Archive for the ‘2007 Offseason’ Category

The Draft A Week Later

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Jerry Reese had two solid days in his first official draft as the Giants GM. Reese combined a nice blend of value picks (drafting the best available athlete) along with filling need. It’s all speculation at this point, as you really define how good a draft panned out two and three years down the line (maybe that’s why I waited a week to give my analysis). At the very least, you have to see the way these guys perform on the field and in an NFL training camp. But it’s always fun to evaluate, so away we go.
First round pick Aaron Ross was rated the third best CB in the draft, and when the Giants selected him at number 20, the other two had already been selected. While corner wasn’t one of my main areas of concern like many people, I liked the pick. Ross makes plays, hits, and for goodness sakes catches the ball!!!!! As a bonus, he is a return man and hopefully it will help solve the Giants woeful return game.
Second round pick Steve Smith certainly has the name to be a successful player. This was viewed as a solid pick by everyone. The word I keep hearing is “polished”. He comes from a big time program at USC and is projected as a third down receiver. Smith also gives the Giants insurance if Sinorice Moss doesn’t cut mustard, which while we believe he will, we need to see it on the field. Hopefully, both push each other for playing time and give Eli multiple options in the pass game. And ultimately you’d want one to become Amani Toomer’s successor in a few years.
Initially I was disappointed in third round pick Jay Alford. But after learning that Mathias Kiwanuka will move to linebacker full time in 2007 (more on that below), the pick makes much more sense. Alford has a great first step and makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. With Jason Tuck now the primary backup DE, the Giants needed someone who could be flexible enough to flip between end and tackle, and the Giants believe Alford can do that. He’ll need some more bulk but the Giants feel he has the natural moves to be a contributor.
Fourth rounder Zac DeOssie will help give depth to the LB’s, as he is able to play inside or out. DeOssie’s value went up at the Combine, and some said he was one of those guys who may impress more in workouts than actual production on the field. Still, he has the bloodline (dad Steve was a Giant), can long snap, and should be a special teams demon with his speed. Solid value pick at number four.

The Giants picked tight end Kevin Boss (Western Oregon) in the fifth. He has great size and terrific hands, but played against sub par competition. Sixth rounder OT Adam Koets (Oregon State) likewise is a project. Two seventh rounder proved interesting. Safety Michael Johnson (Arizona) could have went higher, has potential, and will have a shot at making the team. Ahmad Bradshaw (Marshall) is a third down type back who has some character issues.
Because the Giants already had Kiwi moving to LB, that position didn’t become such a primary concern. It’s an interesting move. He’s a number one pick who generally played well for a rookie, and the goal is to get your best players on the field. The Giants feel he is athletic enough to make the transition to a new position and it will certainly be one of the most scrutinized stories come training camp. I do like the move, and I also feel it will give Justin Tuck more of an opportunity to play next season, a fact that should not be overlooked. Again, the Giants want to get as many reps as they can for their better players.
So a solid weekend for the G-men. My only disappointment is not getting a better prospect at left tackle and a third down type back in the higher rounds, but you can’t get everything in one draft. I come away from the draft impressed and confident with Jerry Reese in charge of the Giants, just as I have been since he has taken over the post.

Draft Preview

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

A few thoughts about the draft: Only a small percentage of the players drafted actually start for their team when the NFL kicks off this September. Most will be backups and situational players, gradually working in more and more playing time as the season goes on. Some in fact, don’t play at all. It’s not easy being a rookie in the NFL. That being said, people tend to get overly excited about their team’s selections. Take the Giants for example. They were about as average as you can get last season, 8-8 and picking just about in the middle of the first round. How many positions can you name where a draft pick could start next year? I can only think of three: safety, corner, and outside linebacker. And corner, which is technically one of the more difficult positions, is probably a reach.  Every other position is entrenched with a pretty good player. Obviously that doesn’t mean the Giants will only pick at those positions. The draft is a way to build depth and secure future starters. This draft is important for the Giants to help build their roster three and four years down the line. The real key is how quickly you can get rookies to contribute in some capacity on the field and thus make your team better.

Okay, so here’s what the Giants won’t draft: a kicker, punter, a quarterback, or a defensive end. That’s my preview. Any other position is up for grabs. Again, that would seem to indicate the Giants have a weak roster. Quite the contrary. I believe the Giants have good players. Their line play on both sides of the trenches is pretty darn good and they have playmakers at the premium positions on the offensive side of the ball.

This team’s weakness right now is defense. The defensive line could use another tackle who can contribute (there’s that word again) and an athletic linebacker. Same deal at safety and corner. But I wouldn’t mind seeing the Giants draft a wide receiver if that was the best player available. That’s the key. Don’t reach for a player based on need; take the best available athlete. Since the draft is a building ground for future years, taking the best player is in my opinion the best draft philosophy.

