New York Jets: UDFA Breakdowns, Lawerence Cager

New York Jets, C.J. Mosley

Over the coming weeks, I plan to breakdown the little known additions to the New York Jets, the UDFAs. The Jets added a couple of new players with varying levels of potential and talent at a few positions of need. The Jets have had UDFAs turn into key contributors in previous years like Robby Anderson, Damon Harrison, and even the legend, Wayne Cherbert. The first UDFA breakdown is Lawerence Cager, WR, Georgia.

Strengths

Lawerence Cager is a very unique player with his build. Similar to Quincy Enunwa, Cager is a speed threat with the body of a tight end. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands and can be a good fit in quick throw and bubble screen packages that Adam Gase likes to run. Cager has got a lot of heart, if you look at his track record, Cager has been a leader and willed his way onto the field despite injuries in the past. Lawerence Cager has the physical and mental makeup to be a contributor at the next level. With good coaching, his talent could be harnessed into a formidable outside option or a depth receiver.

Weaknesses

Although I mentioned the dynamic aspect of Cager’s game, he also lacks a developed route tree. He’s got very good hands and he’s a crisp route runner, but at times he relies on his natural abilities to make up for lack of advancement in turns of his route tree. Natural ability may work in college, but at the next level, it won’t be as easy. Cager needs to develop more in that aspect. Cager also has a talented outside threat opposite him in George Pickens. That drew a lot of guys towards Pickens and freed Cager up more. This gave Cager more capability to succeed against lower-level corners. That’s a minor note that could be something to watch though. Lastly, injuries may have been something Cager could overcome at times, but he still missed the end of last season with a serious ankle injury. It may not be that much of an issue on the surface, but deeper damage could’ve hurt the dynamic aspect of his game and slowed him down a bit. That will remain to be seen.

Overall Outlook

Lawerence Cager was a worthwhile flyer in a free agency. There are definitely good reasons for Cager to not get drafted. The concerns in his game and injuries are justified. Ultimately, Cager is not going to be counted on to contribute right away. If Cager wins a spot on the roster, Hines Ward will likely be a key guy to watch in his development. If Ward sees potential in Cager or any other young receivers, his eye will be trusted. Cager could be a Quincy Enunwa prototype at best, but at worst this was just a camp body. 

New York Giants news, 12/8 – Where are we in Dave Gettleman’s master plan?

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

When the New York Giants first hired GM Dave Gettleman to overhaul the roster, we knew two things. First, he would invest heavily in the offensive line, and second, he would make it a priority to stop the run.

This is a classic old-school mentality that focuses on interior pass-rush and shies away from allocating resources towards the secondary. The Giants did, however, invest a first and fourth-round pick in upgrading the cornerback and free safety position. They also drafted Corey Ballentine as a potential slot option.

Gettleman broke away from his tendencies with the youth influx in the secondary, but that was part of stage two. Stage one was a bit of a mess.

Gettleman’s first big decision as general manager was to draft RB Saquon Barkley at no. 2 in the 2018 NFL Draft, a move that has seen its highs and lows. A skill-position is generally a harmful use of a top-two pick, but Barkley was “touched by the hand of God,” according to the New York Giants GM. Some would consider his drafting a swing and a miss with Sam Darnold on the board, but it was a move Gettleman couldn’t resist, especially after seeing Christian McCaffrey’s success.

Stage one of the plan also included drafting an offensive guard and a slew of defensive linemen. This was necessary, considering the gutting of the roster and trading of veterans like Damon Harrison. The 2018 Draft hasn’t produced much for the Giants in terms of pass-rush and interior pressure. BJ Hill has fallen off significantly in his sophomore season. This leads us to year two, where the secondary received an overhaul.

So, stage one targeted the running back and offensive line positions, and stage two, the defensive line, secondary, and wide receivers spots. He also allocated a pick towards the linebacker unit, which seems to have been a hit with Ryan Connelly.

Next offseason’s free-agency will be a big one for Gettleman, as he must begin filling in the holes/misses at the expense of his draft picks. That’s stage three of the plan, supplement weakness with free agents. The  New York Giants will have about $80 million to spend, and the offensive line, pass rush, and linebacker corps are all in dire need of support.

We can assume he will use a top-three pick towards the trenches, especially with Andrew Thomas and Chase Young’s anticipated availability. Generally, three seasons is a good rule of thumb to follow when considering a full rebuild. If the Giants aren’t at least competitive in 2020, that’s when we should begin to plan the undermining of the republic.

