This offseason, the New York Giants’ focus has rested on adding a tight end and ensuring the return of their top cornerback, Terrell Thomas, while bolstering the secondary with depth to protect themselves from injuries such as those that depleted their roster during the 2011 season.
Heading into the 2012 NFL draft, it has been speculated that the Giants will address what are believed to be their most pressing remaining needs—the linebacker and running back positions.
However, there are a few other positions on the roster that may be just as significant in warranting the Giants' attention this offseason. This has become especially so, when considering the age and injury history of much of the defending Super Bowl champions’ starters on both sides of the football.
The Giants have had stability at most of these positions for some time, which may be reason for why their needs have been mildly discussed. Moving forward this offseason, though, the following positions will require the Giants’ attention.
The safety position plays a big factor in defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s scheme as he loves to run a lot of three-safety sets. With the departure of veteran Deon Grant, who excelled in Fewell’s system, the Giants will need a player capable of filling the void left by the run-stopping safety.
Grant was an integral part of the Giants defense and strengthened an otherwise sub-par run defense.
It is possible Big Blue already has a capable player on the roster, with impressive rookie Tyler Sash potentially earning some playing time in 2012. Regardless, it would be wise for the Giants to try to find someone, either in the draft or through free agency, to bolster a position that is necessary for the defense’s success.
Options: The Giants did sign safeties Eric Horton and Steve Brown, but both players are expected to see most of their time on special teams. If the Giants don’t re-sign Deon Grant—or if he chooses to retire—their best bet would likely be in the draft. Few options are any better on the free agent market, and the Giants have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough.
David Baas, the only center on the roster who saw time at the position, was signed to a five-year deal prior to the 2011 season, and appeared to be a good pickup. Unfortunately, injuries riddled his first campaign in New York and the seven-year veteran missed five games due to injury.
Baas is expected to enter the 2012 season healthy, but it is hard to know whether 2011 was a sign of things to come during his tenure with the Giants. To avoid another mass-shuffle of the offensive line in 2012, the Giants will need to address the center position in some manner this offseason.
Options: Unfortunately, the market for a serviceable center at this time is scarce. With minimal salary cap room, the spectrum of potential players becomes even smaller. However, former New England Patriots center Dan Koppen may be worth a look. The longtime center started 120 games during his time with the Patriots and could be a valuable addition to the roster.
In the draft, Wisconsin’s Peter Konz is easily the most gifted center in the class, but it is not likely he will be available at pick No. 32. As a result, Georgia's Ben Jones, Baylor's Philip Blake and Michigan's David Molk will get consideration later in the draft.
The New York Giants have two longtime guards in Chris Snee and David Diehl, and two young players in Mitch Petrus and Kevin Boothe. Unfortunately, none of the four have a very certain future in New York.
While Snee and Diehl showed very evident drop-offs, Petrus and Boothe have not been able to live up to expectations. The Giants hope Petrus and Boothe can fill the shoes of their predecessors at the guard positions, and while they have shown glimpses of potential, they have also been disappointing at times.
The Giants have no choice but to look into an offensive guard this offseason to create some competition as well as add some much-needed depth, should something go terribly wrong. Nothing is certain for the future of the position, and the Giants must prepare as if their young players will not be able to take over for their aging veteran offensive linemen.
Options: This year’s NFL draft class is overflowing with phenomenal young guard prospects who are full of potential. The Giants should be able to find a good player at any point in the draft, with Iowa State’s Kelechi Osemele being the best option in the second round.
Lawrence Tynes has been a serviceable kicker for the New York Giants. He has also been quite clutch in two NFC Championship games.
That said, the Giants deserve better than the Scottish-born kicker.
Tynes lacks the range to be a successful NFL kicker and has gotten by solely on the lack of pressure the Giants have had to rest on his shoulders. He has connected on just 80 percent of his field goals since joining New York, but even that number is bloated due to numerous opportunities within 40 yards.
In 2011 alone, Tynes connected on only 50 percent of all field goals beyond 40 yards. That is simply unacceptable.
His shortcomings have yet to cost the Giants, but it is long overdue.
Options: Neil Rackers would be a great addition, but even he may be too expensive for the Giants' salary cap considerations. Texas A&M’s Randy Bullock is the only legitimate option in this year’s draft and should get consideration in the sixth and seventh rounds. Purdue’s Carson Wiggs is also an option as a likely undrafted free agent.
The New York Giants have one of the best defensive lines in football. Despite that, it never hurts to add pieces in order to keep it in top form.
The Giants are strong at the defensive tackle position with Chris Canty, Linval Joseph and a promising prospect by the name of Marvin Austin. However, they lost Rocky Bernard and Jimmy Kennedy to free agency, and will need to replace the void left by both men.
Bernard was a valuable player in New York's defensive rotation and will be missed in 2012.
The Giants love their pass rushers and General Manager Jerry Reese never has an issue adding another to their collection. Don’t be surprised if the Super Bowl champions address the defensive tackle position as early as the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
Options: If Jerel Worthy is available to the Giants in the first round, it will be hard for them to pass up such a talented prospect. Devon Still, Brandon Thompson and late-round sleeper Akiem Hicks are also intriguing options to watch as the draft draws near.