This draft is interesting because I believe, between picks 20 through 35, you are going to get a comparable player. That would make a good case for the Giants trading down, and acquiring an additional pick(s) in say round three or four. 

Finally, for posterity, I do want to throw out three names that I’d love to see the Giants take with their first rounder. If they do indeed trade down, I like  Penn State LB Paul Posluszny. If they stay at #20, LSU wide receiver Dwayne Bowe or Pitt corner Darrelle Revis would be great additions. 

Wright Move?

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I’ve been pushing for the Giants to sign another quarterback as insurance if Eli gets hurt. But is signing eight year vet Anthony Wright the way to go? Everyone loves Jared Lorenzen, that Hefty Lefty, but anyone who thinks he’ll step in and run the offense is just kidding themselves. Don’t be fooled by preseason. Tim Hasselbeck has some experience and leadership qualities, but clearly lacks the physical skills for anything long term. While the Giants have recongnized they need a backup QB, I’m not sure they have accomplished it with this signing.

It’s a tough call, really. He has thrown twice as many passes in real games compared to Hasselbeck. And that means he has much more experience than Lorenzen. Hell, he has even started an NFL playoff game for the Ravens.

My feeling is Wright will have to make the roster in training camp, with three guys competing for two spots.

Free Agency Review

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Back on February 25 I gave my free agency preview and promised a review before the draft. And delivers…

Okay so I can toot my own horn. The Giants handled free agency perfectly.  How you ask? They followed my suggestions almost to a “T”.

The lone exception was not re-upping kicker Jay Feely. Letting Feely go could be a mistake. Since that terribly frustrating Seattle game from 2005, where he missed three potential game winners, I never had the same confidence in Feely whenever he lined up for a kick. Still, over two seasons he hit 84% of his attempts.  Furthermore, in an upcoming season where the Giants could be in some tight games, a kicker can make all the difference.

The Giants then signed LB Kawika Mitchell, who I thought would be the best bang for their buck in a not-so-hot free agent field. If you read this blog (someone, anyone?) you know what I think about this move. Well done Jerry Reese.

Now there is even talk of signing a veteran backup QB, namely Jay Fiedler. The Giants need someone to be able to step in if Eli gets injured.

The one move I didn’t see coming was the trade that brought Rueben Droughns from Cleveland for a player who wasn’t going to make the team this year, WR Tim Carter. The Giants were extremely dissapointed in Carter, not stepping up last year when they needed him. Droughns will provide insurance in case Brandon Jacobs struggles in a starting role or is injured. He’ll also be a seven-10 carry relief pitcher. I still feel the Giants need a Dave Meggett-type, and hopefully they’ll look for one in the draft. A third-down back who can also double on kicks and punts.

Since free agency wasn’t anything to shake a stick at (and why no one should be predicting doom and gloom at this point), the draft does prove very important for the G-Men to replenish their roster with young talent. It will be Reese’s first draft as the top guy. I’m working on my preview and will have it in about a week.

Giants Sign Mitchell!!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

And you ask why my excitment? I pushed for this guy back before free agency even started.

This is a real nice move by Jerry Reese. He gets a fairly young LB (at 27) with some upside. Kawika Mitchell took a one year deal for just $1 million (more on that later) which works for both sides. If Mitchell excels halfway thru the season, both parties can think about an extension. If he bombs, the Giants aren’t on the hook for anything. And the Giants get a productive player who doesn’t miss games. The plan is probably to move him to either strong side or weak side with Pierce staying in the middle.

Now some odd things about this. How can the Giants get a player like Mitchell (productive, not great) for such a bargain price? When you see average players (case study: Visanthe Shiancoe) getting huge money from other teams, I had to really doubt the reports that Mitchell was going to sign for this. Then I read today that Mitchell hadn’t even met Tom Coughlin or DC Steve Spagnuolo yet. Not the usual signing procedure by either party. Still, I really like this move.

So right now the Giants will line up Gerris Wilkinson (last year’s number three pick), Pierce, and Mitchell. That versus Emmons, Pierce, and Arrington. The latter might seem more imposing, but only when healthy. And that’s the trap the Giants fell into last year. I believe they’ll be better off in 2007.

Giants Turn Away Broncos’ Wilson

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

This past Friday, it was hot news that the Giants were about to acquire MLB Al Wilson from the Denver Broncos. There were various rumors about what the trade involved, but getting Wilson would have given the linebacking corp a shot in the arm. Unfortunately, Wilson reportedly failed a physical and that ended any hope of a deal for the five time Pro Bowler.

This exercise proved very interesting to me. GM Jerry Reese let go Arrington, Emmons, and Petitgout due to the fact these players were injury prone. I think its common knowledge that team physicals are very subjective. If a team wants a player enough, he’ll pass the physical. Take Arrington. The guy passed his, but couldn’t even practice come training camp. He was a china doll waiting to break. I think this is where Reese’s leadership is showing. I am almost sure that if Acorsi was the GM, Wilson would be a Giant.

