New York Giants: odell beckham
PHOENIX -- New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is making positive strides in his recovery from a torn patellar tendon, coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday. But Coughlin is reluctant to predict a timetable for Cruz's return to the field.
During the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings here, Coughlin said the team was hoping to have Cruz back in time for training camp, but that even if they did that wouldn't necessarily mean a full return to action.
"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."
Cruz tore his patellar tendon in the team's Week 6 loss in Philadelphia, had surgery a couple of days later and missed the rest of the 2014 season. Coughlin said Cruz has begun running and that he saw him working out with trainers in the field house in East Rutherford, New Jersey, recently. But he indicated that Cruz's recovery could stretch into the season and compared it to the delayed start Odell Beckham Jr. got last year off of his training camp hamstring pull.
"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."
To celebrate the five-year anniversary of MetLife Stadium, the New York Giants are asking fans to select the best play in the stadium's young history. You can check it out and vote here. It's set up like a March Madness bracket. It's cute, and there are some good choices, from Odell Beckham's one-handed touchdown catch to Victor Cruz's 99-yard catch-and-run Christmas Eve 2011 touchdown against the Jets (a play that's not likely to show up on the Jets' version of this same exercise).
Anyway, the Philadelphia Eagles' official Twitter account decided to have a little fun with this:
.@Giants, went to vote for the greatest play in MetLife Stadium history and this one wasn't listed #miracle: http://t.co/e3NlPXt3Sk
- Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) March 18, 2015
That link directs you to a replay of the play that actually is the most amazing in MetLife Stadium history -- DeSean Jackson's game-winning punt return touchdown against the Giants at the tail end of Philadelphia's Dec. 19, 2010, comeback victory. Of course, that play also stands among the most heartbreaking plays in recent Giants memory, so it's no surprise the Giants didn't see fit to include it in their bracket.
Some Giants fans have responded to the post with the usual cracks about the fact the Eagles have never won the Super Bowl, but as of this writing the Giants' official Twitter account had yet to fire back. It's a slow March day, so we kind of hope they do.
@DanGrazianoESPN: I have not seen the report to which you refer, but if the Giants were trying to scare Jason Pierre-Paul into signing for their price, feigning interest in Ndamukong Suh might be a good way to do it. From Pierre-Paul's standpoint, if they signed Suh, they'd likely revoke their franchise tender offer and move on without him. Thing is, Pierre-Paul has good agents, and they'd recognize such a tactic for what it was and ignore it. Plus, all Pierre-Paul has to do is sign his franchise tender, and then the Giants could no longer revoke it. So feigning interest in Suh might actually be an effective way of getting Pierre-Paul to sign the tender and thereby require him to attend minicamp, etc. Regardless, I think this situation is simpler than people are trying to make it. The Giants are comfortable paying Pierre-Paul $14.813 million this year and assessing his long-term value to them again this time next year, when he'll still only be 27. Crazy things can always happen, but the most likely outcome here is that Pierre-Paul plays out this year on the franchise tag and the Giants drop out of the Suh bidding early.
A report said that the Suh talks are just a "smoke" so the Giants can try and get jpp contract done by Monday. What do you think? #nygmail— Mathew Torres (@MathewTorres1) March 5, 2015
@DanGrazianoESPN: The sense I get is that they'll try to bid big for the safeties at the top of the market, most prominently Devin McCourty. I could see safety being their "big spend" item this offseason, as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was last year when they outbid the Jets for him. With Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps all eligible for free agency, the Giants have a real void at safety, and it's a position on which they've shown a willingness to spend major resources. I think that's first on the list, and I would expect them also to find an offensive lineman (guard or right tackle), a big-play running back and likely a defensive tackle in free agency. The ideal scenario is to fill the roster holes in free agency so they can then take the best player available regardless of position come draft day.
@DanGrazianoESPN: As of Friday, the Giants were not among the teams that had checked in on recently released Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole, and I also had not heard anything about them and a pursuit of recently released Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch. I'm a little bit surprised they're not tempted by Cole, but he is 32 and is likely to have multiple suitors, so they may not want to be in a bidding war for a player his age. Branch is only 28, but when I asked about him, the first thing my source said to me was, "He's only played five games the last two years." So it sounds as though the injury and health issues are on the minds of at least some prominent decision-makers, and at this point I'd expect the Giants to steer clear.
