The New York Giants started at the official beginning of the NFL season with $56.6 million in cap space to revamp an injury-prone and ineffective roster that caused the demise of Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin. Given the state of the roster over the past several years, it certainly appears that Big Blue places a higher value of certain positions like defensive end and defensive tackle than it does on safety and linebacker. In addition, on offense, the team has utilized a running back by committee formula for several years now, and it has not had a featured back since Tiki Barber retired in 2006.
According to a report by N.J. Advance Media on March 22, 2016, the Giants still have $24.8 million in salary cap space left after signing Jenoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison, as well as restructuring Victor Cruz’s contract. The trio will combine for almost $28 million in salary in 2016, which represents an effort to immediately upgrade the defense. Offensively, after releasing both Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz, the G-Men still find themselves with holdovers John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse anchoring the right side of the offensive line.
The Giants kicked the tires on Russell Okung and Donald Penn in free agency, but decided against signing either of the veteran tackles. And even though Schwartz was injury-prone in his two seasons with the team, he was productive when in the line-up. In retrospect, the Schwartz release may have freed up some cap space, but it also downgraded the roster in a key area that has not yet been rectified.
As for the defensive line, even after resigning Jason Pierre-Paul and signing Vernon to big contracts, several mock drafts having Jerry Reese and company selecting another defensive end Shaq Lawson (Clemson) with the tenth overall selection. Other prognosticators have offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame) penciled into the slot, which would certainly fulfill a positional need.
Keep in mind that this draft is not nearly as deep as the previous two, so top rung talent, at almost every position, runs much thinner than we have seen recently. As always, the selection of quarterbacks, in this case Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, will go a long way to determining the configuration of the top ten, so the Giants must remain nimble in their approach.
The Giants often opine that they always take the best available talent, a pledge that seems hollow given the selection of Ereck Flowers last spring, but in this case, they ought to walk that talk.
A dearth of dynamic talent exists in this draft, and one player, Myles Jack, remains a mystery due to a knee injury suffered before last season even started. Jack then withdrew from UCLA to rehab his injury in Arizona, making his draft status fluid this year. Another physically gifted player is defensive end Joey Bosa (Ohio State), who will likely be off the board by the time the Giants select.
Key an eye on Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd, who measures 6-6 and weighs 244 lbs. Floyd ran the forty yard dash at 4.6 seconds at the NFL Combine, and he has a 39.5 inch vertical leap. He would be the first linebacker selected in the first round by the G-Men, since Carl Banks (Michigan State) in 1983.
Offensively, the addition of another high-level talented player to complement Odell Beckham could pay immediate dividends for the Giants, as running back Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State) and Mississippi receiver Laquon Treadwell could be there for the taking with the tenth selection.
Treadwell is the favored pick of Eric Galko of the Sporting News in his latest mock draft on March 21, 2016. Treadwell would give quarterback Eli Manning a legitimate red zone target, especially after four years of the inconsistent Rueben Randle, who will likely be departing the confines of MetLife Stadium this off season. “A strong short-area and jump-ball receiver, Treadwell can force extra attention from defensive backs thanks to his finishing ability, which would allow more room for Beckham to work vertically,” Galko wrote.
Zeke Elliott is a big, physical runner (6-0, 225 lbs.) who also ran a 4.47 forty-yard dash at the combine, but would have to shoe horn into a crowded backfield situation. According to Galko, “Elliott offers tremendous running upside, but his contributions as a pass-catcher and pass-blocker should make him coveted by the 49ers, Eagles and Giants, each of whom could use a plug-and-play, three-down running back to be the catalyst of their offense.”