2017 New York Giants Mock Draft

Miami Hurricanes vs North Carolina Tar Heels

With the 2017 NFL Draft right around the corner, it’s time for me to release my highly-anticipated, world famous New York Giants seven-round mock draft. Enjoy (I hope you’re reading this Jerry).

Round 1: David Njoku, TE, Miami

There are definitely a number of options the Giants could have with their first pick. They could look to beef up their offensive line, especially if some of the top tackles are available, but I could only really see them drafting either Garret Bolles (Utah) or Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) and I don’t think either of them will be there at 23. They could look to add to their linebacker core with a guy like Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt), or maybe their running game with a guy like Christian McCaffrey (Stanford). With all these options the Giants could have on Thursday night, if tight end David Njoku is there when they pick the Giants need to take him.

A New Jersey native, Njoku is one of the most dynamic athletes in this entire draft class. Winning the High Jump National Championship during his senior year at Cedar Grove High School demonstrates just how physically gifted this guy is and previews some of the rare traits he can bring to the NFL. He may not be as complete of a prospect as OJ Howard (Alabama), but Njoku will bring exactly what the Giants need to their tight end group and their offense as a whole. Just imagine the type of damage a lineup consisting of Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall on the outside with Sterling Shepard and Njoku on the inside could create every single Sunday. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Njoku is the perfect play-making tight end that the Giants haven’t had in a long time. This is a guy who has All-Pro potential and can put the Giants offense over the top. They need him.

Round 2: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

With the recent news that defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins decided to sign with the Colts, the Giants now have a hole on the defensive line next to Damon “Snacks” Harrison. They are left with two inexperienced players: 2014 third round pick Jay Bromley and journeyman Robert Thomas. They need someone who can step in and make an immediate impact. McDowell can be that guy.

One of the most talented and physically-gifted players in this draft class, McDowell is also one of the biggest gambles. He has unbelievable talent and athleticism, but character concerns and reports of laziness on the field have hurt his draft stock. This is a player who could be a top-10 pick, he just needs to show he can play like one consistently. His concerns could make him available when the Giants pick in the second round and despite those concerns, with good coaching and leaders around him McDowell can find his motivation and thrive. The Giants would be perfect for McDowell, as he would be starting alongside Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, and Harrison; three great leaders. If the Giants can unlock McDowell’s full potential and fix his flaws, this will be the biggest steal of the draft.

Round 3: Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

Alright. I’m tired of Jerry Reese and the Giants paying minimal attention to the offensive tackle positions, which has been just a bunch of failed draft picks and veterans who haven’t contributed as expected. This team still believes in 2015 first round pick Ereck Flowers even after two rocky seasons at left tackle, and while it would be great if he finally breaks out this year, the Giants need to have another guy competing with him for that position. Antonio Garcia (Troy) is an intriguing prospect who would make a lot of sense for the Giants in the third round.

Garcia, standing at 6’6″ and 302 lbs., is a big prospect who has outstanding athleticism and quickness. He is a little raw but can turn into a franchise left tackle easily if he gets drafted into the right situation, and the Giants would be a great fit. The Giants need to add as many bodies and as much competition along the offensive line as they can. Garcia is capable of making an immediate impact and developing into a top-shelf tackle in the NFL.

Round 4: D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

There have been rumored reports that the Giants are interested in signing 30-year-old power back LeGarrette Blount. Despite these rumors, it would make more sense to draft a young power back to complement Paul Perkins. By drafting a back you can develop a chemistry between the two for years to come, where Blount would most likely be on the decline and he’ll be signed to a short-term deal anyways. In the fourth round, a guy like D’Onta Foreman would be a fantastic value pick.

Foreman (6’0″, 233lbs.) is a big, powerful back with rare athleticism and speed for someone his size. He finished second in the nation last season with 2,028 rushing yards and also produced 15 touchdowns. His stock isn’t as high as it should be due to a loaded running back class and him having only one year of top-level production, but he would be a perfect complement to the speedy and shifty Paul Perkins, helping improve the Giants non-existent rushing attack. Foreman may take some time to develop, but he can still step in and help right away. The young duo of Foreman and Perkins could create a quality 1-2 punch in the running game that the Giants haven’t had in a while.

Round 5: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida

The Giants defense went through one of the biggest and quickest turn-arounds in NFL history. This unit as a whole was fantastic for most of last year. While the defensive line and secondary are amongst the league’s best, the one weak link of this defense is the linebacking unit.

In Alex Anzalone, we have a very talented player who has been plagued by a long list of injuries throughout his collegiate career. This has limited his production and could result in teams shying away from him on draft day. While he might not slide all the way to the fifth round, it’s definitely possible. And if he does, a first-round talent in the fifth round would be too good for the Giants to pass up, even with their recent habit of staying away from players that have injury concerns. Anzalone has the ideal blend of size, speed, and athleticism to make an immediate impact and take the Giants fantastic defense to the next level. Due to the greatness of their defense, this is the kind of low-risk, high-reward type signing that the Giants can afford to take a gamble on in day three, even if it is at a position of weakness.