@DanGrazianoESPN: Oh, it's realistic. I think if Jerry Reese falls in love with Amari Cooper as a high-end playmaker the way he did last year with Odell Beckham Jr., and he's there at No. 9, there's absolutely a chance he's the Giants' pick. But I don't think it would be smart, because I think overcommitting your high-end resources at one position is a flawed method of roster building. By "high-end resources," I mean early-round draft picks and free-agent money. They used last year's first-rounder and their 2012 second-rounder on wide receivers, and they have Victor Cruz signed to a big free-agent deal. Using another early pick on a wide receiver would seem to tilt the roster too heavily in the direction of that one position at the expense of others. Not the way to go, in my opinion. But Reese may well see it differently.
Thanks for the questions, and don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour when you go to bed tonight.
"When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can't put all your eggs in his basket," Reese said. "Our doctors say he looks good. I see him down in the training room, working out with our trainers and our medical people, and he looks good. But his game is quickness. And until you get out there and move around, you never really know how he's going to recovery from that. We're hoping and praying that he'll come back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can't put 100 percent in that basket."
Cruz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in a Week 6 loss in Philadelphia, had surgery immediately thereafter and missed the rest of the season. He said in December that his hope was to be ready in time for training camp, but that he couldn't be certain. The rehab from that injury and surgery is long and difficult. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said earlier this week that he believed the plan was for Cruz to start running soon, which would indicate progress, but there remains a long way to go.
"We'll upgrade receiver. We'll try to upgrade that spot as well," Reese said. "If Victor's back, and Odell and Rueben, that's a pretty good core. And there are some other guys, [Preston] Parker, [Corey] Washington, some younger guys. But if there's a good receiver, guys, we'll draft him."
Reese chuckled at a question about Beckham, who told reporters at the Pro Bowl that he'd played with two tears in his hamstrings in 2014.
"I don't know about that. I think he's trying to be a hero," Reese said. "I don't think you can play with two torn hamstrings and run fast like that. I think our doctors would have caught that."
Beckham missed all of training camp and the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, but recovered to catch 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games and win the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award. There were times during the second half of the season when Beckham admitted to pulling up on a deep route because he felt the hamstring tug and he didn't want to pull it again.
"According to our doctors, it was healed up," Reese said. "He may have gotten fatigued later in the season, but I don't think you can go out there and run like that if you've got a couple of torn hamstrings."
Reese also took a question about Randle, who was benched a couple of times late in the season for issues relating to punctuality and practice habits. Randle's relationship with the coaching staff seemed to improve late in the season and he finished with a flurry, catching 12 passes for 290 yards in the final two games of the season. Randle is under contract for less than $840,000 in salary and bonuses this year and counts just $1.047 million against the cap. He has a chance to be among the better bargains in the league at the position.
"Rueben gets banged on a lot. Sometimes he should get banged on, but I think he gets banged on a little bit too much," Reese said. "I think he's a good young player. All he needs is some chances. And with Odell and Victor, I think he'll get plenty of chances."
2. As for the others: The Giants also have meetings scheduled with the representatives for free-agent safety Antrel Rolle, free-agent defensive tackle Mike Patterson and others as they figure out where they stand with three weeks left until the new league year. They re-signed bench wide receiver Kevin Ogletree to a one-year deal Tuesday and will continue that level of tinkering here as well.
3. Could the LSU pipleline continue? The Giants have two starting wide receivers from LSU -- Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle. On Wednesday, LSU tackle La'el Collins was one of the prospects who spoke to the media. He said watching the success that former teammates Beckham, Jeremy Hill, Jarvis Landry and Trai Turner had as NFL rookies last year inspires him. "It's the program," he said. "Everything we do at LSU prepares us for this. I feel like I'm just the next guy to do it." Collins said he has meetings set up here with 22 teams, including the Giants. He played guard his first two years at LSU and left tackle the past two.
4. Division rival news: Washington coach Jay Gruden said during his Wednesday news conference that Robert Griffin III would open the season as the Redskins' starting quarterback.
