The New York Giants finished the season with an 11-5 record, and reached the postseason for the first time since their 2011 playoff run to winning Super Bowl XLVI. After revamping the defense in the offseason, Big Blue made strides in both the secondary and on the defensive line in particular.
However, the offense stalled hugely, finishing the regular season with the 27th ranked offense scoring a mere 19 points per game on average. This will therefore be the key area of the roster that Giants general manager Jerry Reese will look to strengthen now the offseason is underway.
New York Giants 2017 Off-Season: Top 3 Needs
Offensive line has been a problem for a few seasons now for the Giants, and is integral to any team having postseason success. Building the offensive line will be key for the Giants in helping to protect an ageing Eli Manning, along with improving a running game that struggled greatly in 2016.
Some of the previous draft picks seem to be working out well for Big Blue, including the likes of left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg. However, left tackle Ereck Flowers struggled greatly last season, and the left side of the offensive line has become a big issue for the Giants to tackle this offseason. Left tackle is the most technical position on the line, and will need to be addressed after Flowers gave up countless quarter back pressures and sacks to edge rushers on his side of the line last season.
Whilst adding further strength across the line on the right side is still something that could be addressed, the likes of Bobby Hart and John Jerry put in improving performances in 2016. It’s the left tackle position that must be addressed.
Solidity in quarter back protection, as well improved ability and cohesion on the line to open up the holes for the Giants running game will be important. It will be interesting to see whether the Giants consider strengthening through the draft with prospects such as Ryan Ramczyk or Cam Robinson, of through free agency with the likes of Andrew Whitworth or Riley Reiff should they all become available to Jerry Reese and New York.
The Giants running game took a considerable dip in form and quality in 2016. For example, on first downs, only 30% of runs went for more than three yards. Additionally, 30% of New York drives ending in three and outs, ranking them 30th in the NFL. These statistics highlight the offense struggles in the running game, contributing greatly to Brad Wing making 90 punts last season.
Whilst the offensive line will account for a lot of the running games’ successes and failures, upgrading in personnel at the position will be a priority too. A strong running game is crucial to any top team, and will help the Giants progress.
The Giants cut running back Rashad Jennings last week – a player who struggled to utilise holes when created by the offensive line and increase yardage and field position in key moments. Whilst Paul Perkins made his case as a strong running back option with his athleticism and ability to break tackles, adding a workhorse power back to share the carries should be an area of priority.
Links with veteran back Adrian Peterson continue, but there are other possibilities both in free agency and in the draft. For example, Latavius Murray, Eddie Lacy and LeGarrette Blount may be possibilities for Big Blue, whilst top prospects are available in the draft such as Christian McCaffrey, along with running back options further down the draft. The Giants have an array of options for a position they will need to improve.
Similarly with the running back position, improvement at tight end will give Eli Manning more weapons in the offense, whilst helping to ease the pressure on the receiving core. Improving tight end production in the passing game should be looked at, whilst having tight ends who can block will be integral – helping both the offensive line in protecting Manning along with helping the running game.
The likes of Larry Donnell, who will not be returning to the Giants, have struggled greatly with blocking. Will Tye and Jerell Adams can still offer a lot to the position, but adding more quality and depth at tight end should aid the Giants as they aim to reach the postseason again next year.
There’s plenty of depth at tight end in this year’s NFL Draft, so picking up a solid player further down the draft may be a possibility. However, should a stud right end fall to the Giants in the first round, there are terrific athletes who will aid in both blocking and receiving that will help the offense, such as O.J. Howard and David Njoku. Veterans in free agency may also present possibilities for New York, such as former Giants Martellus Bennett. How Jerry Reese addresses the tight end position is yet to be seen.