Grading Strength of Every New York Giants Positional Unit, Pre-Draft Edition
The New York Giants are Super Bowl champs after pulling off another improbable and unexpected run through the 2012 playoffs, but that does not mean they are void of any issues.
Especially considering they might lose some more of their unrestricted free agents, as both Jonathan Goff and Dave Tollefson are visiting teams, and their is little news coming from the Giants that they are close to re-signing players.
This slideshow will grade each positional unit's strength, further examining the Giants' needs before this April's draft.
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Eli Manning is most likely a future Hall of Famer if he continues on his current pace. There is only one quarterback with two Super Bowls not in the Hall, and Eli will blow away Jim Plunkett's stats barring any serious injury.
The Giants are set at this position.
Even backup David Carr cannot resist sticking around. The former No. 1 overall pick was a free agent the previous two seasons, and both times he ended up in New York.
As far as backups go, it doesn't get much better than Carr.
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Ahmad Bradshaw dealt with some foot injuries and a poor offensive line last season, so it was not the best year for the Marshall graduate.
When healthy, he is one of the better backs in the league.
Behind him is where it gets interesting. The Giants were dead last rushing the football, and had to cut Brandon Jacobs to create some cap space.
There are talks they could bring him back, but if they do not they will look to replace him in the draft. I'm not sure they trust DJ Ware or Da'Rel Scott to be the backup to Bradshaw.
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Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks each had more than 1,100 yards last season, making them the top duo of wide receivers in the league.
They have a chance to get even better as both are young and coming in to their own.
Losing Mario Manningham hurts, but Domenik Hixon, 2011 third round pick Jerrel Jernigan, or 2009 third round pick Ramses Barden will have to step up and fill the void.
I'm confident one will emerge and surprise a lot of people.
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This was by far the worst unit on the Giants last season. The Giants finished dead last in rushing the football, and didn't exactly give Eli Manning the cleanest pockets.
The beating Eli took in the NFC Championship game is something I'll never forget.
They have a chance to get better this year. David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie were not effective at the tackle positions, and the Giants have told McKenzie to move on and decreased Diehl's salary significantly.
Diehl could move over to right tackle and replace McKenzie, but I imagine there being a battle for that spot with 2011 fourth round pick James Brewer, and perhaps another body from the 2012 draft.
Regardless of what the changes are, this unit needs them.
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As far as a group goes, the wide receivers and defensive line were the strongest units on the Giants last season. The defensive line carried the Giants to playoff glory, leading the defense that held teams to two, 20, 17, and 17 points in their four playoff wins.
Losing Dave Tollefson would hurt the depth, but they could replace him with a draft pick.
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Despite what everyone always says about the Giants linebackers—that they are the weakest unit on the team, they do not have any playmakers—they overachieved last season and were a pleasant surprise.
Obviously given that they used multiple rookies at times you couldn't expect them to be world beaters, but the young group, and especially Jacquian Williams, really made strides during the year.
I expect them to be much better next season, though it wouldn't surprise me if Jonathan Goff left and the Giants draft a replacement.
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The secondary was much maligned in 2011, particularly Aaron Ross, but they stepped up big time when the playoffs rolled around.
They will be getting better with the return of Terrell Thomas, who re-signed with the Giants this offseason.
They have yet to make a move regarding Deon Grant, but the 12-year vet could make that decision for them by retiring. He has not said whether he plans on retiring, but after getting his first Super Bowl ring last season he could do just that.
That would hurt, as Perry Fewell frequently used his 4-2-5 defense with three safeties on the field. If Grant is not brought back, Tyler Sash or maybe even Chad Jones—who still has to pass a physical after his devastating car crash—have to step up.
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The addition of punter Steve Weatherford may have been the best and subsequently most underrated acquisition in the 2011 off season.
The former Jet simply changed New York logos, but was a driving force for an improved special teams unit that was God-awful in 2010.
Lawrence Tynes had a down year, making just 19 of 24 field goals with multiple blocked attempts. I actually believe there is a chance the Giants could bring in competition for Tynes, either with a late pick or signing an undrafted kicker.
Even if that does not happen, special teams coach Tom Quinn did a great job turning this unit around.