5. Upcoming: Giants coach Tom Coughlin is scheduled to address the combine media Thursday at 12:15 p.m. ET. Giants GM Jerry Reese has his combine news conference Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.
It would be an extremely sensible pick for the Giants. Regardless of whether Scherff profiles as a guard or tackle at the NFL level, a strong run-blocking mainstay on the offensive line is something the Giants need for the short term as well as the long. Decay of the offensive line, brought on by years of poor drafts and an inability to develop mid-round picks, is one of the biggest reasons the Giants find themselves in their current sub-.500 rut, and devoting high-end resources to the problem is both the surest and the quickest way to fix it.
My question is whether, when push comes to shove, the Giants would really make a pick like this.
A year ago, when they held the No. 12 pick in the first round, the Giants were choosing between exciting playmaking wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and offensive lineman Zack Martin, a college tackle who profiled as an NFL guard. Giants GM Jerry Reese has said several times that they had Beckham and Martin rated very close together but that given the choice between the playmaker and the offensive lineman that early in the draft, he's always going to take the playmaker.
Obviously, after Beckham's brilliant Rookie of the Year performance, the Giants are happy with the choice they made. But Martin was an All-Pro and a critical part of the division-champion Dallas Cowboys' dominating rushing attack. Neither would have been a bad choice, and the fact is the Giants needed them both.
A year later, with the roster still in rebuild mode, the Giants again have multiple needs. They need long-range answers on the offensive line, yes, but they also need playmakers at all three levels of the defense. So given the choice between a defensive playmaker and an interior offensive lineman, would the Giants break form and go with the less sexy pick? It's possible, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Given the way Mel's mock falls, there are four pass-rushers already off the board by the time the Giants pick. Florida's Dante Fowler and Clemson's Vic Beasley are still on the board, as is Alabama safety Landon Collins, who'd be a strong (and in-character) pick for Reese to make at No. 9.
We have a long way to go before the draft, and obviously evaluations are going to change and shift a lot -- both in mock drafts and in real life. But for the Giants to take an offensive lineman at No. 9 who's not a long-term answer at left tackle would be very much out of character. No matter how much they may need him.
@DanGrazianoESPN: The New York Giants are paying Rashad Jennings a base salary of $2.23 million this year, and he'll cost less than $3 million against their salary cap. During the portions of the 2014 season when he was healthy, Jennings showed that he can play a valuable role as the starting running back in the Giants' offense, both as a runner and a receiver. The Giants have no reason to re-think the decision to sign Jennings long-term at this point, and no reason not to go into 2015 with him as a big part of their plans. Now, Andre Williams is entering his second season and is likely to earn a greater share of the carries than was originally planned last year. And I fully expect the Giants to try to sign a speedy, change-of-pace back to fill the role they had carved out for David Wilson last summer before neck injuries forced him to retire. So I don't think you can expect Jennings to get the same kind of workload as a Matt Forte or DeMarco Murray or the backs like that. But as for being the nominal "starter" in a fluid Giants backfield designed to distribute lots of carries/catches to several different backs? Yes, he's the front-runner as of now.
@DanGrazianoESPN: No, I think Jason Pierre-Paul is the only real candidate for the franchise player designation this year. The franchise number for safeties is likely to come in somewhere around $10 million, and I don't imagine the Giants wanting to pay a 32-year-old Antrel Rolle that much money. I think the Giants would like to have Rolle back, but they are turning over the safety position with an eye toward the future, so they are unlikely to commit any kind of exorbitant amount to a player of Rolle's age, even if he has been a valuable part of the team and the locker room for the past half-decade. The way the Giants generally operate with their free agents is to assign each of them a price and tell them, if they want more, to go out on the market and look for it. In the meantime, if Rolle does that, the Giants would be likely to move on to other options. But if he'll sign for their price, he could be back on a two-year or maybe even a cheap three-year deal. I don't think he's a candidate to be franchised.
