2016 New York Football Giants Season Recap/2017 NFL Draft Outlook


2016 New York Football Giants Season Recap/2017 NFL Draft Outlook
M.D. Wright
1.14.2017

Now that the deadline has passed  (January 16, 2017) for college underclassmen who are draft eligible to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft, we will do something of a combination article with regards to the full assessment of the 2016 season for the New York Football Giants and look ahead at team needs heading into the 2017 NFL Draft and which positions may be upgraded through free agent, as well.

We’re not going to nitpick and beat dead horses, but just go position group by position group as well as grade the coaching, while pointing out the areas of highest need via the Draft and Free Agency. There is plenty of time to gripe about what was and wasn’t in 2016, but in reality, excluding the defense, which was as good as it was expected to be, tempered expectations should have been the rule entering the season. This team was still a year away from having the type of personnel on the offensive side of the football to achieve its ultimate goals, and an 11-5 season, no matter the disappointment which concluded the campaign, gave the team something to build upon. It certainly beats the completely rudderless ship that was the team at the end of the 2015 season. With that, we’ll move into the assessment.

FRONT OFFICE.
General Manager: Jerry Reese.
Reese finds himself in the midst of a good bit of criticism in recent years due to the team’s four straight missed playoff seasons, and an early exit in 2016, but much of the criticism is off-base (we won’t address it here) and overblown, while the several positives that have been done since 2014 are merely alluded to as footnotes while detractors highlight the moves that are disagreed with. As it is, the team secure the services of Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison, while retaining Jason Pierre-Paul, who was coming off a 2015 season where he could have been franchise tagged.

However, the Giants went from scoring nearly 27 PPG in 2015 to barely 20 PPG in 2016, despite a couple of upgrades in personnel prior to the season. It was a baffling campaign, and one that the front office will look to improve upon heading into the 2017 season.

COACHING.
Head Coach: Ben McAdoo.
McAdoo was in his rookie season as a head coach in the NFL, and the reviews on his initial campaign are mixed. While the Giants obviously improved upon their all-time franchise worst defensive showing in 2015 — anything would have been an improvement — the offense took just as many steps back, and some of the reasons are still confounding. Some will point to the offensive line, receivers, running back, even the quarterback, but there was no sole culprit; just a myriad of things that precluded the team from realizing its fullest abilities offensively. There were questions entering the season whether McAdoo or offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan would call plays, and, after a few weeks of fielding questions on the subject, McAdoo flatly ceased to address the matter thereafter. It was a Grassy Knoll situation; everyone wanted to know who called the plays so they could know upon whom they could direct their ire. Most of us believed it was McAdoo, but at this point, who cares? The rookie head coach appeared to be in over his head at several junctures, while also infusing the team with confidence that he would “go for it” on 4th downs. Some of the aggression was ill-conceived and cost the Giants in a couple of games. Sometimes, it was warranted and did not come. But the biggest issue with the Giants was offensive inconsistency and play calling, and it is to be expected from a rookie head coach who may or may not have also maintained play calling from his offensive coordinator days.

PERSONNEL.
OFFENSE.
Quarterbacks.
Eli Manning does not miss games, so this section is solely about him. Manning is what he is; a 36-year old quarterback who has never been mistaken as a “runner” or even “mobile” beyond being able to move around the pocket or occasionally flush when necessary. In recent seasons, however, the more that Manning flushes, the less frequently something comes from it. These are not designed flushes, but errors in pass protection from the offensive line, or missed blocking assignment by whichever running back was in the backfield at the time. Overall, Manning’s numbers were solid, (4,027 pass yards, 26 TD, 16 INT, 86 rating) although he can no longer blame his interception totals on Rueben Randle. Most of them were not tipped balls or wrong routes, but forced throws that should have never been made on maybe seven or eight of the 16 INT. There was a time when Manning would have INTs either on the aforementioned scenarios (and it wasn’t always Randle or any of the receivers’ fault, but MOSTLY) and taking shots downfield. Many of Manning’s INTs in 2016 came on short and intermediate throws that flummoxed even former NFL players when watching replays. In season 13. He’s not “declining,” but with a pocket quarterback, the offensive line and backs must be above average and not pedestrian to subpar, which some members of the offensive line and running back group indeed are. Couple that with McAdoo’s offensive philosophy and things really must be on point or it will be disjointed as the Giants offense was all season (and McAdoo’s former team, Green Bay’s was, before they went on their late season winning streak).