Round 6: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

You can never have enough pass-rushers, and that is a motto the Giants are very familiar with. This team already has two of the best defensive ends in the NFL with Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, but beyond that lies a bunch of uncertainty. You have second-year undrafted free agent Romeo Okwara, who the Giants like and who showed some promise last season, but you never know how he will pan out. Then there’s third-year man Owa Odighizuwa who has a lot of talent but is one big question mark with the inability to stay healthy and his recent comments about possibly taking some time away from football. So, as you can see, it definitely wouldn’t hurt the Giants to add another guy to this group.

Enter Tanoh Kpassagnon (some of these names I just don’t understand); a raw but insanely physical freak who can become a good player if drafted into the proper fit. Standing at 6’7″ and 289 lbs. of pure muscle with 35-inch arms, Kpassagnon (lets just call him TK) is ridiculous. Playing behind two legitimate leaders in Vernon and JPP (who is an athletic freak that became a star) would be crucial for TK’s development. If the Giants are able to develop TK and make both him and a guy like Okwara valuable edge rushers to take some of the load off Vernon and JPP, then that will be huge for this defense.

Round 7: Aviante Collins, OG, TCU

The Giants have done a solid job of adding depth along the offensive line during free agency, but you can never have enough depth at any position so the Giants should look to add more.

Collins, who put together a fantastic combine performance with a 4.81 40-yard dash and 34 reps on the bench press, has intriguing athleticism and toughness that can result in him having success in the NFL. He is very raw and will be a developmental project, but there is a lot to work with. Collins is a guy who can serve as a backup for his first couple of years, learn from coaches and veterans along the line, and potentially work his way into the starting lineup down the line. In the seventh round, that’s exactly the kind of player every team should aim to draft.

 

 

Grading the 2017 “New” York Giants: Free Agency

img

The New York Giants had much more of a quiet free agency approach this year due to their lack of cap space. While last year they were throwing money around to land top-tier players like it was nothing, this year they mainly focused on retaining their own guys and shopping for bargain-bin free agents. This doesn’t mean the Giants didn’t make some quality moves, however. They made moves that can definitely improve their team this season and get them closer to being Super Bowl contenders. Lets check out my grades and analysis for the 2017 New York Giants:

WR Brandon Marshall

Before free agency officially began, the Giants wasted no time and inked super star wide out Brandon Marshall to a 2-year, $11 million deal. After being released, the former Jets receiver had the Giants as his number one destination. He didn’t want to leave the New York/New Jersey area and he wanted to play for a contender. In the end, this deal worked out perfectly for both Marshall and the Giants.

Marshall fills a huge need in the Giants offense and provides much more of an upgrade than what Victor Cruz brought to the table last year. Not only does Marshall give the Giants that big, tall target they desperately needed, but he also brings an element of physicality and leadership that will pay huge dividends. Odell Beckham Jr. may be one of the best players in the NFL, but he also can be one of the biggest headaches in the NFL. Having a guy who’s been where Odell is right now will be monumental for Odell’s growth and maturity.

Marshall, being only one year removed from a monster season where he racked up 14 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards receiving, gives Eli a legitimate security blanket who would take a huge load off of Odell. Now the Giants possess arguably the NFL’s most dangerous reviving core with the three-headed monster of Marshall, Odell, and second-year man Sterling Shepard. Marshall will be a leader on and off the field, a great locker-room presence, and a big success with Big Blue. This was a match made in heaven that can really put this Giants team over the top.

Grade: A+

TE/FB Rhett Ellison

Blocking in general, whether it was at the offensive line or the skill positions, was a big problem last season. The Giants knew this, so they signed Rhett Ellison, the 6th year TE/FB who will add a much-needed dimension to the offense that was nonexistent last year after Will Johnson got hurt. Ellison, a tough and physical pounder, is a very underrated but smart signing by Jerry Reese and Co.

When I say Ellison is tough and physical, I mean tough and physical. Check out this video of him absolutely destroying Von Miller if you want some proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VehxtjQmIHQ

Yeah….that is what he will bring to this Giants offense. I don’t know about you, but seeing that gets me really excited. And aside from tearing his patellar tendon in the Vikings 2015 regular-season finale, Ellison hasn’t suffered any major injuries and has remained relatively healthy. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t that the same injury Victor Cruz had?” Yes it is, but the difference between the two is that Ellison had a much easier road to recovery than Cruz. Also, Cruz’s position required lots of speed and shiftiness, while Ellison’s position really requires none of that. Ellison also made a relatively quick recovery, and he was back for the start of the 2016 season, which is remarkable. That goes to show the kind of effort and determination Ellison has.

This guy will be a nice fit in the Giants offense and he will end up being a valuable piece in terms of helping out the offensive line in run-blocking and pass-protection, and in terms of depth at the tight end position.

Grade: B+

OG/OT DJ Fluker

Finally turning at least a little bit of their attention to the offensive line, Jerry Reese went out and snatched 2013 first-round pick DJ Fluker. In four seasons with the Chargers, Fluker was an average player but mostly considered a disappointment since he never blossomed into the legitimate lineman he was expected to become. Despite his disappointing career up to this point, Fluker is eager and hungry to prove his value in this league and silence all his critics, which is why I think this was a smart signing by the Giants.

By inking Fluker to a one year, $3 million prove-it deal, the Giants are risking close to nothing. If Fluker blossoms into a good player with the Giants, then he’ll play out the deal and try to earn a nice paycheck next offseason. If he remains a disappointment, the Giants can just let him go after this season and they only would have paid him a minimal amount of money. This is a low-risk, high-reward type signing that could make Jerry Reese look like a genius if it works out.

