New York Giants: One Extremely Underrated Player on the Defense

With names likes Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. taking up most of the media coverage, sometimes the lesser known and underrated players slip through the cracks. But, it’s important to address those players and understand just how important they are to the success of the team, especially on the New York Giants.

The most underrated defender on the New York Giants:

Michael Thomas. A name you seldom hear but when you do it’s often a positive thing. The Giants’ safety earned Pro Bowl credentials in 2018 for his stout special teams abilities, but he went unnoticed.

The 29-year-old finished last season with 59 combined tackles, two interceptions, and six passes defended. It was arguably his best season to date, and he showed value not only on special teams but as a defender as well. When former Giant Landon Collins went down with a torn labrum, Thomas filled in valiantly.

The special teams needed to be rejuvenated:

After five successful seasons with the Miami Dolphins, general manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to bring him to New York to help upgrade the ST unit. His influence went far beyond that, and we saw his value in person in week 1 of the 2018 season.

Thomas was a solid pass-rusher from the safety position, which is why he consistently earned more snaps on defense as the season progressed. His speed and shiftiness were effective on third-downs. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher is known for utilizing different players for unique blitzes, creating unpredictability and efficiency.

With Collins being allowed to walk in free agency, it opens up an opportunity for Thomas to earn even more defensive reps, as acquired safety Jabrill Peppers will act as a swiss army knife on defense. His speed and versatility allow him to line up as a corner, free safety, and box safety. This will produce more opportunity for Thomas in the box, and he even showed a keen ability in coverage too.

The bottom line, the Giants will look to activate their special teams star more frequently, but keeping his talents focused on his trademarked expertise will be the priority moving forward.


New York Giants: Landon Collins Changes Answer On Playing Under Franchise Tag

New York Giants, Landon Collins

It looks like the New York Giants might not have been able to keep Landon Collins even if they had the desire to use the franchise tag on him. The team caught heat for not getting anything in return as Collins walked away from his spot as a defensive captain to cash in on a big deal with the Washington Redskins, but based on recent comments, it would have been a fruitless endeavor anyway to apply the franchise tag and keep Collins around for another year.

Collins changed his mind from last year and said that he would not have played under the franchise tag and would have held out for a new deal, while speaking to the Michael Kay Show. “No, I would not have played on it,” said Collins. That’s almost certainly something that factored into the decision for the Giants to move on from Collins.

It also looks like the move away from the Giants was always going to happen, as the team apparently didn’t work on a new deal for all of the 2018 season. “There was nothing being said throughout the whole season. And once that happens, you kind of get the [idea] that something is not going to happen. You’re not in the plans.”

The reasons why Collins is not in the plans anymore still remain to be seen, but based on the new deal that Collins signed with the Redskins, it looks like cost might have been a factor as well as scheme fit.

It is worth noting, though, that at some point Collins had a change of heart about the idea of playing under the franchise tag. Back during the 2018 season, he described it as not a big deal.

“Would I play on it? I’ve got no choice. But it’s not a big concern of mine. I know what I’m capable of. Hopefully we work something out before that. If not, the franchise it is. I’ve just got to continue proving myself,” Collins said back then. Obviously, something changed since then.

The Giants now have Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea at the safety spot, which seems serviceable but still a downgrade from before. The change isn’t going to go down as a popular one, that’s already certain. But it looks like, unfortunately, things were always going to end up this way even if the Giants did have the desire to franchise tag Collins.

New York Giants Could Draft Huge Red Zone Target In Second Round

Could the New York Giants go after Hakeem Butler in the 2019 NFL draft?

With the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. comes a massive void in the red zone that the New York Giants must address this offseason. The acquisition of Golden Tate helps in moving the ball down the field, but he’s not known for his ability to catch touchdown passes. The only true targets in the end zone are Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, and tight end Evan Engram.

None of the options listed above are trustworthy on a consistent basis. The Giants could look to the draft to find a big-bodied wideout with the ability to outmuscle corners and snag balls at its highest point.

Who the New York Giants should consider in the draft:

A day two gem in the 2019 NFL draft could be Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler. Standing at 6’6″, 225 pounds, Butler is a true “go get it” pass catcher. With 4.48 speed and immense physical tools, the Giants would be wise to consider him as a fresh option on the outside, especially if they elect to take a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick.

