New York Giants: 3 Round Mock Draft – The Defense Gets Their ‘Men’

The New York Giants have spent plenty of capital on the offense in an attempt to salvage what’s left of quarterback Eli Manning’s career, while also planning for the future after his departure. General manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to address the offensive line first and foremost, bringing Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, and now Kevin Zeitler to New York.

The trading of Odell Beckham Jr. surely leaves a hole in the receiving corps, but having Saquon Barkley and signing Golden Tate should compensate to a degree. After all, the Giants did score the most points in week 13 of the 2018 season when Beckham was out with a groin injury.

While the offense has been well taken care of, the defense is still a work in progress with inexperience at multiple positions. The Giants need to begin funding the growth of this unit, and I expect them to in the draft ahead.

Second Round pick (No. 37):

With the 37th pick in the draft, the Giants elect to address their offensive line with tackle Dalton Risner. The Kansas State product is a huge admirer of left tackle Nate Solder, stating:

“Nate Solder, I look up to,” Risner said at the NFL Combine. “I’ve mirrored my game after Nate. I had the opportunity to reach out to him and talk to him about how I’ve mirrored his play, ask him about the Senior Bowl, ask him about the Combine and how to answer questions or carry myself.”

Adding a player like Risner would complete the overhaul of the offensive line, and having two young players is only a bonus – Risner and Hernandez.

Risner is a born leader, and he plans to take advantage of that skill from the very beginning. While he’s not a top-tier athlete, his fundamentals are clean and pure. He mimics Solder, who prides himself on the correct technique and ensuring he does everything the right way so he can justify his performances. Now, most have Dalton as a second-round pick, and the Giants managed to grab a great lineman in a similar fashion last year, so this is a very realistic option for Big Blue.

First Round Pick (No. 17):

With the Giants’ second first-rounder acquired in the Beckham trade, they elect to take a linebacker. Michigan’s Devin Bush fits the bill perfectly, as he adds talent to a group that lacks a true secondary starter behind Alec Ogletree.

Bush is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker with great speed and athleticism. In 2018, he racked up 66 total tackles with 8.5 for a loss. He’s essentially a poor man’s Devin White, but he still offers immense value at No. 17.

One of the more underrated aspects of his game is his ability to cover, which has been an issue for the Giants at the linebacker position. Having a player in the middle of the field that can pick up an opposing tight end is huge, especially when it’s an LB and doesn’t require a safety. Additionally, flanking running backs are his specialty in coverage and coming out of the backfield.

This would be a huge value pick for the Giants and it would add another dimension to their defense immediately.

First Round Pick (No. 6):

The Giants are in dire need of a top edge rusher, which is why they go with Montez Sweat at No. 6. His size and speed combination offers bountiful potential and the ability to immediately upgrade the Giants’ defensive line.

Sweat would essentially act as an outside linebacker in James Bettcher’s system, which could be perfect for him as his length would allow him to expose the outside foot of opposing tackles.

A pass-rusher with 4.41 speed is not normal – to put that into perspective, he ran .3 seconds faster than Saquon Barkley in the 40-yard-dash.

One of the most appealing factors in regard to Sweat is his ability to grow into his frame even more. At 6’6″, 260-pounds, we are already talking about a monster of a human, and to add even more to his frame would make him virtually prototypical.

New York Giants: This Free Agent Linebacker Could Be a Perfect Fit on Defense

The New York Giants have one of the league’s worst defenses. They went from bad to worse in the offseason. After an abysmal 2018, the Giants let their best pass rusher and their best safety go in the offseason. These moves left even more holes on the Giants’ defense.

Prior to these moves, the Giants were already weak at a number of defensive positions. One of those weak positions is at linebacker. The Giants will need to upgrade this position sooner than later, whether that be through the draft or through free agency.

Free agency started about two weeks ago, so the market has really thinned out. However, there is still at least one quality linebacker available for the Giants to consider. That linebacker is former Washington Redskin, Zach Brown.

What Zach Brown Could Bring To The Giants:

At 29 years old, Zach Brown could bring a nice veteran presence to the Giants’ locker room. The Giants already have Alec Ogletree for that, but Brown and Ogletree could be a great duo of defensive captains. Brown has also performed better than Ogletree as a player, too.