Grade: B+

QB Geno Smith

The Giants shocked and confused many people around the league by signing troubled quarterback Geno Smith to compete for the backup role behind Eli Manning. In four seasons with the New York Jets that were filled with injuries and off-the-field problems, it remains to be seen why the Giants chose to sign Smith after being known to stay away from guys with his kind of history. And coming off a torn ACL last season, Smith is still recovering and probably won’t be fully healthy until training camp.

With all that being said, maybe a change of scenery is what Smith needs. There is no doubt he’s a talented player, possessing great athleticism, arm strength, and a quick release. Ben McAdoo even went the distance to say that Smith could very well be Eli’s successor. While I don’t see that happening at all, if Smith comes back healthy and shows drastic improvement both on-and-off the field, then I guess it’s a possibility. And with a very cheap deal, the Giants have barely any money at all tied into Smith. The most likely scenario, though, is that Smith will either play out his one-year deal as the backup to Eli, or he won’t even make the 53-man roster.

Grade: C

CB Valentino Blake

After losing some depth at the cornerback position when Coty Sensabaugh signed with the Steelers, the Giants quickly took care of that by scooping up 6th-year defensive back Valentino Blake. There isn’t really much to make of this signing. Blake has been a solid role player throughout his time in the NFL while also being a nice special teams contributor. With the top three cornerback spots locked in barring any injuries, Blake probably won’t see a whole lot of time with the defense and will most likely see the majority of his snaps on special teams. Blake will provide veteran depth, though, which is always a valuable asset to have just in case someone does get hurt.

Grade: C+

QB Josh Johnson (re-signed)

What was even more surprising about the Geno Smith signing is that the Giants signed him right after they re-signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson. While it’s clear that they want Johnson and Smith to battle it out for the backup quarterback position in training camp, I still don’t like the Smith signing. Anyway, getting back to Johnson, I like that the Giants brought him back. He is a veteran option who knows the system and will only improve in understanding the playbook this season.

The hope and likely scenario is that neither Johnson nor Smith will ever see the field once the regular season begins. In the one-in-a-billion chance that Eli does get injured, I would feel much more comfortable with Johnson taking over then I would with Smith.

Grade: B

OG John Jerry (re-signed)

The Giants once again turned back their attention to the offensive line by bringing back a familiar face in guard John Jerry, who has started 40 out of 48 games for the Giants while never missing a single game. Jerry, while he isn’t perfect, was a real solid lineman for the Giants last season. He worked extremely hard last offseason and his improvement showed. He earned a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 77 and an 84.1 grade in pass blocking. Those are pretty good numbers.

Jerry, Fluker, and third-year linemen Bobby Hart will provide nice competition on that right side of the line. My prediction is that Jerry will maintain the right guard position, Fluker becomes the starting right tackle, and Hart becomes the main backup at both positions. Jerry was signed to a nice, affordable deal (3 years, $10 million) and can become a leader to the guys he is competing with. The offensive line may not be perfect, but bringing back a guy like Jerry is big because you most likely wouldn’t find anyone better at that spot and Jerry will continue to grow in a system he is now familiar with.

Grade: B+

LB Mark Herzlich (re-signed)

Before the Giants made an effort to retain some of the centerpieces of their defense, they went and brought back some valuable role players as well. That’s exactly what they did when they re-signed 7th-year linebacker Mark Herzlich to a 1-year deal for $855K. Herzlich may not be a starting linebacker, but he is definitely a valuable role player and special teams guy. Herzlich has also been a great leader to this Giants team ever since he was unsigned as an UDFA back in 2011. This is a guy who has overcome a lot and he deserves to be back with the Giants for at least one more year.

Grade: C+

 

DE Jason Pierre-Paul (re-signed)

The number one goal for the Giants this offseason has been to keep their defense together, with bringing back Jason Pierre-Paul being the most prominent move. Well, a couple of months after slapping him with the franchise tag, the Giants and JPP were able to come to terms on a fresh four-year deal. This was huge for a number of reasons. If the Giants would have lost JPP, that would have been a colossal blow to their elite-ranked defense. With all that time and money spent by Jerry Reese last offseason to improve the unit, it would seem like almost a waste if you lose one of the main centerpieces the following year. The Giants then would have had to desperately try and find guys to make up for JPP’s absence and it would have just turned into one big mess.

While JPP did miss a good part of last season with a groin injury, including their playoff game against Green Bay, when he was healthy he showed that he was just as dominant as before he suffered his infamous July 4th fireworks incident. Besides, JPP is one of those guys who needs to be a Giant for life. It would just look too strange seeing him playing for any other team. Kudos to the Giants for accomplishing their number one goal and retaining their most important free agent for at least the next four years.

Grade: A

LB Keenan Robinson

The Giants most recent transaction was the re-signing of linebacker Keenan Robinson. I, for one, am really happy the Giants and Robinson were able to come to terms on a contract. Robinson was an under-valued piece on this Giants defense, and while his ratings (78th out of 87 qualifiers on PFF) may not be so good, he was definitely our best coverage linebacker. He racked up 86 tackles last season, and he also played his first full 16-game season. Robinson will only continue to grow in the system during year two and should improve in the areas where he wasn’t as strong in.