The last thing I want to see is the Giants acquiring another player past his prime and being released a season later. Perhaps Reese is on to something. Let the young guys (Wilkinson, Torbor, etc.) finally get a chance instead of being blocked by veteran stopgaps. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get a player via trade or free agency that can help, by all means do it. But no stogaps, please.

Offer Sheet To Vonta Leach

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

The Giants have extended an offer to fullback Vonta Leach, who played with Houston last year. Leach is a restricted free agent, but if the Houston does not match, the Giants will not owe any compensation due to the fact Leach was undrafted and offered the league minimum by Houston.

It’s an interesting move. Fullback wasn’t one of the areas I pegged as a need area, and you’d have to figure Jim Finn did a decent job of blocking over the past three years – the Giants’ rushing attack as been among the best in the league. But surfing around the Net today I kept getting the same impression: Leach is a very, very physical player, and perhaps this is what the Giants are looking for.  One thing is for sure, the Giants will get younger: Leach is just 25, Finn checks in at 30. If Leach does indeed sign with us, it would almost certainly end Finn’s career as a Giant. No way will the Giants carry two fullbacks on next year’s roster. Interesting note: Leach started as a linebacker in the pros, before moving to fullback. Keep Finn and move Leach to LB……nahhhhhh. 

This signing is on the heels of the revelation that the Giants did not exactly have as much cap room as initially reported. The cap is still a big mystery to me, and apparently everyone else. $20 million was the initial number when free agency started and now we find out it was more like $10 million, further reduced to around $7 million by tendered contracts to our own restricted FA’s. Not to mention the money needed to sign those guys called draft picks come April.

Droughns Acquired By Giants

Friday, March 9th, 2007

The Giants made their first significant move of the 2007 offeason by acquring the 28-year old Reuben Droughns from Cleveland for the dissapointing, enigmatic, and injury prone Tim Carter.

The move provides a veteran presence to the running back position and insurance in case BJ doesn’t adjust to his anticipated bigger role in the offense. I was hoping for a back more in the Tiki mold; Droughns is more like Jacobs…a banger. But as we know, Jacobs can also take it the distance and I’ve read Droughns can accelerate once he gets into that second tier. Droughns also has good hands and can help in the passing game. His worst year was last season, so let’s hope it was just the culture and not a sign of diminishing returns.

Was this better than getting Dominic Rhodes, who went to the Raiders? Droughns is signed for three years and comes in this year at almost $2 mil less than Rhodes.  I checked out Rhodes stats on over his entire career. Droughns to me has been a better individual performer, but hasn’t played on a team as successful as the Colts. Consequently, I think Rhodes is preceived the better back. I think they are pretty close. Hell, they both even have been DWI’d in the last year.

I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants nab a “scat back” sometime on draft day, even on the second day. 

Schwartz On The Giants

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Paul Schwartz, who covers the Jints for the New York Post, was on the WFAN morning show talking about the G-Men:

The Giants and Jerry Reese are through with players past their prime years and/or injury prone. See Arrington, Emmons, and Barret Green in particular.

They cut loose Petitgout, due to make $5 mil this year, without even trying to renegotiate first.

David Diehl was the fallback plan at left tackle at the time of Luke’s release. The Giants wanted to sign someone. Guy Whimper, the current backup tackle, made the team last year only because he was a backup. My thoughts: I believe it. As I remember, he played a few positions in his college career and was/is a project. And thank God the Cowboys got to Leonard Davis with their bag of loot before he visited the Giants. They wayyyy over paid for him.

Schwartz (like myself) thinks the Giants need a veteran backup QB. He says the Giants think Manning doesn’t need the mentoring type, but I want a vet in case Manning gets injured.

Finally, he predicted (facetiously) the Giants will sign someone…..

Feely’s A Fish

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

I mean that, literally. He signed today with the Miami Dolphins.

 So the Giants let an experienced kicker go, who made 84% of his kicks over two seasons. What I’ve been reading around the ‘Net is pretty consistent. Feely isn’t the best kicker going, but the Giants have now exposed another position on their roster that needs attention. Are we really confident in rookie kicker Josh Huston? In that Meadowlands wind?

Wide receiver Kevin Curtis of the Rams was in yesterday.  He’ll be 29 by mid-summer and has five years of NFL experience. Looks mainly like a 3rd or 4th receiver (can you say goodbye Tim Carter if he signs?).  He fired his agent on Monday so he can’t sign a contract for five days.

By the way, Lance Briggs, franchised by the Bears, wants to be traded. Translation: he is pissed about being tagged and forced to settle for a one-year contract. I really can’t see any type of deal being worked out where the Giants could acquire him. I have a feeling Jerry Reese is going to be from the George Young School of GM’ing: hold onto draft choices like they’re gold (and not giving a damn what anyone thinks).