Nonetheless–

Your top news of the day:

Michael Eisen – Daniel Jones officially ruled out; Eli Manning to start on MNF

Alexander Wilson – New York Giants: The one offensive player we cannot sleep on

Ryan Dunleavy – Eli Manning will have bevy of receiving options in Giants return
Michael Eisen – S Jabrill Peppers placed on IR; LB Kareem Martin activated

New York Giants Ready To Run Against Former Giants All-Pro Damon Harrison

The New York Giants will be facing off against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The Giants are coming off of a week seven loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

This will be the New York Giants’ first time facing off against defensive lineman Damon Harrison since trading him away last October. The Giants received a 5th round pick in exchange for “Snacks” Harrison, the best run-stuffing lineman in the league. Since then the Giants’ run defense has been abysmal, but the Lions’ run defense has not been too stellar either.

The Lions’ Shaky Run Defense

Damon Harrison might be one of the NFL’s best run-stuffers, but the Detroit Lions defense has struggled to contain opposing running backs this season. The Lions rank 28th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and 25th in touchdowns allowed. Detroit is also allowing running backs to rush for 4.9 yards per attempt, ranking 28th in the NFL.

The Giants offensive gameplan on Sunday should feature a heavy dosage of Saquon Barkley. Saquon returned from injury last Sunday and rushed for 72 yards and 1 touchdown on 18 attempts. Now a week healthier, Saquon should see an even bigger role in the gameplan, and could have a monster performance against the Lions’ struggling run defense.

There is only so much one player in a position group, like Harrison, can do for his defense.Granted, Detroit has a pretty strong defensive line, with free agent acquisition Trey Flowers continuing to dominate off the edge. The Lions are also benefitting from another former Giants, Devon Kennard, who has progressed his game rapidly over the past two seasons.

The major weakness of the Detroit Lions’ defense lies within their linebacker corps. Jarrad Davis is one of the lowest graded players in the league according to Pro Football Focus with an overall grade of 35.3. He has been poor in run defense, so the Giants will need to attack that weakness with run plays up the middle.

Damon “Snacks” Harrison’s 2019 Season

Running up the middle is a good idea for the Giants if they can ensure they get Saquon to the second level. Jarrad Davis has been missing tackles and will be outmatched with Saquon Barkley. But in order for the Giants to create that Barkley vs. Davis matchup, they will need to get past Damon Harrison first.

Big Snacks Harrison will be plugging the holes as the Lions’ nose tackle. Damon has been the best run-stuffer in the league for years, earning a 90+ overall Pro Football Focus grade in each of the last four seasons. But so far this year, Damon has not looked like his old self.

Through the first seven weeks, Harrison’s PFF grade is only a 63.8 overall. This grade is nowhere near the elite level of play that Harrison is known for. The former First-Team All-Pro has totaled only 15 combined tackles so far this season with just 2 tackles for loss. Damon has been relatively underwhelming this season. This, combined with the Lions’ overall poor run defense, should make for a favorable matchup on the ground for Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants.

Preparing for the Lions: What’s the Giants’ best route to go on offense?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

After a disappointing loss against the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Giants‘ playoff hopes are on life-support. They need to do anything they can for a win against the Detroit Lions on Sunday at 1 PM. Luckily for the New York Giants, the blueprint on how to beat this team has been obvious through 7 weeks.

It’s a common strategy to run the ball more often when the defense needs help. The Lions did just lose Kerryon Johnson to a knee injury but Matthew Stafford matched up against the Giants’ leaky secondary sounds like a long afternoon. The Lions are currently ranked 6th in passing yards and 4th in passing touchdowns which is an impressive mark for any passer. In a game like this creating long drives and shortening the game would theoretically help the Giants.

Finding the Weakness:

Aiding the defense isn’t the only reason the New York Giants should run the ball more often. This Lions defense while rostering Damon “Snacks” Harrison has struggled mightily against the run. They currently rank 28th in rushing yards allowed and 25th in touchdowns allowed. They’re also allowing a healthy 4.9 yards per attempt ranking 28th in the NFL.

Red-Zone Offense:

The Lions haven’t exactly been a “bend but don’t break” unit in terms of rushing defense. They’ve allowed 7 touchdowns in 7 weeks with 5 of them coming from the 1-yard line. It’s surprising considering Snacks’ presence but this team is letting running backs score once they get close. The other scores allowed were from 4 and 8 yards out.