Grade: B

 

Building the Giants Perfect Offseason Plan

jerry-reese-4c3c811ffba7077c

Despite the crash-and-burn that was Wild Card Weekend, the Giants put together a successful season in which they returned to the postseason for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in 2011. Sure there were the ups and downs, the surprises and disappointments, but in the end there is definitely a lot to be excited about for Giants fans going forward. The Giants have a very important offseason coming up. It’s crucial for them to have success both in free agency and the draft like last year in order to seriously contend for a championship while Eli Manning is still under center, which isn’t much longer.

Last season was a fantastic offseason for the Giants. They spent a truckload of money on durable defensive stars to turn the league’s worst unit in 2015 to one of the league’s best in 2016. They also had a very productive draft class where even a number of undrafted free agents became quality contributors for this team. It was exactly what they needed, but they’re going to need it again.

It’s going to be harder for the Giants to add quality pieces this offseason with a number of players becoming free agents, less cap space, and a lower draft pick. But they can do it. If they follow my guide to another successful offseason, the Giants will win the franchise’s 5th Super Bowl next season for sure. The cheat sheet is right here, all Jerry Reese needs to do is read this article. You’re welcome Jerry. With that, let’s dive in:

Bring back Jason Pierre-Paul

The Giants have a number of their own free agents who they would like to re-sign, but at the top of the list should be Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP has been cornerstone for this team ever since getting drafted 15th overall in 2010. He is one of the NFL’s most explosive pass rushers and he proved this season that he can still be elite even with 7 1/2 fingers due to his July 4th fireworks accident.

JPP isn’t coming cheap, he’s reportedly only signing a long-term deal for around what the Giants paid Olivier Vernon last year. That’s going to be a lot of money invested into the defensive line, but it’s worth it. When healthy the triple threat of JPP and Vernon along with Snacks in the middle was absolutely dynamic. Jonathan Hankins is another key guy becoming a free agent. He is a very good player but his game is too similar to Snacks. They need more of a pass rushing presence to pair with Snacks on the inside rather then two run-stuffers.

The Giants know what they have in JPP. He may have trouble staying on the field at times, but they can’t risk losing a proven talent like him. If JPP goes somewhere else the defensive line will have a big hole and the Giants will be forced to go with a bunch of unproven options. The Giants need JPP and need to do everything in their power to keep him.

Keep DRC, cut Cruz and Jennings

Cutting players is never easy, and the Giants are going to be faced with a number of tough decisions this offseason. Players like cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, wide receiver Victor Cruz, and running back Rashad Jennings are veterans who are getting paid a good amount of money and might need to be let go in order to clear up cap space. What the Giants should do is keep DRC and cut Cruz and Jennings, and there are a number of reasons for this.

In the beginning of the season I understand why DRC would be on the hot seat, especially with the selection of Eli Apple in the first round of last year’s draft, but now the Giants would be insane to let him go. DRC had arguably the best season of his career this season, racking up 49 tackles and 6 interceptions while splitting time on the outside and in the slot. He was named a Second Team All-Pro and proved he’s still a top corner in the NFL. He also serves as a quality leader for the younger guys in the secondary like Apple. The Giants need to keep him around.

When it comes to Cruz, this one breaks my heart. Ever since coming into the league Cruz has been my absolute favorite player and I adore both him and his story. But he just isn’t the same player that he was before his two major leg injuries. This season he managed 39 receptions for 586 yards and only 1 salsa dance which came all the way back in Week 1. He was moved to the outside a lot of the time with rookie Sterling Shepard playing the slot, and you could tell he didn’t look as comfortable there. Cruz is slated to make around $10 million in 2017, and the Giants can save a large amount of money by cutting him. It just makes too much sense. That is simply too much money tied into your third wide receiver who is now a shell of his former self. We all love you Vic, none of us want this to happen, but unfortunately it’s time to move on.

With Jennings, this is another fan favorite amongst Giants fans. Since being signed by the Giants in 2014, Jennings has become a leader and valuable role model for younger players. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to him, but his production and salary just don’t add up. Last season especially, Jennings struggled to do much at all when he had the ball in his hands. Too often he produced a series of 1-yard runs and didn’t make it past the line of scrimmage a whole lot. He only put together 794 all-purpose yards, scoring 4 total touchdowns in the process. He is also 31, so his game is on the decline. The Giants want to build their ground game around promising rookie Paul Perkins and add another back via the draft most likely. They can save around $3 million by cutting Jennings, and even though it will be difficult to see such a loyal and popular player go, the Giants need to make this move.

 

Find a legit left tackle already

Just writing about this pisses me off. The Giants have overlooked the most important position on the offensive line for long enough now, and it needs to stop in order for this team to be successful. The right guard and right tackle positions along with the overall depth of the line could use some strengthening as well, but left tackle is the most important need. Especially with a 36-year-old Eli Manning at quarterback who is on the decline, the already huge need for an adequate blindside protector becomes even bigger.

Ereck Flowers isn’t going to cut it. I know Reese and Ben McAdoo are going to continue to try and defend the 2015 1st-round pick all they can, but it’s time to recognize the mistake that’s been made and move him to the right side. I mean Flowers has just been awful. When he isn’t getting flagged for holding he’s actually shoving edge rushers into Eli. I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to do that. Flowers is the perfect example of why technique is more important than physical abilities. Hopefully by moving him to the right side it will save Reese from yet another wasted draft pick.

