Thursday, July 5, 2012
Position series: Giants safeties
By Dan Graziano
Our position-by-position look at the teams in the NFC East is checking out the safeties today, and here we examine the safety position on the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Projected starters: Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle
Reserves: Tyler Sash, Chris Horton, Stevie Brown, Will Hill, Janzen Jackson
Potential strength: Put simply, Phillips is one of the best safeties in the NFL. The Giants' first-round pick in the 2008 draft has recovered from his 2009 knee problems and become one of the quiet strengths of the defense. Pro Football Focus ranked him the No. 5 safety in the league against the run last year, No. 9 in coverage and the No. 6 safety overall. He's still just 25 years old, and there's little reason to believe Phillips won't or can't continue to blossom as an elite NFL defender.
Potential weakness: Depth. Should Phillips or Rolle have an injury, he would have to be replaced by someone unproven. And if defensive coordinator Perry Fewell wants to run the three-safety looks he's enjoyed running the past two years, he'll need someone like Sash or Brown to step into the spot vacated by still unsigned veteran Deon Grant. Now, with the team's improved depth at linebacker and cornerback, it's possible that they just won't need to have three safeties on the field as much as they did last year or the year before. But the lack of experienced depth behind the starters is a potential concern.
Keep a eye on: Sash. The team's sixth-round pick in 2011, Sash has a reputation as a hard hitter and could be in line to fill that No. 3 safety spot. But as we have discussed here many times, it's difficult to evaluate safeties until that point on the calendar at which they're finally permitted to hit people in anger. It may not be until training camp or even preseason games until the Giants know how confident they can be in Sash's ability to make a 2012 contribution on defense. If he's not, it's possible they'll look into re-signing Grant, assuming he's still out there.