Running Backs.
Rashad Jennings is a great human being, but he’s seen his best days as an NFL running back. He obviously watches tons of film, because 2016 featured him taking parts of games from several players: ranging from end-career Thomas Jones, who constant ran blindly up the backs of his offensive linemen while missing holes, to thinking he is Le’Veon Bell with the bunny hop, skip and go style behind the line, while missing holes, to tip toeing like the Kissing Bandit on The Flintstones behind the line of scrimmage, while… yes… missing holes. It’s on film. At 6’1″ 230 lbs, relatively upright as a runner, lacking top end speed or shiftiness, those three things area  death knell to a RB. Paul Perkins immediately came in and played better behind the same line. The Giants should have gone to Perkins sooner. Not even the typical concerns about pass protection were legitimate worries for Perkins, as he had excelled at every phase of the position during his college years, as well.

Perkins has the quicker feet, shiftiness, vision and explosive play ability that Jennings obviously does not. He isn’t quite the feature back the Giants need, though. And they’re probably fine with this, as you really need two running backs to be optimal rather than running one back 350+ times and limiting his or any other back’s effectiveness due to lack of repetitions. Perkins will obviously have a larger role in 2017 and beyond, and one has to wonder how much of a role Orleans Darkwa will have beyond special teams, as we will discuss later where the Giants should be looking to shore up the RB group.

Bobby Rainey had just as many egregious gaffes as he had positive plays as a Giant. He should be shown the door as soon as possible.

Offensive Line.
Ereck Flowers badly regressed in 2016. While he played left tackle in college, he was never playing against the best of players — excluding match ups against Florida State — against whom he predictably struggled for the most part. His footwork has been sloppy since Pat Flaherty (former Giants offensive line coach, relieved of duties following the dismissal of head coach Tom Coughlin in January 2016) left, his handiwork is either awful or non-existent, he gets in over his hips — an absolute no-no for offensive linemen; particularly tackles facing speed rushers on most QBs’ blind side — and his shoddy technique lends to penalties and pressures at a higher rate than any left tackle in the NFL. The penalties are one thing, as officials pick and choose who they call penalties for the exact same things, depending on reputation. However, if Flowers were solid in his technique, he still would not yield the pressures or get flagged at half the rate that he did in 2016. The Giants need to decide whether he is cut out for the position. He has the size and mobility to pull it off, but along with concerns about his fitness level, does he have the desire to maximize his potential as a premier left tackle? If not, you cannot even put him at right tackle, and he may be too tall to play guard. The Giants have questions to answer here, and there are no more than three franchise left tackles in the 2017 Draft (none will be available when the Giants pick at #23 overall). If they want Eli Manning to finish his current contract in one piece, they better figure it out before the 2017 season commences.

Justin Pugh was once rated #1 among left guards before he was injured midseason. The team really missed him during his several games absence, and began running the football better behind he and Flowers (who is at the very least, good at road grading). He is versatile enough to move anywhere else on the line in a pinch if need be, but has found his home at left guard and is the least of the Giants’ concerns on a shaky (but not nearly as bad as talking heads and alarmist fans think) offensive line.

Weston Richburg proved to be a solid 2nd Round pick, and has anchored the middle of the offensive line, while remaining healthy, which is key.

John Jerry’s contract expires this offseason, and at right guard, the Giants will have questions. Does Jerry want to return? Do the Giants want him back? If they do not want him back, do they move Bobby Hart inside at right guard, or Flowers? Same for the right tackle position? There aren’t any game-changing offensive linemen who will actually hit (read: Riley Reiff and Earl Watford) the market, so the Giants may be wise to move Flowers or Hart to right guard and right tackle respectively, and if there is a role for Will Beatty on this team in 2016, it could be at one of the tackle positions, but this is a long shot.

Marshall Newhouse wasn’t quite the turnstile later in the season that he had been in 2015 and early in the 2016 season, but he is not the answer at right tackle, either. If the Giants have any aspirations to build upon their 11-5 season in 2016, they need to get these bookend tackle and right guard questions answered before OTAs.

Tight Ends.
Larry Donnell should be a goner, without really going into detail about his game.

Jerrell Adams has promise as a potential starting tight end, but he is still raw. The Giants have his services and those of Will Tye on the cheap, but they would still be doing themselves favors by looking to bring back Martellus Bennett (who obviously does not know how Bill Belichick does business if he thinks he’s getting the money or term that he wants from New England this offseason). There are also a plethora of highly skilled and athletic tight ends entering the 2017 NFL Draft.