It would be best for the Giants to go out and grab an established veteran through free agency. They don’t have the time to put another rookie or unproven player in there and wait for him to develop. They need someone who can step in and contribute right away. Andrew Whitworth, the 11-year man from the Cincinnati Bengals, would be the perfect signing. At 35, Whitworth is a proven veteran who knows how to get the job done. He made the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons (including this season) and made First Team All-Pro in 2015, which proves he’s still playing at an elite level despite his age. He may not be a long-term solution, but he is the perfect win-now option. Eli will feel very comfortable having a left tackle close to his age. Sign him to a two-year deal, add an experienced leader to that line like Whitworth and it will go a long way next season.

Draft OJ Howard

The Giants need another tight end. Larry Donnell should be cut immediately. What was once a guy who looked like a hidden gem has become a turnover waiting to happen whenever he catches a pass. Will Tye is a reliable chain-mover, and rookie Jerell Adams is raw but he showed flashes this season. I expect Adams to take a big step next season, but the Giants still need to add another tight end to the mix. That guy should be Alabama star OJ Howard. Yes there will be good options in free agency and some might think it makes more sense to focus on a tight end later in the draft since this draft class is the deepest we’ve seen in years, but taking Howard with your first round pick is definitely the best option.

When you look at Howard’s game, he is as well-rounded as they come. Like everybody there are some things in his game that he could touch up on, but there aren’t any major weaknesses. He has great size and strength at 6’6″ and 250 lbs. He has great hands, route running ability, and breakaway speed. He’s also proven to be a very strong blocker in the running and passing game. He’s an intelligent guy and a team player, and you can tell he’s serious about maximizing his full potential by staying at Alabama an extra year. While it is uncertain, even to Howard, as to why he got relatively low usage at Alabama, Howard has played well enough to prove he’s the best tight end prospect in this stacked class. He balled out this past week at the Senior Bowl, which will only help his draft stock even more.

Howard is the kind of player who can step right in immediately and help the Giants offense. He would give Eli a much-needed security blanket and take pressure off guys like Odell and Shepard. With the way his stock is rising it may be more unlikely that he’s available when the Giants pick, but this team needs Howard and they should do whatever they can to make sure he’s on the roster next season.

Start to focus on Eli’s successor, but don’t rush it

That time all Giants fans have been avoiding for years has unfortunately arrived. Eli Manning may still have a few more seasons left in the NFL, but it’s time to start thinking about who will take over once he retires. However, while this season is a good time to start looking at quarterbacks who can be potential replacements, that doesn’t mean you go out of your way to draft one and call the offseason a failure if you don’t find anybody you like. The last thing anybody wants is Jerry Reese making a panic move for a guy the Giants aren’t even sure they want.

Since it would make the most sense for the Giants to draft and develop Eli’s replacement, this offseason should be the time where the Giants start looking at quarterbacks beyond this draft class. Unless Deshaun Watson or Deshone Kizer fall to them, which probably won’t happen, the Giants shouldn’t be banking on this draft class to be the one where they find their man. The 2016 class isn’t a particularly strong one for quarterbacks, with even the top guys plagued with question marks. Now that might not matter as much with the Giants cause they won’t need a guy to step in right away, but it’s still definitely something to consider. Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech is the only guy I could see being a nice mid-round pick if he lasts that long, but the Giants might want to focus on more immediate needs.

Maybe the Giants will pull together a blockbuster trade for a quarterback already in the NFL. We don’t know, but you have to admit it would be pretty cool to see Jerry Reese do something like that. However they choose to land Eli’s successor is up to them, but even Jerry Reese knows it’s time to start looking. Ryan Nassib isn’t the answer. Josh Johnson definitely isn’t the answer. It’s time to start getting your feet wet and taking a look at the options you have going forward.

Don’t forget about linebacker, running back, etc.

Lastly, the Giants could really use some upgrading in multiple positions. Linebacker is the most glaring one, but they also need to add another running back and receiver. These aren’t as major as the needs in the offensive line or at tight end, but they should be strengthened to make the team more well-rounded.

The one weakness of the Giants stellar defense this season was the linebacking group. Steve Spagnuolo lacked a big-time playmaker at the linebacker position and it would have been really useful to have one. Jonathan Casillas proved to be a true leader for the defense and had a good year all around, racking up almost 100 tackles. Devon Kennard shredded the injury-prone label this season and had a solid year overall, while free agent signees Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard were solid contributors who I think should be brought back. You also got rookie 4th-round pick B.J. Goodson who was really good on special teams and should get a lot more playing time with the defense going forward. But the Giants really need to add a dynamic linebacker to take the defense to the next level. There are a number of ways Reese can attack this. The draft offers some promising options, and maybe Reese will break his trend of not drafting linebackers in the first round by drafting a guy like Zach Cunningham from Vanderbilt or Tim Williams from Alabama. They could also try and sign a linebacker via free agency like Melvin Ingram or Nick Perry. Whatever they do they should definitely try and add a legit playmaker to this group.