Zach Brown struggled through an injury in 2018 but still played top-notch football. He totaled 96 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 10 tackles for loss. Despite playing with an injury, Brown played all 16 games for the Redskins. He did only start in 12, but he played in all 16. Pro Football Focus graded Zach Brown as the 3rd best linebacker in the NFL in 2018 with an overall grade of 89.2.

Brown has been an impact player for the past 3 seasons. He has totaled over 10 tackles for loss in each of the last 3 seasons and in 2017 and 2016 he had incredible combined tackle totals. In 2016, playing for the Buffalo Bills, Brown racked up a huge 149 tackles as he was selected to the Pro Bowl. That tackle number was 2nd highest in the league in 2016.

In 2017, Brown put up another solid season. He had 127 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks with the Washington Redskins. On top of this, Brown was solid in pass defense in 2018. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown was one of only six linebackers to play at least 350 coverage snaps and not allow a single touchdown in coverage.

If the Giants sign Zach Brown, they will be getting a highly productive and very consistent linebacker to man the middle of their defense.

Possibility of Nick Foles To New York Giants Scared The Philadelphia Eagles

New York Giants, Eli Manning

Should the New York Giants have made more of a run to bring in Eagles quarterback Nick Foles? Foles is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was the top quarterback of this year’s free agency after the Eagles decided not to use the franchise tag to keep Foles in Philadelphia. With the Jaguars trading Blake Bortles away, it looks like at least one team has the faith in Foles to be a starting caliber player.

It also looks like the Eagles thought highly of the player, even though they decided to stick with their main man, Carson Wentz, instead of keeping Foles around for another year as an expensive backup. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that much himself, this week at the NFL owner’s meetings.

“We were also, to be honest about it, hoping that he would not end up with the Giants or the Redskins,” Lurie said about Foles. Both teams are said to be quarterback needy, but neither one has found their man just yet.

The Giants are sticking with Eli Manning this season and could potentially draft Manning’s successor as soon as this year, while the Redskins have been mentioned by many as a team that could trade up past the Giants to make sure that they get the player they want.

Other teams trading up, and whether or not to spend their draft pick on a quarterback, is not something the Giants would have to worry about if they had made a move for a free agent player.

But it’s too late to change the decision after it was already made, whether or nor allowing the Jaguars to sign Foles was the right or the wrong move. Eli Manning is the Giants’ quarterback this season. Whether or nor the team makes moves for the future during this offseason or waits, though, is up for debate.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Once Again Proves Why He’s a True Leader

When it comes to justifying the seemingly earned losing record of the New York Giants in recent years, it always comes back to Eli Manning and his abilities. Never the defense, offensive line, or coaching that is called into question immediately, it’s always Manning and his deficiencies.

New York Giants: It’s far more than just Eli Manning

If you’ve ever seen Eli play football you know that he needs a stout offensive line and a balanced array of weapons to function at a high level. Former general manager Jerry Reese found every which way to put him in a position to fail – whether it be a bad offensive line, an unstable defense, or locker room madness. The questionable decisions were a direct influence on the Giants’ veteran signal caller.

Most resort to blaming Manning when asked about the team’s recent failures, but star running back Saquon Barkley knows that’s not the case.

“Yeah, it bothers me. I’m not going to lie because it’s not his fault,” Barkley says “He’s not the reason why [we’ve struggled]. We love to put the blame on one person, but it takes 11 men, a team and an organization all together to win.”

General manager Dave Gettleman went as far to say that Manning had a heck of a year in 2018, and while most would look at the garbage time stats and Barkley dump-offs, the stats don’t lie – not to mention the offensive line struggled once again.

How did Manning perform?

Manning targetted his new favorite weapon in Barkley 121 times, 91 of which were caught, tallying 721 receiving yards in addition to four scores. Earning Rookie of the Year accolades, Barkley helped Manning secure a career-best 66% completion percentage.

While you could make the argument that throwing five-yard screen passes shouldn’t indicate a spike in performance in regard to Manning, it certainly can’t be considered a dozy either. After all, Tom Brady completes most of his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, as the offense he operates is designed to work in that fashion – I don’t see anybody complaining about Brady’s completion percentage.

Yes, it’s certainly a stretch to compare the two, but the point here is that short passes can be equally as effective if your receivers are catching them.

“Eli is still a quality NFL quarterback,” Gettleman told NFL Network. ” It wears me out, it really does. Obviously, he’s 38 years old. … Anyhow, the bottom line is yes have to address it. It’s reality. So when the time is right we will.”

