3 Positions the New York Giants Must Upgrade Before the 2013 Season
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It was the flowing of champagne a year ago, but it's Pepto Bismol now for the New York Giants front office. The convalescence following the 2012 season may have been expedited with the news of Michael Strahan's and Bill Parcell's possible Hall of Fame enshrinement, but then the focus shifts back to how the Giants can improve at three vital positions before heading into 2013.
Upgrading player personnel will be extra challenging for Giants general manager Jerry Reese this offseason, as he'll be without two main cogs in his championship-building wheel—longtime executive Dave Gettleman, and director of college scouting Marc Ross.
Gettleman ironically beat out Ross for the GM job with the Carolina Panthers—thanks in some part to former beloved Giants GM Ernie Accorsi, who consulted Panthers owner Jerry Richardson on the hire.
39-year-old Ross is being highly sought after by the New York Jets, among several other teams looking to fill their GM role.
Ross's leadership in the draft room will specifically be missed, as he most notably accounted for the evaluation and drafting of Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul and David Wilson.
Despite losing Gettleman and Ross, Reese's vision, focus and energy is geared towards improving for 2013.
I don't think we're that far off, to be honest with you," Reese said of what it will take to get the team back to championship caliber. "This team will look a little different next year, but I think we have a good core of players coming back and I think we can see what we can do in free agency in the offseason, and of course we always have the draft.
ESPN.com writer John Clayton points out that it won't be easy for the G-Men to make moves in free agency though, as they are a projected $4.7 million over the 2013 salary cap.
Turn up the proverbial volume on this article, because the last time the Giants took a linebacker in the first round of the draft was in 1984 when they drafted Carl Banks.
Giants fans are more than familiar with Reese's "take the best available player" approach to the draft, and Manti Te'o encapsulates that theory if he is still there at 19 overall this April.
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Michael Boley saw diminished playing time, Mark Herzlich, Jacquain Williams and Spenser Paysinger have yet to pan out as the athletic infusion of youth at linebacker, 2012 was Keith Rivers' worst year since he was a rookie, and Chase Blackburn is entering free agency after his best personal season.
While it's great for Blackburn's stock that he was the Giants statistical leader in 2012 with 98 total tackles, his impact wasn't felt in those game-changer moments, and he doesn't answer the Giants' deficiencies.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell doesn't anticipate that the Giants' D-line will continue to be pushed around in 2013 the way they were in 2012, but they clearly need to have a better answer at middle linebacker for when those occasions happen.
It's never a ''sexy'' pick to choose an offensive lineman, but it would behoove Reese to go hard after another protector and run-blocker in the draft, or rub a couple pennies together and grab a free agent.
Kevin Booth, Will Beatty and Sean Locklear are all unrestricted free agents, Chris Snee didn't have a stellar year and isn't getting younger, and David Diehl's career is on thin ice despite all his big-game experience.
Age, free agency and retirement are all valid obstacles that the Giants front office need to consider and address with the O-line, making it a no-brainer to go out and get some insurance at this position.
Secondary—Specifically at Cornerback
Don't look now, but Torrey Smith of the Baltimore Ravens just caught another pass over Corey Webster.
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It's no secret that the 2012 Giants secondary had more holes in it than a hand crocheted blanket, and they should be fixated on improving on their No. 28 ranking in passing yards given up.
It's encouraging to hear that Terrell Thomas will attempt to make a comeback after his third ACL injury, but there is a $6 million option for his services in 2013 and Reese is likely to decline and restructure it in order to give Thomas that chance.
Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara are projected to be starting corners in 2013 with Jayron Hosley backing up, but more depth is needed—preferably veteran depth.
Since the restructuring of deals and free agency hasn't started yet, it's hard to say whether Reese will have the funds to go out and bring a corner in, or if he will have to draft one.
The Real Truth
The NFL affectionately stands for Not For Long because there are no guarantees in this game, and the Giants should really look to upgrade every position—excluding quarterback of course—where it's a financial and cultural fit.
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