Why the Panthers Made the Right Decision with Norman

NFL: FEB 03 Super Bowl 50 - Panthers Press Conference

To cap off a very busy week in the National Football League with lots of attention-grabbing moves, the Panthers made the biggest move of them all. The one that left everybody confused and completely shocked. The one that made Panthers fans want to rip the hair out their heads and general managers rapidly pick up their phones. The craziest move in recent memory, except it may not be as crazy as everyone makes it seem. I know what you’re thinking: Alex, what did you just say?

You heard (well saw) what I said. Allow me to explain.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman made it clear that the two sides could not come to an agreement and they needed to move on. There is number of reasons as to why the Panthers cut ties with Norman. Some of them we don’t know, but let’s get into some of the main reasons why this move was a smart one by the Panthers.

Age

It isn’t as if the Redskins just locked up a 25-year old corner entering his prime. They got a 28-year old corner who will turn 29 in December. Norman may be in the main stage of his career, but Washington will be paying him a lot of money up until age 33. Around age 30 is where corners usually see a decline in their production, typically signaling that the player is now a shell of what he used to be.

There is definitely some uncertainty with this contract when it comes to Norman’s age. It remains to be seen if he will be able to play at the All-Pro level he did last year for at least the majority of his 5-year, $75 million dollar contract. The Panthers definitely had this in their minds when deciding what to do with Norman, and saw his age as a big red flag which made them willing to cut ties with him. They believe they are really good at developing young corners, and didn’t think a player Norman’s age was worth that kind of top-level money. It’s a smart decision, and nobody can knock them for making it with the future being completely unknown and age not in Norman’s favor.

Career Uncertainty

Throughout Norman’s 4-year career, last season was by far his most productive season. The other three seasons don’t even compare. Norman came from out of nowhere and took the league by storm. Looking at the stats, it’s a little confusing to see how Norman could go from where he was to the level he’s at now so quickly. In his first 3 seasons combined, Norman has put together a very unimpressive 3 interceptions, one less than last year alone. He was benched during his rookie season and was only active for 5 games the following year. It remains a big mystery how Norman all of a sudden made this miraculous jump to stardom. That’s why it’s too risky for the Panthers to pay Norman such a rich amount of money, when he could just end up not living up to it. It’s unknown which Norman will get, and since he’s only had one All-Pro year, he would have needed prove he can play like that consistently for more than one season to earn that kind of paycheck from Carolina. How do we know Washington won’t get the Norman from his first 3 seasons? I don’t, you don’t, they don’t, we all don’t. That’s why the Redskins better be counting their blessings and hoping the Norman from last year is here to stay.

Money

Money was probably the biggest reason why the two couldn’t agree on terms. As we all know the Panthers had Norman on the $14 million franchise tender, but they both wanted a long-term deal as expected. The difference in suggested money between the Panthers and Norman was reportedly very large, as Gettleman wouldn’t pay Norman more than $11 million a year. Norman wanted more that the franchise tender at around $16 million per year. The Panthers were smart to refuse the requested money, especially with wanting to resign more deserving players on their roster. I think the future it just too uncertain to offer an aging corner with only one elite year under his belt a contract as rich as the one Washington offered him. Norman is now one of the highest paid corners in the league, which makes the signing based on complete hope for the best. It isn’t like they’re paying Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson this contract, they’re paying a guy who until this season people only knew from getting into a fight with Cam Newton. Those two guys  are worth $16 million a year, probably more. Norman, until he proves himself more, does not deserve a contract as rich as the one he got and that’s a fact.

Panthers Game Plan

Paying defensive backs top-level cash isn’t the Panthers strategy. They build through the offensive and defensive lines first, and believe they are good at drafting and developing young corners. Hey, that’s what they did with Norman last year, so there’s no reason why they can’t have success again. You can’t keep everybody. And besides, they have more important guys they need to start laying out money for so they can keep their foundation in place. Especially if their names are Cam Newton or Luke Kuechly. They also have Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei, two studs on the defensive line, who are going to need new contracts after this season. Obviously the Panthers felt very comfortable letting Norman go because of the other guys they have in place and they’re success with developing young corners, like they’ve done with Norman, in the past.

