New York Giants split with senior director of football information Jon Berger

Information is the first step in making decisions, and for the New York Giants, Jon Berger was a big part of the information section of the front office. Berger held the role of senior director of football information, and had one of the longest running careers within the front office. While other figures were removed as the Giants entered a rebuilding phase, Berger held onto his job – until now. The breakup, however, has been described as amicable.

Berger had previously been the director of information technology for the Giants for 21 years before moving into his information director role. That, of course, placed him in football’s IT field before it was nearly as prominent as it is today.

While iPads and computers are common tools within a front office or coaching staff these days, the information department of an NFL team used to be far more obscure and Berger seems to be one of the first staff members to work in such a role for the Giants. In total, Berger was with the organization for 38 years.

The split between him and the organization comes some time after Dave Gettleman promised to involve analytics more in the running of the team back in 2019. Many didn’t believe Gettleman at the time, but the Giants moving on from their current name at director of football information may be a signal that they intend to bring in someone younger and more promising to aid in the analytics department.

After all, the organization has seemingly become more forward thinking over the past year or so with the hiring of Joe Judge and an overhaul of the coaching staff. It only makes sense that the front office may follow in the same direction.

The New York Giants should target offensive linemen early in the 2021 NFL Draft

The New York Giants are on a mission to rebuild and revamp their offense this offseason. New York’s offense was terrible in 2020. The Giants averaged only 17.5 points per game this past season, an average that cannot translate to a winning season in today’s NFL.

Dave Gettleman and company have vowed to add playmakers to the Giants’ offense. But in addition to New York’s lack of playmakers, they also had a lack of pass protection. The Giants’ offensive line was nearly incompetent in pass protection last season.

The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants prioritize upgrading Daniel Jones’s weapons, they, maybe more than anything, need to fix the offensive line in front of him.

Daniel Jones was a much-improved quarterback in his second season. But if the Giants want to see Jones take that next step and have that year-three breakout, they need to fix the offensive line. Daniel Jones had a Pro Football Focus 91.5 passing grade when kept clean in 2020. That is an elite grade. When under pressure, though, Jones’s grade was 46.9.

Unfortunately, Daniel was under pressure more often than not. The Giants should make it a top priority to find competent offensive linemen and keep Jones clean in 2021. As we inch closer to the NFL Draft in April, there are a number of offensive lineman prospects that the Giants should target within the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.

NFL Draft offensive line targets

The 2021 NFL Draft class is filled with offensive line talent. This is one of the best offensive line classes in recent years. At the top of the class is a premier offensive tackle talent in Penei Sewell out of Oregon. Penei is an elite prospect who is unlikely to fall to eleven, but the Giants should pray that he is there for the taking.

With New York seemingly destined to go wide receiver in round one, it is in the second and third rounds that they should focus on the offensive line. Prospects like Wyatt Davis and Creed Humphrey stand out on the interior. Jackson Carman and Walker Little could be options in those rounds as well.

Of course, the Giants already have young, promising players on their offensive line that need to develop. Nick Gates flashed great potential in his first season starting at center in 2020. Rookie Matt Peart also looked good in limited playing time at right tackle. But general manager Dave Gettleman has said before that he is not afraid to draft over players. So if one of these offensive linemen, like center Creed Humphrey, is the best player on the board when the Giants are on the clock, they are realistic options.

Regardless, the offensive line is not a positional group that the Giants can wait on. They need to address it and fix it immediately. Taking chances on late-round prospects rarely works out on the offensive line. If Gettleman and the Giants are serious about amending the offensive line, they need to target prospects within the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.

New York Giants 3 round mock draft: Perfect allocations

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The New York Giants have a difficult task ahead of them this off-season, trying to utilize their minimal amount of money to sign free agents but also bolster their offense. Having to make decisions on Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson doesn’t make resource allocation any easier, especially with quarterback Daniel Jones needing more weapons to work with. The expectation is that the Giants will target a receiver in free agency, as both Corey Davis and Curtis Samuel represent solid options but not WR1s.

One way or another, Jones will get his wish, more quality targets to throw to in the passing game — the Giants might have to make a few significant changes to open up money, and they must utilize their draft capital efficiently.

New York Giants 3-round mock:

1.) WR DeVonta Smith

After the National Championship game, DeVonta Smith was considered a guarantee to be off the board by the time the Giants picked at 11. However, his stock is gradually decreasing, based on his 175-pound weight.

