2016 NFL Season Preview: New York Giants

Free Agent Additions: 
DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison, ILB Keenan Robinson, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Leon Hall
Early Draft Picks: 
CB Eli Apple, WR Sterling Shepard, S Darian Thompson, LB B.J. Goodson, RB Paul Perkins.
Offseason Losses: 
WR Rueben Randle, DE Robert Ayers, CB Prince Amukamara.

2016 New York Giants Offense: 
Eli Manning had a career last year, throwing for 4,432 yards and 35 TDs to only 14 picks. His reward? An 81 overall rating in Madden. I guess the Madden experts aren’t convinced in his abilities. Hey, at least he got to dress up as banana in his annual DIRECTV commercial.

On explanation for his big numbers could be Odell Beckham Jr., who is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the NFL. After registering 1,305 yards as a rookie, he increased that number to 1,450 yards in his second year. Unfortunately, he is a huge douchebag, as his antics with Josh Norman in their matchup last year and his trash talk afterward show. Either way, it doesn’t really matter as long as Beckham continues to improve. He’ll need to because the Giants don’t have another viable, experienced option for Manning to throw to. Victor Cruz is still around, but he’s not the same after his torn patellar tendons. Second-round rookie Sterling Shepard could be a factor, however; he’s enjoyed a strong first NFL offseason thus far.

The tight ends figure to be mediocre as well. Larry Donnell was the starter heading into 2015, but he sustained an injury, allowing Will Tye to take over. Tye showed a bit of promise, catching 42 balls for 464 yards in 13 contests, but is still not a starting-caliber tight end. The Giants spent a sixth-round selection on Jerell Adams, who has a ton of upside, but is likely too raw to contribute this year.

The greatest offensive issue the Giants have is on the line. They wanted to draft Jack Conklin with the 10th-overall pick, but the Titans jumped in front of them to take the Michigan State tackle. As a consequence, Marshall Newhouse will continue to start at right tackle, bookending Ereck Flowers. Newhouse is perhaps one of the worst players at his position in the entire league. As for Flowers, the 2015 first-rounder didn’t have the best rookie campaign, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. There’s some speculation that Flowers would be best at right tackle, but the New York coaching staff reportedly believes in Flowers as its future blind-side protector.

The Giants at least are better in the interior of their offensive front, though there’s one major liability in right guard John Jerry. However, the other two blockers, guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg, are both excellent players. Richburg is one of the top players at his position in the NFL. Pugh, meanwhile, saw action at tackle in the past, but will be staying inside, where he’s much better.

New York’s overall middling offensive line will have to work extra hard to open running lanes for its mediocre backfield. Rashad Jennings is currently the starter, but he’s now 31 years old with a history of injuries. If Jennings goes down – he has played 16 games in a season only once in his career – it’ll be up to either Andre Williams (a waste of a carry every time he touches the ball) or fifth-round rookie Paul Perkins to carry the workload. They do at least have Shane Vereen to serve as the pass catcher out of the backfield and third-down back

2016 New York Giants Defense: 
While the Giants didn’t spend any significant resources outside of Sterling Shepard on offense, they made sure they bolstered their defense in both free agency and the draft. There are going to be four new starters, as each level of the defense was upgraded.

Beginning with the defensive line, New York paid former Dolphin Olivier Vernon a 5-year, $85 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. The Giants unquestionably overpaid for Vernon, but there’s very little doubt that he’ll be a big boost to the pass rush. Vernon notched 7.5 sacks in 2015, but he could hae had many more. There’s a chance he could become fat and happy in the wake of earning so much guaranteed money, however, as huge free agent deals don’t usually work out. It’s more likely than not that Vernon will be a disappointment, even if it’s just a slight one. Vernon will start across from Jason Pierre-Paul, who was effective but not dominant last year after returning from his freak fireworks accident.

Vernon wasn’t the only highly paid defensive lineman added this offseason. The Giants also spent tons of money on ex-Jet Damon “Snacks” Harrison, signing him to a 5-year, $46.25 million deal with $24 million in guarantees. Harrison is a 350-pound nose tackle who is one of the top run-stuffers in the NFL. The Giants already had a big defensive tackle who could clog rushing lanes in the 320-pound Johnathan Hankins, so they’re making it clear that they don’t want any team to be able to move the chains on the ground against them. Hankins is also capable of generating a quality pass rush for a man his size, though it didn’t show last year because he battled through an injury. If, however, Hankins can return to the player who generated seven sacks in 2014, New York will be able to put a ton of pressure on opposing passers.

The Giants made sure to match their bolstered pass rush with better secondary play. They paid Janoris Jenkins, formerly of the Rams, $62.5 million over five years, and also spent their first-round selection on Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple. While Apple will be eased into action, Jenkins will obviously be asked to start right away. He should be able to perform well, given that he was exceptional for the most part in St. Louis. Jenkins will play across from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is coming off a solid 2015 campaign. The Giants also recently signed former Bengal Leon Hall to be the nickel corner. The Giants have some big names at corner.

New York’s safeties aren’t as exciting. Landon Collins, chosen in the second round last year, wasn’t all that great as a rookie, but showed some flashes and could improve in his second season. He’s the only clear-cut starter, as a few players will be battling for the other job. There’s no one noteworthy, save for third-round rookie Darian Thompson. The Boise State product would’ve been chosen earlier had he not bombed the Combine (he said he was sick. However, Thompson is a very instinctive player who should be able to pan out as a pro.

The linebackers are the big problem area, as the Giants’ front office has neglected the position for years. No one played well there last year, though Jasper Brinkley and Devon Kennard weren’t horrible. Former Mountaineer J.T. Thomas, who was acquired in free agency last spring, was horrible unfortunately. A couple of new players were added, including Keenan Robinson, who struggled in Washington, and B.J. Goodson, who was chosen in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

2016 New York Giants Schedule and Intangibles: 
During their first Super Bowl run, the Giants won all of their playoff games on the road and boasted about how they were “road warriors.” They were 9-1 as visitors and 3-0 on neutral sites in 2007. History repeated itself, as New York was 8-3 outside of the Meadowlands and just 5-4 as hosts in 2011. Perhaps they should go back to that, because they’ve been 16-16 as hosts and 12-20 as visitors the past four years and have failed to qualify for the postseason.

Josh Brown was one of the NFL’s top kickers last year. He hit 30-of-32 attempts, including all three from beyond 50. He missed just one of his 45 extra points.

Brad Wing was just 24th in net punting in 2014 and slightly worse (25th) last year.

The Giants have improved on special teams recently. They outgained their opponents on both punts and kickoff returns. They scored twice and surrendered one touchdown.

The Giants start out with games against the Cowboys, Saints, and Redskins. It will be very important to get off to a 2-1 or 3-0 start because their fourth and fifth games are in Minnesota and Green Bay, respectively. If they start slow, they could be staring at 1-4 while looking up at Washington and Dallas in the division.

2016 New York Giants Positional Rankings (1-5 stars): 


2016 New York Giants Analysis: Rookie coach Ben McAdoo has big shoes to fill replacing Tom Coughlin. On paper, this looks like a pretty strong Giants team that should be able to win the NFC East. However, it’s always hard to tell how well new, high-priced free agents perform. Maybe Jenkins, Harrison, and Vernon keep improving and become all-pros, or maybe they feel they have nothing to prove anymore and just go through the motions.More than likely, they’ll end up performing somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. The Giants will go through some ups and downs but I think in the end they win the division by the skin of their teeth.

Prediction: 9-7 (1st NFC East)

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