This has to be last yr for Tom, Jerry, and Eli if they don't playoff right? #nygmail— AiredMania (@airedmania) February 6, 2015
@DanGrazianoESPN: I think coach Tom Coughlin is probably out if they miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. But GM Jerry Reese is absolutely not in danger of losing his job, I'm telling you. People don't want to believe it, but Giants ownership is all-in on Reese and has no intention of making a change at GM any time soon. Likewise, they're all in on quarterback Eli Manning and likely to extend his contract this offseason so that he completes his career as a Giant. It's not fair for Coughlin to be the only one taking the fall if the Giants have another bad year, because Reese deserves at least as much blame if not more for the current state of the roster. It's the personnel department's run of failed drafts that have sunk the Giants into this hole, and I don't understand what it is about Reese that makes him untouchable in the eyes of the people who run the Giants. But he is, and that's the reality of it. I think Coughlin needs a winning record in 2015 to come back in 2016, fair or not.
@DanGrazianoESPN: It's really not as simple as "talent over needs" or vice-versa. It's about maximizing the value of your draft pick. And as wonderful a player as Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is, it would be patently foolish for the Giants, from a roster-building perspective, to draft him with the No. 9 pick in this year's draft. The reason is one of allocation of resources. In the salary-cap era, it's important to assign your high-end resources (meaning free-agent money and high draft picks) to the most important positions. But it's also important not to over-commit at one of those positions. Game-breaking wide receivers are nice to have, but as of now the Giants have a first-round pick (Odell Beckham Jr.) a second-round pick (Rueben Randle) and a big-money free agent (Victor Cruz) at wide receiver. That's a lot of high-end resources committed to that one position, and it would be a mistake to do it again this year, because by definition it would leave them too weak elsewhere on the roster. So they need to find the best player they can at No. 9, yes, but they need to do it with an eye toward the needs of their roster. There are important positions (safety, pass-rusher, offensive line) that could stand a taste of the attention the wide receiver position has received from the Giants' front office in recent years, and they should be drafting with an eye toward beefing up elsewhere for a change.
Thanks for all of your questions. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.
Obviously, when you have consecutive seasons under .500, your hope is that you're building something for the future. But at least in the eyes of our talent scout, the Giants are behind three-fourths of the NFL in terms of the quality of young talent on their roster.
We've talked a lot in this space about how the Giants' drafts from 2008-12 were pretty much complete wastelands, but when you're looking at 25-and-under talent you really can't go back further than that 2011 draft. That one delivered first-rounder Prince Amukamara (who doesn't turn 26 until June), but after him it was a mess of Marvin Austin, Jerrel Jernigan, James Brewer, Greg Jones, Tyler Sash, Jacquian Williams and Da'Rel Scott. Amukamara and Williams were defensive starters for the Giants in 2014, and Williams helped win the Super Bowl as a rookie, but that's clearly not a good draft.
The 2012 draft hasn't worked out very well either, as first-rounder David Wilson was forced into early retirement by neck injuries. Second-rounder Rueben Randle is a quality NFL receiver, though not a star. Third-rounder Jayron Hosley was a complete bust, and the Giants have received very little in contributions from Adrien Robinson, Brandon Mosley, Matt McCants and Markus Kuhn.
The Giants got starters in the first two rounds of the 2013 draft with Justin Pugh and Johnathan Hankins. Damontre Moore is still only 22, so there's still a chance he learns how to play the run and stop committing dumb penalties. And they're happy with fourth-rounder Ryan Nassib as a backup quarterback. But he's shown little to indicate he'll be any more than that, and late-rounders Cooper Taylor, Eric Herman and Michael Cox haven't shown much.
Of these drafts, 2014 obviously shows the most promise, with first-round superstar Odell Beckham Jr. leading the way. Matt also lists second-rounder Weston Richburg, who could be the team's starting center in 2015, among the Giants' top five 25-and-under players. They also found potential starters in the fourth round (Andre Williams) and the fifth round (Devon Kennard), and it's early to judge lightly-used guys such as Jay Bromley and Nat Berhe.
If this were a ranking of players 23 and under, then the drafts from the last two years likely would push the Giants up the list. But they're still lugging around the mistakes and misses from that dark half-decade when they couldn't figure out the draft, and that's why they're sitting there in the bottom quarter of Matt's rankings.
Cruz signed his long-term deal prior to the 2013 season. He has four years left on that deal at an average salary of $7.5 million per year and an average cap hit of $9 million per year. This year's salary is a palatable $6.15 million. Next year's is a more exorbitant $7.9 million. None of the remaining salary in his deal is guaranteed.