The Giants will likely find a successor for Manning in the near future, whether it be Josh Rosen or a drafted quarterback, but the one constant in his process will be Saquon Barkley, a true leader at the ripe age of 22 years old. There’s no time for blaming teammates at the expense of locker room feuds, and Barkley knows how to avoid these confrontations. Every player must be responsible for their own actions, and coming together in pressing times requires strength and leadership, both of which Barkley posses.

 

New York Giants: Evan Engram Primed For Big Year After OBJ Departure

If there’s any single player that will benefit from the departure of Odell Beckham Jr., it’s New York Giants pass-catching tight end Evan Engram. The third-year player is primed for a breakout season, considering he will be a more prominent piece in the passing game.

In 2017, Engram recorded 722 yards and six scores after Beckham broke his ankle against the San Diego Chargers. The undersized tight end showed where his value resided, giving the Giants an opportunity to extract his potential. While his blocking abilities aren’t as strong as Scott Simonson or Rhett Ellison’s, he is the most deadly with the ball in his hands.

Why trading Odell Beckham Jr. is good for Evan Engram:

When Beckham was on the field, nearly every player saw their totals drop significantly, as he rightfully attracted a lot of attention. The ball needed to be in his hands, or so most thought.

To put things into perspective, Engram averaged a mere 36.7 yards per game receiving when Beckham was on the field. In the final four games where the star receiver was injured, he averaged an astounding 80 yards per game – more than double. His yards per reception with OBJ present was 13.58, and without, 16.43.

Everything about Engram’s game was elevated the second the offense was opened up to the bigger picture. When utilizing the tight end effectively, the Giants put up a massive amount of points. In week 14, Big Blue had their most productive game – scoring 40 points without Beckham as they utilized Engram on three catches for 77 yards. Additionally, Saquon Barkley ran for 170 yards and a score on just 14 carries.

While I’m not trying to take away anything from OBJ, as he’s an incredibly influential player, we shouldn’t be worried about the efficiency of the offense. With an upgraded offensive line, the entire unit should be more productive.

Head coach Pat Shurmur commented on Engram’s impact in 2018:

“He had production when he was in there, but then he got hurt a few times,” Shurmur said at the NFL Annual Meeting. “By the end he was feeling good, running well and playing well. That is a function of Evan doing his thing.”

When factoring out Engram’s usefulness as a receiver, he becomes an average tight end at best. The knock on him is his blocking, but Shurmur is convinced that he’s not as bad as most think.

“I think he can block better than you do,” Shurmur told skeptics. “I think his whole game improved when he became healthy. He is a willing blocker.”

I do agree that Evan is a far better player when healthy, an easy assumption to make. He’s more than capable of playing at a high level, but eliminating dropped balls and further developing his ability to block will be a priority moving forward.

 

 

New York Giants Could Snag Top Interior Defensive Lineman With 1st Round Pick

The New York Giants could go after Ed Oliver in the 2019 NFL draft.

The New York Giants will have an opportunity to grab a top option with the No. 6 pick, and there’s one player that I have in mind that could make a significant impact on the defense.

Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver is the prospect with the ability to slip to No. 17, but why? Some have Oliver mocked in the first 10 picks of the draft while others have him falling to the middle of the round. An altercation with coaches during a game in 2018 put his character in question, but it seemed to be more fueled by his desire to play and compete.

Oliver is a top defensive tackle in the upcoming draft, behind Alabama star Quinnen Williams. The Houston product enjoyed a stock-raising Pro Day, running a 4.71 40-yard dash at 287-pounds. That’s absurd for a player of that size.

As a prospect trying to prove his worth, Oliver offers elite athleticism and speed coming from the interior. His ability to push the offensive line and act as a pass-rusher while dominating in the run game offers the Giants more value than a pass-rusher…why? Because the Giants’ defense is built around the 3-4 concept, where three down lineman are used to take up space as the linebackers fill in the gaps and rush the passer.

Oliver is the perfect fit for a defense of this nature, and he would be a fantastic selection if available at No. 17. The chances seem unlikely that he will drop this far, which could indicate a higher selection – he would be a solid pick at 6 as well.

His cons:

Despite his observed athleticism, Oliver has various flaws that will need to be addressed at the next level. His inability to fight through double teams and maul his way to the quarterback will pose issues. He was reported at playing under 280-pounds last season, which will not be ideal at the NFL level given the size differences. Oliver favors his speed and initial burst to beat an offensive lineman, but his moves inside are rather predictable. Additionally, he lacks the length that most coaches desire in a defensive tackle.

