Mailbag: Linebacker, fullback offensive line among questions

Henry Hynoski - The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Let's open up a Father's Day edition of the Big Blue View mailbag.

Let's open up the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what is on your minds just a couple of days before the New York Giants hold a mandatory three-day mini-camp.

Answer: It will hurt the defense if Beason misses regular season games, or if he isn't at peak performance when he returns. There is no doubt about that. A letter grade? I am not going to try to figure that out. Jameel McClain can handle the middle short term, but he isn't ideally suited for it. Jacquian Williams has never proven he can be an every-down run defender, so that could be an issue. Depth is a concern as well if Beason isn't ready to start the season.

Question: After reading your profiles and other readings I have come to the following conclusion about the Giants' roster. Special teams and the defensive backfield should be quite strong. Receiving corps and running backs have been strengthened and Robinson looks promising at tight end. Assuming a full recovery by JPP and that Ayers meets expectations the defensive front seven should be solid. But, as my initial reaction following the draft suggested, not enough was done to strengthen the offensive front line which is sufficiently questionable to potentially derail the hopes of making the playoffs. Do you agree with my conclusions? -- Nat Karol

Answer: Oh, Nat, where do I begin here? I think it is a mistake to draw any conclusions about the Giants from OTAs, which are offseason practices held in shorts and t-shirts. It is sort of football, but not really football. Draw your conclusions from training camp and the preseason games. On paper, the Giants should be stronger in many areas. Then again, paper doesn't win football games. The front seven? I have written many times that figuring out what to expect from Pierre-Paul is impossible, and there are those who think the defensive front for the Giants will be among the worst in football. I disagree with that, but it's out there. As for the offensive line, what more did you want the Giants to do? They signed the best available guard on the free-agent market. They signed a new starting center. They drafted a guy in the second round most analysts believe will be a 10-year starter in the league. They added two linemen with significant starting experience to bolster the depth in the event of injuries. You can argue about whether or not they should have bypassed Zack Martin in the first round of the draft, but then they don't get Odell Beckham Jr. and they probably don't take Weston Richburg in Round 2. You can also argue that J.D. Walton was not the right center to sign, but until we see him in real games I think it's impossible to make a judgment.

Answer: Well, Bryan, you are not the only person who thinks the Giants should keep both John Conner and Henry Hynoski. That idea is occasionally voiced by commenters here at Big Blue View. The Giants might even be thinking the same thing, you never know. I was, quite honestly, surprised that they re-signed Hynoski to more than a veteran minimum contract with Conner already signed for 2014. The problem is that keeping two fullbacks on a 53-man roster does not seem practical -- it seems like you might actually be wasting one roster spot, and those are too valuable to waste. Many teams don't even carry fullbacks on their roster these days, and it is incredibly rare to see a team carry more than one. Fact is, fullbacks just don't play that much. The Giants had 1,042 offensive snaps last season. They used a fullback on 274 of those (245 snaps for Conner, 29 for Hynoski. That means the fullback was on the field for only 26.3 percent of the offensive plays. That doesn't figure to change drastically with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who came from the Green Bay Packers. Packer fullback John Kuhn played 324 of 1,141 offensive snaps last season, 28.4 percent. Why are you going to keep two players at a position that will be used less than 30 percent of the time, especially when you have tight ends cross-trained to handle some of those snaps in an emergency?

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