Ultimately, Smith is one of the more dynamic receivers entering the NFL, and his ability to align in many different ways makes him a threat constantly. He’s one of the best wide receiver screen options in college, and that will likely transfer to the NFL.

The primary issue is utilizing him in press coverage, where corners can jam him with ease based on his lack of strength. He possesses fantastic hands and elite body control, though, making catches in traffic and high pointing the football on contested throws.

If he falls to 11, the Giants shouldn’t hesitate, as he offers a fantastic weapon for Jones to utilize. He projects as an ideal Z receiver, lining up a few feet off the line of scrimmage, that way, he can beat press coverage with his refined route running. Some consider him the best receiver that college football has ever seen, but he lacks that prototypical size you want in an elite wideout, but he’s just too productive and smooth to pass on here.

2.) OT Wyatt Davis

The Giants are looking to open up money, and one idea that has been floated recently is cutting starting right guard Kevin Zeitler.

Zeitler is arguably the best OL that the Giants possess, and letting him go with further damage, a unit that ranked dead last in pass protection last season. They are far from being an adequate line, and Zeitler is the glue that keeps them together, whereas they might fall apart completely without him. On the flip side, he’s going to count $12.5 million in 2021, so the Giants can either extend him and lower his cap hit for next season or cut him and save the money.

If they’re going to release Zeitler, they need to replace it with a quality option, and Wyatt Davis out of Ohio State offers a fantastic supplement. As a projected right guard at the NFL level, he’s expected to be a plug-and-play option, and landing him in the second round would be a steal.

At 6’4” and 310 pounds, Davis has adequate size and moves defenders in the running game. He doesn’t have the speed and athleticism to be a pull and trap blocker, but the Giants need to think long term here, and he certainly has “hog molly” written all over him.

3.) Ifeatu Melifonwu

After allocating the first two draft picks toward the offense, the defense could use a little bit of support, specifically at CB2. One player who is generating buzz is CB Ifeatu Melifonwu.

The Syracuse product stands at 6’2” and 212 pounds, containing adequate size to be a solid outside corner opposite James Bradberry. He is long, rangy, and athletic, everything you want to see in a corner entering the NFL. With multiple tools to utilize, he can fit the Giants’ zone scheme on defense perfectly.

With the willingness to play against the run aggressively, this would be a steal for the Giants in the third round, and they desperately need to upgrade the CB2 position. Allocating a third-round pick on a player like Melifonwu would be perfect.

New York Giants: Mel Kiper now sees Big Blue taking Jaylen Waddle at 11

New York Giants, Jaylen Waddle

The New York Giants need to add playmakers to the offense. But no one is quite sure yet how they’re going to go about it. They hold the number eleven pick in the draft, but there’s no guarantee the player they want is available. Even if there are high level players available, it’s also unknown if the Giants want to take a receiver or add further depth at tight end with Kyle Pitts.

According to Mel Kiper Jr., however, the Giants going receiver and taking Jaylen Waddle is the safest prediction. Waddle is, of course, the second biggest name coming out of Alabama at the position next to DeVonta Smith. But with Smith being one of the first receivers projected off the board, there’s a higher chance of Waddle being available by pick number eleven.

Can the Giants get Daniel Jones a No. 1 receiver? He has had Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram as his top targets the past two seasons, and they’ve struggled with inconsistency and staying on the field. Now is the time to get a full evaluation of Jones. If they don’t wade into the free-agent waters, Waddle is the best option at No. 11. He is the top deep threat in this class and is electric with the ball in his hands.

Interestingly, Kiper sees Pitts flying off the draft board to the Jets as one of the highest drafted tight ends ever, and DeVonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase becoming high end draft picks too. With all of those players off the board, it would make a lot of sense for the Giants to take Waddle.

A player held back by injury

Waddle looks like a better prospect than his raw statistics might indicate. Last season, he played in six games and had 28 receptions for 591 yards and four touchdowns. However, he was supposed to do more than that. He went out with a bad ankle injury and this prevented him from being able to add to his accomplishments in his final college season.

Even if Waddle’s injury pushes him down to number eleven, it’s important to realize the Giants would still be getting one of the top receivers from one of the most talented teams in the country. And if Waddle had been able to play a full season, his performance may very well have boosted him above other prospects to a higher draft value.

