New York Giants Betting on Secondary to Mask Pass Rush Flaws

New York Giants, Janoris Jenkins

The New York Giants secondary got off to a blazing start in the first practice of OTAs. Both Eli Manning and Daniel Jones struggled passing in their first practice together. Manning with two interceptions, Jones with one.

The most notable of the three picks occurred when second-year cornerback Sam Beal deflected a Manning pass into the arms of newly acquired Jabrill Peppers. Missing the entire 2018 season due to injury, Beal on the field may be a rookie but mentally is a second-year pro. Beal worked with the first team opposite of Janoris Jenkins with Grant Haley in the slot.

An Influx of Talent for the New York Giants at corner

The Giants selected Beal in the third round of the 2018 Supplemental draft and gained praise in their selection. Draft Scout Matt Miller of Bleacher Report wrote an article last July labeling Sam Beal as the best Supplemental draft prospect since Josh Gordon in 2012.

The Supplemental draft takes place each year after the official NFL draft. In most cases, a player who enters the supplemental draft has been deemed ineligible by the NCAA for the upcoming season. More often than not, a player who has entered in the supplemental draft usually comes with off the field issues. Beal, however, was different. Beal was ruled academically ineligible due to poor performance in the classroom.

In the 2017 season, Beal had 10 pass breakups, 26 tackles, a forced fumble, and two interceptions. Perhaps the biggest interception of his career came against former USC and now Jets Quarterback Sam Darnold. Tallied at 6’1, 185 lbs, and running a 4.40 forty yard dash, it is his length mixed with speed that put him on the NFL radar in the first place.

2019 Draft Products

In addition to Beal, The Giants selected All-Americans Deandre Baker (Rd1) and Julian Love (Rd4) in the 2019 NFL Draft. Love was arguably the biggest steal of the draft. If not for an underwhelming 4.54 40 yard dash, Love would have most likely been selected on Day 2 of the draft. He received a second-round grade from the NFL’s college advisory committee. Deandre Baker won the Jim Thorpe Award which represents the Nations Most Outstanding Defensive Back. Julian Love was a finalist for the same award, who is listed right below Baker in the graphic below. 

By passing on Josh Allen at 6, the Giants have shown that they believe in James Bettcher and his ability to create pressure in other ways aside from the edge. In a prior article, I mentioned that it was clear Bettcher’s scheme had to be altered due to a lack of talent on the back end. With the addition of Baker and Love, the hope is that Bettcher will be able to send extra pressure after the quarterback with confidence the secondary can hold its own in 1v1 matchups.

New York Giants: Eyeing The Positives in a Beckham-less Giants Offense

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants organization changed drastically the night of March 12th when General Manager Dave Gettleman traded away star player Odell Beckham Jr. Whether that change is positive or negative remains to be seen, the reality of the situation is that it’s simply too early to come to any rational conclusion.

The claims suggesting the Giants will be in a worse position after trading Beckham are premature considering we are still 6 months away from watching the 2019 Giants hit the field on Sunday.

One could argue that the Giants offense will be just fine without Beckham considering that the offense performed better in the four games he missed due to a season-ending quad injury. Despite an abysmal shutout to the Titans in week 15, the Giants still managed to average 26.4ppg. That production came out to over a 4 point increase from their 22.2ppg when Beckham was in the lineup. Erasing the outlier in week 15, the Giants averaged a total of 33ppg in the 4 other games they played without Odell to end the season.

It has been proven time and time again that a star receiver is not a necessity to a championship roster. What’s more important is to distribute that wealth among a variety of solid NFL players, modeling the New England Patriots.

A Look At What’s Left:

For starters, there’s All-Pro running back sensation Saquon Barkley, who is now considered the face of the franchise with Beckham’s absence. There is not much else that needs to be said about the Rookie of the Year and Ground player of the Year… The Giants landed an absolute stud. Now let’s consider the following:

Love it or hate it, what is often forgot about the offense is that former GM Jerry Reese prioritized drafting skill position players during his tenure. Electric tight end Evan Engram (‘17 Rd1) and receiver Sterling Shepard (‘16 Rd2) have both shown tremendous upside while wearing blue. When healthy, Evan Engram is a top tight end in the NFL. For the 2018 season, his grade of 76.5 was the third highest on the offense. Trailing only Odell Beckham (90) and Saquon Barkley (85.9), according to Pro Football Focus.

Engram would have graded much higher had the season been split in two. From weeks 1-8, while plagued with all sorts of injury, Engram’s average PFF grade was a 54.8. After the bye week, a healthier Engram performed at an elite level, earning a 91.7 overall grade for his performance during weeks 9-17.

As for Shepard, he finished 5th on the offense with a PFF grade of 67.3. Aside from his receiving, it is also his effort in blocking which makes him a valuable piece to the offense. Check out his key blocks against the Redskins when the Giants cruised to a 40-17 win in week 14:

The Addition of Golden Tate:

After letting the dust settle the first day of free agency, the Giants made their splash signing established wide receiver Golden Tate to a four-year deal, worth up to $37.5 million with $23 million guaranteed. Tate, who essentially played on a half-season rental for the Eagles, played his previous four seasons with the Detroit Lions. In Detroit, he was a force to be reckoned with tallying over 90 catches in each of those years. Tate finished the 2018 season with 74 catches and 4 touchdowns. While playing in two separate offenses, Tate earned a respectable 71.1 PFF grade.

No wide receiver has accumulated more yards after the catch (1,672) than Tate over the past three seasons, making it obvious why he is widely recognized as the #YACKing.

The Kevin Zeitler Trade:

In perhaps the most successful move of the offseason, the Giants acquired premier right guard Kevin Zeitler from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for edge rusher Olivier Vernon. With trades trending upward in the NFL, this certainly qualified as a win-win for both the Browns and the Giants. The Giants, whom everyone assumed would cut Vernon, got exceptional value from him in Zeitler. The right Guard graded out as PFF’s #1 pass protecting guard in the NFL with a 91.7.

For reference, guards Patrick Omameh and Jamon Brown allowed a combined 39 pressures in only 14 games last year. Zeitler allowed just 11 pressures through 16 starts.

Zeitler brings stability to an offensive line that was already greatly improved from years prior. GM Dave Gettleman has made countless promises to revamp the offensive line, and bringing in an elite guard like Zeitler does just that.

Bottom Line:

While the jury is still out on whether or not the New York Giants need Odell Beckham Jr, it’s more important to understand that the offense is only going to go as far as the offensive line takes them. We have seen over the years that it is not so much the players around Eli, but the ones who protect him that dictate which version of “Eli” we are going to see on a game to game basis.

While a young quarterback is ultimately in the works, the Giants have put themselves in position to have a very respectable supporting cast for whoever is under center in the future.

 

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.