This is the easy one to right about. Eli improved from the beginning of the season, where fans questioned his ability to be an elite QB to the end of the season where Eli was considered an elite QB who had no peer when it came to come from behind finishes. I see no reason to think the end of the year Eli isn't the same one the team has all of 2012
2011- Eli Manning, David Carr PS- Ryan Perrilloux
2012- Eli Manning, David Carr PS- Ryan Perriloux
Verdict- Stays the same to slight improvement
The Giants lost a sub-par Kareem McKenzie and took on two raw but talented rookies. The team also lost the veteran combo of Stacy Andrews/Tony Ugoh but replaced them with journeyman Sean Locklear. David Baas had a sub par season due to injury and having to learn a new system too quickly. Chris Snee had a sub par season for unknown reasons, although some blame a mid season knee issue. I speculate he may not have been in proper shape due to the lockout. OLT has a projected starter of Will Beatty who missed half of last season with a detached retina and now missed OTAs and Mini-Camp with a back problem that was caused by a poor choice in lifting exercises and too much weight too quickly. Brewer has a proper off season and a year on the Giants roster to help polish this raw tackle. However comments by TC about Brewer's work ethic gives one some concern about Brewer's ability to contribute. Mosley seems like the eventual ORT but he is being trained at guard for now. Little has been said of McCants although OTAs and Mini Camp does not really give much indication of how good or bad linemen are. The talent level of this unit remains unchanged, more or less, so the improvement or failures of this unit will hinge on Snee, Baas, Diehl and Booth or Petrus. Those 4 could play well enough for the team to have a reasonably solid line or if they play like they did last season the team could be in real trouble. I expect Snee and Baas to improve. I hope Diehl plays as well as he did at OLT (with the lower level of DE and LB he will see he would look to play better) and I see Booth or Petrus playing at least as good as Diehl played, hopefully better.
2011 (from left to right)
Beatty/Diehl, Diehl/Booth, Baas, Snee, McKenzie- Key reserves, Petrus, Brewer, Andrews and Cordle
Beatty, Booth/Petrus, Baas, Snee, Diehl- Key reserves Mosley, McCants, Locklear and Brewer
Verdict- Unknow could be worse (least likely) to the same (good chance) to better (best chance)
Ballard was an unexpected surprise and his emergence helped to off set the unexpected loss of Kevin Boss. Ballard was not as good a run blocker as Boss but he was as good a receiver as Boss. Smart and savy rather than fast or athletic he made the most of the attention paid to the Giants WR corp to grab 38 catches for 604 yards and 4 TDs. Travis Beckum was his usual, often hurt but when healthy would contribute the occasional flash and add a key reception. Bear Pascoe was his usual steady self, a journeyman TE who was an OK run blocker and pass catcher. This season the TE position has been completely revamped. Ballarad and gone and the team has hopes that Bennett, an outstanding run blocker, can use his athletic ability to become a good pass catcher. They drafted Adrien Robinson a freakish athlete who finally "got it" his senior year and was under utilized at his college program. Beckum has added 20 pounds but a Super Bowl ACL injury will mean he will most likely be a PUP player. This is a unit with a lot of potential but not a lot of proven production. Bennett has the potential to be as good a receiver as Ballard and is a proven superior run blocker. Robinson has the potential to be an elite TE but most likely be more of a work in progress this season. Pat Traina thinks Bear Pascoe has the potential to really step up his game this season. So it would appear the team has more to work with, especially as a year ago the team had huge question marks at TE and the group last year had a fraction of this group's potential.
2011- Jake Ballard, Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe
2012- Martellus Bennett, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson PUP- Travis Beckum
Verdict- Better than last year
Assuming Nick's foot break heals this unit may not have last year's depth but it could be more talented. Nicks had an outstanding year and was the team's most reliable receiver. Cruz went from being benched because he couldn't handle the slot to being a Pro Bowl caliber slot receiver. Manningham was a solid number two WR who despite his frequent mistakes brought speed to the field that made things difficult for defenses. Behind the starters you have Devin Thomas a solid special teamer and serviceable WR and JJ who was a raw rookie that mostly stuck to special teams. Manningham and Thomas are no longer on the Giants. They have been replaced by Randle and a healthy Barden (who contributed little due to injuries and weak play when he finally returned). JJ has a year under his belt but we have heard little in OTAs or Mini Camp to suggest he is ready for a break out season. Brandon Collins an undrafted rookie free agent with major character issues have impressed the coaching staff with his ability, quickness and production during the OTAs and Mini Camp. Randle was considered a steal of the draft when he was taken in the bottom of the 2nd round and his performance to date would seem to support those that made the claim. Hixon is back, after getting hurt early last season, from a second knee injury and may be a stop gap measure until the younger receivers are ready. This was an outstanding unit last year so the bar is set pretty high. This year's crop has the potential to keep this group in the elite status.
Nicks, Cruz, Manningham, Thomas, JJ and Barden at the end of the season (the team also had Stokley, Hixon and Clayton for periods of time)
Nicks, Cruz, Randle, Barden, JJ, Hixon and Collins
Verdict- Should maintain its elite status
Last year the running game was terrible. The biggest problem seemed to be the run blocking. Bradshaw, when healthy, still looked like a top 10 (or 15) running back and does an outstanding job protecting Eli. Jacob's game seemed to slip and Jacob's running style needs to have good blocking in front of him (in other words he can't create). Ware was servicable as a number 3 RB. Brown was on the PS and has a history of flashing ability but struggled to pick up the offense. Scott the Giants 7th rounder has incredible speed but was used little in his rookie season. Wilson the Giants number one draft pick has incredible athletic ability and has the potential to be one of the most explosive RBs in the league. Wilson needs to refine his running game and has to work hard to learn his pass protection role. If Wilson can do those things he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl running back who DCs stay up at night trying to figure out how to stop him and Eli. On the other hand if he struggles to learn or doesn't learn quickly he may not contribute that much and only toward the end of the season. Ware pretty much has reached his potential. Brown has the potential to shine and maybe push for a roster spot if he figures out the offense. Scott has blazing speed and if he has refined his game could also be a contributor. The only question with Bradshaw is his health, which has been an issue the past few seasons. Henry Hynoski was a rookie last year who struggled at times with his assignment and handling bigger defenders. This year he knows his assignments and is bigger and stronger. I expect him to improve from middle of the pack full back to top 10 (or maybe 5) This unit would seem to have more talent and more potential than last year but may start out slower than last season.
Bradshaw, Jacobs, Ware, Scott PS- Brown Full Back- Henry Hynoski
Bradshaw, Wilson, Ware, Scott/Brown PS- Joe Martinek
Verdict- May be weaker at the start of the season but should be better at the end.