Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Next-level draft needs: New York Giants
By Dan Graziano
The extremely helpful and hard-working folks at ESPN Stats & Information have crunched a bunch of their "next-level" numbers to dive deeper into the draft needs of the NFL's 32 teams, and we're taking a team-by-team look at what they found in the NFC East. Next up, the New York Giants, whose needs in order were found to be defensive back, linebacker, offensive line and defensive end.
Stats & Info notes that the Giants ranked last in the NFL in 2012 in completion percentage allowed, yards per attempt allowed and 30-yard plays allowed on throws of 11 or more yards downfield. They did have the second-most interceptions in the league on such throws, but if they didn't pick the ball off they were liable to give up a big play. The Giants have used their first draft pick on a defensive back in four of their last eight drafts. And while that might indicate they shouldn't need help there, it also indicates that they don't think they can have too many high-quality defensive backs.
Linebacker shows up as a need, S&I says, because the Giants' 3.0 yards allowed per rush before first contact last year was the fourth-worst figure in the league. That figure has gotten worse every year since 2009, which they point out was Antonio Pierce's last season as the Giants' middle linebacker. The Giants haven't taken a linebacker in the first round since Carl Banks in 1984.
On the offensive line, the Giants could use more consistency of personnel groupings. According to Stats & Info, the Giants used 16 different offensive line combinations in 2012, tied for the sixth-most in the league. They re-signed starting left tackle Will Beatty and starting left guard Kevin Boothe, but they need consistent health from center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee, and it might not hurt to find a reliable starter at right tackle, which is a question mark right now. The Giants haven't drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since Luke Petitgout in 1999.
Finally, Stats & Information points out that the Giants' four-man pass rush recorded 13 fewer sacks in 2012 when sending just four after the passer than it did in 2011. "The Giants sent four or fewer pass-rushers on a higher percentage of drop-backs in 2012 than in 2011 but were unable to get to the quarterback as often." With Osi Umenyiora having left as a free agent, it's possible the Giants will look to draft a pass-rushing defensive end early to deepen and improve that pass rush. Improvement in the pass rush is also likely to help out that struggling secondary we discussed a few paragraphs back.