New York Giants: Positional analysis

Positional analysis: Defensive line

February, 11, 2013
We've been taking a look toward 2013 with a position-by-position breakdown of the Giants leading into the scouting combine and free agency.

So far, we have analyzed quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end. and offensive line.


2012 depth chart:
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Justin Tuck, DE Osi Umenyiora, DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Linval Joseph, DT Chris Canty, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Marvin Austin, DT Markus Kuhn.

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
Larry French/Getty ImagesOffenses keyed on Jason Pierre-Paul, who dropped from 16.5 sacks in 2011 to 6.5 in 2012.
Overview: Sacks were down as the Giants went from 48 in 2011 to 33 last season. Offenses keyed in on the Giants' pass rushers; JPP gained a lot of attention after his breakout season and was held to just 6.5 sacks. Umenyiora had six sacks and Tuck collected just four. The Giants finished 31st in total defense, 28th against the pass and 25th against the run. They couldn't get enough pressure on quarterbacks when they needed to, and stopping the run was problematic. Joseph continued to get better with 59 tackles and 4.0 sacks. Canty played in just nine games due to his knee.

Free agents: Umenyiora, Bernard, Tracy (exclusive rights free agent), DE Justin Trattou (exclusive rights free agent).

2013 personnel preview: The Giants will need more production from Pierre-Paul and Tuck, especially if Umenyiora isn't back. ... The Giants could always potentially move Kiwanuka back to defensive end. ... The Giants could sign another pass rusher in free agency or draft one. ... Tracy could emerge as the Giants' extra pass rusher. Ojomo also showed potential last preseason. ... The Giants will have to figure out who will start alongside Joseph now that Canty was let go. They re-signed Shaun Rogers to plug the middle. After missing all of last season due to a blood clot, Rogers will attempt a comeback. Austin should get opportunities in camp to show that he is ready for a bigger role. Kuhn exceeded expectations last season before tearing his ACL. ... Bottom line is that the Giants' defensive line has to be more dominant in 2013.

Salary-cap situation: Umenyiora is a free agent and is looking for more a lucrative contract and a starting job –- two things the Giants likely cannot give him. But he did leave the door open for a potential return. ... Tuck is entering the final year of his contract and vows to have a vintage Tuck year. ... The Giants shaved cap space by releasing Canty and re-signed Rogers to a cheap low-risk deal. There's always the possibility they could add another veteran defensive lineman in free agency.

Tell us what you think of the Giants' defensive line going into 2013 and what you want to see happen in the offseason.

Positional analysis: Wide receiver

February, 6, 2013
The New York Giants are no longer reigning Super Bowl champs, following the Ravens' victory on Sunday night. So let's look toward 2013 with a position-by-position breakdown of the Giants leading into the scouting combine and free agency.

So far, we have looked at quarterback and running back. Today we analyze the wide receivers.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsHakeem Nicks could be playing his last game as a Giant on Sunday.

2012 depth chart:
Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan.

Overview: Nicks had surgery to repair a broken foot last spring and was never the same after that. He injured his knee in the second game of the season and, while he valiantly gutted his way through pain, Nicks' injuries had a severe impact on the offense. The Giants missed his big-play ability as a deep threat to take attention off Cruz, who still collected his second straight 1,000-yard season and scored 10 touchdowns to earn Pro Bowl honors.

The Giants tried to replace Mario Manningham by committee with Hixon, Barden and Randle. All three showed flashes, but the Giants needed a consistent third threat.

Free agents: Cruz (restricted), Hixon, Barden.

2013 personnel preview: There is some uncertainty surrounding Cruz, who could receive an offer from another team which would give New York a high draft pick if they opt not to match (likely a first-round pick if Jerry Reese makes the highest RFA tender, as expected). Still, the Giants should have both Nicks and Cruz back this season.

Getting a healthier Nicks back is a must if the Giants' offense is going to do big things. Cruz should only get better with another offseason of work with Eli Manning and will benefit greatly from having a healthy Nicks. Also, having a consistent third receiving threat is key. The Giants are hoping Randle is ready to step up, and he should grow even more this offseason. The Giants could bring back Hixon and Barden. Still, Jernigan could have an opportunity to move up the depth chart.

Salary cap situation: The Giants want to lock down their receiving tandem of Nicks and Cruz for years to come. Nicks is entering the final year of his deal and the Giants made it a priority to extend his contract, since they consider Nicks their No. 1 receiver. They definitely want to keep Cruz, who has been extremely productive in his two seasons as a starter. But they can tender Cruz an RFA tender to keep him for this season and continue to work out an extension. Cruz has not revealed how he would feel if the Giants hand him a RFA tender and an extension is not reached by early March. So we will have to keep an eye on how it all plays out, but Cruz has always handled everything with class.

Tell us what you think of the Giants wide receivers and what you want to see happen this offseason below.