Predicting Who Each Offensive Starter Will Be for the New York Giants in 2012
With the new year for the NFL set to hit on March 13, we draw closer to the free agency period. The New York Giants are not without needs, but will they have the cap space to fill those needs with veterans?
Unless they make drastic changes, they will not be able to do much other than signing their own players, and maybe one or two free agents that fill a need.
With that in mind, here is my current prediction of the 2012 opening day offense, which is obviously subject to change in the coming months.
Quarterback: Eli Manning
For explanation, see the two Super Bowl rings that now reside on Eli's fingers (or in a display case).
Runningback: Ahmad Bradshaw
Ahmad Bradshaw signed a four-year, $18 million deal last season. Bottom line: He is not going anywhere. His backfield teammate, Brandon Jacobs, could be a different story.
He is due a roster bonus of half a million on March 8, so expect to see his situation resolved (or not) in the next couple days.
Fullback: Henry Hynoski
An undrafted free agent last year, Henry Hynoski admitted he had several suitors, but felt the New York Giants were his best option.
He chose well, getting a Super Bowl ring as a rookie, which many star players have gone their entire careers without achieving.
The Hynoceros has room to improve as a blocker, but he is a solid option out of the backfield as a receiver.
Wide Receiver 1: Hakeem Nicks
Hakeem Nicks is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He has amazing hands, a perfect wide receiver body and can do anything and everything asked of a wide receiver. He and Eli Manning make each other better, and Nicks will hopefully be a Giant for life.
Wide Receiver 2: Victor Cruz
Set the franchise record with 1,536 receiving yards, scored five touchdowns of 65 yards or more (one shy of NFL record) and tied an NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown. And this is your No. 2 wide receiver?
Yeah, I'd say the Giants have it pretty good in this department. Cruz and Nicks feed off each other, and Eli always finds the one that's open. It's a solid relationship.
Tight End: Joel Dreessen
This is one of the few moves I could see the Giants making. They are incredible at evaluating talent, and there is no way Dreessen has gone unnoticed by Jerry Reese and his crew.
With Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum recovering from torn ACLs in the Super Bowl, tight end becomes an instant No. 1 priority.
Reese admits he likes Christian Hopkins, who has spent his career on the practice squad, but Dreessen is a much better option who wouldn't cost much.
Left Tackle: William Beatty
Will Beatty sustained an eye injury in Week 10 of last season, and his absence actually seemed to jump start the offensive line.
He will have noticed that and will look to show the coaching staff why they promoted him to the starting lineup last year in the first place.
Beatty needs a lot of work, but there is no reason to believe he can''t improve. He impressed the coaching staff in training camp last year, and hopefully, with a full offseason, he will make improvements.
Left Guard: Kevin Boothe
This is the hardest position to predict by far. You have David Diehl, who had a terrible season as left guard, but the Giants have shown loyalty to, Kevin Boothe, who filled in at left guard when Beatty went down and Diehl moved back to left tackle, Mitch Petrus, who filled in at left guard when David Baas missed games late in the year and Boothe played center, and then a possible free-agent pickup or draft choice.
Basically three options, and the never-ending pool of options in free agency and the draft.
My dream scenario would have the Giants trading up for David DeCastro from Stanford and starting him at left guard, but I'm realistic, and that is not the type of move Jerry Reese will make.
They like Kevin Boothe, but I'm not convinced he is the long-term answer. The Giants could draft a left guard and have him take over eventually, but not now.
The position is going to be a battle between Boothe and Petrus (making the assumption the Giants will dump Diehl or restructure him to be a backup).
I hope Petrus wins the job, because it was with him that the offensive line was at its best in 2011. The Giants will end up going with Boothe despite all evidence showing Petrus is the better option.
Center: David Baas
David Baas signed a five-year, $27 million deal last season and, despite not having the best season in 2011, will retain his starting job in 2012.
The offensive line did not have the fair chance to gel during a full offseason, and that was evident when the group got off to a horrible start to 2011, but improved down the stretch.
With a season under their belt and a real offseason to get acquainted, they should get better, Baas included.
Snee's slide needs as little explanation as Eli Manning's. The pair of 2004 draft picks have been staples in the offense since they were rookies.
Right Tackle: James Brewer
The Giants drafted James Brewer in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, most likely with the thought process he would take over for Kareem McKenzie, who is a free agent and going to be 33 in May.
In his second year, Brewer will be cast into the flames; he'd better be ready to help improve a unit that ranked dead last running the football.