Lucky for them, this draft class is also loaded with talented defensive backs, so they could probably find a viable replacement that can be groomed into a good player. An example of somebody who might be available is William Jackson III, a corner with good size at 6’0″, great coverage ability and elite ball skills. The Panthers could sign a veteran free agent or maybe find a corner through a trade, even though the latter seems the least likely to happen. The point is there are plenty of different routes the Panthers can go down.

 

So as you can see the Panthers had a lot of deciding factors that came into play when making this decision, probably a lot more which weren’t mentioned here that none of us know about. By no means was this an easy move to make, as Carolina is saying goodbye to one of the leaders of last year’s Super Bowl squad. Norman was the heart and soul of that defense. It’s also not very common a team lets a player go who is coming off an All-Pro season, but that’s all part of the game. Questions start to surface as to why the Panthers didn’t just sign Norman to the tender and move on from there, or at least trade him and get good value for him. Well, as much as we can think about it, it’s too late. The deal is done. It was a very hard and well-thought-out decision, but in the NFL you never know what will happen, and tough decisions are made all the time whether you like them or not. It’s what makes the NFL so beautiful, we never know what will happen.

 

Bold Predictions for the 2016 NBA Playoffs

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

With the NBA regular season officially coming to an end, everyone has entered playoff mode. There is a lot to be excited about, as always, and it should be one hell of a show. Every year there are moments that everyone expects, and ones that nobody expects. I’m going to take a shot at predicting the ladder for the 2016 NBA playoffs. Let’s dive into it:

Portland will sneak past the Clippers in 7 games

Opening up the season, nobody really thought much of the Trail Blazers. Having lost starters like Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez, and most notably LaMarcus Aldrige in free agency, expectations were pretty low. Well, they have proved everyone wrong, as superstar point guard Damian Lillard and rising star shooting guard CJ McCollum have led Portland to the playoffs for the third season in a row.

They open the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers,  where Chris Paul has led the group for most of the season due to Blake Griffin nursing an injury. Well, Blake has returned and they have been 5-0 since then, so the Clippers are heading into the playoffs with lots of momentum and the intention to go far.

This is going to be one very entertaining series. We have two of the best point guards in the game squaring off, and I think this series will be a lot closer than people might think. The Blazers will come in angry and ready to prove people wrong once again. Look for guys like Allen Crabbe and Al-Farouq Aminu to step up and be key factors in Portlands’ playoff run. The Clippers are also dealing with injuries once again, as Blake Griffin’s hand has healed but is still dealing with the nagging quad injury, and shooting guard JJ Redick is dealing with a left heel bruise. I see this series going down to the very end, with Portland just sneaking past the injured Clippers as they play well but ultimately underestimate the Blazers and aren’t able to power through without their starters at full health.

The Heat will distinguish the Hornets flame

Charlotte has entered the playoffs on a very hot streak since the beginning of March to compliment a very productive season. Guys such as Jeremy Lin, Marvin Williams, and Nicolas Batum have played very well, and Kemba Walker has led the group with a very convincing campaign for the most improved player of the year. Kemba has been lights out, averaging 21 points and 5 assists per game. This team has come together very nicely and looks to continue their hot streak into the playoffs.

Miami has been on a hot streak themselves, and they possess the bigger names of the two. With the core of Dwayne Wade, Hassan Whiteside, and Goran Dragic leading the way since Chris Bosh got shut down during All-Star Weekend, the Heat have had themselves a productive season. Rookie Josh Richardson has also been a pleasant surprise and emerged as a valuable weapon.

All in all this will probably be the closest series in the first round of the playoffs, with both teams being very similar. The Hornets might be the favorites due to their recent streak, but I see the Heat squeezing the win out of this series. The Heat are more experienced and more proven, and these will be the key advantages for them when they face Charlotte starting on Sunday.

Boston will fall to Atlanta in 6

Boston has been a great team this season, and they are set up very nicely for the future with the potential to get even better through their draft picks. The Celtics are great with point guard Isaiah Thomas having an All-Star season, complimented by great play from key guys such as Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Amir Johnson. There is all the reason to believe they can go very far in the playoffs.

