in mind, their roster was so depressed, they could only get better in this draft.
ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., although he only gave the Giants a 'B', gushed over some of the selection GM Jerry Reese and his crew made over the weekend.
The one reach Kiper is referring to is Apple, an Ohio State cornerback the Giants selected with the 10th overall pick. He wasn't rated by anyone as a potential top-10 selection, but after the Giants lost out on Michigan State OT Jack Conklin and OLB Leonard Floyd of Georgia and then couldn't trade out, Apple was the highest-rated player on their board.
Shepard is being considered one of the big steals of the draft, not only because many felt he was the best route-runner and competitor at wide receiver, but because of where he landed. The Giants were looking for a dynamic receiver to team with Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, and Shepard, who has been compared to Cruz, gives the Giants an almost uncoverable receiving corps.
The rest of the picks are all players with upside and will upgrade the roster. Even though the Giants went out and signed some linebackers, Goodson could compete for a starting role day one at camp. Thompson could do the same.
Perkins has all-around skills and his ability will force the Giants to re-think their running back rotation. His arrival sure spells the end for one or two backs from last season.
Adams could be the player the Giants have been looking for at tight end. He has the desired size and speed to become that seam-breaker that could be the final piece in Ben McAdoo's offense.
If Kiper is satisfied, then everyone should be. He is usually critical of teams that don't fill their most pressing needs and pass up higher-rated players in favor of others. The Giants did all of that, but the players they selected were ones that slipped through the cracks and also made sense for them.
Tags: Eli Manning , Odell Beckham Jr. , Victor Cruz
The Giants made a number of deals with undrafted players after the NFL Draft on Saturday. New York signed several players to contracts and will bring in others for tryouts. Via the New York Daily News and NJ.com:
Quarterback: Josh Woodrum (Liberty)
Running backs: Marshaun Coprich (Illinois State); For tryouts: Mercer Timmis (University of Calgary), Terry Williams (Kutztown), Donald Russell (Georgia State/German League)
Wide receivers: Roger Lewis (Bowling Green), Mykel Esiobu (Lakeland College), KJ Maye (Minnesota), Darius Powe (California); For tryouts: Doug Corby (Queens University), Miles Shuler (Northwestern), Quintavius Burdette (Ole Miss)
Tight ends: Ryan Malleck (Virginia Tech), Cedric Lang (UTEP), Bryce Williams (East Carolina)
Offensive linemen: Mykhael Quave (Louisiana-Lafayette); For tryouts: Brandon Revenberg (Grand Valley State), Charles Vaillancourt (Laval University), Angelo Mangiro (Penn State)
Defensive linemen: Melvin Lewis (Kentucky), Greg Milhouse (Campbell), Romeo Okwara (Notre Dame), Mike Rose (N.C. State); For tryouts: Ishaq Williams (Notre Dame), Nick Woodman (Utica College)
Cornerbacks: Donte Deayon (Boise State), Michael Hunter (Oklahoma State)
Safety: Andrew Adams (UConn)
Defensive back for tryout: Taylor Loffler
Linebacker/Tight end for tryout: Kassan Messiah
The Giants had three picks on Saturday, the final day of the 2016 NFL Draft, one each of the fourth, fifth and sixth round. They chose useful players who all could end up being valuable contributors.
They filled many needs in this draft, but for the first time in in their history, did not draft any linemen, offensive of defensive, positions in which many draft experts identified as pressing needs.
"We drafted the best players available for us," GM Jerry Reese said after the draft. "We have some offensive linemen and we have some defensive linemen. We'll continue to try to improve everywhere on the roster, including the offensive and defensive line."
Day Three finally saw the Giants draft a linebacker, B.J. Goodson of Clemson along with RB Paul Perkins of UCLA and South Carolina TE Jerell Adams.
"He can actually play all three positions," Reese said of Goodson. "The thing we like about him is that he's a football player. He's a tackling machine, lots of tackles. I think he had 5 1/2 sacks and a couple of interceptions. He was a really productive player. I think he'll create some competition in the linebacker level."
Chances are he will. Goodson led Clemson in tackles last year and is a better player than scouts had originally thought. He's a physical run stopper who can also rush the quarterback and cover in the passing game. He is being considered one of the draft's biggest sleepers and steals.
The Giants seemed stocked at running back going into the draft but when Perkins was staring at them in the fifth round, Reese could not pass him up.