Now, if Cruz produces the way he produced in the two years before he signed the deal -- two years in which he averaged 84 catches, 1,314 yards and 9.5 touchdowns -- these numbers are no problem. However, his production dropped in 2013 (73 catches, 998 yards, 4 touchdowns and missed the final two games due to injury). And in the sixth game of the 2014 season, he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee and had to have major surgery that ended his season.
There is no guarantee Cruz comes all the way back from the injury, or that he's the same kind of explosive player he was before it happened. The Giants hope he makes a full recovery, and he and they are optimistic he will. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has some creative ways to use Cruz that he didn't get to show much in 2014 before the injury. The team's preference would be to have Cruz all the way back and earning his contract in their new offense for the next four years.
But this is a cold business, this NFL contract business. And with Odell Beckham Jr. having exploded onto the scene as a superstar talent and producer in Cruz's absence, the Giants may well have the leverage they need to seek a reduction in Cruz's salary over the remaining four years of the deal. And it may be in their best salary-cap interest to seek that reduction. They can point out the 12 missed games over the past two years and use Beckham's emergence to help their case and maybe shave a couple of million bucks off of that cap number this year.
Doing this would run the risk of alienating one of the team's best and favorite players. Cruz is a selfless, team-first guy who showed up in 2014 training camp after signing the deal and told the coaches he wanted to work on becoming a better downfield blocker in the run game. He's a special guy, and the Giants know this, and because of that they may decide this isn't a road they want to travel. That contract definitely means something to him, and it may well hurt his pride if they come to him and threaten him with a release while telling him Beckham has passed him -- even if it's just a negotiating tactic.
Cutting Cruz would only save the Giants $2.425 million cap space this year, so assuming they believe he's going to make it all the way back that's not a worthwhile way to go. But given the way things have gone since Cruz signed that deal a year and a half ago, it's not crazy to at least look at making some changes to it.
One of the most important rules about interviewing professional athletes is to remember that they are not doctors. Beckham can tell the New York Post, if he likes, that he played the whole season with two tears in his hamstrings. He may even technically be correct, because any kind of muscle pull or strain is, in point of fact, a tear of the soft tissue. But all he's doing is using a different word to describe an injury about which everyone already knew. If you go out in the backyard and throw the football around with your kids and you pull your calf or your quad or your hamstring, you will go to work the next day with at least one tear in your muscle. Congrats on toughing that out.
Now, of course, Beckham's job requires him to use his hamstrings to a much more spectacular extent than you or I use them, so the fact that his preseason hamstring injury never fully healed is interesting. But what you have to remember is this: After Beckham pulled his hamstring in the first practice of training camp last summer, and after he pulled it again in a partial practice a couple of weeks later, the Giants sat Beckham out until they were completely sure he could play without risk of reinjuring that muscle. He likely could have played in Week 4 against Washington, but they waited until Week 5 against Atlanta for his debut simply because they wanted to make sure. (And because, if you remember, they only needed Larry Donnell to beat Washington.)
During the season, Beckham would occasionally discuss the hamstring. Once in a while, he would be discussing a particular play or route and say that was one where he felt he might not be able to go full speed because of his hamstring. Wisely, on these occasions, he slowed down so that he might continue playing in the rest of the game. That is the extent to which Beckham's hamstrings affected him after Week 4, and it's possible he could have stretched it out on any or all of those plays and not been affected.
Beckham was absolutely dazzling this season. His 91 catches, 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in only 12 games are likely to be rewarded Saturday night with the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Might he be even better next season if his hamstring is fully healed after an offseason's worth of rest? Sure. A full offseason program, training camp and slate of preseason games are likely to help him as well, as could the return from injury of fellow star wideout Victor Cruz.
But Beckham's accomplishments and ability require no embellishment. They are great enough on their own, and the words he chose to discuss his hamstring issues Sunday night don't mean anything in the big picture of what this young man did or can continue to do going forward.
