New York Giants NFL

Evaluating the Giants roster improvement post free-agency

Folks, it’s been a while since I typed up a blog but all of this social distancing has me feeling like I want to be productive in what has been a very unproductive and difficult period in my life. People always say that I’m unfair in my criticism of the New York Giants and that my hate for Dave Gettleman is irrational.

Do you know what I hate more than Dave Gettleman? The coronavirus. Would an irrational person hate Dave Gettleman more than the coronavirus? Yes, so clearly my hate for him is extremely rational and based purely on his terrible football decisions.

When it’s all said and done, the coronavirus is worse than Gettleman’s poor free agency record and lack of positional value knowledge. It’s destroying the economy, it’s ruined the Olympics, March Madness, the UEFA Euros, and worst of all people are dying. Lives have been flipped upside down and that’s incredibly sad. So if you’re a Giants fan who doesn’t like what I have to say about Dave Gettleman then please remember that my hate for him isn’t personal, it’s purely business. There’s a lot worse things that are happening in the world right now than my football takes that you may not like.

Here’s a take that a lot of Giants fans won’t like: Our roster isn’t much better after free agency. We didn’t make any big splashes (Ngakoue, Clowney, Byron Jones, etc..) and somehow some of our weakest units didn’t get any better. Now I know that we still have a draft where we can fill some holes but keep in mind that the Giants only have 3 picks in the top 100 and that it should have been 4. Dave Gettleman traded away pick #68 for Leonard Williams which is an abomination. I’ll go through position by position and judge how each position has gotten better (or worse).

Quarterbacks: Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Alex Tanney

When it comes down to it, the only person who matters here is Daniel Jones. If he grows this year and stays healthy then it’s clear that we have a franchise quarterback. Yes, we signed Colt McCoy as a backup but in an ideal world he never plays.

Verdict: No change

Running Backs: Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Jonathan Hilliman, Eli Penny (FB)

If you’re a Giants fan, you’ve gotta hope that Saquon Barkley is back to 100% and can play every single game next year. If he can’t, the Giants are still in a much better position than last year after signing Dion Lewis. Lewis can catch passes and block very well. He’s elusive and will be a nice change-of-pace from Saquon Barkley. In regards to Wayne Gallman, you won’t find many better depth running backs in the league than him. I personally think he could be a starter for a lot of teams and the Giants have never used him right.

Verdict: This unit is better

Wide Receivers: Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Corey Coleman, Cody Core

Yes, there are some more practice squad guys on this list but honestly they’re not relevant. This unit has remained virtually intact from last season to this season. There’s a solid three guys in Slayton, Shepard, and Tate and everyone else is there to contribute in case there are injuries and on special teams. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants used a mid-round pick on a receiver since this draft class is so deep.

Verdict: No change

Tight Ends: Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Garrett Dickerson, CJ Conrad

This is probably the most improved group on offense from the start of the 2019 season to now but it all hinges on the health of Evan Engram. It’s no secret that when Engram is healthy he’s a total game changer who is a mismatch for the linebackers who cover him. However, he can’t stay healthy and he needs to or this coming season could be his last as a Giant.

The emergence of Kaden Smith as last season went on was great to see. He’s just 22 years old and he had 31 catches for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns last year. He is a great compliment to Evan Engram and should be used heavily as Jason Garrett’s offense will use a lot of two tight end sets.

The signing of Levine Toilolo was another great one. He is an excellent blocker and his deal was team friendly. He will likely be an upgrade over Rhett Ellison. Garrett Dickerson and CJ Conrad will likely be fighting over one final roster spot.

Verdict: This unit is absolutely better

Offensive Line (Projected starters left to right listed first): Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley, Kevin Zeitler, Cam Fleming, Nick Gates, Jon Halapio, Chad Slade

LMAO! This unit is so bad. Dave Gettleman did virtually nothing to improve it aside from make a slight upgrade at right tackle by signing Cam Fleming and letting Mike Remmers walk. If the Giants don’t draft at least one tackle and a center then Daniel Jones is going to get killed by opposing pass rushers.

