Usually a contender year in and year out, the New York Giants didn’t even look like a shell of their former selves in 2013. The team struggled with ball security, running the football, and protecting the quarterback, and it seems like the days of a stout front four pressuring opposing quarterbacks are over.
The Giants are going to bring Tom Coughlin back in 2014, but they have a number of holes to fill if they want to get back to their contender status in the NFC. It starts up front with the offensive line and then into the backfield at running back. On the opposite side of the ball, the team needs help rebuilding its front seven.
The Giants’ offensive line ranked No. 29 in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus, second to last in terms of pass-blocking and No. 16 in terms of running the ball. The lone bright spot was first-round pick Justin Pugh, who finished the year off a lot stronger than he began it. The rest of the line was a disaster. Will Beatty, who inked a long-term deal last offseason, struggled mightily. Injuries plagued the season for Kevin Boothe and David Bass, and Chris Snee is probably a year too late to call it a career.
The Giants drafted a tackle in the first round of last year’s draft, but perhaps could go in that direction again. A number of the top tackle prospects should be around when the Giants pick, and that could allow Pugh to move inside a fill a need at guard. Or the Giants could wait until Round 2 and go after the best lineman available, perhaps a guard like David Yankey or Xavier Su’a-Filo.
Former first-rounder David Wilson was unproductive in his first season as a starter, then injuries prematurely ended his season. The G-Men had some success with Andre Brown in the backfield, but he’s a free agent and Coughlin prefers a multi-player rushing attack. First, the team needs to upgrade its line, and secondly find a playmaker to help the Giants out of the backfield.
Good running backs may be around in the middle rounds of the draft. Tre Mason has all of the skills to fit as a complementary back; while Bishop Sankey and Jeremy Hill could replace Brown as a downhill runner.
The team has a big decision to make in regards to Justin Tuck, but even if it retains the veteran, they’ll need to find an eventual successor or another option as Jason Pierre-Paul continues to battle injuries and lack of productivity. Oregon State’s Scott Crichton is a natural 4-3 end and could learn behind Tuck and eventually work his way into the rotation.
Many draft prognosticators expect the G-Men to go after a linebacker with their first pick. The team could opt to re-sign Jon Beason and round out the rest of the linebacking corps through free agency or late in the draft. However, the team could address the position by nabbing the best inside linebacker in the draft, C.J. Mosley of Alabama, and revamp their front seven behind the All-American.