The Giants had a banner offseason, signing big-ticket free agents and drafting six versatile and explosive players --three on each side of the ball -- who promise to add speed and depth to their sagging roster.
They came into the offseason with a long "to-do" list and an ultimatum from ownership to improve the roster with focus on the defensive side of the ball. They did that, for the most part.
The goals in improving the defense this offseason were very clear: get better at every position. They made some bold strokes and spent a small fortune in the process.
The pass rush was augmented by the signing of DE Olivier Vernon and the re-signing of DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Both players will be in a rotation this season but can play the majority of snaps if needed. Vernon is a marked upgrade and will garner the attention of opposing offensive coordinators. JPP will have the benefit of a full offseason and training camp. The player to keep an eye on is DE Owa Odighizuwa, whose rookie year was wiped out by injuries.
The interior of line will get a huge boost from free agent Damon Harrison and a full season out of Johnathan Hankins, who missed the second half of 2015 with a torn pec. They have talent but the depth is still questionable. After Vernon, JPP and Owa at DE, the Giants have Kerry Wynn and a lot of question marks. They signed several UDFAs who could produce a surprise at camp...they hope.
After Harrison and Hankins on the interior line comes former third-round pick Jay Bromley, a player who must continue to improve. The rest of the group is going to have to sing for their supper at camp.
Fans keep getting on GM Jerry Reese to draft a linebacker. He would if there were any worth taking. The Giants were rumored to be hot for Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd, but the Bears jumped ahead of them at the draft and nabbed him.
They waited until the fourth round to take a linebacker -- B.J. Goodson of Clemson, a highly-productive "thumper" who may challenge for playing time early on. They also signed former Washington Redskins MLB Keenan Robinson, which they hope will be a low-risk, high-reward signing.
The Giants needed to upgrade at cornerback, and they did that in a big way. They let Prince Amukamara walk and signed Janoris Jenkins, the top corner in free agency. Then they took Ohio State's Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick int he draft. Those two hope to form an elite group along with veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The safety group is a collection of young studs who will be vying for both roster spots and playing time. Last year, they were set to hold open auditions for the two safety slots but four of the six contestants got hurt and Cooper Taylor was replaced by in-season free agent pickups Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl.
Rookie Landon Collins started every game and, without much support, was left to fend for himself. This summer, all of those safeties are back and healthy. The Giants are taking no chances this time, however. They selected Boise State's Darian Thompson in the third round, a player who's a born leader with a penchant for takeaways.
What they needed and didn't get....
Another top-rated pass rusher. The decision not to trade up for Floyd re-shuffled their entire draft board and the selection of Apple was deemed way to soon by many. They could have traded back five or more spots and still gotten him. The interior of the line is also missing one more piece. Don't expect them to ever take a non-pass rushing LB early in the draft. In this day and age, that is solid thinking. They also could have used a veteran safety to add to the madness in their defensive backfield.
Projected opening day defensive roster:
DE: Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Owa Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn
DT: Damon Harrison, Johnathan Hankins, Jay Bromley, Nikita Whitlock
OLB: Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, Jonathan Casillas, Mark Herzlich, Kelvin Sheppard
MLB: Keenan Robinson, Jasper Brinkley, B.J. Goodson
CB: Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, Trevin Wade, Bennett Jackson
Safeties: Landon Collins, Nat Berhe, Darian Thompson, Mykkele Thompson