Wide Receivers.
This section will be quite frank in discussion, because there are some things that must be said about this corps that many fans won’t admit to themselves.

For starters, the Giants don’t have a bona fide possession receiver; particularly one with size. This does not include in-line tight ends, but a true zone beater who can find the soft spot of a zone, sit down, box out if need be, and also command bracketed coverage on the outside and still beat it with size and strength. Given that the Giants run an offense that virtually (well, the intent is, obviously Manning is not Aaron Rodgers) mirrors that which Green Bay employs, a Jordy Nelson type player is one that is missing from the Giants receiving corps. They had hoped that Rueben Randle would have been that guy when they drafted him, but that obviously did not pan out.

Everyone was glad that Victor Cruz was healed from his severe injuries and was cleared to play, but it was evident early on in his career that he was better suited to play in the slot and could not hold up outside with consistent effectiveness, and this was part of the reason the Giants offense stalled all season. Kudos for Cruz and his determination to return, but he’s clearly lost a step with explosiveness, speed and quick cutting motions. Most guys never return from that type of injury, but this is the reality that is the National Football League, and considering how much the Giants need to utilize Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham in the slot to create match ups, they need the big bodied possession receiver (but also preferably one who can run downfield, however infrequently such a receiver comes along) to open up the field when teams rely upon zones and trap coverages to confuse Manning when he gets into “force it to Odell” mode. Cruz is not that guy when he’s outside, although he battled on the outside and came up with some great catches on 50/50 balls at times in 2016.

Sterling Shepard was a known quantity in college and showed flashes of what he could be when he has room to roam in the slot, which he will likely be as the primary guy in 2017 and beyond. He had a fantastic statistical season as it was (65 catches, 683 yards and 8 TD) while receiving about one-third of the targets that Beckham received. He is a top tier route runner, an understanding of the nuances that come with operating out of the slot, and is quick and shifty as the best slot receivers typically are. Once the Giants have their big bodied receiver on the outside, Shepard and Beckham will really be what some thought the trio of Beckham-Cruz-Shepard was going to be entering the season. Too many fans expected 30 points per game with an explosive, unstoppable passing game, and when it never consistently materialized (take away Beckham’s solo efforts after catches and it never materialized period), the ranting began. However, none of these receivers are taller than 5’11” or weigh more than 200 lbs. With the philosophy of the offense placing an onus on the receivers to “win” every route or the play dissolves due to the lack of running ability by Manning, the Giants were too predictable to defenses, particularly when they (allegedly) tipped routes, failed to beat press, and obviously struggled to run the football, which enabled teams to play tons of 2-man and deep-thirds coverage, making finding receivers for completions a literal maze for Manning. The offensive line opening up rush lanes for running backs typically will bring a safety (or both) down into the box from many defenses, and the Giants rarely forced teams to do this. Even when teams blitzed, it wasn’t in response to the run game, but to harass Manning before he had a chance to pick apart whatever looks they were in. Giants fans will hate to admit it, but the Giants need the type of offensive line play (with similar leniency from officials that Dallas gets) and a game-changing running back in order to get what they want out of the passing game — and what some fans foolishly expected entering 2016. Until then, it will be like beating one’s head against the wall hoping and expecting for magical play calls to take the team out of its doldrums.

Tavarres King has promise, probably more so than Roger “Otto” Lewis, and Dwayne Harris (who will be 30 this upcoming season, and barely saw the field as a receiver, while having a mostly awful showing as a punt and kickoff returner, regardless of his Pro Bowl vote), although all three will likely be on the team next season, do not be surprised if Harris is cut now that his guarantees have been paid. His cap hit will exceed $4 Million after 2017, after virtually an entire season of not playing wide receiver, and his dead cap numbers are not prohibitive. Not calling for it necessarily, but do not be surprised of he is waived.