Is this a matter of game-flow?

Sometimes a defense who is actually a solid unit doesn’t grade well on paper. Many times when a team lets rushing yards wrack up it’s due to garbage time at the end of games. That is not the case this time since the only loss Detroit has that didn’t remain competitive until the end was week 6 against the Vikings. In other words, teams have not thrown their passing offenses out the window 3 quarters into the game. Teams have only called 6 more runs (169) on the Lions than they’ve called on their opponents (163). Opponents have gained over 200 more rushing yards than the Lions on only 6 more carries. This is a matter of allowing efficiency rather than misleading circumstance.

What about the Passing Offense?

The Lions trading Quandre Diggs away could be beneficial but overall Daniel has had a tough few weeks. Sure, the Lions rank 30th in passing yards allowed and 19th in passing touchdowns allowed but they’ve also had outings against Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, and Philip Rivers. A rookie quarterback could be just what they need even though it looks like a plus matchup for Daniel Jones. Jones could also be without Sterling Shepard again and the Lions know every trick Golden Tate has since he was a Detroit Lion for 5 years.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, it might seem like the Lions have a weakness on both sides of the ball. However, attacking the Lions on the ground would benefit the entire team more overall. This could also be a get-right game for Detroit’s passing defense with a dropoff in quarterback play compared to recent opponents. This Giants defense could use the help by staying off the field longer and Daniel Jones could use an efficient outing after being sacked 13 times in the last 2 weeks with 5 interceptions in that span. There’s plenty of reasons why a ground and pound gameplan suits the New York Giants perfectly in week 7.

New York Giants: Locker Room Reportedly Played Role In Roster Moves

New York Giants, Damon Harrison

There are multiple sides to every trade and offseason move, and some more information is coming out about some of the ones the New York Giants have made under the new regime of GM Dave Gettleman. Some of those moves were more controversial than the rest, but it’s safe to say most of the fanbase wasn’t that satisfied when run-stopping defensive tackle Damon Harrison was traded last season for the low price of a fifth round draft pick.

The trade signaled to many that the team would focus on rebuilding rather than trying to win. It didn’t seem likely, after all, that the Giants would be desperate to move one of their best defensive players for such a low price if that wasn’t the case. Now, however, a bit more is coming out about the circumstances around the trade.

“Pierre-Paul and Harrison had a confrontation late in 2017, right around the time Gettleman arrived. Harrison then wasn’t around for most of the new regime’s first offseason, which didn’t seem to sit well,” reported ESPN’s Jordan Ranaan. It looks like these issues in 2018 tied into the Giants’ decisions, with Pierre-Paul leaving the team through free agency and Harrison ending up traded to the Lions.

But just how good of a choice was it to let something like this impact the Giants’ decisions when it came to who to keep and who to let go or move?

Letting Jason Pierre-Paul move to Tampa may have been an advisable move, as the player had already been on the decline for at least a couple of years. but with the loss of Harrison, the Giants lost one of the best players against the run in the entire league, for a low price.

The locker room does matter, on one hand, but when the team has traded or let go of a number of their top players and locker room matters likely played a part in it, you have to ask whether or not the moves are legitimate or simply because the sensibilities of the General Manager were offended.

Regardless of any locker room problems, after all, the Giants did see their last playoff appearance when the team still had the likes of Harrison and Odell Beckham Jr., which is something the Giants under Gettleman were never even in the running for.

New York Giants Confirmed To Have 10 Draft Picks In 2019 Draft

New York Giants. Dave Gettleman, Pat Shurmur

The 2019 NFL Draft will begin on April 25th and carry through to the 27th. This will be a crucial draft for the New York Giants’ future. Having plenty of draft picks will be beneficial for them as they try to find talent to add to a 5-11 roster.

It was originally predicted that the Giants were going to have 11 draft picks. However, it is now confirmed they will only have 10. The Giants have been awarded a compensatory pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Many thought the Giants would receive more than one pick, but that is unfortunately not the case.

Where Are The Giants Picking?

The compensatory pick that the Giants have received is a 5th round pick. It is pick 172. The Giants now have 3 draft picks in the fifth round. The other pick was acquired by trading Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions.

In the fifth round, the Giants will be picking back to back. They have the 143rd pick and the 144th pick. Then again, of course with the 172nd pick. This is not the only round the Giants have multiple picks in.

