2017 New York Giants’ Team Preview

by Dave Syvertsen, Ourlads’ Draft Analyst

New York Giants

2016 (11-5)…Spearheaded by a 6 game winning streak in the middle of the season, New York made the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl winning season in 2011.  Their year came to and end with a loss in Green Bay Wild Card Weekend.

Front Office

Owner/CEO John Mara…Assumed team presidency following the passing of his father, Wellington, in 2005.  The Mara family purchased the Giants in 1925.  Preston Trisch purchased 50% of the franchise in 1991 and upon is death in 1995, current Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch was named to his position.

GM Jerry Reese…11th season as the team’s General Manager.  Prior to, he was the Director of Pro Personnel from 2002 to 2007, a position he was promoted to from being an area scout.

Head Staff

HC Ben McAdoo…2nd year in the position, joined the team in 2014 and spent two years as the Offensive Coordinator.  Previously worked under Mike McCarthy in Green Bay as the team’s tight ends coach for 6 years and quarterbacks coach for 2 years.  Tied a Giants record for most wins by a rookie head coach.  A 14 year veteran of the league.

OC Mike Sullivan…2nd year in the position, 11th year with the franchise.  Previously held wide receiver and quarterback position coach roles dating back to 2004.  Took a 3 year hiatus from the club from 2012-2014, the first two years being the offensive coordinator for Tampa Bay.  Spent 9 years as an assistant coach at the college level.  A West Point grad.

DC: Steve Spagnuolo…5th year in the position, the first 2 being from 2007-2008. In between his stints with New York, he was a head coach for the Rams, defensive coordinator for the Saints, and Defensive Assistant for Baltimore.  His 19th season in the league.  A Springfield College grad.

Notable Staff

OL Mike Solari…29 year veteran of the NFL, 41st year coaching.  2nd year as the team’s offensive line coach.  Has been to 6 NFC Championship games and won a Super Bowl with San Francisco in 1995.

Key Additions

QB Geno Smith

QB Davis Webb

RB Shaun Draughn

RB Wayne Gallman

FB Shane Smith

WR Brandon Marshall

TE Rhett Ellison

TE Evan Engram

OT Adam Bisnowaty

OT Chad Wheeler

OG DJ Fluker

DT Dalvin Tomlinson

DE Avery Moss

Key Subtractions

RB Rashad Jennings

RB Bobby Rainey

WR Victor Cruz

OT Will Beatty

OT Marshall Newhouse

TE Larry Donnell

DT Jonathan Hankins

LB Kelvin Sheppard

CB Leon Hall

CB Coty Sensabaugh

CB Trevin Wade


QB…For the three years Eli Manning has been involved with McAdoo, he has completed over 62% of his passes, well above his career average.  He saw a slight dip in his touchdowns last year, throwing 26 down from 35 in 2015.  The 14 year veteran has not missed a game since being named the starter in 2004, starting 211 consecutive contests.  Geno Smith, a 30 game starter for the cross town rival Jets was signed to compete with career backup Josh Johnson for the primary backup job.  Davis Webb was drafted in the 3rd round to be Manning’s eventual successor.

RB…2016 5th rounder Paul Perkins was eased in to action throughout his rookie year.  Over the team’s final 5 regular season games, the shifty back averaged 4.5 yards per carry and will be the starter to begin the season.  He does not have the frame to handle a full load of carries himself and that’s where the veteran Shane Vereen and rookie Wayne Gallman will step in.  Vereen, who has had durability issues for most of his 5-year career, missed 11 games with a torn triceps in 2016.  He is the team’s best receiver and pass blocker out of the backfield.  Gallman brings an exciting change of pace to the backfield and will compete for snaps with the physical Orleans Darkwa and pass catching Shaun Draughn.

WR…No player in the history of the NFL had recorded 80 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons until Odell Beckham accomplished that feat in 2016.  He leads the NFL with 35 touchdown catches since the start of 2014 and his 13 games with over 125 receiving yards over his first three years has also never been done in history.  Newly signed Brandon Marshall is just two years removed from a monstrous 109 catch, 1,502  yard, 14 TD season in which he was being thrown the ball to from Ryan Fitzpatrick.  His physical presence will be a huge weapon for this offense, as Manning has always done well with taller, bigger targets. Sterling Shepard, a 2016 2nd round pick, finished second in the league among rookies in receiving and should be their main presence out of the slot.  Dwayne Harris was nicked up all year but remained their most consistent returner.  Roger Lewis was signed during the undrafted free agency period in 2016 and worked his way in to a rotation, catching touchdowns of 24 and 30 yards, respectively.  He is competing for a roster spot with Tavarres King, Darius Powe, and Travis Rudolph.

TE…This group has seen a near complete 180 since their loss in Green Bay.  Three year starter Larry Donnell was not brought back and Will Tye, the other tight end that split his starting duties in 2016, is fighting for a roster spot after an underwhelming display.  Newly signed Rhett Eliison enters his sixth year with 52 career catches.  He is much better known for his blocking abilities but he has delivered when given the opportunity to impact the passing game.  The team also used its first round pick on Ole Miss’ Evan Engram, whom currently carries more of a hybrid WR/TE skill set.  The team hopes to use him up the seam and in space after the catch to best take advantage of his blazing speed and agility.  2016 6th rounder Jerrell Adams is a tools-rich player that has flashed as a receiver, using his height and length as a near-undefendable combination.

