We have talked a lot, as this draft continues to approach, about the ways in which the New York Giants do not tend to use their most significant resources. They do not spend first-round draft picks on linebackers (none since 1984) or offensive linemen (none since 1999), and by and large they don't tend to devote big chunks of their salary cap to those positions either.
But one of the areas on which they do tend to spend both early picks and money is the defensive secondary. Over the past 25 years, they've drafted more defensive backs (6) in the first round than any other position. (Four defensive linemen, four running backs, four wide receivers, three offensive linemen, two tight ends, a fullback and a quarterback over the same period of time). Three of their past six first-round picks have been defensive backs -- Prince Amukamara, Kenny Phillips and Aaron Ross.
John Parolin of the ESPN Stats & Information Group was crunching some numbers to look for ways in which teams mismanage the salary cap at certain positions, and he found that the Giants spent $27.1 million of their 2012 salary cap on secondary players -- the third-highest figure in the league behind the Jets and the Bengals. The Giants finished last in the league in completion percentage allowed, yards per attempt allowed and 30-plus-yard pass plays allowed on throws 15 or more yards downfield.
Now, part of the problem was that Phillips was eating up about $3 million worth of salary cap costs and missed nine games because of injury. And another part of the problem was that Corey Webster (a second-round pick in 2005, when the Giants didn't have a first-rounder) was costing them $9.349 against the cap and had a bad year. They have addressed both of these problems by letting Phillips leave as a free agent and cutting Webster's salary so he only counts about $5.4 million against this year's cap. But Stevie Brown will cost $2.02 million, Antrel Rolle still costs more than $9 million, and Amukamara's cap cost goes up from $1.86 million to $2.23 million. So the Giants are still looking at spending something like $24 million of their salary cap on the secondary in 2013.
That won't look too bad if the 2013 secondary plays better than the 2012 secondary did. Ross' return from Jacksonville and another year of development from Amukamara should help with that. But Webster needs to prove 2012 was the exception and not 2011, Brown is going to have to replace Phillips, and Rolle is going to have to show he can play better without Phillips on the field than he did last season.