DEFENSE.
Defensive Line.
This unit was a veritable sieve in 2015, between injuries to Jason Pierre-Paul, Johnathan Hankins and Robert Ayers being in and out of the lineup all season, so any upgrade was going to be an improvement. As it were, prior to Pierre-Paul’s (in retrospect) season-ending injury in Pittsburgh, the Giants put together an immovable run-stuffing duo at defensive tackle with Hankins and Damon “Snacks” Harrison, while employing two top tier pass rushers who doubled as two of the top five run stuffing defensive ends in Vernon and Pierre-Paul. It was the chief reason the Giants went on a season-defining six-game winning streak and were stout overall; particularly once the unit gelled after Week 5 when sacks and pressures increased in exponential fashion. There is some question whether Pierre-Paul will sign a long-term deal with the Giants and for how much money (considering Vernon’s historical $80M+ contract over five years just last offseason), but the Giants have the cap space to pay him and one or two top free agents that they (should be) looking at. This unit isn’t a concern going forward, although Pierre-Paul’s departure would be noticeable, it would not cripple the team moving forward. Here’s to hoping he stays and plays his entire career with the Giants.

Hankins played very well, even if overshadowed by Harrison in the media’s eyes. Jay Bromley also emerged with increased reps in relief of either or both in injury situations and subpackages. Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn and Owamagbe Odighizuwa played well in their respective roles, as well.

Linebackers.
This is where the team needs to seriously address the personnel with a top tier player. This is not to shade any of the guys who played any of the three slots this season, because they gave it their all, but teams must have at least one linebacker who can attempt to cover opposing tight ends; which was the lone shortcoming of the Giants defense in 2016 (defending screen passes, which are primarily a linebacker responsibility, as well). Kelvin Sheppard is a serviceable player, but not starting material. Jonathan Casillas has worked himself into a reliable starter, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 now. Keenan Robinson managed to — for the most part — stay healthy in 2016, something he’s never really done, even dating back to University of Texas, and played the best of the linebackers in coverage, while all excelled in flowing to the ball in run support. But the coverage deficiencies against tight ends and screen passes to running backs were the things that gave this defense fits. Some of those glaring issues were covered up by the All Pro efforts of Landon Collins, but there is room for improvement here, and plenty of linebackers with which to choose from between the draft and free agency. If the Giants do not upgrade this position group this offseason, they won’t win anything of note in 2017, either. It is too easy for the better teams in the league to exploit a unit with obvious shortcomings with the types of tight ends that most of the aforementioned types of teams employ in the passing game. There is literally no excuse for the team to not have a fast, rangy, coverage-responsible linebacker on the field in 2017. There will be that many available.

Devon Kennard had a fine season, and this discussion is not about him. BJ Goodson played almost exclusively on special teams, and the team hopes he can become a starter in the near future. J.T. Thomas’ time with the Giants is likely over. Eric Pinkins is an interesting specimen. For one, he can flat out fly. Is he one of those Telvin Smith types, or is he better suited to play free safety? Or both? He hasn’t really played much in the NFL, but there is one thing that he has that none of the other linebackers have: speed. to. burn. Mark Herzlich is exclusively a special teamer and spot player at this stage of his career.

Secondary.
The Giants secondary was arguably the best in the league (albeit de facto once Earl Thomas was lost to injury for Seattle) in 2016, and that’s with a rookie playing at arguably the most important position in the secondary for most of the season — Andrew Adams at free safety. By most metrics, Janoris Jenkins (who was often criticized in this space, mostly due to being a former University of Florida player and a noted gambler on the field in St. Louis) was rated the best cornerback in the NFL in 2016, and earned what he was paid. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is often overlooked by the talking heads when discussing the Giants defense, proved his worth both in the close out game in Washington in Week 17, and in his absence in Green Bay in the NFC Wild Card, as the Giants could not cover  the slot, which is what made the defense so impenetrable all season. However, the trio of “Jackrabbit” Jenkins, “DRC” and Landon Collins all received All Pro honors.

Collins came the farthest from 2015 into 2016. For those who watch college football, everyone knew he excelled “in the box” but had major questions about his abilities in coverage; particularly in single high situations. He answered those this year, although he had a couple of major blunders, particularly in the Pittsburgh game, every safety does. He has progressed to the point where one may have figured for him to reach by his fourth season, not second. Andrew Adams played well and did not get the team beat, with the fortune of staying healthy, unlike the Thompson boys and Nat Berhe, he has a leg up in reps and experience and can now build upon 2016 with that experience to now become a big time playmaker at free safety. The Giants are set in the secondary if they remain healthy. One would think that “DRC” would want to keep his current monies and restructure, rather than risk going elsewhere and looking for a large signing bonus that may not come. However, the Giants are going to have to restructure his contract (along with one or two others and release four players) if they plan to retain Pierre-Paul and make runs at players at key positions of need.