We'll take a quick look at the New York Giants' end of it. PFF has them six above-average players away, which doesn't sound bad. They have only one player in the "Elite" category -- Pro Bowl rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. -- and seven in the "Good" category (Johnathan Hankins, Robert Ayers, Jason Pierre-Paul, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Will Beatty, Rueben Randle and Daniel Fells).
Check out the project and click on the Giants' link and you'll see I have a bit of a rundown on where I do and don't agree with PFF's evaluations (and why). And you can decide for yourself where you do and don't agree with them. And you can look around the rest of the league to see how other teams' problems stack up with those of the 6-10 Giants. For me, I think the evaluations are generous. But with the Giants, they always seem to be -- until the season ends and we look at the record.
Team Irvin will be coached by Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who'll be familiar with his roster. The only Cowboy selected by Team Cris Carter was long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur.
Beckham is (obviously) playing in his first Pro Bowl after a dazzling rookie season in which he missed the first four games due to a hamstring injury but still managed to catch 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Pro Bowl is at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, and will be broadcast on ESPN.
Wouldn't it make the most sense to move pugh inside and get a f/a tackle..then draft picks can be defense.. #nygmail.. - brett vollant (@BLV2180) January 15, 2015@DanGrazianoESPN: I do think it would make sense to move Justin Pugh to guard and find a big-time, mauling, run-blocking right tackle. I have thought that for a couple of years now, and based on the comments the Giants' decision-makers made on the radio earlier this week, it sounds as though they believe it now as well. And your plan -- to find a tackle in free agency and not leave it for the draft -- is likely to be the one they pursue. I believe in the value of building the line through the draft, but at the No. 9 pick it does not appear as though there's going to be a must-take tackle for the Giants this year. There are some interesting tackle names on the free-agent market (Doug Free? Bryan Bulaga? Joe Barksdale?), and it's possible the Giants have their eye on one of them. If they can't upgrade at right tackle, they're fine with Pugh there and could beef up at guard again instead. But it sounds to me as though they'll be in the tackle market, yes. And I think they should be.
@DanGrazianoESPN what are the chances we bring back both JPP and Rolle? #nygmail - Jason De Rozario (@THE_REAL_JayDee) January 14, 2015@DanGrazianoESPN: It's certainly not impossible that the Giants could re-sign free agents Jason Pierre-Paul and Antrel Rolle, but the chances depend on a number of things. First and foremost is price. If Pierre-Paul is determined to max out as a free agent (which I believe he is), then the Giants would either let him leave or franchise him. If they franchised him, there would be less money for Rolle, who also believes he's worth a lucrative free-agent deal and could leave if they lowball him the way they did Justin Tuck last year. Their best chance for keeping both is that at least one of them gives some sort of "hometown discount." They're not likely to get that from Pierre-Paul. But as a 32-year-old safety, Rolle might not find the market for which he's hoping and could decide staying with the Giants at their price is the best option for finishing his career.
@DanGrazianoESPN Will Cruz's return help or hurt Odell's production and who is the odd man out in the wr rotation? #nygmail - Kerry Loomis (@kerryloomis) January 14, 2015@DanGrazianoESPN: A return to full health for wide receiver Victor Cruz is not guaranteed. But if he does make one then his return to the offense would help Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of the offense immensely. I do not think Beckham's role would change at all, and if he continued to play at the level at which he played in 2014, he would continue to pile up targets and catches. But offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo had big plans for Cruz before his season-ending injury last year, and having Cruz back as the slot receiver could make things even easier for Beckham as defenses had someone else who required their attention. Cruz is a guy the Giants feel they can use in a role similar to the one in which the Packers use Randall Cobb -- move him around the formation, line him up in the backfield, etc. And having Beckham as the threat he represents on the outside would enable them to maximize those options. Cruz and Beckham played only one full game together in 2014. As for the "odd man out," good question. Assuming Rueben Randle as the No. 3 (which I think is a fair assumption), they have a fair bit of depth with guys such as Marcus Harris (assuming he comes back from his injury), Corey Washington and Preston Parker and Kevin Ogletree if they bring those guys back. They were surprised by what Parker delivered for them this year, and they view him and Ogletree as good fits for their offense. Wide receiver could be a position of good depth for the Giants if Cruz does return.
