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Twitter mailbag: A big jump for Larry Donnell?

2/13/2015

It's Saturday, Feb. 14, and you know what that means! Yup, New York Giants Twitter mailbag.

@DanGrazianoESPN: Yeah, they really like Larry Donnell and believe he's in the midst of developing into a very good player. They like his athleticism and his size, and most of all they really believe in his offseason dedication and determination to work on and learn the things he still needs to learn. Donnell made a huge leap from 2013 to 2014, and the Giants believe that his offseason work ethic will lead to another big leap in 2015. They believe they have not only a starter, but a future star in Donnell. I imagine they'll look to augment the tight end group in general and make sure they have enough depth and enough blockers there. But as for the pass-catching "starting" tight end in Ben McAdoo's offense, my understanding is that they believe in Donnell and expect even bigger and better things from him in 2015 and beyond.



@DanGrazianoESPN: Ray Rice in his prime was, indeed, a good pass-catching running back. He averaged 69.5 catches, 610 receiving yards and 8.8 yards per reception from 2009-12, while he was one of the better all-around backs in the league. The problem is that Rice's prime was at least three years ago, and since 2012 he's had one miserable year in which he averaged 3.1 yards per carry and 5.5 per catch and then missed this past season after basically becoming the face of the NFL's domestic violence problem. I don't see why any team would go out of its way to sign Rice at this point. The Giants are looking for a change-of-pace back who can catch the ball out of the backfield and be a home run-hitter in the run game -- the role they had set aside for David Wilson last year before neck injuries forced him to retire. But given how long it's been since Rice was a productive NFL player, and given the baggage he brings with him, what incentive would they have to sign him over someone like C.J. Spiller, Shane Vereen, Antone Smith or any of the other backs on the free-agent market who might fit their specific need even better?



@DanGrazianoESPN: I don't personally see Brian Orakpo as a fit, as he's been a 3-4 standup outside linebacker since Washington transitioned to a 3-4 in his second season and seems to be a better fit for that scheme. The Giants run a 4-3, and while he has some experience at that position, it's only the one year and there are comparable options with 4-3 defensive end experience. One of those is, of course, the Giants' own free-agent pass-rusher, Jason Pierre-Paul, whom I expect them to make every effort to keep. But if they lose Pierre-Paul (or even if they don't) and they're out hunting pass-rushers, names that would make more sense to me include Buffalo's Jerry Hughes, Philadelphia's Brandon Graham (a true 4-3 rusher sometimes miscast in Philadelphia's hybrid 3-4) or Baltimore's versatile Pernell McPhee, who can rush from a variety of spots in the defensive front and will appeal because of his versatility. Don't rule out Orakpo, but I don't see him sitting at the top of their pass-rusher wish list at this point.

Happy Saturday to you and yours.