SPECIAL TEAMS.
Punter.
Brad Wing was fine all season, until the Wild Card, and he, along with the kick coverage and kick return teams all came up short in critical field position scenarios. Although the weather and temperatures were not ideal for punting and place kicking, Wing will likely admit that he still did not have his best game. In fact, it may have been the worst game he had all season in terms of placement and distance. It is not why the Giants lost to Green Bay, as there were a multitude of reasons, but it was not the time for one of the best punters in the league to have one of his worst games. Overall, he was sterling the rest of the season.

Place Kicker(s).
After the Josh Brown fiasco, Randy Bullock, and later, Robbie Gould came in and did very good jobs on field goals. Gould’s short kickoffs are concerning if the Giants even have any plans of bringing him back in 2017. The return teams were actually good this season. Both punt returns for touchdowns (both by Beckham) were negated by penalties that weren’t penalties. The kickoff return team was better than Dwayne Harris (and his nonchalant, lackadaisical runs) and his statistics indicate. Anyone with real speed or explosion may have taken back a couple of kicks for touchdowns, but Harris doesn’t and never did have that gear. Coverage teams were either very good or very bad, depending on the week, and the very bad often came out of nowhere and at the worst possible times. But that’s special teams for you. Outside of Seattle and Kansas City, no one has consistently good special teams in all facets.

Areas of Biggest Need: Offensive Tackle, Right Guard (?), Running Back, X-WR, Middle Linebacker.

Available (Worthwhile) Unrestricted Free Agent Targets:
Earl Watford, Offensive Tackle.
Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle.
Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle.
Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle.
Vlad Ducasse, Guard
Ted Larsen, Guard
Kevin Zeitler, Guard
Ronald Leary, Guard
Larry Warford, Guard
T.J. Lang, Guard
Oday, Aboushi, Guard
Hugh Thornton, Guard
Luke Joeckel, (Converted) Guard
Brian Schwenke, Guard
Chance Warmack, Guard
Isaiah Crowell, Running Back (actually Restricted, but Browns may let walk).
Latavius Murray, Running Back.
Terrelle Pryor, Wide Receiver.
Kenny Britt, Wide Receiver.
Andre Holmes, Wide Receiver.
Sean Spence, Inside Linebacker.
Gerald Hodges, Inside Linebacker.
Zach Brown, Inside Linebacker.
Kevin Minter, Inside Linebacker.
_________________________________________________________________

2017 NFL Draft
As many know, the Giants’ 4th round selection in the 2017 Draft was moved to the end of the round, behind any compensatory (of which there are rarely more than one or two, if any), when they were already picking 23rd in the round. In other word, the “walkie talkie” much ado about nothing didn’t change much of what the Giants would have done in that round. With regard to what the Giants will be best served in doing with the 23rd overall pick in the 1st Round, however, there are more questions.

Making the playoffs is a great thing, it builds confidence, momentum, something to rally around going forward and the like. However, what it also does is place you farther away from picking immediate help via college eligible players via the draft. The 2017 NFL Draft promises to be a deep one, a good three or four rounds of players who will be regular starters in the league. But when you attempt to project what team will select what (or what type) of player in the 1st Round, one must consider the needs of the teams selecting earlier in the round. There’s always one or two teams that throws you for a loop either by trading future picks to move up and select sooner than slotted, or by taking a player that no one ever saw them taking. Nevertheless, those scenarios are rather infrequent, although 1st Round in-draft trades have become more common in recent years.

Look at what the 22 selections prior to the Giants’ 23rd pick are likely to consist of, based upon teams most pressing need:

1. Cleveland.
Everything. Including Quarterback, depending on who you believe within that organization. They have to start someplace, however. There is a massive talent deficiency on that team on both sides of the ball, although arguably, they can hack it with a Robert Griffin III or Cody Kessler, in the event they take a defensive end (Jonathan Allen, Myles Garrett) or a “skill position” player outside of QB. They can use a couple of linemen on both sides of the ball, to be honest. They’re likely to be looking at OL/DL or QB.

2. San Francisco.
They’re basically in the same boat, which is why they are picking here. They don’t even have QB, though. We think they move on from Colin Kaepernick. Don’t believe John Elway’s public comments about Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, he’d be a fool to tip his hand if he were actually looking to make a move to sign Kaepernick. They need almost a complete remake on defense, though.We think they’ll be looking at DL, WR and QB.

