NEW YORK GIANTS / 2013 TEAM NEEDS
There are some contract issues to work out long term with WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, but otherwise things are in pretty solid shape. QB Eli Manning just turned 32 and remains in great physical condition despite starting 135 consecutive games. The team makes sure he’s well-protected — most of the time — and the developing run game takes a little pressure off him.
TOP 3 OFFENSIVE NEEDS
OT — UFA OLT Will Beatty was not surprisingly re-signed, but the team needs an upgrade on the right side. David Diehl is wearing down and could be cut to save against the salary cap. Sean Locklear had replaced him but was merely a stop-gap solution before he tore his ACL. The Giants could address this in free agency or through the draft.
TE — Martellus Bennett is a free agent who has expressed an interest in returning, and he probably will. But Travis Beckum (also a free agent) likely won’t be back, and 2012 fourth-rounder Adrien Robinson barely saw the field as a rookie. The team remains high on Robinson’s athletic ability, but the fact that he barely played a lick tells you how far he must come still.
RB — So much depends on Ahmad Bradshaw’s health. He finished with more than 1,000 yards rushing, but how long can he hold up? David Wilson is in line for more work, and Andre Brown was great when he played, but another back would be nice.
It was a disappointing season for Perry Fewell’s unit, which struggled against the run most of the season and watched its pass rush disappear down the stretch when it needed it most. There remain some viable pieces to build around, such as DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who was touted as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate heading into 2012. But it’s pretty obvious that personnel changes are afoot.
TOP 3 DEFENSIVE NEEDS
LB — The Giants were gashed by the run up front, and changes are coming to the front seven. OLB Mathias Kiwanuka is likely to move to end full time. Chase Blackburn might be phased out, leaving a vacancy at middle linebacker. WLB Michael Boley played sparingly down the stretch and could be cut. The Giants could use a thumper inside and an athletic boost outside.
DE — Don’t the Giants draft one almost every year? Yes, and that’s (usually) why they have a feared pass rush. But Pierre-Paul can’t do it solo, Justin Tuck (four sacks) is in decline, and Osi Umenyiora is likely to move on. Kiwanuka could help, and promising Adewale Ojomo could push for more time. But GM Jerry Reese learned by watching Ernie Accorsi: You can never have too many pass rushers.
CB — Corey Webster agreed to rework his $7 million base salary but is coming off a bad season. Prince Amukamara made strides, and third-rounder Jayron Hosley has upside, but more is needed. Could find help here through free agency or the draft, or both.
2012 DRAFT REWIND
1st round (32): RB David Wilson / Virginia Tech (GP/GS: 16/2)
Skinny: Struggled early but broke out big late. Flashed rare speed.
2nd round (63): WR Rueben Randle / LSU (GP/GS: 16/1)
Skinny: Streaky but talented wideout is favorite for No. 3 role in 2013.
3rd round (94): CB Jayron Hosley / Virginia Tech (GP/GS: 12/6)
Skinny: Thrown in mix with injuries and struggled, but ceiling is high.
4th round (127): TE Adrien Robinson / Cincinnati (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: The “’JPP’” of tight ends,” per GM Jerry Reese. But only logged three snaps.
4th round (131): OT Brandon Mosley / Auburn (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Landed on I.R. with ankle injury. Looked raw in preseason.
6th round (201): OT Matt McCants / Alabama-Birmingham (GP/GS: 0/0)
Skinny: Spent last season on practice squad. Re-signed to futures contract.
7th round (239): DT Marcus Kuhn / North Carolina State (GP/GS: 10/1)
Skinny: Future is bright for German gem. Figures into 2013 DT mix.
SUMMARY: This figures to be a class that pays off even more in 2013, when top three picks will be more involved.