Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Updated: February 1, 1:33 PM ET
How the 2011 Giants were built
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
The New York Giants imploded in 2010, missing the playoffs for a second straight year after losing two of their final three games -- including the "Miracle at the New Meadowlands" debacle. So what did they do in the offseason to improve their chances of reaching the postseason?
Nothing. Well, basically nothing, unless you count signing 49ers center David Baas to a multiyear contract as something.
Meanwhile, Plaxico Burress signed with the New York Jets, Steve Smith signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kevin Boss signed with the Oakland Raiders. The Giants got younger along the offensive line, but that came at the expense of veteran stalwarts Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert, who were released.
Osi Umenyiora was disgruntled. He wanted a new contract. The Giants weren't going to give him one, though.
Fan and media outrage ensued. What are they thinking? Are they serious? They miss the playoffs again and this is what they do? Or rather, don't do? C'mon man!
Didn't matter. GM Jerry Reese and his staff knew something everyone else didn't. In their minds, their roster was already solid, laden with homegrown talent that was developed within the organization. It was just a matter of players stepping up. And they did.
Fourteen players ended up on season-ending injured reserve. But as a team, the Giants persevered, ripping off five straight victories following a 7-7 start to reach Super Bowl XLVI.
On Sunday, the Giants will take the field with 19 players who have played in a Super Bowl -- including 15 who were part of the Super Bowl XLII championship team. And of the 53 Giants on the Super Bowl XLVI roster, 25 were drafted by the team -- including 18 since Reese took over for Ernie Accorsi in 2007. Eleven of those are starters -- including seven on defense.
Five of the Giants' last six first-round draft picks are projected to start in the game: Jason Pierre-Paul (2010), Hakeem Nicks (2009), Kenny Phillips (2008), Aaron Ross (2007) and Mathias Kiwanuka (2006). The team's 2004 and 2005 first-rounders -- Philip Rivers and what turned out to be Shawne Merriman -- were dealt for Eli Manning, who has a chance to become just the 11th quarterback in NFL history to win at least two Super Bowls.
At the other end of the spectrum, four of the team's 12 undrafted players are projected to start: the Giants' all-time single-season receiving yards leader Victor Cruz, Jake Ballard, Henry Hynoski and Chase Blackburn. Ahmad Bradshaw (2007) was taken in the seventh round.
Of the 16 remaining players, Antrel Rolle, Michael Boley, Kareem McKenzie, Chris Canty and Baas represent the team's most significant acquisitions via free agency.
Here's a look at how each player on the 2011 Giants was acquired:
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.