3. Chicago.
They need a QB. If they’re smart, they move on from both Jay Cutler and Matt Barkley (unless it is in a clear backup role). They have some pieces on defense, although many of them got injured within a month’s time in 2016. They need to upgrade their WR corps, as well.

4. Jacksonville.
The need at RB wouldn’t be perceived to be as high as some thing if Blake Bortles played better in 2016. It’s not as if his offensive line was bad; particularly once Luke Joeckel was moved inside to guard, which may be Ereck Flowers’ fate with the Giants. They still need another pass rusher and cornerback before taking a running back, but if Leonard Fournette is where they are looking, it’s not necessarily a bad move. Bortles’ play must improve or Fournette’s rookie season would mirror that of Todd Gurley’s in 2016.

5. Tennessee (via Los Angeles).
The Rams mortgaged the rest of their future through the end of this decade to get Jared Goff #1 in the 2016 Draft. Thus far, that has not paid dividends, but it is extremely early to judge that trade. Goff should be able to come in and pass for Aaron Rodgers’ current run type statistics to justify such a move. However, as it is, the Titans’ trade of that pick pays off, as they can draft the cornerback or safety (likely the former) that they so desperately need. They have pretty much everything else they need covered with later picks and free agency, but they need a top tier cornerback. Now, whoever you think that may be, we’ll see.

Bottom line, it is the same story with picks 6-22. Most of these teams are looking at offensive and defensive linemen, linebackers and wide receivers. A couple of cornerbacks and one guy with no real position may go within those first 22 picks. There are two teams that absolutely need to look at running back as they have franchise QBs and solid WR situations: Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. This will determine where Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook land. The Colts have other needs at linebacker and in their secondary, as well, and no pass rush to speak of, so do not be so sure that the team expenses a 1st Round pick on a running back no matter how potentially transcendental the running back may be (which Fournette and Cook both project to be in the NFL).

Tampa has its franchise QB, and has two studs at linebacker, and just drafted their future star cornerback in Vernon Hargreaves, but they absolutely must shore up their RB situation, after having gone through six different ball carriers due to injury in 2016 (Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith, Peyton Barber, and Mike James), Jameis Winston needs a  solidified left tackle, WR2 and bona fide three-down back going into 2017. Will this be Cook?

If Tampa does not take Cook, he could fall to #23, as other teams have bigger needs than RB, and the Giants should jump all over the selection, if it is available to be made on Cook.

Otherwise, the aforementioned team needs (in order) would necessitate looking at offensive tackles such as Chad Wheeler, Roderick Johnson or Antonio Garcia, players who will still possibly be on the board when the Giants select.

The second round — should the Giants not pursue to reacquaint with Martellus Bennett — would be a good place to search for a tight end. Bucky Hodges, Jordan Leggett and Jeremy Sprinkle (a reach on the latter still being around mid-late 2nd Round) will be good targets.

If the Giants are looking at WR and MLB in the draft, presuming they don’t take either in the 1st or 2nd Round, Kendell Beckwith out of LSU is a guy who may be available as late as the 3rd Round, but that may be pushing it. The team desperately needs a guy of that ilk who is rangy and can finish plays. He has to improve his coverage skills, but most linebackers need to do the same. Raekwon McMillan is an interesting target out of Ohio State, but he would be a 2nd Round pick, unless he has a bad combine. Hardy Nickerson’s son (Hardy) would be a good 4th Round pick, and we know he knows how to play the position his father played.

With regards to the “big receiver” (if Bucky Hodges isn’t the hybrid player chosen who play in line at tight end or break out to play the “X”), Ricky Seals-Jones out of Texas A&M would be perfect, and would not be a reach in the 3rd or 4th Round. Chad Hansen out of Cal would be a good 4th Round pick and is a master of route running.

However, the most intriguing WR target who would be ideal in the late 3rd/early 4th is Stacy Coley out of Miami (FL), speed to burn, good enough size and would complement Beckham and Shepard going forward. The biggest of these targets is Seals-Jones at 6’5″, 235 lbs, and that would be great, if Coley is not in the plans.

The Giants have plenty of opportunities to get the personnel they need offensively and plug the couple of holes they need to fill on defense. There’s absolutely no excuse, barring injury, that the Giants don’t find themselves in 2017 where those who had unrealistic expectations heading into 2016. The first wave of free agency (March 1 and beyond) and the Draft will be the first signs of whether this will come to fruition.

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