While these cons certainly raise a few red flags, there are ways to develop beyond them and methods to masking these deficiencies.

 

Three run first inning powers New York Yankees to Opening Day Win

New York Yankees, Yankees, Luke voit

It didn’t take very long for New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit to prove haters wrong.

After back-to-back singles by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, Voit cranked a low slider on a 3-1 count into Monument Park for the Yankees first three runs of the game and season, and it led them to a 7-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

That home run was Voit’s only official at-bat, he took walks in two other plate appearances and was also hit by a pitch. His hit-by-pitch actually resulted in an RBI, as the bases were loaded. Aaron Judge was the only Yankee with multiple hits, a single to right and an infield single. All Yankee batters besides leadoff hitter Brett Gardner had a hit, but Gardner did have a walk.

Greg Bird went 1-for-4 on the game, with three strikeouts and a home run into the Yankee bullpen. Miguel Andujar had a single to CF in the seventh and an RBI sacrifice fly early on. Andujar, however, did have a throwing error in the fourth inning.

A quality start for Tanaka:

Masahiro Tanaka got his 2019 season off to a good start, giving up six hits, two runs (one earned), and fired five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of work. Only throwing 83 pitches, the Yankees didn’t want to stretch it with him as the team doesn’t play again until Saturday.

Tanaka was throwing his slider and splitter well and for strikes. All five strikeouts were swinging, including him striking out the side in the second inning using mainly offspeed pitches. Most outs came from his slider or splitter, and he only threw a few curveballs all game.

Tanaka faced 22 batters and threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of them.

Ottavino showed out in his first game:

Adam Ottavino had no New York jitters. He came out to relieve Tanaka in the sixth inning with two outs to strike out Rio Ruiz, then came back for the seventh inning getting two more strikeouts and a lineout to Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, who got a hit in his first game as a Yankee.

Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman came in for the eighth and ninth innings, and each pitched scoreless innings despite both giving up a hit.

The two teams don’t play on Friday but will continue the series on Saturday at 1:05PM on YES Network, ESPN+, or FOX Sports Go. The probable starters for the game are Nate Karns and James Paxton.

 

New York Giants Will Address Manning Situation “When The Time Is Right”

For New York Giants fans who think the team should stick with Eli Manning for the next year or two, there’s some good news. It seems like General Manager Dave Gettleman agrees, and has continued to show this both through actions so far and through verbal affirmations.

In this case, Gettleman spoke to the NFL Network on Wednesday and came out in support of Manning and muddied the waters even more for those trying to predict whether or not the team is taking Manning’s successor with the number six overall pick in the draft.

“Eli can still make all the NFL throws. He can still play. Last time I checked, if you’re quarterback’s upright, it gives you a chance. We’ve rebuilt, built up, or whatever phrase you want to use, the O-line. We got another important piece with the Kevin Zeitler trade,” said Gettleman.

The Giants may have “rebuilt” or “built up” the offensive line with the Zeitler trade, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the roster. They haven’t exactly gotten better by trading away one of their absolute best offensive players and not finding a replacement of the same caliber. Even if the team took a step forward with the Kevin Zeitler trade, they promptly took a step back by moving Odell Beckham Jr., and the secondary has gotten worse with the departure of Landon Collins.

While no team wants to come out and say that they don’t have a chance to win, it would be a lot more transparent if the Giants just came out and said right now that this was a rebuilding season. It would, after all, lower expectations a bit.

But aside from that, Gettleman also talked about when the team intends to do something to find Manning’s successor. And the answer isn’t this year or the next year, but is vague.

“Obviously he’s 38 years old. Like Pat says, he’s closer to 40 than he is 20. … The bottom line is, yes, we have to address it. It’s reality. So when the time’s right, we will,” Gettleman said.

Which time is the right one? No one but the upper echelons of the Giants organization know that. It could be this year with the sixth or the 17th pick in the first round, it could be next year’s draft or free agency. But whenever it is, Gettleman can’t afford to get this wrong. Not after making the moves that have helped put the Giants close to dead last in many power rankings.