OL…The Achilles heel of the offense has made it tough for running backs to find any room and just as tough for Manning to stand tall and confident in the pocket on deep drop backs.  Left tackle Ereck Flowers must prove in his third year that his technique inconstancies are behind him.  Right tackle, and 2015 7th round pick, Bobby Hart also struggled in his first year in the starting lineup.  They are backed up by rookies Adam Bisnowaty and Chad Wheeler.  At right guard, John Jerry enters his fourth year as the starter.  The 31 year old was signed to a new 3 year contract this past offseason.  Center Weston Richburg has missed just one game since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 Draft despite fighting multiple injuries, including most recently torn tendons in the hand he uses to snap with.  He is in a contract year along with left guard Justin Pugh, the most steady presence on this offensive line.  The collegiate left tackle is heading towards a big pay day in the 2018 offseason.   DJ Fluker, signed from San Diego, is chomping at the bit to get another shot at a starting gig after a rough run with the Chargers.


DL…The loss of Jonathan Hankins may sting a little, but the driving force of this front seven is Damon “Snacks” Harrison.  In his first season with the team after signing from the Jets, Harrison spearheaded the team’s number 3 run defense in the league up from 22nd in 2015.  Jay Bromley is slated to take Hankins spot in his fourth year with the club and rookie 2nd round pick Dalvin Tomlinson along with veteran Robert Thomas rotating in and out.  Defensive Ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are right up there with the top starting edge rushing duos in the league.  Both play the run exceptionally well and combined for the most pressures on opposing quarterbacks in the first half of the 2016 season.  Pierre-Paul sustained a core injury late in the year, opening the door for undrafted rookie Romeo Okwara who responded with an 8 tackle, 1 sack performance against Dallas.  Fellow former undrafted free agent Kerry Wynn has evolved from special teamer to rotational end that has forcing his way in to more and more playing time via his play.  Rookie 5th rounder Avery Moss will have a hard time earning his way in to the rotation but he has the body and upside that the team has always worked well with.  Veteran Devin Taylor is competing for a roster spot after an underwhelming 2016 in Detroit.

LB…BJ Goodson is the new man in the middle.  He takes over the quarterback of the defense role in his second season, as the team is impressed with his physical play and range against the run.  Jonathan Casillas continues his rebirth throughout the second half of his career after setting career highs in starts, tackles, and pass breakups in 2016.  Devon Kennard will start on the strong side, he brings steady presence against the run.  The 4th year linebacker can be used as an extra pass rusher as well.  Keenan Robinson is the team’s primary backup to all three spots.  The versatile 28 year old is their top pass defender as the position and played a lot in sub packages.  His 83 tackles ranked 4th on team in 2016.  Mark Herzlich and undrafted rookie Calvin Munson are the frontrunners for the other backup spots and key special team contributors.

DB…The trade up Jerry Reese made in the 2015 Draft for Landon Collins paid enormous dividends in 2016.  The Pro Bowler broke out with a 125 tackle, 4 sack, 5 interception season along with a defensive touchdown.  His versatility was on full display and quickly became the leader of the back four.  Andrew Adams, an undrafted free agent, gained valuable experience as the team’s 13 game starter next to him, as fellow rookie Darian Thompson missed the majority of the season with a foot injury.  Thompson is back full strength and slated to start week 1.  Nat Berhe is the oft-injured, but physical backup that can impact games in flashes.  The strength of the defense resides at cornerback.  Janoris Jenkins proved to be an excellent signing by Reese as the team’s lockdown cover man as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie led the team with 21 pass break ups and 6 interceptions.  He will rotate inside and out now that 2016 1st rounder Eli Apple took his lumps but showed improvement as the year went on.  He is slated to start week 1.  Michael Hunter is a young backup that has showed a lot of promise and Donte Deayon will compete for a backup job with DeShaun Amos for the final spot.

Special Teams

Punter Brad Wing won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice in 2016 and is know for his huge leg and evolving touch near the end zone.  The kicking duties were handled by Robbie Gould after the team cut ties with Josh Brown.  The 2017 job is being competed for by veteran Mike Nugent and the unproven Aldrick Rosas.  Rosas spent camp with Tennessee in 2016, but was cut.  He has a very strong leg.

Final Analysis

With Eli Manning’s career coming to a close sooner rather than later, this team is stocked with more than enough talent on both sides of the ball to give him his third Super Bowl victory. The one thing that can hold this team back, however, is the offensive line and it’s inability to provide enough space for the running game and confidence for Manning in the pocket.

The defense should finish among the best in the league, as they are stacked up front and in the secondary, a rarity. With game changing talent on both sides of the ball and a quarterback that knows that it takes, the pieces are in place for this to be one of the best Giants’ teams in Manning’s career.

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