If most of the other top playmakers are off the board, it might come down to the Giants either taking Waddle or a defensive prospect like Gregory Rousseau – but with the offense struggling more than the defense last year, it’s hard to imagine the Giants not trying to address that through the draft.

New York Giants could franchise tag Leonard Williams for a second time, but why?

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

As the New York Giants and Leonard Williams saga unfolds this off-season, replacing his production becomes a more eerie problem. If Williams decides to walk in free agency and take his talents elsewhere, the Giants will have to replace their best defender, arguably.

With that being said, Williams is Dave Gettleman’s Golden Goose, having traded a third and fifth-round pick for him less than two years ago. If the Giants do, in fact, let him walk, it will leave a massive stain on Gettleman’s tenure in New York, as he essentially gave away draft picks for two losing seasons.

However, the expectation is that both sides will come to an agreement, which could likely keep Williams in New York for the next three years at minimum. While the negotiation process has begun, a fresh deal isn’t close.

The Athletic’s Dan Duggan states that the Giants and Williams aren’t close on a new contract as of yet:

The Giants will use the next two weeks to try to sign Williams to a long-term contract. A source said that the sides aren’t close to an agreement. But it’s still early, and things can move fast in negotiations.

Williams finished the 2020 season with 11.5 sacks, 57 combine tackles, 30 QB hits, and 14 tackles for loss. Three of those categories were career highs for Leo, which should be enough to convince the Giants that he is worth a long-term investment. Considering he has never missed a game in his career due to injury, not only is he a constant, but analysts hold him in high regard, with quite spectacular company.

There is another option for the Giants, which could give them a bit more time to find a solution on a long-term contract. With minimal money to spend this off-season, shedding dead weight and lowering cap hits for specific players is likely in the near future. The Giants have until March 9 to utilize the franchise tag on Williams if they’d like to go that route.

If he is tagged, Williams will count $19.3 million in 2021, but it does offer the Giants an opportunity to extend him on a long-term deal, rescinding the tag. They could also use the transition tag, which would allow them to match any alternative offers from other teams. Either way, they have leverage in the process, but it might be more cost-efficient to extend him on a long-term deal and keep him for one more season at $19.3 million. The big question is, can they expect him to replicate his 11.5 sack season longing forward, especially with inconsistent production since entering the NFL.

New York Giants: One potential mid-round steal at cornerback

New York Giants, thomas graham

The Senior Bowl featured several stand-out players, but one defender the New York Giants could target in the mid-round is cornerback Thomas Graham.

The Giants have struggled with the CB2 position in recent years, featuring Corey Ballentine to start the 2020 season and quickly moving onto Ryan Lewis. After Lewis picked up an injury, Isaac Yiadom took over the starting job, playing a majority of snaps after week eight.

While Yiadom did have some decent performances, notably against the Arizona Cardinals, where he posted a 77.2 overall grade and allowed just 8 yards in coverage, the Giants likely don’t feel confident moving forward with him as a starting option.

The team will gain back Sam Beal in 2021, as he opted out due to COVID-19 last season. Julian Love also showed some promise at corner in the final two weeks of the year, indicating a potential position battle.

However, taking a chance on a corner in the mid-rounds could be a beneficial move, especially with Darnay Holmes proving to be a solid slot corner last year out of the fourth round.

What would Graham bring to the New York Giants?

Thomas is an intriguing player out of Oregon, displaying solid strength in man coverage and the ability to press effectively against bigger opponents. He is not an elite athlete with above-average speed, but he is fundamentally sound, a trait that normally transfers to the NFL.

Graham has already met with most teams in person during the Senior Bowl, meaning the Giants have done their due diligence on the Oregon product. Having a developmental player who has high upside based on his technique is a positive, and while most teams might bet on athleticism over fundamentals, Graham is an exception.

Having a strong presence opposite James Bradberry in the secondary would be phenomenal, and while the Giants could take a look at several veteran free agents, finding cost-efficient youth is likely a more productive method of asset appropriation.

The Giants simply don’t have a plethora of money to spend this off-season, still having to retain Leonard Williams and potentially Dalvin Tomlinson. With that being the case, I fully expect them to allocate a draft pick on a corner, and while Alabama stand out, Patrick Surtain and Virginia Tech speedster Caleb Farley could be on the board at 11, the Giants’ needs on offense outweigh their needs on defense.