In the fourth round, the Giants own two picks. They have their own pick (109) and they have a pick acquired via trade (133). The Giants have the Saints’ fourth round pick that they gained by trading away cornerback Eli Apple. In the sixth round the Giants have just one pick. It is pick 181 and it is their own.

In the 7th round, the Giants have two picks. neither of these picks are the Giants’ own. They own the Vikings’ pick (234) from trading away center Brett Jones. They also have the Rams’ seventh round pick (247) that they received in a trade in which they also received Alec Ogletree.

The Giants do not own a third round pick in 2019. They forfeited their pick when they selected Sam Beal in the third round of the Supplemental Draft. However, they do own their second round pick.

The Giants’ second round pick is the 37th overall pick in the draft. Being that it is near the top of the round, the Giants could end up getting a first-round prospect who falls with the 37th pick.

As all Giants fans know, the Giants own the 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It is their third time picking in the top 10 in the last four years. This will be a crucial draft pick for the franchise’s future. The Giants will need to decide wether or not the 6th pick will be used to select their next franchise quarterback or if it will be used elsewhere.

What Can The Giants Do With So Many Draft Picks?

Having 10 picks in the draft gives the Giants a lot of flexibility. Of course, they could stay put and take 10 players with their 10 picks. However, the Giants could trade up in the draft with so many picks. The more picks, the more trade value.

If the Giants love a prospect in the third round, they could potentially trade both of their fourth round picks to move back into the third round and take their guy.

These picks could even be traded outside of the draft. The Giants might feel it is best to have a veteran free safety going into 2019. Trading a late-round pick for a veteran could be of great value to the Giants. Last offseason they traded a mid-round pick to acquire Alec Ogletree. Dave Gettleman could look to make a similar move in 2019.

New York Giants Expected To Have 11 Picks In 2019 NFL Draft

New York Giants. Dave Gettleman, Pat Shurmur

The New York Giants are heading into the offseason with a disappointing 5-11 record. That record awarded them the 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. In this draft, the Giants are expected to have eleven total draft picks. With that kind of draft capital, the Giants should be expected to make some big moves this offseason.

Where Are The Extra Picks Coming From?

Typically, NFL teams have one pick per round, in each of the seven rounds. The Giants own their first round, second round, fourth round, and sixth round picks. That totals to four picks of their own and no pick in the third round. The Giants used their third round pick in the 2018 Supplemental Draft to take cornerback Sam Beal.

In addition to those picks, the Giants have acquired several picks via trades. The Giants received the Saints’ fourth round pick in the Eli Apple trade. They Also received the Lions’ fifth round pick in the Damon “Snacks” Harrison trade. Their two seventh round picks come via trade also. The first pick comes from the Vikings via the Brett Jones trade. The second seventh round pick was received from the Rams in the Alec Ogletree trade.

The Giants will receive two more picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. These are compensatory picks. The fourth round pick comes from the Giants losing Justin Pugh in free agency in 2018. The fifth round pick will be granted to the Giants due to Geno Smith signing with the Chargers in 2018 and Devon Kennard signing with the Lions in 2018.

With so many picks in the upcoming draft, the Giants will have many options. They could hold onto their picks and select multiple impact players, or they could trade their picks. They could trade these picks for veterans or for more draft picks. If the Giants like a specific prospect, they now have the draft capital to trade up and select him.

How Has The Trade Of Damon Harrison Affected The New York Giants?

When the New York Giants decided to trade away star defensive tackle, Damon “Snacks” Harrison for a measly fifth-round pick, the fan base went up in flames. Harrison was one of the most liked players on the team, equally by teammates and the fan-base.

The Giants’ signature run-stopper was moved to the Detroit Lions, who have enjoyed his presence thus far. Big Blue on the other hand has saw their run defense struggle mightily.

How has the New York Giants’ defense performed since Harrison’s departure?

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s defense allowed roughly 110 rushing yards per-game with Harrison on the field. Without, they’re averaging 152 yards per-game. That’s an additional 42-yards per-game, which can carry multiple touchdowns with it.

The Giants have allowed four rushing touchdowns in the last three games; before they had six the first seven games of the season. By looking at the math, we can conclude that Harrison, in fact, decreased the amount of rushing scores by one on a gamely basis.

To put this into perspective, his influence came by 47 less rushing yards per-game and a rushing touchdown. Now, can someone please explain why he was worth just a fifth-round pick?