Atlanta, even though not as magical as last year, have put together another strong season. The two-headed monster in the paint of Al Horford and Paul Millsap has been great as always, but studs like Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver have suffered through what appears to be a down year. I get that Korver is up in age and Teague was maybe just in a slump, but whatever the reason was their lack of production hurt the team. Recently, though, Teague has picked up his act and the Hawks have been soaring.

This should be a very close series, and I think Atlanta gets the edge. Much similar to Miami and Charlotte, the Hawks are way more experienced and have the bigger names. They have guys who have made numerous All-Star appearances and are used to the toxic atmosphere that is the NBA playoffs. I think that this series will go to 6 games, with Atlanta snatching the series. Look out for Boston next year, who very likely will be serious title contenders as they have a top draft pick from Brooklyn.

OKC will take San Antonio to 7

The 2015-2016 Spurs are one of the best teams in NBA history. Often overlooked by the glory and greatness of Golden State, San Antonio hasn’t gotten nearly as much love as they truly deserve outside of their own fan base. With legends in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, and superstars like aging vet LaMarcus Aldridge and youngster Kawhi Leonard, this team is completely loaded. They have put up some number that only the ’95-’96 Bulls have put up.

The Thunder, however, have arguably the two most dominant players in the game, and as long as they both are healthy OKC is always in contention for a title. Russell Westbrook is the game’s second best point guard and a triple-double machine, while Kevin Durant is a top 3 player in this league. The Thunder also have a nice supporting cast, including Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter, and Dion Waiters.

The sky is the limit for both of these teams, although most predictions have the Spurs blowing out the Thunder in five, sometimes four games. This very well could happen, but I don’t think it will be that much of a walk in the park for San Antonio. The Thunder are a top team with amazing talent, and they will put up a good fight. I expect the Spurs to win the series, but in 6 or 7 games rather than a sweep.

The Raptors will beat the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals

Throughout the year the West has been the conference will all the excitement, as at least 2 teams have an equal shot at winning the finals. The Eastern Conference Finals representative has generally been predicted as only the Cavaliers, with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Lebron James leading the pack.

Lebron is great, and he has all the ability to carry the whole team as he’s done in the past, but this year I would say was a down year for the Cavaliers, despite their 1st place finish in the East. The big three didn’t look well-coordinated with Love especially often looking lost. Kyrie took a long time coming back from his injury, and when he finally came back he didn’t look like the Kyrie we all know and enjoy watching.

Is the hot finish to the season a sign of what’s to come in the playoffs? Maybe, but I don’t think so. The dynamic duo of Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan has been phenomenal all year, playing as well as any backcourt in the NBA except for maybe the Splash Brothers. The Raptors have had themselves a great 56-26 season and look like a very dangerous threat to the Cavs. I’m just too uncertain about the Cavs’ big 3. Remember, they’ve never really had a full playoffs together at full health.

I have a feeling that the Raptors will be very hungry and energized, while the big 3 won’t be fully in sync and Lebron won’t be able to carry the team as well as he did last postseason. It will be a close series, probably going to 6 or 7 games, but the Cavs will come up just a little bit short. He couldn’t get them past one dynamic backcourt in Golden State last season, it’s hard to see him doing it again despite his crew being fully healthy.

Should Giants Give Terron Beckham a Shot?

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Why not?

If you haven’t heard by now, Odell Beckham’s cousin, Terron Beckham, is entering the 2016 NFL Draft. Having not played any college football, there is a lot Terron has to prove in order to wind up on an NFL roster. This mystery man has shown to be a physical specimen, and some of the numbers he’s put up at his pro day at TEST sports club recently are very intruiging.

The Giants were one of a handful of teams at the pro day held this past Thursday, and the man they came to see did not dissapoint. He posted a very solid 4.47 40-yard dash and looked smooth in his on-the-field drills, but especially wowed the scouts with his 44.-inch vertical jump and 36 reps on the 225 pound bench press. Both of those numbers would be the best of any player who performed at the  NFL Scouting Combine this past February. Whether all this means he will be hearing his name called on draft day I don’t know, but Terron definitely made a name for himself and is surely on teams’ radars.