When it comes to running back the Giants already have a guy who can be a feature back in this league with rookie 5th-round pick Paul Perkins. Perkins showed great vision, speed, and shiftiness when given a chance and a lot of people are excited about him. However, just cause they have something with Perkins doesn’t mean the Giants couldn’t use a big and powerful runner to pair up with Perkins. The really could and they really should get one. They could look to free agency at guys like Eddie Lacy or LeGarrette Blount, but I think they should try and draft D’Onta Foreman from Texas instead. Foreman rushed for over 2,000 yards this year and has the ideal blend of size, speed, and strength to excel in the NFL. when it comes to adding another receiver the Giants need to bring in a big-bodied guy. Odell and Sheppard are fantastic players but they stand at 5’11” and 5’10” respectively. Throw in a guy with size and this can be the most dynamic receiving core in the game. Think guys like Alshon Jeffery or Terrelle Pryor in free agency, assuming they hit the market.

As I mentioned before, this is going to be an extremely important offseason. It might even be more important than last year. Jerry Reese is once again going to be put under the ultimate general manager test following an 11-5 season. We’ll see if he can keep at least the majority of the defense together while improving major needs on the offense under a limited cap and a draft pick in the early 20’s. If he does, then the Giants very well might be holding up that 5th Lombardi at this time next year.

 

The Odell Crisis

NFL: New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

Alright, this is getting out of hand.

This past couple of weeks have been complete hell for Odell Beckham, the Giants, and Giants fan. To go along with the teams 2-game losing streak after starting the season 2-0, they’re in a really tough position with their best player. Odell is a very emotional and passionate player, we all know that. A lot of athletes are. What holds Odell back is the inability to control those emotions, and lately it’s really been hurting both him and his team. Look I love Odell, and as we’ve seen when he isn’t emotionally distracted, he is the best receiver in the game. But Odell needs to stop the constant crying and fighting with kicking nets, period. What also needs to stop, though, is the unfair treatment Odell is receiving from the officials and the NFL as a whole.

Odell is his own worst enemy, and if he doesn’t do his part to control his emotions and not get distracted by opposing players, then this problem will forever prevent Odell from reaching his peak. But the NFL needs to do their part too. It seems as if any official in a Giants game has now just become somebody who watches Odell Beckham’s every move and gets ready to throw a flag after every play. The most recent proof is Monday night’s game against Minnesota. There was no reason why Odell deserved to get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. No reason at all. Yes, Odell was complaining, but he had every right to in that situation. Anybody would have done the same exact thing if they got hit like that. Beckham was obviously hit late out of bounds by Xavier Rhodes. Anybody with fairly good eyesight could see that. Then a couple of plays later he gets hit late AGAIN, and no flag on Rhodes.

Then, going back two weeks ago against the Redskins, Odell squared up against Josh Norman for the second time. Odell clearly won the battle when it came to who the better player was, as he flat-out exposed Norman time and time again. But Norman overall got the advantage because of the fact that he got into Odell’s head once again. This is where Beckham has dug himself into a big hole.

If he hadn’t gotten into so many temper tantrums and hadn’t put himself in such a bad position, then he wouldn’t be such a targeted player around the NFL. He wouldn’t have to worry about saying something and then seeing a yellow flag hit the ground seconds later. He wouldn’t have to worry about every corner defending him taking cheap shots at him to try and get him off his game. He would still be having fun playing the game he loves and would be able to go out and dominate without any other distractions.

But, Odell isn’t in that position. He has some crucial fixing to do to repair his image. If he is serious about his team and his career, he will do whatever it takes to fix this situation. After coming out with recent comments this past week where he apologized for his actions and said how he is tired of setting bad examples for young children who look up to him, I think Odell has finally received the wake-up call he needed. I hope from this point on Odell can re-ignite his fun-loving ways where he wasn’t constantly bothered and just played the game. We all do.

This will prove to be a crucial learning point for Odell. Maybe the biggest of his career. He now hopefully realizes that he can have all the talent in the world, but that won’t mean anything if he can’t control his emotions and keep himself in-check. Now that this has apparently appeared to click for Beckham, watch out. Let’s see if he proves true to his words and matures, moving on from his previous antics. If he won’t let opposing players or the media get to him anymore, he has the opportunity to unleash his full potential since there’s nothing holding him back anymore. Once he reaches that full potential, it can be something we haven’t seen since Jerry Rice or Randy Moss.

Now, even with his eye-rolling antics, Beckham hasn’t been the reason the Giants are losing in recent weeks. He definitely hasn’t helped, but he isn’t the lone reason that’s holding his team back from winning games. The whole Giants team is a mess right now. From the, dare I say it, awful play of Eli Manning, to the struggling development of Ereck Flowers, to the banged up secondary, there are a bunch of reasons why this team isn’t producing like they did the first two weeks. Their revamped defensive line hasn’t proven to be much help at all, as they’ve only managed 4 sacks and seem to let quarterbacks have day and night to throw the ball. It is really painful and frustrating to watch, but Odell isn’t the reason. That doesn’t mean he can keep doing what he’s been doing, but don’t think if he fixes himself the Giants will miraculously start winning games. It would certainly help, but this team is too damaged for that to happen.

Despite all this, Odell needs to just chill out. I love the guy, but he is only making things worse with his antics. Odell, if you’re reading this, first of all thank you so much. Second, can I have an autograph? Third, please do not think I am bashing you or hating on you, that isn’t the case at all. I just want to see the Odell Beckham Jr. that makes fools out of opposing defensive backs on a weekly basis and has fun playing the game of football, not the one who destroys innocent kicking nets on the sidelines. I want to see the Odell that lights up the stat sheet every Sunday and shows off his Dancing With the Stars-worthy moves in the end zone, not the one who gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. We all just want to see the real Odell Beckham Jr., cause when your on your game you are the most dominant receiver in the league. Fact.

 

Victor Cruz: The Unbreakable Soul

FILE: Victor Cruz Close to Deal With Giants

I think it’s safe to say Victor Cruz has been through a lot. Nothing has ever come easy for him since his days growing up in Paterson, New Jersey. He has had to fight for everything even when he was at the top. It seems there is always another obstacle that plants itself in front of Cruz, but he always finds away to get past it. This is why Cruz is my absolute favorite player in the NFL. I have simply adored his fairytale story and his determination to be the best no matter what bump he hits on his road to greatness. And even though he hasn’t played every single game like his quarterback Eli Manning, if Cruz can rebound from his injuries this season he will prove to be the ultimate iron man. Not because of his ability to play every game, something he definitely hasn’t done, but because of his unbreakable soul.

Like I mentioned earlier there has just been a long list of obstacle after obstacle for Victor Cruz. Despite all these obstacles, he has managed to attack every single one with the same determination and hunger to overcome it. The attitude has resulted in nothing but positives, as it has made Cruz both a better player and a better person. This guy has never let his fame and stardom get to him. He has always stayed humble and been thankful for his blessings time and time again. Let’s take a look at some of these obstacles Vic’s been able to overcome and why his most recent one will become just another book on the shelf.

It started all the way back in high school. Vic attended Paterson Catholic High School and even though he put up some very productive numbers and earned All-State Honors in his senior year while his team went undefeated, he had a hard time getting offers from top-level colleges. Although he did land a smaller division one school, the University of Massachusetts, Cruz struggled to combine his football with his academics, resulting in him getting sent home multiple times throughout his collegiate career. He was able to turn himself around, though, and go on to finish fourth all-time in receptions at UMass with 131.

When it came to draft day, Cruz unfortunately didn’t get the call that every NFL hopeful dreams of, but that once again didn’t stop him. Due to his impressive pro day, he got a signed by the New York Giants the very next day after the draft had ended. Cruz may have gone undrafted and had a very tough hill to climb if he wanted to make the Giants 53-man roster, but he was ready for the challenge. The first time the world started to notice Cruz was August 16, 2010 during the Giants annual Snoopy Bowl against their hometown rival New York Jets. Cruz exploded on the scene with 6 catches for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. He went on to finish the preseason first in the league in receiving yards and tied for first in touchdowns. He was able to climb the hill and make the Giants 53-man roster. Despite Vic’s preseason stardom, the 2010 season unfortunately was not a continuation of that. He only played three games before being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. But next season is an entirely different story.

Entering the 2011 season Cruz had his best chance ever of getting significant playing time, with wide receiver Steve Smith signing elsewhere in free agency and wide receiver Domenik Hixon getting injured, and he jumped all over that chance. His NFL stardom kicked off week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Cruz was huge, racking up his first two NFL touchdowns and 110 receiving yards to go along with it. But that was just the beginning. Cruz was the savior the Giants needed all season long, becoming one of the NFL’s most dangerous wide receivers and helping the Giants win their fourth Super Bowl. He racked up 1,536 receiving yards, which is a Giants single-season record, and 9 touchdowns on 82 catches. Despite being snubbed from the Pro Bowl, Cruz got second-team All-Pro honors. He finally made it big time.

The 2012 season would prove to be more of the same, as Cruz showed the world that he was no one-hit wonder. He totaled 1,092 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on 86 receptions. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl and signed a very nice 5-year, $46 million extension with the Giants in the offseason. Cruz was becoming one of the premiere players in the NFL. And then the unthinkable happened.

On week 6 of the 2014 NFL season, Cruz went down with no contact while trying to make an easy touchdown catch. Watching the play it looks like a regular dropped pass. Cruz didn’t land on anything in an awkward position, he didn’t suffer any contact, so the initial though of everyone was that it wasn’t anything serious. But then you saw Cruz just lying on the ground, not moving at all and screaming in pain. Oh no. I remember watching this play and just feeling my heart drop to the floor and shatter into a million pieces. There he was, my NFL idol, not being able to move and having to get placed on the stretcher by medical staff. I was crushed and frantically trying to find out any information I could. Later on I found out the news nobody was hoping to hear; Cruz tore his patellar tendon. His season was over and his career was even called into question since that injury is so severe. Every time I see that play even to this day I still get chills all over my body.

Now, almost two full years after that horrific day, Cruz is finally back. I couldn’t be any happier. I’m sure he and the rest of his Giants family feel the same way. The time is now for Victor to really prove the haters and doubters wrong for good.

It pains me to see such a humble and unselfish man have to go through so much. I desperately hope Cruz comes back and is able to overcome yet another road block that stands in his path. We all do. But if you ask him how he feels about possibly never being the same I’m almost positive he wouldn’t be worried at all. Why? Because it’s just more of the same for Vic when it’s all said-and-done. Yes he’s never had an injury like this before and isn’t used to not playing for so long, but he’s very used to being doubted and having to get past obstacles. Nothing new here folks.

