With a plethora of needs sprinkled throughout the 53-man depth chart, the New York Giants have three that top the list entering the NFL Draft.
The NFL Draft commences on April 25. This is a vital time period for teams to fill needs with youth and one such organization includes the New York Giants, who will need an excellent draft for any hope of future success.
With less than a week away, there are three positional needs that top the list.
If you were to put on some tape from the 2018 season, it would be obvious that the Giants got a little-to-no pass rush. The team was never really able to get after the passer. They finished second to last in the league with 30 sacks. This allowed for opposing quarterbacks to feel comfort in the pocket and get more time to get the ball out.
With more time for receivers to fulfill their routes, the job of the Giants secondary got much harder. The result of this was that the pass defense finished 23rd amongst all NFL teams in passing yards allowed.
To make matters worse, the team’s leading EDGE rusher, Olivier Vernon, was traded in free agency. This leaves the team without a game-changing defender and with minimal amounts of experience in terms of rushing the passer. The team’s most experienced pass rusher turns out to be Markus Golden who has only 19 careers sacks. To heighten the problem, he will be playing his first game with the Giants this upcoming season.
It seems to be a no-brainer that the Giants will need to draft an EDGE defender. This position is a historically significant one for New York, having some of their best players play the rabid outside role. The Giants have always been predicated on having a strong front seven and have deployed elite playmakers over the years with hall of fame members like Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan.
This trait of getting after the quarterback has allowed the team to win the four Super Bowls they now possess. Due to the fact that this may be the deepest edge rusher class in recent history, the Giants should look to take advantage of it.
Giants fans have been hoping for a new quarterback for some time now and this may be the year that their prayers get answered. Eli Manning has won two Super Bowls for the Giants but in recent years, his play has greatly declined.
Recently, Manning has been surrounded by top-tier skilled-position talent. However, his play has not allowed the team to get to the next level. His age seemed to be a factor because he has not had the arm strength he owned in previous years and he is not steady in the pocket. The veteran seems to have no mobility and allows himself to get sacked often. Manning turned 38 this year and his play will likely continue to regress as he gets older.
While Manning is most likely a part of the roster in 2019 (Giants have already picked up his $5 million contract bonus), this does not mean that the Giants should not target a quarterback. There have been countless talks that the Giants may be looking to go the Kansas City method with their new signal caller. Like Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith—the latter helped mentor the former— New York may look to give the new addition a year to grow under the most decorated quarterback in Giants history. Instead of giving the rookie the keys to the offense right away, the Giants can help develop the kid so that he is NFL ready when the time comes.
No matter the outcome, the Giants will likely part ways with Manning after this year. This is his last year on contract and due to his recent play, a contract extension seems highly improbable. Drafting a quarterback this year seems plausible as talks about various prospects continue to grow. If the Giants want their guy to get a year of maturation under his belt, this is the year to snag a young signal-caller.
The Giants have had horrible offensive lines over recent years. As a unit, the offensive line allowed Eli Manning to be sacked 47 times, sixth most in the NFL. This was not a one-year occurrence as Manning was also sacked 31 times in 2017. It may look like the line was only bad in the passing game as Saquon Barkley put up 1,307 rushing yards, but that is not the case. Barkley bailed out the line countless times with his elusiveness, breaking many tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Even with his insane ability, Barkley could not do it all causing him to be tackled in the backfield at times.
With these struggles in mind, Dave Gettleman has seemed to be looking to provide a stable front for the quarterback and running back.
To do this, the Giants added Will Hernandez last year to play left guard. He helped solidify the left side of the line with left tackle Nate Solder. Moving on to the center position, the team has Jon Halapio, who seemed to be the best lineman on the team during his short stint in 2018. Unfortunately for him, he broke his ankle in Week 2. He should be good to go this season so that is another lineman position that the Giants have locked up.
On to the right guard position where New York traded for a Kevin Zeitler. The former Brown is a quality offensive lineman who ranked sixth amongst all guards with a Pro Football Focus grading of 74.5. To further build on his resume, he possessed the highest pass-blocking grade out of any offensive lineman in the NFL.
With four of the five offensive lineman spots locked up for 2019, the right tackle position remains as the place that needs a lot of improvement.
Giants right tackles in 2018 came in the form of Ereck Flowers and Chad Wheeler. These were not ideal candidates, to say the least. The Giants quickly parted ways with Flowers after his abysmal play. This resulted in the move to Wheeler which did not help the situation. Wheeler underwhelmed. He ranked 78th in the NFL amongst tackles with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) rating of 47.4. Wheeler’s play was also noticeably poor in the run game where he ranked last in the NFL amongst all offensive lineman in run blocking. The USC product did not thrive in the passing game as well, allowing 45 pressures along with six sacks.
With all of these stats in mind, it seems that the Giants should look to replace the swing tackle as soon as possible. As a result, the Giants should utilize the draft to look for their replacement and the last guy on the offensive line.