With all that being said, there is much more than a good showing at a pro day that Terron needs to accomplish before making it onto an NFL roster. He most likely will be a late-round draft pick or a priority free agent, but then begins the process of rookie minicamps, OTA’s, and then training camp. He will need to impress in all of those and make it past the numerous rounds of cuts. This will be especially tough for him because of his lack of experience, putting him at a serious disadvantage than everyone else. It’s definitely a long shot, but he will get a chance.

Then the question comes into play on how Terron would fit in the Giants offense. They already have a deep group of running backs, with veterans like Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen and young guys like Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa. He will have a hard time finding the field unless the injury bug hits, which could very well happen, but is unlikely even for the Giants. Maybe the Giants can try to use him as a tight end/fullback kind of guy. He does possess the perfect build for it.

It is very doubtful that Terron will have any kind of impact in the NFL, but like I said earlier he will get a chance. It’s up to him to make the most of that chance, and if he plus an NFL team feels he’s ready, there is nothing stopping him. There is no reason why the Giants can’t pull the trigger and see what they he can do once the pads come on. Maybe it will surprise them and they’ll find themselves a hidden gem. After all, he would look insanely intimidating to defensive coordinators standing at 6 foot 230 lbs of pure muscle, and he does have some pretty talented family genes with Odell being his cousin. Also, just think of all the creatve memes and nickname that could be created with Terron. I already came up with a few, but I’m sure better ones will be discovered. Come on Jerry Reese, you never know unless you try.

Will Carmelo Ever Win a Title?

Detroit Pistons v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony. One of the most electrifying scorers in NBA history. A nine time all-star. A scoring champion. Most likely a future hall of famer. There are lots of accomplishments Melo has on his wall, but one big one still eludes him. That is an NBA champion award. Melo has never even played in an NBA Finals, let alone won one.

There are different opinions as to what the reason for this is. Some blame the teams he’s been on, others his coaches, and still others place the blame on Melo himself. Whatever the reason somebody comes up with may be, the real and most obvious reason is the fact that Melo is the only one holding himself back from a championship. Some of you may think I’m crazy, but let me explain myself.

Carmelo is a phenomenal player, and on the court he’s done everything that he’s been asked, but how he handles his business off the court is what holds him from holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy in his hands. I’m not talking about his personal life or anything like that, I’m talking about the decisions he’s made in the offseason as to how much money he makes and where he wants to play.

The most obvious example of this is the summer of 2014, the only time Melo became a free agent in his entire career. As you would expect, he had a line of teams eager to sign him, such as the Bulls, Lakers, Mavericks, and of course the Knicks. After narrowing it down to the Knicks and the Bulls, Melo had a big decision. He could either stay in his birth place and get the most money, or he could go to Chicago where he would have been the missing piece to a serious championship run. Ultimately he decided to stay in New York and sign a 5-year, $124 million dollar contract. This wasn’t necessarily a “bad decision” — he’s making $124 million dollars —  it just didn’t help him with his goal of winning a championship. In fact, 2 season into the contract, that goal is starting to become more and more in jeopardy.

When Melo re-signed with the Knicks, he ignored the fact that the Knicks were nowhere near being a contender. He knew they were in the rebuild, and was apparently committed to Phil Jackson’s plans for the team. So far, that commitment hasn’t worked well for him at all. Melo has gained nothing from making this decision besides the dough. I get Melo wanted to be loyal to New York, and we all appreciate it, but it just doesn’t make sense. The Knicks had the worst season in franchise history last year, and aren’t making the playoffs in 2016 either. They do have a future stud in rookie Kristaps Porzingis, but they don’t have their first round pick for 2016 as a result of the 2013 Andrea Bargnani trade (seriously?). The future is just one huge mystery for the Knicks, with no real plans put in place. As much as I love seeing Melo in a Knicks uniform, unless he leaves New York, which is becoming more of a possibility, I don’t see him ever winning a championship. I know Melo loves New York and desperately wants to win here, and we Knicks fans would love to see that, but his team is just falling apart in every fashion of the game. Unless they turn the tables and make some big changes, this team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Melo needs to follow the lead of his good friend Lebron James. Desperate to win a championship in his hometown Cleveland, he was willing to take a short-term contract so that the Cavaliers could snag more pieces to the puzzle. The result of this was a trip to the Finals, and another chance at it this year. We can even go back to Lebron’s Miami days, where he took less money to join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form arguably the best big three in NBA history. Along with this he got two NBA Championships and went to the Finals all four seasons he was in Miami. Lebron was willing to take less and put the hunger of winning a championship over the goal of how much money he makes.