New York Giants originally scouted Jason Pierre-Paul through a strange accident

New York Giants, Jason Pierre, Paul

Jason Pierre-Paul might have won the Super Bowl with the Bucs this year, but much of his legacy is with the New York Giants. He played most of his career for the franchise and won the Super Bowl with the Giants in 2012, on the team that knocked off Tom Brady and the Patriots a second time. However, surprisingly, he almost didn’t make it onto the radar of the Giants.

According to a new interview from former scouting director Marc Ross, the Giants originally intended to scout Pierre-Paul’s college teammate George Selvie.

The Giants got lucky finding JPP

“He had went to junior college, a couple different junior colleges and went to South Florida, and at the time South Florida had a guy named George Selvie. He was an All-American and at the time had I believe 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, he was the guy you were going into South Florida to see,” Ross explained on the Upon Further Review podcast.

Despite the big accomplishments with USF, Selvie wasn’t the player that jumped out when Ross was actually watching film.

“I’m watching tape and this number 90 just keeps jumping off the tape. I had to keep checking the chart. I’m supposed to be watching George Selvie, he was 95, but this 90 guy… I kept looking up and thinking ‘Damn, I must be looking at the wrong guy.’ But it was JPP.”

Ross would tell Jerry Reese about Pierre-Paul after he continued to improve through the season. Reese eventually acted on that info, and the Giants selected JPP with the 15th pick in the draft. He’d end up playing with the team from 2010 through 2018, making a name for himself as an iconic Giants pass rusher in the process.

The Giants have had a few different top pass rushers since Pierre-Paul ended up in Tampa. Most recently, Markus Golden in 2019 and Leonard Williams in 2020 took up the mantle. As for the next player who will lead the team in sacks, that’s still an unknown as of now. That could very well be Williams again – but the Giants have to bring him back, first.

As the organization has found out since trading JPP, it’s not so easy to keep a top pass rusher around long term.

New York Giants should pray that Penei Sewell falls to them at eleven

The New York Giants drafted an offensive tackle with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Andrew Thomas had an up-and-down rookie season where he struggled, showed a lot of promise, and played through a foot injury. Going into year two, the Giants are expecting big things out of Thomas. Andrew underwent foot surgery this offseason and will be ready to go in 2021.

New York still has high hopes for Andrew Thomas, despite a shaky rookie season. Andrew is seemingly the left tackle of the future for the Giants. With New York picking eleventh overall in 2021 it is unlikely that they draft another offensive lineman in the first round of the draft. But there is one offensive line prospect that the Giants should pick if he somehow falls to them.

If Penei Sewell somehow slips to the Giants at eleven overall, New York has to take him. Granted, this scenario is a longshot. Sewell is a premium talent at a premium position. But there have been some random mock drafts made where analysts see Sewell falling to the back end of the top-ten and sometimes even outside of the top-ten. The Giants drafted an offensive tackle in the first round last year, but they should not hesitate to double dip in 2021 if Penei Sewell is on the board.

Why the Giants should pray for the chance to draft Penei Sewell

The New York Giants’ offensive line was terrible in 2020. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones was under constant pressure. The Giants’ offensive line was atrocious in pass-protection and about league-average in the running game.

The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%. Rookie Andrew Thomas struggled significantly in pass protection. He gave up a league-high 57 pressures and 10 sacks this season. But if there was a positive to draw, Thomas had the fifth-highest run block win rate in the NFL at 80%.

The Giants have something in Andrew Thomas. He will be a legit starting offensive tackle. But Andrew Thomas could not realistically be a reason for the Giants to shy away from drafting Penei Sewell. Thomas has a bright future, but Sewell has been compared to legendary offensive linemen like Orlando Pace.

Penei Sewell is an impressive 330 pound, 6 foot 5 inch offensive tackle with the ability to mirror edge rushers off the line of scrimmage. Sewell is only 20 years old and was dominating seniors as a 19-year-old in college. His 95.8 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 2019 was the highest grade PFF has ever given to a collegiate offensive tackle. Sewell is the player to fix the Giants’ pass-protection issues.

Sewell won his pass-blocking reps at a rate of 3.4 percentage points higher than the average college football player and surrendered pressure at a rate 2.8 percentage points lower. – Pro Football Focus

If Penei Sewell did somehow drop to the Giants’ pick, there would be no hesitation in selecting him. Of course, Sewell and Andrew Thomas play the same position. But that should not prevent the Giants from making Sewell their bookend left tackle of the future. Andrew Thomas struggled to protect the blindside in his rookie season and does have some collegiate experience playing right tackle.

