The New York Giants were awful in 2013. They got off to a wretched 0-6 start, and while they stormed back in a run against some other bad teams, they still finished below .500 and missed out on the playoffs. Big Blue suffered from poor offensive line play, awful play out of Eli Manning, as well as inconsistency throughout their roster.
Looking on the bright side, however, the G-Men still play in the weak NFC East and still do have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. With a solid showing in free agency, the Giants seem to have repaired a shaky secondary and could be ready for a big bounce back in 2013. With that said, they’re not done getting better just yet. Let’s take a closer look at their key remaining needs as we continue to prep for the 2014 NFL Draft:
Offensive needs: TE, RB, OL
The Giants don’t really need to concentrate on any one area on the offensive line other than maybe center, but overall they could use some extra talent for depth and competition. They’ve brought in some nice talent during free agency to help them get better already, and if Arkansas center Travis Swanson can somehow slide to them in round two or three, that could be the icing on the cake.
With the offensive line playing better, Eli Manning should have more time to make better decisions. That should improve his rapport with Victor Cruz and his other weapons in the passing game. You could argue the Giants need more help through the air, but Reuben Randle looks like their number two guy, while Jerrel Jernigan and Mario Manningham provide pretty solid depth. If they really want to, they can grab a receiver with some upside late in the draft.
Beyond that, the biggest needs on offense are easily at tight end and running back. Brandon Myers is gone and he probably needed to be upgraded upon, regardless. All the G-Men have right now is Adrien Robinson, and that just isn’t acceptable. Even if they like Robinson’s athleticism (and apparently they do), he has an injury history and he’s unproven. They could add a stud tight end as early as round one, where both Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins should be readily available. Troy Niklas of Notre Dame could be a guy they pluck off the board in round two or three, as well.
Running back is a different beast, as Andre Brown is now a Texan, free agent signing Rashad Jennings is 29, Peyton Hillis is a plodder and David Wilson (neck) is unreliable as hell. Needless to say, it’s entirely possibly the Giants start over once again in their backfield. Even if they love their current crop of backs, it’d be silly not to add more talent. I highly doubt they splurge in round one, but they could go after someone like Tre Mason or Ka’Deem Carey as early as round two.
Defensive needs: DT, DE, OLB
Linval Joseph was awesome on the inside of New York’s defensive line, and he’s now gone. His exit could simply open the door for Johnathan Jenkins to prove himself (and he certainly could), while their overall depth inside isn’t all that bad. However, they’d be mostly relying on aging veterans like Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, or they could thin out with Jenkins possibly having to see time on the outside because of needs at defensive end. This all translates into a pretty big need at defensive tackle. Pick your favorite defensive tackle and cross your fingers, as any of the top interior defensive linemen could be real options in the first round. That includes Aaron Donald, Ra’Shede Hageman and several others.
The aforementioned defensive end position could also be an issue for several reasons. For one, having Jenkins on the outside just doesn’t make the pass rush very formidable. More importantly, Justin Tuck bolted for Oakland, Jason Pierre-Paul has been a bit of a sack and Damontre Moore is talented but unproven. The Giants need another pass-rusher. They do have more talented bodies here than at defensive tackle, though, so it’s unlikely they go here first in round one. Round two is more likely, where guys like Dee Ford, Trent Murphy and Jeremiah Attaochu could be waiting to hear their name called. Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence is another guy who appears to be rising up boards that could be worth a look in round two and possibly even round three.
Outside linebacker is another area of concern, as Spencer Paysinger can be upgraded upon and recently signed Jameel McClain isn’t a long-term answer. The Giants may not need someone for 2014 necessarily, but they need to look to the future. Someone like Wisconsin’s Chris Borland could be added to push Jon Beason outside, or they could simply grab a guy like Ryan Shazier. Shazier is a potential first round pick, though, so he could be harder to nab.
Overall, the Giants are a lot better than they played in 2013. Eli Manning should be much more efficient in a more versatile offensive system (Kevin Gilbride grew predictable and boring), while the Giants really shored up their secondary and should be much stingier on defense. As long as they grab a pass rusher and round out the team with solid depth, they should be right back in the mix for the division in 2014.
*Photo credit – Mike Morbeck via Wiki Commons.