Butler is a fantastic long-ball receiver, with massive strides and length to contest balls against corners and safeties. Additionally, he has the size to plow through tackles and reach the endzone. His downside, unfortunately, is his route running. Butler is a below-average route runner with lackluster agility. He has straightaway speed and great size, but expecting him to make sharp cuts and change direction on a dime is overzealous.

The Iowa State star reminds me of Calvin Johnson – yes, a very optimistic comparison, but one that’s relevant to his size. Johnson also wasn’t the most pristine route runner and was utilized in the deep-game frequently. Last season, Butler racked up 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged an astounding 22 yards per reception, which attests directly to his skill-set.

For the Giants, they would be gaining a deep threat that can refine his abilities alongside Tate and Eli Manning for one season before establishing himself as a potential top option for a young quarterback. That would be the dream scenario, and he will likely be available at No. 37 for the Giants if they wish to allocate a draft selection towards the WR core.


New York Yankees: First Base Position Battle Very Much Alive As Greg Bird Avoids Injury

greg bird, yankees

There’s something about spring training can Greg Bird that simply doesn’t mix. The injury bug has struck the New York Yankees this pre-season, and Bird was nearly the latest victim after being hit in the elbow by a pitch.

Manager Aaron Boone immediately pulled him despite the first baseman advocating for his return. Potentially interfering with Bird’s mechanics was not part of Boone’s plan, as he preferred to rule out any injury by sending him for an x-ray on the elbow.

A bit of bruising and swelling was the only takeaway from the x-rays, as they came back negative.

The Yankees’ infielder has played in just 130 games the last three seasons, including 82 in 2018, in which he hit .199 and lost the starting job to Luke Voit.

New York Yankees first base position battle is still active:

While Voit is likely to earn the first crack at the starting job after hitting .316 with 12 hits, four homers, and 11 RBIs this spring, Bird has also impressed in a small sample size.

The latter is hitting .333 with 13 hits, three homers, and eight RBIs. Both match up will in terms of batting, but the consistency and effectiveness of Voit in the second half of 2018 has propelled him into the starting job. However, Boone and general manager Brian Cashman love Bird and his defensive abilities, which are far better than Voit’s.

Defensively, Bird committed two errors in 69 starts last season with Voit racking up two errors in just 31 starts. Despite last season’s totals, Voit has worked tirelessly to develop his defense and go toe-to-toe with Bird on that front.

The Yankees cannot escape injuries as Luis Severino, CC Sabathia, Delling Betances, Aaron Hicks, Tyler Wade, Jacoby Ellsbury, and now Bird will have all missed time this spring, with a majority expected to miss the first few weeks of the regular season.

Losing regular starters like Severino, Betances, Hicks, and Sabathia will surely hurt, but luckily the team invested funds into building out the bullpen and starting pitching rotation for these exact scenarios.


New York Giants Could Target Top Offensive Lineman With First Round Pick

New York Gi

With the New York Giants expected to select a quarterback with their highest first-round pick at No. 6, it allows them to address other areas of need with the No. 17 pick acquired from the Odell Beckham Jr. trade.

The defense would seem to be the most obvious allocation of draft capital, but general manager Dave Gettleman prides himself on building the offensive line, and he’s only a right tackle away from completing his mission.

What does the New York Giants’ offensive line look like:

LT: Nate Solder

LG: Will Hernandez

C: Jon Halapio

RG: Kevin Zeitler

RT: Chad Wheeler

The clear weakness is Wheeler on the right side with a 47.4 grade, according to PFF. The Giants could look toward Oklahoma tackle Cody Ford to fill the position and solidify the line for years to come.

It’s possible Gettleman chooses to wait until the second-round to acquire a new tackle, but if Ford is on the board at No. 17 it should be an easy decision.

What would Cody Ford bring to the Giants?

With a rare combination of size, mass, and athleticism, Ford brings a versatile skill set that will allow him to translate well at the NFL level. He has the capabilities to play guard or tackle, which boosts his value even further – if he fails at tackle, he can switch over to the inside and test his luck there.

The one thing he struggles with is speed, and the NFL will offer far more talent and challenging opponents that bring different moves and maneuvers. His pass protection is all over this place, which attests to his high-risk, high-reward stock. If he can develop his balance and body control, there’s no question that Ford can end up being a cornerstone piece on the offensive line.

Other options the Giants should consider:

Two other offensive tackles that could be targeted are Andre Dillard and Dalton Risner. Both have high upside but could be potentially snagged in the second-round. If you’re interested in learning more about these two options, read the article linked to this text.