New York Yankees First Base Position Battle is Decided, Greg Bird Wins the Job

New York Yankees, Greg Bird

New York Yankees skipper Aaron Boone announced that Greg Bird will get the start at first base for the team’s opening day game against the Baltimore Orioles. Luke Voit is still expected to DH on Thursday but won’t play the field. Voit is definitely the fan favorite, and fans now have questions about the move.

Greg Bird had a slightly better spring:

Both players hit the ball well this spring, but Bird’s stats were just a bit better. Bird hit .333 compared to .289 for Voit. Voit however did have more home runs (12) and RBI’s (four) compared to Bird (10 and three respectively). While the more seasoned fielder did have a higher OBP and slugging percentage than Voit, he also showed a new ability to hit to the opposite field.

But will the spring success continue up north for Bird? He hasn’t had much success in the big leagues in his career, only one really big moment in pinstripes. That, being his ALDS game three home run off of Andrew Miller in 2017. If he doesn’t hit well, it could be his last chance with the Yankees.

Both aren’t fast or have particularly good gloves:

Both Voit and Bird aren’t known for having a good glove or necessarily being a speed demon. In my opinion, Voit is definitely a better runner and hitter, but he lacks defensive advantage. They are both good enough to get by in comparison to other players at their position.

So no matter who they pick to play defense, it honestly may not matter. It comes down to offense with those two players, and Voit will likely bat higher in the lineup, even as high as fourth or fifth. I think that Voit’s success last year wasn’t a fluke and that they have found their first baseman of the future.

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone ’19 team is better, more versatile

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Baseball fans across the world unite in celebrating Opening Day 2019 on Thursday, March 28th. After an offseason full of surprising twists and turns, the New York Yankees have built a roster that they hope will hoist a championship trophy at the end of the season.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone did the talk show circuit yesterday and spoke with Mike Francesa On Mike and with Michael Kay on his show about the construction of the roster for Opening Day and beyond, the decision he hasn’t had to make about Luke Voit and Greg Bird and the team’s goal of winning a championship.

Michael Kay asked Boone if this year’s team was better than the ’18 team and he very confidently said ‘Yes,” because it is deeper than last year, more versatile and the pitching is better.  Most Yankee fans would agree that the additions and improvements made over the offseason in these three areas make the ’19 Yankees a better team.

The acquisition of DJ LeMahieu significantly improved the depth off the bench of the utility position and added more versatility to the position, as LeMahieu played at all three bases in Spring Training in preparation for the role.  There’s no need to rehash the numbers, it’s a given that LeMahieu was a solid pickup for the Yankees with his Gold Gloves and lifetime .298 batting average.

Boone also has the luxury, with Aaron Hicks sidelined with a back injury, of carrying two first baseman, righty Luke Voit and lefty Greg Bird.  The two first basemen give him the versatility of playing them both, with one or the other as the DH.

Boone said of Voit and Bird that neither separated himself from the other and both were among the top impact first basemen in the league.  Voit came into camp and delivered as he had last season after coming to the Yankees.  Boone said Voit has improved defensively.  

Bird, Boone said, from the first time he saw him hit in spring, was impacting the ball differently.  He put on weight over the offseason in a good way, to strengthen his power stroke this season.

Boone also now has versatility in the outfield with the acquisition on March 24th of Mike Tauchman, who was traded from the Rockies for RHP Phillip Diehl.  Tauchman plays all three outfield positions and has been a hitting machine in the minor leagues for Colorado, but has never had much success in the big leagues and the Yankees are hoping he’ll be another Voit – a good hitter who just needs to play regularly in the big leagues to improve his offense.

Tauchman was immediately added to the roster ousting Tyler Wade from a position with the club.   The Yankees felt Wade lacked the experience and versatility in the outfield that they needed with Hicks out.

The Yankees re-signed CC Sabathia , JA Happ and Zack Britton as parts of the solution to the pitching issues identified by Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner in many interviews in the offseason, in which he said he felt pitching was the area of greatest need for the team.

The Yankees added LHP James Paxton and RHP Adam Ottavino to bolster the rotation and the bullpen and the spring each has had for the Yankees has met or exceeded expectations.  Paxton pitched to a 2.03 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched with 1 HR, 19 SO, 11 H.  Ottavino debuted his nasty stuff for Yankee fans who suddenly forgot who David Robinson was.

Boone has his sights set on a championship in ’19. The Yankees offseason moves will be tested and their success judged on the number of wins the team has at season’s end.  Let’s celebrate the ’19 Yankees and believe that they will hoist the trophy in October.