I’m not saying Melo isn’t a team player, and I bet he’s a great guy. He has the right intentions, but he needs to realize that those intentions aren’t much of reality before it’s too late. He needs to put the goal of winning a championship ahead of his salary, and so far he hasn’t shown the ability to do that. It could be taking a pay cut, going to a new team, who knows. But until Melo makes smarter decisions and takes the extra step like Lebron did, winning a championship will remain solely a dream.

 

Grading the “New” York Giants

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I just have one question for Giants GM Jerry Reese: Who are you, and what have you done with the old Jerry Reese? Reese and the Giants have simply just gone all out this free agency, having thrown their old methods of not spending too much out the window. The Giants know they’re in a state where they need to fix this team, the defense especially, right now. The window is closing to give Eli his third Lombardi Trophy, and owners John Mara and Steve Tisch are just flat-out tired of seeing losing seasons from their team. We all are.

With all that said, Jerry Reese took this to heart and, knowing his job is on the line, slapped free agency in the face. I like this new side to him. In the first few days of free agency, Reese managed to get 3 of the top 15 free agents available, and re-sign another in JPP. He also managed to sign a linebacker who has a good amount of potential, and if healthy can provide a spark to that mediocre linebacking corps. Yes, I know the Giants overpaid for a lot of these guys. What did you expect! Not only is the NFL salary cap the highest it has ever been, but the Giants had around $60 million to spend, the fourth most in the league. It doesn’t matter a whole lot that they overpaid because they had the money to do it and for some of these guys, most notably Olivier Vernon, other teams were right behind them ready to pay similar prices. While I believe there will be more signings to come throughout the offseason, let’s get into my reactions for each signing throughout the Giants free agency frenzy so far.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul

To start off this busy free agency period, the Giants went ahead and made a crucial move by retaining Jason Pierre-Paul to a 1-year, $10 million dollar deal. This may have Giants fans wondering why they decided to keep the guy who basically plays with one hand and an unknown future. To answer this, the Giants did this, and it was the right decision, due to a number of reasons. To start off, they only signed JPP to a 1-year prove it deal. This gives them a low-risk, high-reward opportunity, and if he doesn’t pan out correctly the Giants won’t be losing much. Also, JPP has been improving with his hand. He recently reported that he will not be wearing the gigantic club on his hand anymore after getting surgery to repair his grip. This is crucial and will make life a lot easier for Jason moving forward. It is also good to have a guy come back who was drafted and developed by the Giants, and one who can mentor the younger guys along the line. The fact that Jason turned down the same kind of offer from a championship-caliber team in the Cardinals, who were offering him more money by the way, says something. He told reporters that he “has some unfinished business to take care of in NY,” so he really is loyal to this team. Kudos to Jerry Reese and the Giants by getting this one right and pulling such an intelligent deal with a familiar face.

Grade: A

 

CB Janoris Jenkins

The Giants opened up their spending spree by agreeing to a 5-year, $62.5 million dollar contract with electrifying cornerback Janoris Jenkins. In four seasons with the Rams, Jenkins has displayed his top-notch ball skills and playmaking ability. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and never backs away from an opponent. His style of play is risky because he often guesses on plays. If he guesses correctly, he seems like an All-Pro caliber corner, but if he guesses wrong, he looks lost and confused. To add on to this, the Giants definitely overpaid to get him even though he was arguably the best available corner on the market. They probably could have signed him for less but probably wanted to make sure that he was theirs, and I don’t blame them since they had a glaring need and the cap space to do so. Nevertheless, the Giants got themselves a durable, legitimate upgrade over oft-injured Prince Amukamara, who signed with the Jaguars. He is a top-shelf corner and will form one of the best cornerback tandems in the league alongside Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Grade: B+

