First of all, let me say that I'm very, very pleased with the Giants offseason. I was a bit disappointed to see the back of Kawika Mitchell and was shaken by the loss of the team leader and first ballot HOF'er Michael Strahan, I can't say that I was particularly moved by the loss of Gibril Wilson (thanks, you were great!), Reggie Torbor, or William Joseph. (By the way, best of wishes to Strahan. He earned his retirement and all the accolades that we can possibly offer him!)
On the other hand, I think the additions of David Carr, Danny Clark, Reynaldo Wynn, Sammy Knight, and Shane Olivea are solid acquisitions (more on this later) and I believe that the Giants had yet another stellar draft class. These free agents, while relatively pedestrian compared to recent years, represent more of what Tom Coughlin and Reese seem to value: Leadership, experience, and size. LOTS OF SIZE!! They also ratchet up the competition at each of their positions and am particularly happy that guys like Boothe, Koets, Ruegamer, and Whimper don't have a free ride this August! I think Olivea might be able to slot into either guard spot or even right tackle in a pinch and I think that will create a bit of indigestion for any on that line that thought camp was going to be about the buffet this year!
Jerry Reese has, since he first took the reins as GM, that he wanted competition at every position and boy, has he delivered. With the exception of the obvious starters every position has fierce competition for the backup places and in many cases, competition by the backups to unseat the incumbent starters. Among the best of these battles, in my estimation are at Wide Receiver, Linebacker, Backup Cube, Cornerback, and Safety.
To break it down even further, I see the wide receiver battle as the most intriguing of the bunch. Plax is pencilled at the top of the list. Amani is almost certain to be the second name on the depth chart and Steve Smith the third. After that, I think the group of Tyree, Moss, Domenik Hixon and Manningham look the most likely to legitimately battle to make the roster. Of these four, I think the battle for the final spot really comes down to Hixon and Tyree, the two special teams mavens. If there is another player on the team who fills the special teams ace role, then one of them is gone. If not, then they could both stay. I think Brandon London and Michael Jennings are on the outside looking in and London, at least, gets another year on the practice squad.
To clarify a point above, one of the discussions I've been watching this offseason with interest in the fan perspective on Sinorice Moss. I know that there is a relatively significant percentage of the fan base who are ready to give up on the small and speedy one but I offer this opposing perspective: If you listen to football people and what they say before the draft, you will often hear criticism of small wide receivers. The reason for this is the physical nature of the NFL game and the inability of these guys to simply overwhelm their opponent with pure athleticism. It takes time for these guys to learn the one of the most complicated positions on the field and it also takes time for them to learn to get off the line cleanly into their routes. I think Sinorice, as a second round pick, will get the length of his rookie contract to learn to be an NFL guy. It's no guarantee that he'll turn out to be a star, but I think the Giants will give him a chance, certainly over a guy like Michael Jennings....
I'm also intrigued by the linebacker situation and if I had to bet a nickel right now, my guess is that we're going to hear, sometime in the first week of August, that Kiwanuka will be moving back home to the defensive line, at least for the passing downs. Pierce is probably the only lock in the group and I'm very interested to see how the Wilkinson, Goff, Kehl, DeOssie and Clark battle shakes itself out.
As for the draft proper, Kenny Phillips, thanks to his relatively poor junior year was a steal at the end of the round. I know that many analysts felt he was dropping and some even felt that the small school safety was better, but I can't forget that he was a top ten talent as a sophomore and if Miami had been a top ten team, then I have to believe that he wouldn't have been their for the Giants to take. Perfect need and perfect value. Terrell Thomas looks like a terrific physical specimen, with the size and skills to be the perfect foil to Aaron Ross and Corey Webster. Mario Manningham, while being a bit of a knucklehead, is blessed with an extraordinary amount of talent. I'm also happy with the two linebackers: Kehl looks to be the athletes while Goff is exactly what you want at MLB a guy with a nose for the ball who is very intelligent. Both look to be reasonable picks and have a decent chance to develop into players. Only time will tell, of course. I'm not particularly thrilled with the DE pick, but was very happy to see the Woodson selection, as I already mentioned.
Finally, about the offseason nonsense:
1. Shockey - Great talent but man, if he wants to go that bad then I hope the Giants can work out reasonable compensation. Otherwise, I wish he'd just shut up. That being said, I hope he stays, despite wanting to see him gone for most of the spring. I've come back around to him again...
2. Plaxico - He's going to get his deal. I see no problem with his slight mini-camp controversy. The man deserves to get paid after what he did for the team last year.
3. Osi - He's the man. If he produces this year, he'll get his contract. Guaranteed.
4. Snee - The best move of the offseason was to lock up the best lineman on the team for a long term deal. Excellent.
Well, that was probably rambling and disjunct, but now I'm too tired to go back and edit!!
Nice to be back, at least off and on until the season starts and the first loss shakes me out of my reverie...
You can discuss this and many other good Giants topics on the message board: