After an abysmal season, the fans were looking toward the draft for upgrades at multiple positions, primarily the defense.
We asked. Jerry Reese answered.
The Giants were able to bring back OLB Jon Beason, who was a solid mid-season addition from Carolina. The former first round pick was traded for a 7th round pick in October and went on to record 93 total tackles in his 12 games. Beason re-signed for 3 years at $19 million. Jameel McClain, a linebacker from the Baltimore Ravens, was also added.
Grade: A – At 29, last season, Beason showed that he can still perform and be a physical threat. The Giants have struggled to find the right fit at LB since the loss of Michael Boley. I believe that Beason can bring that leadership to a defense who’s lost a few of its key players. His deal is cap-friendly as well since he took nearly half of it as a signing bonus.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond are 2 cornerbacks who left 2 solid defenses to come to New York. Giants fans have watched Aaron Ross and Corey Webster get burned for nearly 3 years. It’s time for a changing of the guard. The tandem of Prince Amukamara, DRC, and Thurmond is a huge upgrade on the Giants’ secondary.
Grade: B- The Giants might have overpaid DRC with a $35 million-5 year deal based on one season worth of work. The flip side is because he’s coming off of a “show and prove” deal with Denver. It made sense to lock him in long-term at a position that carries a premium. With Thurmond, a one year deal was extra security in case Will Hill is doing Will Hill things.
The Raiders and the Giants made some interesting swaps within the first few days of free agency. Running back Rashad Jennings saw the opportunity for a starting job in New York. Justin Tuck and Kevin Boothe weren’t willing to take “pennies” to stay. Jennings is a great investment since the Giants’ backfield is still unclear. Who knows what shape David Wilson will be in at the start of the season. Andre Brown appears to be testing the waters for his services.
Grade C- Jennings has been a back-up for the entirety of his career; first in Jacksonville, then in Oakland. He reminds of Danny Woodhead. He’s not ridiculously fast like some of the league’s top backs. But he can get through holes with his bulkier body. It’s hard to gauge what back up guys can do once they’re thrust into a starting job. So I expect him to predominantly be the 3rd down/goal line guy and get more of his yardage out of short slants. Giants locked Jennings up for 4 years at $10 million.
Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon both left during their free agency years. Smith went on to retire and Hixon [crickets]. Mario Manningham had a less-than-active stint with the 49ers due to an ACL tear that sidelined him. He only scored one touchdown in his two years out west and became a non-factor once Anquan Boldin was added. Plagued by injuries, Manningham might be resurrected with the team he helped win a second championship. Grade B
Eli Manning spent a lot of time on his back and throwing picks thanks to 1 of the worst offensive lines the Giants have had in a while. Right guard/tackle Geoff Schwartz is the first piece in solving those problems. Schwartz was a huge component to Adrian Peterson’s historic return and him almost beating the single season rushing record two years ago. Hopefully he’ll be able to keep Eli and the backs upright. Grade B
Overall, the Giants have shown a serious commitment in rebuilding. This draft isn’t as high on talent. However, there are some gems that will round out a solid core for the team if they draft wisely. As a fan, I’m happy with all of the acquisitions thus far.