The New York Giants finished a promising 6-10 in Joe Judge’s first year as the head coach. Free-agent signee James Bradberry proved his worth, showing out as one of the league’s top cornerbacks. However, that does not mean there are not any holes in the defense. The loss of Saquon Barkley in week 2 was a tough blow, but there were more underlying issues on the offensive side of the ball. Daniel Jones needs more playmakers to succeed on this young offense, a priority this Giants offseason.
Roster Needs: WR, EDGE, CB, LB
The offense was abysmal in 2020. Receivers not only struggled to get open but also stay healthy. Veteran Golden Tate got into arguments with the coaching staff on multiple occasions. Sterling Shepard only played in 12 games, struggling with multiple injuries throughout the season. Shepard has regressed ever since his 872-yard third season. He is locked in with a modest contract for the next few years, so the Giants hope signs of improvement begin to show. Second-year Darius Slayton carried on as the big-play threat to take the top off defenses. Slayton topped an auspicious rookie season with 751 yards and 3 touchdowns. Slayton’s numbers should have been much more improved if it was not for Daniel Jones’s inability to make the deep throws. On multiple occasions, Slayton burned his man deep and Jones’s throw was off target. If that connection can become more consistent, Slayton will be a valued receiver on this roster.
With Tate out and Shepard disappointing, the receiving group needs to be revamped during the Giants offseason. More specifically, New York needs help scoring. The Giants had the second-worst red zone efficiency last year, scoring at a lowly 46% once inside the 20. Coincidentally, free agent Kenny Golladay has a knack for the endzone. The 6-foot-4 pass-catcher 11 touchdowns playing half the season with David Blough at quarterback in 2019. Golladay is not the most refined route-runner and struggles to create separation but is still one of the elite red-zone threats in the league. A big-bodied, alpha-like Golladay would be a welcome addition to the Giants they have not had since Plaxico Burress.
The addition of Golladay would not give Jones enough weapons to reach his potential. The eleventh pick in the first round means the Giants could draft one of the premier pass catchers in the 2021 class too. Jaylen Waddle could truly bring this offense to an elite level. He is quick to get in and out of his breaks and has game-breaking speed. Dave Gettleman would be enamored with the speedy separator out of Alabama falling to him.
While some may argue why an offensive lineman is not considered a top need, New York rolled out one of the youngest offensive lines last season. Rookie tackles Matt Peart and Andrew Thomas have significant room to grow. Either of the two could be moved to guard which could be a need depending on offseason cuts. Cutting guard Kevin Zeitler would open up $12 million in cap space. Nate Solder will be back in 2021, once considered a top-tier tackle during his time in New England. Solder could replace one of Peart or Thomas if they move to guard. Other guard Will Hernandez is solid enough with cap space needed to be used on more pressing needs. The newly added receivers will be able to get open quicker for Jones, thus will be able to avoid taking sacks.
Joe Judge’s defense played well despite the lack of playmakers. They ranked in the top 15 in all defensive statistics except against the pass. James Bradberry graded the 7th best among all cornerbacks per PFF, locking down opposing top receivers. After Bradberry is where more production is needed. Cornerbacks Isaac Yiadom and Darnay Holmes were abysmal in coverage. The secondary gave up a league-average 3,087 yards and the 22nd most interceptions. A high-class free-agent signing is unlikely given the need for a wideout and re-signing other key players. A cheap slot corner in Nickell Robey-Coleman fits the aggressive defense Joe Judge wants to run. Robey-Coleman or any slot corner brought in would be an immediate upgrade over Darnay Holmes.
The big re-signing of Leonard Williams will take most of the available cap space. Williams led the stifling defensive line that allowed the 10th least rushing yards and touchdowns. The premier run-stuffer was a gamechanger in rushing the passer totaled 13 sacks, the 2nd most in the NFL. Williams will be an expensive but necessary piece to retain. With that done, nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson will leave through free agency. Several big defensive tackles could slide into that role through the upcoming draft.
Big Ten DPOY Daviyon Nixon fits the bill well. Nixon could fall into the later rounds for New York to scoop up. Along with Williams, another edge rusher must be added to replace Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell lacks any effective pass rushing moves to pressure the quarterback, garnering a mere 5 hurries last season. Edge rushers who may be available in the draft consist of the athletically gifted Jayson Oweh, or the high-motor Joseph Ossai. Both fit the 3-4 attacking mold well and could grow into great pass rushers.
Finally, Blake Martinez needs a solid running mate. Seventh-round pick Tae Crowder should not have been the starter in 2020. Crowder played poorly against the run and in coverage. He lacks both the explosiveness and instincts to be a full-time starter. Cameron McGrone out of Michigan brings the burst and downfield play the defense needs from their linebackers. He is an admirable playmaker in the run game along with the speed to run through holes on blitzes. His range allows him to keep up with the fastest tight ends the NFL has to offer. The addition of an athlete like McGrone to a group that features Jabrill Peppers brings versatility to the aggressive defensive front.