So this Sunday I will be as excited as anybody to watch my NFL hero back out there salsa-dancing in the end zone. I have no doubt that Cruz will come back better than ever and pick up right where he left off. Hopefully Vic is done having to overcome obstacles. Hasn’t he had enough already? But if another one ever does hit him on his way to glory I know he will be able to break free of the tackle like he always has done. The reason for this? His unbreakable soul.

 

 

 

 

Why Odell is the Best WR in the NFL

Odell Beckham Jr.

Ever since Odell Beckham Jr. stepped onto an NFL field for the first time 2 seasons ago, he made his presence felt. Everyone was eager to see him finally play a game after missing all of training camp and the first four games of his rookie year due to hamstring problems. Beliefs were starting to accumulate that he would be just another one of those talented players whose career got shortened due to a never-ending list of injuries. Giants fans were praying that he wouldn’t become a bust. Jerry Reese and the Giants couldn’t afford that. But the truth was that he was a mystery. Nobody knew how he would perform for the Giants. He could either become what fans were starting to believe, or he could dominate and fulfill expectations. I think it’s safe to say that the latter happened and then some.

Once he finally hit the field, Odell immediately began to light up the field every Sunday, breaking NFL records left and right and breaking record after record. Year two was no different. Beckham topped off his historic rookie campaign with another stellar season, making himself a top player in the NFL. Heading into year three, it remains to be seen if Odell can mature more and become the clear-cut best receiver in the NFL. But I believe he’s already that.

When it comes to deciding who the best receiver in the league is, the wide speculation as of now is Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and rightfully so. Brown is a fantastic wide receiver, able to do it all and put up jaw-dropping stats almost every week. But Odell has shown enough in his first two seasons to take the crown off of Brown and place it upon his curly blonde hair. And for plenty of reasons.

When it comes to the first two seasons of Odell compared to the first two seasons of Brown, there is no competition. Brown has produced a very below average 1,275 receiving yards on 85 receptions and only managed to score 2 touchdowns. Yeah, you heard me, 2 touchdowns. Odell on the other hand, has obviously been phenomenal. He produced 2,755 receiving yards on 187 receptions and has scored 25 touchdowns. Oh yeah and he missed 5 games in the process. Another receiver who many say is better than Odell and some even Brown is Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. But compared to Odell’s statistics, Jones is yet another victim. In Jones’ first two seasons, he put very good numbers and much better numbers than Brown, but they still are inferior to Beckham’s. Jones gained 2,157 receiving yards off 133 receptions and scored 18 touchdowns. Those are elite numbers, but they don’t reach the same level as Beckham’s numbers. There is nobody in the NFL today, or NFL history for that matter, that has statistics better than Beckham’s throughout the first two seasons of their NFL careers.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Why are you comparing the stats of the first two seasons? What does that have to do with the kind of numbers Brown and Jones are putting up today? Well I’m glad you asked, imaginary voice in my head. I did this for two reasons. One reason is that these past two seasons are Beckham’s entire career so far, so there isn’t anything else to compare when bringing up Beckham’s stats. The other reason is that if Beckham is putting up numbers in his first two seasons that are similar to the kind of numbers Brown and Jones are putting up now, in their seven-and-six-year careers, just imagine the kind of numbers Odell will be putting up then, barring any major injuries. If he consistently puts numbers like he has the past two seasons, he can possibly go down as the greatest wide out in NFL history and definitely have a shiny-gold bust waiting for him when he gets enshrined into Canton.

Off the field, Odell is in a class of his own. From “The Catch” to his hair, which seems to get bigger everytime you look at it, he is a marketing machine. Not only that, but he has become one of the most popular athletes in any sport, let alone the NFL. He no doubt can and should be the face of the league, and it’s only a matter of time before that happens. I mean, come on, this guy goes from replacing Troy Polamalu as the new face of Head and Shoulders to chilling with Khloe Kardashian at Drake’s house. He was on the cover of Madden as a rookie for crying out loud! His success off the field just simply cannot be matched. Combine his superb ability on the field with his fame off it and he is already on a whole other level, and he’s only 23 years old.

Odell should also be considered the best wide receiver in the league due to his passion and the raw emotion he puts out during games. People may say that makes him look annoying and complaining baby, but let’s be real. At times it can come across as annoying, but overall that makes Odell look like a fierce competitor who has such a passion for the game of football that he is determined to be the best ever. If you don’t believe that you obviously haven’t watched him play. This is a guy who was ranked NUMBER 10 OVERALL in the Top 100 Players of 2016 and was upset about how low he was ranked. He even tweeted out telling everybody to watch out this season. For Giants fans that is super exciting, for everyone else, you better have Odell triple covered. Ho doesn’t that exemplify his passion? I know that every player has passion for the game, Brown and Jones no exception, but if you watch Odell on the field you would understand what I’m talking about when I say few people, if any, can match his passion.

Beckham is just simply phenomenal. He has it all. From his massive hands, to his magnificent route running, to his yard-after catch ability, elite speed, insane body control, celebrity status, the list goes on and on. He has it all. He is the complete package. This guy is a superstar, and something the league hasn’t seen since Randy Moss. Brown and Jones are fantastic, but Odell is the best. I know people will disagree, but if you focus on the present and the future, Odell is hands-down the best wide receiver in the NFL.

 

Should Giants Give Terron Beckham a Shot?

maxresdefault

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.