By: Brad Joosse
Time to Retool.
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese went big in free agency and the draft last off-season.
He needs to do it again.
Reese’s big moves paid off. Defensive end Olivier Vernon signed for five years worth $85 million. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins signed for five years worth $62.5 million. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison signed for five years worth $46.5 million.
Reese and the Giants were rewarded with excellent seasons from all three. Harrison was voted first team All-Pro, Jenkins and Vernon both made second team All-Pro. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Sheppard and cornerback Eli Apple consistently produced all year in their roles.
The Giants made the playoffs for the first time in five years, though the team struggled and were eliminated by the Green Bay Packers. Reese needs to retool his team for the playoffs and the chance to win the Super Bowl.
Reese must rebuild the offence though he hardly needs to start from scratch. Eli Manning is a solid veteran quarterback with two Super Bowl MVP’s in his career. Odell Beckham is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Rookie Sterling Sheppard finished the year with 683 yards and eight touchdown receptions. The Giants have clear holes at other positions however. No Giant running back rushed for 600 yards while none of the tight ends had more than one touchdown reception.
There are options for the Giants. Tight end Martellus Bennent is a former Giant and will be a free agent. Bennent had a strong season with over 700 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. Jordan Cameron, Jared Cook, and Vernon Davis are all veterans with previous success and could be bargains for the Giants to sign.
Running back is a tougher position to address via free agency. There is a long list of running backs whose production dropped off after reaching the age of 30. Backs like Jaquizz Rodgers and Andre Ellington are impressive young talents but both struggle with injuries.
The Giants should draft a running back to tandem with rookie Paul Perkins who showed flashes and rushed for over 100 yards in week 17. The two best draft running back prospects are Dalvin Cook from Florida State and Leonard Fournette from LSU, they are ranked 4th and 10th respectively in the top 250 prospects list. The Giants will be drafting later in the first round and may need to trade up or can look to Christian McCaffrey from Stanford who is ranked 26th.
NFL rosters are constantly changing. The Giants made big changes last year and it paid off in a playoff appearance. The team needs to aim higher next year and aim for the Super Bowl. Drafting a young running back and signing a veteran tight end are just two changes the Giants can get closer to that goal.