Letters to the Editor: January 9, 2014

Rich Z. writes…
Any word about David Wilson’s health problem. I would love to see him back next year. He was the most explosive offensive weapon I’ve ever seen on the Giants’ roster.

Rich, the only recent word we have on David Wilson was what we got from general manager Jerry Reese last week, who said, “Those neck things, you have to wait around. I’m not a doctor so I don’t want to stand up here and talk some doctor mumbo jumbo to you. Those discs they have, sometimes they can shrink, and it takes time for them to shrink. They did that and we’re waiting.”

Wilson was supposed to have another consultation sometime early this year. I don’t know if that’s occurred yet, but again, from what Reese said, the consultation was “to see if surgery would be a possibility for him,” adding, “That could be a possibility and if he has the surgery, I think the prognosis is that he’ll be ready to play next fall, if he has his surgery.”

Reese then went on to say, “We’re hopeful, and the earlier reports that I’ve gotten, doctors do think they can fix this and he’ll be able to play.”

So with that, it sounds like Wilson might be having surgery for a disc problem that hasn’t fully resolved itself yet. We might know more today if the topic comes up on any of the radio interviews that Jerry Reese and John Mara are set to do.

Harvey F. writes…
What I see as our two Achilles’ heels:
1) Salary (dunce) cap management – we have been consistently in cap hell for 5 years. This will be continued in the next year or two by making cap casualties out of our best defensive players — Joseph, Beason, Jenkins, Rolle will all be gone. Too much money is wasted on non-productive veterans at OL, DL and DB and we compensate by pinching pennies at LB.

2) TC’s failure to adjust to the practice time restrictions in the new CBA. Must we listen to his puzzlement at bad games following ‘great’ practices? There is no relationship. Others have adjusted (see Eagles – practices are mostly calisthenics and very few injuries). Our injuries are mind-boggling. Are we trying to squeeze our old methods into too little time? This is also why we can’t get a handle on the talent of young players unless they move up the depth chart by default (Pugh)

Harvey, I’ll give you the issue regarding the salary cap from 2013, though I’ll point out that the teams with the largest cap space are usually those with poor records.

Regarding your second point, you cannot make that statement unless you have seen the in-season practices. You need to remember that practices cannot be held at game speed. If you practice something slowly, chances are you’ll look better. Throw in all the injuries and there wasn’t any hope of establishing continuity.

It’s also not fair to draw a comparison just yet to the Eagles. They had one good year of staying relatively healthy. If that trend holds up over multiple years, then maybe there’s something to what they’re doing, but I’m not quite ready to anoint their way of doing things as the way.

Last point. The coaches spend every possible minute they can under the CBA with these players in the offseason. I think they get a pretty good idea who’s ready to move up and who isn’t based on the classroom work and then how it’s applied on the field.

Mike S. writes…
I’ve always agreed with you that you have to look at the draft and free agency together, so with that, your free agent targets were wr Maclin, te Ballard, c Mack, and cb Davis and your mock draft was ot Richardson, c Swanson, cb jean-Baptiste, de martin, rb white, and wr Hoffman. First thought should be the positions that need to be addressed. Offensive Guard, Center, Running back, wide out, and tight end are priorities while defensively, end, corner, and linebacker are the priorities.

Your solution to guard isn’t bad, in fact, none of these ideas are. Take a big solid tackle first, slide Pugh to guard, plug in Mack, and use Baas as a backup or cut him. The problem here is that you bank on Pugh excelling at guard. I wouldn’t describe Pugh as a road grater Right Guard. He’s more of a pulling left guard or a finesse right tackle. The other problem is that Alex Mack is due for a very large contract, this idea would cost a lot of money. Lastly, at this current moment, before senior bowls, combine, and other offseason changes, Richardson is regarded as the 5th best tackle in the draft class and could fall as far as round 2. It’s an extreme reach to have him taken at 12th overall. Why not do something different?

How about Roberto Garza, the center for Chicago, or Evan Dietrich-Smith from green bay? They likely won’t cost the same amount of money that Mack will and the best part – they can play right guard too, the kind of versatility we like on our o-line. That way we don’t have to reach on our first pick of the draft to fill a need, we can use our number 2 pick in the draft to take a guard. Gabe Jackson, g, Miss St, is the best solution for right guard, he’s a big downhill blocker, but he, Zack Martin, Cyril Richardson, or Xavier Su’a-Filo all could fall to us in the second round and fill that need. This way, we can groom our guard for at least the beginning of the year. You can start the year with Beatty, Boothe, Baas, Garza, Pugh and by the midway point, phase Baas out and make your line look more like Beatty, Boothe, Garza, Jackson, Pugh. This way, we don’t have to deal with Baas’ dead money and transition both Jackson and Garza to the offense comfortably. By the way, the center draft class next year is as solid as this year, while the guard draft class is not even close to as talented as this year. We can revisit the center situation then.