"All-around player. He can run it. He can catch it. He can block," said Reese of Perkins. "He'll play on all of the core teams, just like Goodson will, as well. Solid football player. People say he doesn't have home-run speed, but I saw him on an 82-yard touchdown against Colorado. Really good, solid football player. I like him a lot. He's a three-down player."
Critics give the Giants kudos for this pick as well. Perkins has been compared to the Falcons' Devonta Freeman and had been called "Tiki Barber Light". He will likely replace Orleans Darkwa initially, but his presence has to put both Darkwa and Andre Williams on alert and eventually will replace Rashad Jennings and/or Shane Vereen. This is a solid, heady pick by the Giants as they seek to get faster and more versatile on offense.
Adams could also help make the offense more dynamic. He ran a 4.64-second 40 yard dash at the combine, the fastest of any tight end this year.
"Big kid. Really good down the seam," Reese said of Adams. "He can stretch the seam; can stretch the defense down the seam. He's a better blocker right now than a receiver, but our coaches really liked him. Our scouts liked him. They think he has a nice upside and can work in that tight end group."
The Giants have been looking for a seam-splitting TE. Larry Donnell has the size, but his uneven route-running skills and suspect hands (along with injuries) have stunted his career growth. Will Tye was nice surprise last season, but he lacks the ideal size and length for the position. Adams may finally be the answer for them at tight end.
The Giants selected South Carolina tight end Jerell Adams with the No. 184 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-6 Adams recorded 28 catches for 421 yards during his senior season. Considered a pass-catching tight end, Adam made 66 catches for 977 yards during his four-year career at South Carolina. He also caught seven touchdowns, three of which came in his last year.
According to NFL.com's draft profile, Adams has the chance to do well in all facets of the tight end position.
"The former star high school basketball player has the physical skills to excel as a receiver and blocker in the NFL," the profile said.
Head coach Ben McAdoo said Adams can do a lot to help the Giants in the passing game.
"Jerell Adams has good speed down the middle of the field and is a big target," McAdoo said.
Unless the Giants trade back into the draft, this will become the first time in the team's history that the Giants did not select an offensive or defensive lineman, according to Newsday's Tom Rock.
The Giants selected UCLA running back Paul Perkins with the No. 149 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Perkins, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound back, rushed for 1,343 yards (fourth in the Pac-12) and 14 touchdowns to cap off his third season at UCLA. He was named a Second Team All-Pac-12 member for his 2015 campaign.
During three seasons at UCLA, Perkins accumulated 3,491 rushing yards, which is fourth on the school's all-time rushing list. He is also fifth on the all-purpose yards list with 4,236 combined yards.
The Giants selected Clemson linebacker B.J. Goodson with the No. 109 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Goodson, the Giants' fourth pick of the draft, recorded 108 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks during his senior season at Clemson.
The 6-foot-1, 250-pound Goodson has largely played as an inside linebacker. He finished he college career with 138 total tackles and 6.5 sacks.
The third day of the NFL Draft separates the men from the boys and this year will be no different. The New York Giants have only three picks on Saturday and hope they can continue to find players that can help them solidify their roster.
The draft begins at 12 p.m. ET with Rounds 4-7. Teams will be allotted five minutes per selection in Rounds 4-6 and then only four minutes in Round 7. All compensatory selections are also four minutes.
The Giants only have three selections on Saturday, one in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. They do not have a seventh-round selection, having traded it to Pittsburgh last summer in exchange for punter Brad Wing.
- Round Four: Pick 11 (109 overall)
- Round Five: Pick 10 (149 overall)
- Round Six: Pick 9 (184 overall)
- Round One: Pick 10: CB Eli Apple, Ohio State
- Round Two: Pick 9 (40 overall): WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
- Round Three, Pick 8 (71 overall): S Darian Thompson, Boise State
What to watch for... The Giants would like to add an offensive lineman, a running back and a pass rusher with these picks, but there aren't many acceptable candidates remaining on the board.
At OT, Willie Beavers of Western Michigan and LSU's Jerald Hawkins are still on the board. RBs remaining include Devontae Booker of Utah, Indiana's Jordan Howard and Kenneth Dixon of Louisiana Tech.
Pass rushers are going to be hard to find on Saturday. The Giants have a better shot at grabbing some interior line help. Baylor's Andrew Billings and Hassan Ridgeway of Texas have value at this level as does Notre Dame's Sheldon Day and Willie Henry of Michigan.
The Giants actually filled two big needs in Apple and Shepard, so they're not likely going to draft another WR, but another corner is not out of the question. I don't see them taking another safety, as they have a glut of unproven players already that they haven't sifted through as of yet.