Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports recently a piece entitled 'Right Way To Build Roster Depth,' and did not include the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants among his top five teams in his discussion.
At first blush, that is ridiculous. You don't win two Super Bowl titles in five seasons and be competitive every season if you don't know how to rebuild a roster depleted by injury, free-agent defections, retirements, etc., year after year.
Kirwan has broken his debate down into 10 categories. I have no clue how Prisco came up with them, but so be it. For the sake of argument, here are all 10 and my thoughts on how the Giants check out in each.
1. A backup quarterback who can go at least 2-2 if he had to take over for a month straight.
Does anybody really want to see David Carr play quarterback for the Giants for a month? I thought not. Thing is, Carr is not exactly chopped liver. He is a former No. 1 overall selection who has attempted 2,264 passes in his career. Granted, Carr's career has been a disappointment and his career record as a starter is 23-56. That, however, is 79 career starts and Carr has never lined up during a regular season game with a team like this. Personally, I think Carr can go 2-2 over a month with this team.
2. A second running back who could be a 1,000 yard back if he had to take over or at least generate 75 yards of offense a week as a runner and receiver.
He hasn't played a down yet, but the Giants did just draft David Wilson in the first round. It isn't the running with the ball or catching it part I worry about with Wilson. It is the blitz pickups and ball security.
3. A third wide receiver who could go in for a starter down and generate 4-6 receptions a game as an X or a Z.
Yes, the Giants lost Mario Manningham. And yes, we have been over the scenarios and the players who have an opportunity to step up ad nauseum. And yes, it is most definitely not clear which player will step up.
While we don't know which player it will be, I think it's hard not to believe that SOMEONE will step up and fill that role. Ramses Barden has the ability. Domenik Hixon has done it before. Jerrel Jernigan and Reuben Randle are young, exciting players. Shoot, it could be an undrafted free agent like Brandon Collins. No, the answer is not obvious. The answer, though, is on the roster.
4. A second tight end who could be a legitimate threat as a blocker or receiver.
The Giants are still trying to figure out who their FIRST tight end is going to be, but they have addressed this issue. Either Bear Pascoe or Martellus Bennett will be No. 1, and as a No. 2 I think both would fit Prisco's criteria quite nicely. Long-term, Adrien Robinson was drafted to be that kind of multi-purpose player.
So, again we don't know exactly what the answer will be. We do, however, know that the Giants have tried to address this.
5. Two experienced backup offensive linemen. A swing tackle for either side and an inside player for the guards/center. Experience required because they will not get many reps in practice until injuries occur.
We know there is some concern about left tackle Will Beatty, both because of his back issue and because of how long it has been since he has been able to take any practice reps. Do the Giants have those two experienced backup lineman Prisco refers to? Well, they have the swing tackle. That is why Sean Locklear, in his ninth season, was signed. Do they have the experienced guard/center? Well, that depends. They difinitely do if Mitch Petrus beats out Kevin Boothe for the left guard job. Otherwise, Petrus is the primary backup. Inexperienced or not, I don't think the Giants should feel badly about that.
6. A third defensive tackle already in a rotation that could play a whole game well if a starter went down.
Yes, the Giants have this. The recently re-signed Rocky Bernard fills that role for New York, a role in which he excelled last season. There is also Marvin Austin, the second-round pick a season ago. Don't count on much from seventh-round draft pick Markus Kuhn, who has yet to practice due to injury and work visa issues.
7. A pass rush specialist that could play some run down situations if a starter went down.
Well, gee. The Giants do have this Osi Umenyiora guy. I think he might be an adequate fill-in. Oh, and they have this Mathias Kiwanuka character who has played a little bit of defensive end during his career. I think the Giants are covered here.
8. A fourth corner back that could bump up to the nickel corner if that player had to replace an injured starter.
This is not a spot that should be a concern. Justin Tryon, Michael Coe and Antwaun Molden are experienced players. Jayron Hosley was drafted in the third round. There is also Brandon Bing and undrafted free agent safety/cornerback Janzen Jackson. There are plenty of talented options here.
9. A third safety that can start or provide a defense with an opportunity to play some ‘Big Nickel' when needed.
Let's grant that this is a concern entering training camp, mostly because long in the tooth veteran Deon Grant is no longer a Giant. Second-year man Tyler Sash has the inside track on this role. Free-agent acquisition Stevie Brown has drawn some praise. There is also free-agent acquisition Chris Horton. No one knows for sure, though, if any of those players can fill the role adequately.
10. Four core special team players that could help on offense or defense in a pinch. That is a total of 14 players not listed as starters that become the most important people on a roster when injuries take starters off the field. Which teams look the most ready to answer the challenge of roster depth?
I think the Giants have these guys, maybe even more than four of them. You can probably list Chase Blackburn, Tyler Sash, Greg Jones, Michael Coe and Justin Tryon as core special teams players. Mark Herzlich might also be one of these players. Maybe Domenik Hixon still fits in this category, as well.
There are question marks, and decisions to be made in training camp, but in the end I don't think Prisco gives the Giants enough credit for how they have constructed their roster.