Now, we’ve solved most of our o-line woes, we can revisit that first round pick and take the best talent available. At 12th overall, we can address our other priorities. Likely off the board notables will be Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Khalil Mack, Clowney, and Anthony Barr. One suggestion could be Justin Gilbert, corner from Oklahoma State who has the ball skills, size, and physicality to play outside as well as returns kicks. Your fourth round pick of Jean-Baptiste is regarded closer to a 5th or sixth round pick. Vontae Davis is a solid offseason target, but is young and may also be due for a very large payday. Charles Tillman is much older and might be able to be lowballed. Either way, I think this idea is better, because Trumaine McBride and Terrell Thomas , in my eyes, have earned a new contract, Gilbert has the ability to start in the NFL by next year (as is best for a wr or cb) and can be solid depth with Thomas, Hosley, and James. Sure, a free agent CB will absolutely beef this spot up, but now we can get someone who costs less and just be depth behind McBride. Remember our depth now can look like Amukamara, McBride, Gilbert, Thomas, Hosley, and James. We may not even need the free agent if we don’t have the money.

Let’s move to the third round, and let’s be honest, at this point, the third round and beyond gets very speculative. Is there any doubt that, aside for our o-line, our d-line was the next worst thing going for us? I think if we’ve saved money with our o-line and cb solutions, we can spend big here. After all, the New York giants should have the best d-line and there’s a LOT of dents in free agency. Big names are Jared Allen, Michael Johnson, Michael Bennett, and Lamarr Houston, but I think setting our sights on Greg Hardy first would be best. He’s young and coming off his rookie contract. Of course, his team is in the playoffs and will know how important he was to getting them there so if we can’t give him the money he wants, Michael Bennett is the second best choice. So that lets us take a small gamble on Dominique Easley, de, Florida. Before his ACL tear, he was regarded as a first round prospect that has tumbled off draft boards. Retaining Tuck and Jenkins, if possible, and Joseph (absolutely necessary) shapes our d-line as JPP, Joseph, Jenkins, Tuck with backups including Moore and Easley, Hankins and Kuhn. Remember that Jenkins and Tuck can play both spots and we can now move on from Kiwanuka if he’s not willing to take a well-deserved pay cut. Of course, Kareem Martin is a safer bet, but I don’t think he’ll fall as far as round three. If he does, I agree with your choice, though you have him falling to four.

Kevin Gilbride said that Brandon Myers is only a great number 2 tight end, and I couldn’t agree more. He’s technically a free agent with three voidable years, so I think redoing his deal should be a priority. He’s not worth number 1 money and this year showed the whole league that. Either way, our tight end situation plain sucks and we shouldn’t be so quick to ditch him. Jake Ballard is a more well rounded tight end but does have some serious health questions and the tight end free agent pool is pretty shallow. There are a lot of question marks and one trick ponies in there. Finley can’t catch, Keller is a health concern, Pettigrew has trouble blocking, and Chandler probably won’t come back for the money we want.

In my opinion, Dennis Pitta is the best choice in the pool, but may be too much money. But here’s a better solution. Let me introduce my fourth round pick, sleeper tight end from Iowa, C.J. Fiedorowicz. He is a tremendous blocker and has surprising athleticism while standing at 6’7. It’s best to put him in context though. Our offense could then have big playmakers Randle, Cruz, Jernigan, Meyers, and Fiedorowicz on the outside with Nicks being the huge question mark of course.

We shouldn’t break the bank for him, like you’ve outlined, but we should try to keep him if we can afford it. We likely can’t though and your solution is Maclin. I like that choice, but why not Mario Manningham? He’s familiar and a comfortable number 3. I think this idea is slightly better because he won’t have to learn the complicated offense that we’re likely to employ under likely offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan (I know, a lot of speculation).

In the fifth round, you picked James White from Wisconsin, a pick I like, however, I like Andre Williams, rb, Boston college, more. He looks a lot like Andre Brown. Runs downhill with one cut and has a tremendous stiff arm. He also put a clinic on NC State with a performance including over 300 yards and two touchdowns, which shows big time endurance and durability. Either way, I think the fifth round should go here, to a running back given the questions we have there.