DT Damon Harrison

Still very hungry this offseason, the Giants decided to buy a snack. Or a 350-pound defensive tackle nicknamed “Snacks.” The Giants inked dominant defensive big man Damon “Snacks” Harrison from the cross-town rival New York Jets. I absolutely love this signing. Here the Giants have a guy who won’t impress you with the flashy sack numbers or the lengthy highlight reels, but he is just as important, if not more. He is an immovable brick wall in the middle of the line, and one of the best in the entire league. He manhandles running backs every week and draws double teams so that others can excel around him. Harrison is a lot like Victor Cruz in terms of his journey to the pros. As an undrafted free agent out of William Penn University, Harrison had to prove to the NFL that he was the best. He is a guy with an amazing attitude and is determined to be the best even to this day. He knows his journey and plays with that kind of toughness and hunger on the field. Harrison does the dirty work and plays a position that often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. That changes with him getting a 5-year, $46 million dollar deal to put on Giants blue and wreck offensive linemen alongside Jonathan Hankins for years to come. This may not be a sign that fills the headlines, but it’s my favorite and one that will definitely pay off on Sunday.

Grade: A+

DE Olivier Vernon

Just when you thought the Giants were done with the big signings comes the biggest one of them all. The one that leaves Giants fans ecstatic and NFL general managers speechless. The one that makes smoke come out of Tom Coughlin’s ears and Olivier Vernon richer than JJ Watt. A 5-year, $85 million dollar contract that makes Vernon leave the Miami sunshine for the New Jersey snow. The deal that puts the finishing touches on a completely revamped defensive line. Vernon is a rising star in the NFL, he can do everything and has never missed a game in his 4-year career. He can rush the passer and play the run equally as effective and doesn’t shy away from opponents. In fact, he’s had some of his best performances against some of the elite tackles in the league. What makes Vernon even more special is the fact that he is only 25 years old and entering the prime of his career. He will continue to get better every year and has all the ability to earn the insane amount of cash he is getting paid. Yes the Giants overpaid him a lot, but once again what did you expect? They also had to do it due to the fact that the Jaguars were breathing down their necks, ready to sign him. The Giants got themselves a hard-working guy, an athletic freak, and a very talented player who also has proved a lot in his career. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m super excited to get the chance to see the new defensive line of Vernon on one end, JPP on the other, and an inside consisting of Harrison and Hankins.

Grade: A-

 

LB Keenan Robinson

To finish up the first week of free agency, the Giants finally addressed their empty linebacking unit with the signing of four year veteran Keenan Robinson from the division rival Redskins. They inked him to a 1-year, $3.5 million dollar deal, hoping he will provide a spark and inject some energy to this unit. Robinson is very athletic and has a nose for reading plays, but he has a very lengthy injury history. He has yet to play a full 16-game season, and in 2013 he missed the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle. His best season was by far his 2014 campaign, when he only missed 3 games and notched 109 tackles to go along with 1.5 sacks and an interception. Since then it’s been an up-and-down road for Robinson, battling injuries and losing his starting job. Although this is a low-risk, high-reward type signing, and Robinson can definitely be a pleasant surprise when healthy, I just don’t see why they replace one injury-prone linebacker with another one, as newly-retired Jon Beason often dealt with injuries throughout his career. This could pay off nicely, but there were better options available and I think this is just too risky of a move.

Grade: C+

LB Jasper Brinkley

Continuing to assemble their linebacking core, the Giants re-signed a familiar face; LB Jasper Brinkley. He was signed last offseason after being released by the Cowboys. Intending to serve as a backup and role player at most, Brinkley was asked to do more when injuries plagued the Giants linebackers. When being asked to start, Brinkley actually did a very solid job. He started 9 out of the 15 games he played, and finished the season with 67 tackles to go along with 4 forced fumbles and 1 sack. Brinkley served as a reliable veteran who masked a lot of the holes the defense had. He was a nice pleasant surprise for the Giants, and it’s no surprise the Giants resigned him to a 1-year deal. He and newly-signed Keenan Robinson will fill up the middle linebacker position and provide solid depth to the other linebacking spots.