One might say that he didn’t fit the mold of a 3-4 defense, which would be correct, given his lack of a pass-rush. Bettcher prefers his interior lineman to be able to put pressure on the quarterback, and ultimately that was a primary factor in the trading of Harrison. Was it the right move? Maybe, but we can see how the defense has performed since his departure.

One could make the argument that his contract ties up the Giants financially. He has an out of his contract at the end of the season, which the Giants were likely going to exercise if they couldn’t find a trade partner. My question is, why not keep him on a $7 million cap-hit? He’s an influential player in the locker roomer and clearly influences the run-defense significantly. In 2019, he would require $9.25 million in compensation at 31 years-old.

I can see the argument on both sides, but I would expect the Giants to allocate resources to bolstering the defensive line and linebacker corps next offseason. Only time will tell to justify the trading of the dominant run-stopper.

 

Giants’ Damon Harrison Reacts To Return Of Olivier Vernon

The return of New York Giants‘ top pass rusher, Olivier Vernon, will surely provide the boost they need on defense to create some much needed turnovers on Sunday against the Panthers. Week 5 will present virtually the Giants’ last chance at climbing back into the NFC East race. Surprisingly, they’re only one game out from the Eagles (2-2), Cowboys (2-2), and Redskins (2-1).

If the rest of the division loses, which is certainly possible as the Eagles play the Vikings, Cowboys the Texans, and Redskins the Saints, the Giants will be in a solid position moving forward. But, again, they must win the next game against GM Dave Gettleman’s former club.

What New York Giants’ Damon Harrison had to say about Olivier Vernon:

Defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison made it very clear that having Vernon back will be a game-changing reality, according to the NY Post:

“It’ll be a nice surprise for the Panthers, if we can get him back,” the Giants tackle said Thursday. “That [means] everything. That’s the Terminator. [He] can do it all. … That’s not a discredit to the other guys, but [he’s] just a different animal.

Vernon has been out with a high ankle sprain since August 26, and his absence has been felt. Rookie defensive lineman B.J. Hill has been the Giants’ best pass-rusher to date, and not to discredit his success thus far, but Vernon is in a different stratosphere in terms of ability.

In the past two years with Big Blue, Vernon has amassed 101 tackles and 15 total sacks. He’s one of the league’s most efficient pass-rushers in terms of QB pressures and hits, despite his sack totals being questionable. After making the transition to outside linebacker in the 4-3 defense, it’s expected that he will have more sack production off the edge. Hopefully, that assumption will be true in his first live action.

What To Expect From New York Giants DT Damon Harrison This Season

It’s easy to forget it after last season, but the New York Giants have one of the best nose tackles in the NFL. Damon “Snacks” Harrison didn’t get compared to other top players as much, mainly because the rest of the team wasn’t competitive like it was in 2016, but he was still great against the run and even led the league in the run stop metric from Pro Football Focus.

Despite the 40 run stops, he was actually down from the two years before, which shows his potential to perform at an even better level than he did last season. When it comes to the run stopping game, it wouldn’t be a crazy prediction to say that Harrison leads the league again. But is that what Giants fans should expect from him? Harrison didn’t have a large drop off from the 2016 season, at least if you only consider the main stats.

His best year was 2016, when he had 55 tackles and 31 assists. Last season, he only had four less tackles, but also had 25 assisted tackles compared to 31. He did play one less game in 2017, so that might explain the drop from his best season. When you consider what his numbers might look like for this season, however, it’s important to consider the scheme fit under James Bettcher.

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The Giants are building a 3-4 defense, which can either be a good thing or bad thing. Harrison has experience in that system with the Jets, but his best performances came after his move to the Giants. It’s hard to tell whether a change to 3-4 is a good or bad thing for him, as an individual. On one hand, he made a big jump after moving from the 3-4. On the other hand, that could be a result of him making a jump as a player after having more time in the league.

Harrison does have more help this year, though. The Giants strengthened their front seven in the draft with Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill, and depending on how those players pan out, opponents may focus on him less. The team as a whole should also have better coaching this year, as things spiraled out of control early last season and this likely had an effect on the on-field play-calling for both the offense and defense.

At 29, Harrison isn’t quite at the age to drop off either. It would be surprising if he matched his best season, but an improvement from 2017 would be fairly reasonable, if you base a prediction off of the last three years. Harrison will be the main run stopping player on the Giants line, and as such, he should take a step forward with other members of the defense.

Prediction: Harrison’s 40 run stops from this year jumps to 45. His tackles don’t move too significantly, but his assists move up to 31 or more to match his number from 2016.