@DanGrazianoESPN #nygmail to take next step with new O, do Giants need a better passing threat TE? - Steven Haderer (@stevenhaderer) January 14, 2015@DanGrazianoESPN: I don't think so. If we go back to the Packers comparison (which I think we should always do when talking about the new Giants offense), they really haven't had a high-impact passing-threat tight end recently, right? Jermichael Finley for a time, maybe, but not lately. The Giants (a) don't like to spend big resources on tight end and (b) really like Larry Donnell as a high-ceiling developmental player. They believe that another productive offseason will help Donnell make another leap and emerge as a major threat in their passing game. But even if he doesn't, they showed this year that he can be useful as-is, and as we discussed above, they might have more than enough options at wide receiver.
Thanks for all of your questions.
It's obviously still way too early to know anything for certain at this point, but Mel's reasoning on Scherff sounds like the kind of reasoning that would appeal to the Giants. Some project Scherff as a guard at the NFL level, but the same was said two years ago about Syracuse's Justin Pugh, whom the Giants drafted in the first round and started at right tackle for his first two seasons in the league.
The Giants' specific offensive line needs are unclear at this point. In their radio interviews Tuesday, coach Tom Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese indicated that there had been some talk of finding a dominating tackle and moving Pugh inside to guard. But Pugh's position flexibility as well as Weston Richburg's and Geoff Schwartz's, allow the Giants to keep their options open.
The Giants need to do better in the run game, and that starts up front, where they struggled mightily with their run blocking in 2014.
You know me. I was the one arguing for Zack Martin over Odell Beckham Jr. last year when the Giants were picking No. 12. But you also know Jerry Reese, who admitted in his radio interview with WFAN in New York on Tuesday that he had Beckham and Martin ranked close together but will always take the dynamic playmaker over the lineman in such a scenario. Given the way the first eight picks of Mel's mock fell, Scherff looks like a solid pick for the Giants at No. 9. But if they think he's a guard, they may decide that's too high to take him, and the guy still on Mel's board who jumps out to me as a Reese-type pick at this spot would be Louisville wide receiver Devante Parker. And if they didn't want to take a wide receiver in the top 12 two years in a row, maybe a pass-rusher like Clemson's Vic Beasley.
Again, long way to go with this stuff.
For Kiper’s complete analysis of the Giants' pick and the entire first round, click here .
But the Bears never called the Giants to ask permission to interview Ross or anyone else in the front office. In fact, no NFL team has expressed interest in any member of the Giants' front office or coaching staff for any vacant GM or head coach opening this offseason.
How unusual is that? There are only seven teams who haven't had anyone call about any of their people for an NFL head coach or GM opening this offseason:
There's only one playoff team on that list, and combined winning percentage of that group in the 2014 regular season was .366. You can make it a nine-team list, if you'd like, by adding the Packers and Jaguars, whose only requests for interviews have been by the Eagles for their pseudo-GM job. But other than the Packers and Steelers, these are not teams whose company you want to keep on any kind of NFL list right now.
This tells that perception and reputation can be fleeting in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. Ross isn't a worse executive than he was last year or two years ago. It's just that the state of the Giants' program right now is such that teams aren't thinking about them when they're looking for help. They won the Super Bowl three years ago, sure. But they haven't finished above .500 or made the playoffs since.
And while their 2014 draft, headlined by likely Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr., looks as though it could turn out to be a good one, the reason for the Giants' problems the past few years is that they're coming off a long string of terribly unproductive drafts that sapped the roster of depth and quality across the board. Once that starts to sink in around the league, it's not the kind of thing that helps your scouting director get GM interviews.
As for the coaching staff, it would be unfair not to point out that offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was a red-hot offensive coordinator candidate who even got a head coach interview with the Browns last year before the Giants hired him. But the lack of on-field success in East Rutherford is going to keep NFL teams from looking to the Giants' coaching staff for help when they're making decisions about who should lead them.
It only takes one good year to get back on teams' radar screens. If the Giants turn things around, g0 11-5 and win the NFC East next year, it's entirely possible that Ross and a couple of their coaches and executives start to generate interest again. The lack of interest around the league obviously isn't personal. It's just a reflection of how poorly things are going for the Giants at this particular time in their history.