Grade: B

FB Will Johnson

Finally turning the focus to the offensive side of the ball, the Giants made their first offensive signing when they inked ex-Steeler FB Will Johnson to a 2-year deal. This is an interesting signing with a player I am unfamiliar with. As I looked more into him and what he can bring to the Giants, I became more and more intrigued. Johnson is a guy who is very versatile, and that’s something NFL teams love. Not only can he help tremendously with protecting Eli and the running backs, but he can also play tight end if needed. Also a special teams ace, Johnson is a valuable weapon and should be used a lot of different ways. I guess this means FB Nikita Whitlock will see more snaps on defense, which isn’t a bad thing considering the Giants injury history. Nevertheless, good signing by the Giants.

Grade: B+

OL Ryan Seymour, OL Dillon Farrell

Nothing really special with these signings here. Just two journeymen who have bounced around numerous teams throughout their short careers. They’re competing for backup roles on the offensive line, or they could end up being just two more training camp bodies. Who knows.

Grade: C

LB Kelvin Sheppard

Turning their attention back to defense, the Giants decided to continue to boost their linebackers core with the addition of 6-year veteran Kelvin Sheppard. Sheppard is coming off a career year with Miami in which he recorded 105 tackles and played in all 16 games. He will compete for a starting spot but will most likely be a key rotational player. He is a very solid veteran which makes for a very solid value signing in the second wave of free agency.

Grade: B

 

RB Bobby Rainey

The Giants quickly turned back to offense with he addition of ex-Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey. This is a signing that I’m both confused and not too crazy about. Throughout his career Rainey has never been a big factor in the offense, racking up only 990 rushing yards and 377 receiving yards in five seasons. He had served as a valuable return specialist, but the Gianrs already have one of the best in the league in Dwayne Harris. I just don’t see a role for Rainey on the roster, as the Giants already have four capable running backs ahead of Rainey. Maybe a guy like Andre Williams gets traded for a draft pick? Who knows, but all in all I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rainey not make the roster when final cuts come around.

Grade: C

 

OT Byron Stingily

The Giants finally add an offensive tackle!  He didn’t play a single snap last season, but they still signed an offensive tackle (I say less excitedly). The 27-year old has played in 20 games over his career, only making 9 starts. After a 4-year stint with Tennessee, he joined the Steelers and was supposed to be the backup for OT Kelvin Beachum. When Beachum went down with a torn acl, though, Stingily wasn’t even activated for a single game. He could serve as a decent backup, or maybe he won’t even make the team at all. This was strictly a depth signing.

Grade: C+

 

New York Giants 2016 Mock Draft

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The New York Giants entered the offseason with numerous holes scattered across their roster. When free agency came along a couple of weeks ago, general manager Jerry Reese filled some of the major holes by taking advantage of their loads of cap space and signing some of the top free agents available. They enter the 2016 draft in a much more comfortable position now, but they still have a bunch of holes to fill.

Ever since free agency ended, the majority of Giants mock drafts have shifted from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side of the ball. They think that a team who finished with the worst defense in all of the NFL last season, after only signing four free agents and still possessing needs on all three levels, can all of a sudden put to rest the need of possibly getting a game-changing talent to solidify the defense in exchange for yet another offensive weapon. Now don’t get me wrong, offensive weapons are essential to have, especially when you have aging quarterback like the Giants do in Eli Manning, but they have enough to the point where they can look to add more weapons in later rounds rather than grabbing someone with the 10th overall pick.

It’s time to put the focus back on defense, the unit that should be the main talk inside the war room when the Giants are on the clock with the 10th pick.

ROUND ONE: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Opening up the draft, the Giants need to attack all areas of the defense, so they’re main focus should be the best defensive guy available. With the first two picks likely to be quarter back thanks to the blockbuster trades, there could be some legitimate studs available. One guy very likely to be there is Hargreaves, who would be the missing piece to complete a stellar group of corner backs. Hargreaves may not have ideal size, but I’ve believed for months now that scouts are making too big of a deal about that. Some of the top corners in the game possess his size or some even shorter, so I think there won’t be much of a problem at all with Hargreaves translating his game to the pros. With the Giants having a great tandem of of DRC and Janoris Jenkins, Hargreaves will only need to play the slot for the first few years of his career. Maybe he can even see some free safety, and he will provide valuable depth that was lacking. He has great coverage ability, elite ball skills, and he is a very physical player. Adding him would be a great addition and make the Giants feel a lot better about having a future replacement when DRC eventually decids to move on.