Many analysts suggested he switch to right tackle in the NFL during his pre-draft process. If Penei Sewell were to join the Giants’ roster, Andrew Thomas would need to change course and bookend the other side of New York’s line. This would give the Giants a pair of young, talented offensive tackles to build their offensive line around for years to come.

New York Giants: 3 biggest weaknesses heading into free agency

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are headed toward an interesting free agency period this off-season, especially with minimal cap space to work with. With the Giants about $3 million over the cap, expect to see them shed dead weight in the coming weeks. It will be imperative to their quest to sign new players, especially ones that can impact the team immediately.

However, the Giants have several weaknesses they need to solve this off-season, and it will be incredibly difficult for them to do so with all of the moving pieces due to COVID-19. The cap expected to settle in the $180-190 million range, giving them a bit more room to work with. It was previously thought to settle at $175 million.

Ranking the New York Giants three biggest weaknesses heading into FA:

1.) Offensive line

The offensive line hasn’t been spoken about enough this off-season, despite being ranked dead last in the NFL in pass protection this past season. According to PFF, the Giants finished with a 50.6 pass-blocking grade, below the New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers. While their run blocking was a bit better at 23rd overall, this unit needs to take significant strides forward before the Giants can have an adequate offense.

A primary reason quarterback Daniel Jones failed to produce better numbers in 2020 was because he lacked time in the pocket. He was forced to utilize his first reads more frequently, allowing defenses to scheme around him and cover up his top receivers. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Giants to allocate another draft pick toward a tackle since the right side was a mess last year with Cam Fleming and Matt Peart.

2.) Offensive playmaker

Acquiring an offensive playmaker is another priority for the New York Giants, who severely lacked in wide receiver separation and lost Saquon Barkley in week two against the Chicago Bears due to a torn ACL.

The Giants have been linked to Kenny Golladay, Curtis Samuel, and even Corey Davis this off-season, with the expectation that they will allocate some resources toward the WR position. The NFL draft also offers another avenue they can explore, as they sit with the 11th overall pick and could target TE Kyle Pitts out of Florida. If any of the top three receivers drop to them, it should be a no-brainer for management, who needs to give Daniel Jones more opportunities; otherwise, they will simply be wasting his rookie contract.

Saquon coming back from injury should brew optimism, but with Sterling Shepard, their top wideout, and Golden Tate expected to be cut, there is no excuse for them not to add a bit more quality to their ranks.

3.) Pass rush

Once Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines went down with season-ending injuries, the Giants tried to supplement their losses with reserve options. Seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin and practice squader Jabaal Sheard both saw significant reps after the starters went down, and while they were effective on some occasions, the Giants need to upgrade the OLB position.

There are several free-agent options New York can look at, including Haason Redick out of Arizona, Leonard Floyd from the Rams, or even Carl Lawson from Cincinnati. Again, the Giants only have a limited amount of money, and I expect them to extend Leonard Williams on a long-term deal and try to sign a receiver in FA.

New York Giants: Markus Golden hits out at team over playing time

New York Jets, Markus Golden

The case of Markus Golden for the New York Giants has been an interesting one. During the 2019 season, Golden was a surprise hit and led the team in sacks during a year when they struggled in that category. The following season, Golden would fall out of the spotlight after it initially appeared he wouldn’t end up with the Giants again and then lost much of his playing time. Eventually, he was traded back to the Arizona Cardinals – the same team that he started with before ending up in New York.

Since leaving the Giants, however, Golden would pick up his game and would finish the season as part of one of the top QB pressuring duos in the league, in Arizona. When this fact was highlighted by Pro Football Focus on Twitter, Golden was quick to take to the site to remind the Giants about that, also.

Golden would be less a part of the defense under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. While Graham made most of the defense better under his watch, it appears Golden was one player who experienced an opposite effect. He was a starter for 9 games last season, compared to starting every game during the 2019 season. Of those games, 8 of them came with Arizona and only one start came with the Giants.

Golden would also only register 10 tackles with the Giants in 2020. That’s a big step down from the 72 from the previous year.

The role of pass rushing leader was mainly taken over by Leonard Williams. Williams had one of the biggest improvements under Graham, jumping to double digit sacks and setting himself up for a payday – but whether that payday is with the Giants or another team remains to be seen.

Either way, given the trade, it won’t be Golden leading the sacks column like in 2019.