Lastly, in the sixth round you picked Cody Hoffman, a guy who was totally not on my radar. I love this pick and I can assure you that he’s mostly, at this time, not on a lot of radars. However, if he’s not available, maybe it’s time that we address our kicker situation? Josh Brown didn’t really deliver as well as Tynes did as far as accuracy and wasn’t a ton better at kickoffs either. To boot, he’s a free agent. Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro is extremely clutch and has proven he can hit in the 50 range. Obviously, if we get a compensatory pick, he’d be better there, but it’s just a thought.

So there’s my best-case scenario mock of your mock and free agency. Free agents Roberto Garza (center/guard Chicago), Greg Hardy (defensive end Carolina) and Mario Manningham (wide receiver San Francisco) and draftees Justin Gilbert (corner, Oklahoma State), Gabe Jackson (guard, Mississippi State), Dominique Easley (Defensive End, Florida), C.J. Fiedorowicz (tight end, Iowa), Andre Williams (Running Back, Boston College), and Cody Hoffman (wide receiver, BYU) with compensatory selection Chandler Catanzaro (kicker, Clemson).

Mock away.

Mike, thank you for the comprehensive post and mock draft. I always appreciate reading another person’s perspective. A few thoughts about your proposal.

The first question I’d ask you is who of the Giants current Fas is worthy of a huge contract? Beason? I think he’ll be paid, but I also think you have to take his injury history into consideration before you go crazy with a contract. So assuming you don’t have someone who gets “Will Beatty” money, why not splurge on Alex Mack of you can get a guy who can anchor your line for five years or more?

Isn’t a complaint of the fans that the Giants don’t spend on quality free agents? Why settle for less when you’re talking about protecting your franchise quarterback, especially since the center is the one making the line protection calls?

Regarding Richardson in round 1, first, I’m not a fan of doing mock drafts as it is—if the bosses want it, then I deliver as best I can. However, obviously, without having the full list of junior-eligibles at my disposal when I wrote the mock plus not having any updated scouting reports from the Senior Bowls. Etc., I can only go by what info I have when I write these things. If I have to write another mock draft—and I suspect I will—I reserve the right to update my projections with the latest information.

I disagree with you regarding the defensive line being “the next worst thing going” for this team. The defensive tackles were exceptional. Tuck played well at the end and Moore shows promise if he can better learn the run. A healthy Pierre-Paul and maybe another prospect – I wouldn’t splurge on Greg Hardy, not that I think he’ll become available—should be enough on which to build a solid foundation.  

Jenkins is not a free agent. As for Joseph, I think Hankins will replace him in the lineup, so I wouldn’t call retaining Joseph “necessary” (would be nice though).

I don’t think Myers will be back—he’s a better fit for a West coast offense and if I’m the Giants, I go in another direction. I’m sure there’s another option out there – the Giants took a gamble on Martellus Bennett, who was relatively unknown, and that worked out just fine.

I wonder if perhaps Philly’s Brent Celek might become an option if Philly decides to stick with Zach Ertz? I also wonder if maybe they make a play for Scot Chandler. I don’t think the Giants will draft a tight end in the fourth round and until I see evidence to the contrary, I still don’t think Nicks is a lock to return.

Lastly, I would NOT spend a draft pick on a kicker. I am cautiously optimistic that the Giants will reach a new deal with Josh Brown, who, if you look at the stats, actually was an upgrade over Tynes.

Gene P. writes…
Jack M. had some very good questions. You supplied great answers! Thank you both.

One comment on not putting rookies who are not ready into an actual game. It seems to me that the Giants have far fewer rookies and second-year guys playing regularly compared to other teams. That could be more evidence that drafting has been a problem.

No doubt, Sullivan will get the job. Most executives like to hire and promote people they already know well. This applies to the Maras most especially. BTW, I for one hope they never sell the team.

Gene, no question drafting has been an issue. I’ve long suspected that the personnel department and coaching staff aren’t fully on the same page regarding draft picks. If Reese and crew are picking players they think are of good value despite reservations of the coaching staff, then that needs to change.

I wouldn’t be so sure that Sullivan is a lock for the OC job. I’d like to point out that he was first on the list of interviewees – if he blew them away, I don’t think they would be wasting their time meeting with other candidates.

I also believe they need a fresh voice and not someone who, as Kevin Gilbride put it the other night “grew up” in the system the giants have run for years, the same system that I believe the league has caught up with and which has gotten a little stale.

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