ROUND TWO: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

The Giants still need to add another pass rusher to complete their totally revamped defensive line. With a top-five talent in Nkemdiche slipping to the second round due to off-the-field concerns, the Giants are ecstatic when they see him available with the 40th pick. If this draft were based solely on talent and ability, Nkemdiche could arguably be the number one overall pick and definitely a top 5 pick. Since he has some concerns off the field, he is expected to take a fall in the draft similar to Randy Gregory last year. Nkemdiche would be the perfect addition to the defensive line. He would raise the defense to a whole new level, and transform the line. He will become an extremely valuable weapon and really help take some of the load off the starters. He also can prove to be a valuable replacement just in case Jonathan Hankins doesn’t get re-signed following this season. He has amazing power, a physical build similar to that of JJ Watt, and freakish athletic ability. Picture this Giants fans, a defensive line consisting of JPP and Vernon on the ends, Harrison and Hankins in the middle, and a clean Nkemdiche plus a healthy Owa in the rotation. Yeah, I’m smiling too.

ROUND THREE: Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech

The Giants will definitely find themselves a right tackle in the first three rounds, and I think round three is the best time. They need defense first and foremost, and with the luck they’ve had with their first two picks, I’m sure they are happy to wait till now. With Le’Raven Clark still sitting there, Jerry Reese and the Giants are counting their blessings. Clark, standing at 6’5″ 316 lbs, possesses ideal size and physical build. He has great quickness and instincts, and was very productive in both run and pass blocking. He can play either tackle spot and will get better every year. He can start from day 1 and grow alongside the rest of this young offensive line to become an elite tackle. Clark really has Pro Bowl potential, and while it is rare he will be available this late, every mock draft has to have a surprise or two. If the Giants first three pick go like this, nobody will be complaining.

ROUND FOUR: Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa

Even though I’m confident the Giants will add a veteran wideout after the draft, they desperately need to find their future number 2 wide receiver with the VIctor Cruz uncertainty. They need somebody who possess great size and good hands that will draw double teams and compliment Odell beautifully. Keyarris Garrett is the perfect guy for this. Standing at 6’3″ 220 lbs, he has the size scouts drool over. He also possess the ability to go up and snatch footballs out of the air. He will almost certaintly draw double teams from time to time, especially in the red zone. He will give defensive coordinators somebody else to worry about, and will grow and get better every year. Drawing lots of similarities to Calvin Johnson coming out of college, Garrett has the chance to be a very productive wideout in the NFL.

ROUND FIVE: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

Ah, Jaylon Smith. The Giants, after filling four big needs with their first four picks, are able to sit back and take a guy who is the biggest mystery in the draft, but could also be the biggest steal of the draft. Despite his injury he was most likely projected to be a late first, early second round pick, but mocks have him scattered all over. With his most recent medical check not showing any signs of improvement, I think there will just be too much uncertainty and teams will become afraid to take him due to the multiple injuries and nerve damage he currently has. I could honestly see Smith lasting until day three of the draft, and NFL.com has him projected to go in rounds 5-6. So nobody really knows. Nevertheless, if this happens the Giants could very well have snag a future All-pro at linebacker. He very well could have been the first overall pick if he didn’t have the injury. Drawing comparisons to Luke Keuchly, Khalil Mack, and Derrick Johnson to name a few, Smith could pay off immensly for the team that takes him. He has great size and build at 6’2″ 223 lbs, is extremely versatile, and has jaw-dropping ahtleticism to go along with amazing explosiveness. They may have to wait a year, but that’s such a small price to pay when you get the next great NFL linebacker in the fifth round.

ROUND SIX: Landon Turner, OG, North Carolina

To close out an extremely productive draft, the Giants add some much needed depth to their offensive line, and someone who can compete for that starting right guard spot. Turner, 6’4″ 330 lbs, has electrifying force centering around his insane lower body. He simply demolishes his blockers, and really makes sure he finishes the job. He is improving in his pass protection, but still has lots of room for improvement at that area. With Bobby Hart looking promising, Turner can play a backup role and get used to the system to maybe one day become a starter. This could be a nice value pick in the late rounds of the draft and pay off pretty well.