Predicting New York Giants' Starting Lineup a Week into Free Agency
A slew of starters were released earlier in the month, and after losing tight end Martellus Bennett to the Chicago Bears, Big Blue inked an assumed replacement in Oakland's Brandon Myers. Still making plays at linebackers and corners on the market, the Giants have been quietly productive thus far.
It's never too early to peer into September. Let's take a look at New York's projected starting lineup before the draft comes.
Starter: Eli Manning
Backup: David Carr
Manning will be under center once again for the Giants, taking a league-high 146 starts streak into Week 1. After a blistering start to 2012, Manning struggled with inconsistency in the vertical game but ended on a high note with five touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles in the final game of the regular season.
New York will presumably be a pass-first offense once again, should wideout Victor Cruz be signed. The Giants have a wealth of downfield options, and adding Myers solidifies the offense at the mid-level. Re-signing Carr gives New York a reliable backup, should it ever need one.
Starter: David Wilson
Backup: Andre Brown
Ahmad Bradshaw won't be in New York's backfield for the first time since 2006, which paves the way for second-year speedster David Wilson to get starting reps. Wilson is shifty and explosive around the tackles and averaged five yards per carry in 2012.
The Giants were pleasantly surprised by the production of longtime practice body Andre Brown last season, who tallied eight touchdowns before breaking his fibula on Nov. 25 against the Green Bay Packers. Brown is a bruising runner who complements Wilson nicely.
Though a restricted free agent, he was tendered at the second level, and by all accounts, he will be back in blue next season.
Starter: Henry Hynoski
No question. Entering his third year, Hynoski stands out as one of the most physical fullbacks in the NFL.
Starters: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks
Backups: Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy
The big one here is Cruz, a restricted free agent who was tendered at the first-round level. Cruz has shaped the Giants' offensive culture over the past two years, and Eli Manning has clearly taken notice.
Randle will likely see more targets in his second year, while a hobbled Nicks had a rough 2012. These wideouts' consistency will be key to a bounce-back year for Big Blue.
Starter: Brandon Myers
Backup: Bear Pascoe
No Bennett, no problem.
After one of the Giants' most eccentric personalities skipped town for Chicago, the G-Men hauled in Oakland's Brandon Myers. A four-year pro who caught almost 80 passes last year, Myers isn't much of a deep threat but provides consistency in the short game. The verdict is still out on his blocking abilities.
Expect second-year Cincinnati product Adrien Robinson to vie for some reps as well.
Starters: William Beatty, Selvish Capers, David Baas, Chris Snee, David Diehl
Backups: Matt McCants, Stephen Goodin, Jim Cordle, Brandon Mosley, James Brewer
Re-signing Will Beatty was general manager Jerry Reese's biggest move of the winter. The Giants touted one of the league's most cohesive front lines in both run-blocking and pass-blocking, and the majority of the group returns for 2013.
As of March 22, left guard Kevin Boothe would be lost to free agency. The Giants have an estimated $2 million left in cap space, and that's before April's draft hits. Big Blue will look to restructure David Diehl's contract, but if that doesn't work, Selvish Capers would be making his first career start come Week 1.
Losing Sean Locklear on the right side hurts. New York will have to pray for some semblance of consistency from Diehl.
Starters: Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Jason-Pierre Paul
Backups: Adrian Tracy, Shaun Rogers, Markus Kuhn, Adewale Ojomo
Justin Tuck will need a bounce-back 2013 after being slowed last year. Former Pro Bowl end Osi Umenyiora is gone, which opens up reps for summer standouts Adrian Tracy and Adewale Ojomo. The Giants were relegated to 22nd in the NFL in sacks last season.
The big one here is Tuck. If he can replicate his aggressiveness off the edge from past years, Big Blue will create plenty of pressure.
Starters: Keith Rivers, Dan Connor, Jacquian Williams
Backups: Mathias Kiwanuka, Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger
Expect all three second-string 'backers to vie for starting time, especially Kiwanuka at the strong-side position. The Giants could convert Kiwi to the defensive line to replace Osi Umenyiora, and they could shift Connor to an outside spot to make way for Mark Herzlich.
With a linebacker looking increasingly likely to materialize from New York's first-round pick in April, this is the toughest part of the depth chart to project right now.
Starters: Prince Amukamara, Corey Webster
Backups: Jayron Hosley, Aaron Ross
Amukamara will likely be transitioned as the No. 1 corner, swapping in for Webster. After restructuring his contract earlier in the offseason, Webster's expectations should be tempered from a rough 2012.
Hosley and Ross could both see starting time by the end of the year, depending on how healthy this unit stays and how long Webster holds up.
Starters: Stevie Brown, Antrel Rolle
Backups: Ryan Mundy, Will Hill
Stevie Brown becomes a full-time starter after the Giants lost Kenny Phillips to the Eagles, but this should come as no surprise to Giants fans. With eight interceptions last year, Brown more than covers Phillips' playmaking ability.
Starters: Josh Brown, Steve Weatherford, David Wilson, Rueben Randle
Inking Josh Brown earlier in the month replaces Lawrence Tynes at the placekicker spot. Everything else remains the same in the special teams unit, with Weatherford and Wilson showing serious upside at punter and kickoff return man, respectively.
Brown was 11-of-12 in field-goal attempts for Cincinnati last season.
Steven Goldstein is always writing about sports for some publication. Follow him @GoldsteinNU and talk Giants.
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