Verdict: An absolutely abysmal unit gets just slightly, and I mean extremely slightly, better

Edge Rushers: Lorenzo Carter, Kyler Fackrell, Oshane Ximenes, Fan from Section 112 Row 4

This bottom feeder unit went from bad (22nd in the league in sacks last year with just 36) to even worse!! Lorenzo Carter has shown that he struggles to shed blocks and would likely be better suited to play ILB. Oshane Ximenes is a project who showed some promise but may be the best player on this entire unit and his growth will be stunted by getting double teamed on every single pass rushing down.

New addition and waste of money Kyler Fackrell had one sack last year but don’t worry, Giants fans who drink the kool aid are quick to tell you that he had 10.5 sacks when our defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was his linebackers coach two years ago. Likely losing Markus Golden won’t be as big of a deal as people think because he was wildly inefficient but he was still the best edge rusher this team had and it’s not even close.

Verdict: A bad unit gets even worse and if we don’t get edge help in the draft then we’re in some deep, deep trouble

Defensive Line: Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, BJ Hill, RJ McIntosh, Chris Slayton, Austin Johnson

This unit is virtually unchanged from the 2019 season to now except for the fact that Leonard Williams is getting paid top 5 IDL money when he’s not a top 5 IDL or even close to that after he got the franchise tag. This horrible trade and subsequent contract extension also priced us out of getting a solid Edge Rusher in free agency like Dante Fowler, Jadeveon Clowney, or keeping Markus Golden who was much more important to this team.

The Giants also signed former Titans second round pick Austin Johnson to add to an already crowded defensive line. Could this mean that the Giants may look to move a guy like BJ Hill or Dalvin Tomlinson for draft capital? I’d say it’s unlikely but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Verdict: The least relevant position on defense remains strong but doesn’t improve or get worse

Interior Linebackers: Blake Martinez, Ryan Connelly, David Mayo, Josiah Tauaefa

It finally happened! The Giants got rid of Alec Ogletree who was a huge liability in pass coverage and replaced him with….Blake Martinez, who is a huge liability in pass coverage. The initial stats on Blake Martinez will show you that he’s a good run defender but he can’t cover against the pass at all. In fact, Martinez allowed an 83% completion percentage last year (62/74) to go along with 530 receiving yards against him and 2 touchdowns. Dave Gettleman replaced Alec Olgetree with Alec Ogletree+. It’s virtually identical to when he hired “four computer folks” to upgrade him from Windows 95 to Windows XP.

In regards to Ryan Connelly and David Mayo, they’ll likely be fighting for the third ILB position after Dave Gettleman takes Isaiah Simmons over fixing the offensive line or getting Edge Rushers at next month’s draft.

Verdict: Marginally better

Cornerbacks: James Bradberry, DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, Grant Haley, Julian Love (potential nickel CB but will likely play safety)

The biggest addition in this group is James Bradberry who is a solid player. With all of that being said, the Giants desperately need DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, or both to take the next step in 2020. You can’t just have one good cornerback on the team.

The other intriguing battle is the nickel cornerback battle. Grant Haley has held the position down for the past few seasons but quite frankly he’s not that impressive. Corey Ballentine struggled as a rookie. Could Julian Love be the answer at nickel cornerback? Potentially. I personally would love to see Love (no pun intended) play like Antrel Rolle used to play for us and play both safety and nickel corner.

Verdict: Should be better as long as the second year guys develop

Safeties: Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love, Sean Chandler, Nate Ebner, Dravon Askew-Henry

At the front end, this unit lost Antoine Bethea (which really wasn’t a loss) and Julian Love is expected to take his spot as the starter unless someone else is drafted. Love is still new to safety and may be in the mix to play nickel cornerback so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants use a mid-round pick on a safety to help bring in some competition.

Verdict: No change, higher upside if Julian Love develops

Special Teams: Riley Dixon (P), Aldrick Rosas (K), Colin Holba (LS), Drew Scott (LS)

The biggest loss in this group is long time long snapper Zak DeOssie who had been with the franchise since 2007. It appears that there will be a competition between Colin Holba and Drew Scott for the long snapper position this offseason. For what it’s worth, Holba replaced Zak DeOssie last season when he was placed on injured reserve.

Riley Dixon had a great year last year so one would assume that he should be the punter with no issues heading into 2020. That being said, Aldrick Rosas struggled last year. It wouldn’t shock me if the Giants brought in a kicker to training camp to challenge him this summer.

Verdict: Slightly worse after losing DeOssie but overall this unit should be fine

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