The Giants' head into the offseason unsure of what they really are. Two years ago they were an 11-5 playoff team. Last year they were a 3-13 mess with largely the same personnel.
Chances are the reality of the Giants is somewhere in between, which makes them a team like many others in the league: Talented, but flawed.
How they fix those flaws will determine how they fare in 2018 under first-year head coach Pat Shurmur. And as they get ready to begin their offseason overhaul, here's a look at their biggest needs:
Offensive line - This is everything for the Giants and the primary reason for their problems over the last six years. They need a total rebuild, especially with Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg headed to free agency. They should start with a left tackle to replace Ereck Flowers and right tackle, too, in case Flowers isn't any better on the other side. They could also use a big guard and maybe bring back D.J. Fluker. Pugh, by the way, would be fine as a guard or tackle, so he's worth re-signing if his price isn't crazy. Brett Jones (a restricted free agent) has been fine at center. But the Giants will need depth, too.
Don't be surprised if the Giants make a run at free-agent guard Andrew Norwell, one of new Giants GM Dave Gettleman's biggest success stories from Carolina - rising from an undrafted rookie in 2014 to an all-pro guard in 2017. Nate Solder is the best tackle on the market, but he'll be 30 in April. That shouldn't be disqualifying if the price is right. As for the draft, the Giants aren't likely to consider a lineman at No. 2, but they'll be looking closely at them in later rounds.
Linebacker - Devon Kennard and Jonathan Casillas are free agents, and so are former starters Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard, and middle linebacker B.J. Goodson has been riddled with injuries his first two seasons. So yes, they need a lot of help here - especially if new defensive coordinator James Bettcher wants to install elements of the 3-4 scheme he ran in Arizona here.
It's hard to know who would be a fit until Bettcher - who has yet to speak with the media -- reveals more about his plans. But since they need so many, bringing Kennard and Casillas back would seem like a must. If Goodson is healthy, that's a good start. From there they need young players who can develop. Again, the No. 2 pick is probably too high for a linebacker in this class, but history shows they can be found in later rounds.
Running back - Rebuilding the offensive line is far more important, because without holes to run through even the best running backs have trouble. Assuming the Giants fix that issue, though, their offense would be helped immensely by a talented, workhorse back. Nine of the 10 best rushing teams in the NFL last season made the playoffs. Six of the top eight rushers in the NFL made the playoffs, too.
Where can the Giants find one? Well, if they decide not to take a quarterback at No. 2, then Penn State's Saquon Barkley would be an easy solution. Before that, though, they'll have some opportunities in free agency. Assuming the Giants won't get in the crazy bidding for Le'Veon Bell (assuming he's even available), Carlos Hyde is available and he's been a strong runner for some terrible 49ers teams. Also, Shurmur saw up close in Minnesota what Jerick McKinnon can do in limited action. Pairing him with a re-signed Orleans Darkwa, with Paul Perkins in reserve could provide a potent running punch.
Defensive line - They have a terrific front four with Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul outside and Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson inside. In fact, that foursome would rank among the best in the league based on talent and potential. They've been overused in recent years, though, and the Giants desperately need some depth.
Gettleman considers this issue as important as the offensive line, and while he's unlikely to dive into the deep end of this free agent pool, don't be shocked to see a big lineman grabbed in the first three rounds of the draft. Whether it's an end or a tackle again depends on the type of defense Bettcher chooses to run.
Cornerback - On the surface, a threesome of Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple isn't bad. But all three were suspended for conduct detrimental to the team last season, all three battled injuries, and any of the three could be gone before next season (for a variety of reasons). So if they choose to make Jenkins or DRC a cap casualty, or if they choose to dump Apple and his attitude issues on someone else, they'll need reinforcements.
The best guess is they'll lose one of them - DRC seems the most vulnerable, especially if he won't take a pay cut. The Giants probably won't get involved in the bidding war for Malcolm Butler. Bringing back the solid, but unspectacular Ross Cockrell isn't a terrible idea. They can also wait out the market and see if the price drops for a veteran like Patrick Robinson.
Receiver - If Odell Beckham is healthy enough to be his old self, then the Giants are off to a great start here with him and Sterling Shepard. But who's the No. 3? That's why they signed Brandon Marshall last season, but that didn't work out. Roger Lewis hasn't developed into a reliable threat and neither has anyone else.
What the Giants need is a big target on the outside to draw some attention away. Forget the big names on the market. They're not going to spend big on a Jarvis Landry or Allen Robinson when they're about to spend really big on Beckham. Considering even Terrelle Pryor might spark a bidding war, free agency could be expensive. Maybe convincing Marshall to take a pay cut is the way to go. If not, his old Jets teammate, Eric Decker, did have 54 catches for the Titans last year.