Can the Giants Defend Their Title through the Draft?Follow @NFLDraftShow
The Giants may be Super Bowl Champions, but there are always areas to improve on
The New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI over the New England Patriots despite a middling regular season that required them to win in Week 17 to take the NFC East and qualify for the playoffs. It was a journey that reminded many of their Super Bowl XLII victory over New England four seasons ago. And like that offseason, the Giants still have a number of holes to fill in their roster.
In 2008, the Giants were able to draft key contributors for this team, including wide receiver Mario Manningham and safety Kenny Phillips. It's now time for them to start looking at where to make improvements to this Super Bowl winning squad.
The Giants were forced to try out several different players at left tackle in 2011. This caused havoc for the running game, as both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs averaged under four yards per carry. Will Beatty was a half-hearted attempt to fix the problem. When he got hurt, New York moved Dave Diehl from guard to tackle at the end of the season. With the Giants holding the 32nd pick in the first round, they should set their sights on some offensive line help that will be available there. Mike Adams of Ohio State and Ziebre Sanders of Florida State should be targets for them. The Giants are in need of youth and talent on their line, starting with left tackle.
It seems that whenever the New York Giants make the Super Bowl, one no name player who is not really that great makes a huge play and becomes famous. In 2007, it was wide receiver David Tyree making a circus catch in the fourth quarter. This year, it was middle linebacker Chase Blackburn intercepting a deep Tom Brady pass intended for Rob Gronkowski. Blackburn should return to obscurity after his 15 minutes of fame, and the Giants will still have a hole at linebacker. New York lost intended starter Greg Jones early in the season to injury and had to fill in the position from there. Jones is not a world beater to begin with, and most fans were clamoring for him to be replaced even before the injury. Outside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka is a defensive end playing out of position, but is serviceable at linebacker for now. The Giants should target a middle linebacker in free agency if they can, but they are currently $7 million over the cap.
Kareem Mackenzie has been one of the most solid right tackles in the league for the past few seasons, but he is 34 years old and now a free agent. Good teams move on from players before they become liabilities, and he is on the verge of becoming just that. If he comes back at a reduced price, he is worth keeping around for at least another year. He would be crazy to move on from an organization he has won two championships with, but if he does, the market for younger tackles will be thin for the Giants. While Anthony Collins of the Cincinnati Bengals may be an option, the Giants may have to address this position in the draft, just like with the left tackle position.
You would think that this team is set at defensive end, but that is both the beauty and the oddity of the New York Giants: they never have enough. It looks like Osi Umenyiora may be ready to move on from the Giants. If he does, then they will need a third end in their rotation. Instead of looking at lower level free agents like Frostee Rucker or even a Robert Mathis, the Giants may look to add depth in the middle rounds.
Brandon Jacobs would come back to the Giants, but what he wants from them is uncertain. His constant state of feeling disrespected is wearing and makes him seem like a crybaby. On top of that, the team relies more on Ahmad Bradshaw. If Jacobs decides he will continue to work on being a part of the Giants going forward, then the position will most likely remain untouched. But if things continue to look rocky, the team may be looking for running back help in the middle or late rounds. Bernard Pierce of Temple is a hard running, 216-pound back who could compliment Bradshaw.
The Giants simply have one pick in every round of the draft, and as Super Bowl champions, that pick is the last pick in each round, which puts them at a slight disadvantage. Still, the Draft represents a very good opportunity for the team to build around a core that has brought another championship to New York. Protecting Eli Manning while attacking the other team's quarterback is a key for this team, and this draft will offer the team a chance to build a strong foundation for the next few years.
Thomas Frank Carr is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and is a ComRadio Sports Director. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.