In 2008 when the Giants were at their best, they had very few holes.
One of them though, was kickoff coverage, where they ranked dead last in the league in terms of opponent’s starting field position. John Carney rarely placed the ball inside the 10, and The Giants afforded their opponents very good field position as a result of that.
The New York coverage unit was hurt when it lost David Tyree (a Pro Bowl special teams player) and Chase Blackburn joined the starting lineup. Regardless, Lawrence Tynes did not prove to be much better than John Carney in terms of kickoff distance in his two appearances this past season, which leaves The Giants depleted in terms of their special teams unit heading into 2009.
With the money that Jerry Reese paid to get defenders like Chris Canty, ($42 million) Michael Boley, ($25 million), and Rocky Bernard, ($16 million) it is only fair that their opponents are not consistently starting near midfield.
On the other hand, the Giants return game did not provide much of a spark for their offense, as Ahmad Bradshaw looked very pedestrian as a returner. Domenik Hixon was dominant at Arizona, but that was his only appearance of the season. He is a very legitimate threat as a returner, but will likely not get that job as he will stay at receiver regardless of who the Giants bring in.
Here are a few players that the Giants should keep their eye on come day two of the draft if they want to boost their special teams:
Graham Gano, Florida State University
In his senior year, Gano was 24-of-26 with a long of 53 yards. He also played punter, where he delivered a memorable performance in the Champs Sports Bowl, downing punts at the one twice, the three, and one other inside the 20. He can succeed Jeff Feagles as the teams punter, while using his monster leg to improve the defense.
Michael Ray Garvin, Florida State University
FSU keeps pumping them out in terms of special teams players. Garvin played kick returner for FSU for several seasons, as well as corner. He provided a great spark from that position for FSU. His speed is unmatched (Ran a 4.3 in high school), as he was a three time All American sprinter and one time NCAA champion, missing the cut for the 2008 Bejing Olympics by fractions of a second.
He is no case of a typical track star who simply plays football, he can take it all the way when he gets the ball. We all saw how Devin Hester put the Bears on the map even with offensive deficiencies.
Percy Harvin, University of Florida
Harvin is the perfect guy to play the role of Dave Megget for Coughlin’s Giants. He took a lot of snaps out of the backfield in Florida’s spread, and he also lined up as a receiver, but no matter where he lined up, he scored (nearly once every ten touches). He can take swing passes and quick slants all the way, and he is a great kick and punt returner.
All the value that Harvin provides would cause any general manager to think about taking him at any point in the draft. He would demand a day one, maybe even first round pick to lure in though.