Following a heart-wrenching loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants season is all but over. Sure, there are five more games to play, and it's not unrealistic to hope they can claw their way to 8-8. However, their playoff hopes are basically gone.
With that in mind, let's take an look at the Giants' 2015 roster (as it stands now), and see where -- and how -- they can improve the team to get back to where they should be.
We'll take a look at each position, rate the level of need, and some ways the Giants could address it.
Need Level: 0/10
All summer long, and even into the regular season, speculation abounded as to whether or not Eli Manning could survive in a quick-passing, heavily West Coast influenced offense. Much of that speculation was that he couldn't, that Eli was a deep-ball gunslinger who couldn't hit the 3-foot putt.
But much to the contrary, Eli has largely thrived. If we assume the San Francisco game to be an outlier, Eli has thrown 20 TD's to seven interceptions, and completing 64 percent of his passes. At 33, Eli is still in his prime as a quarterback, and will only get better as McAdoo's scheme is fully installed over the off-season.
Ryan Nassib is Eli's backup and comported himself well over the course of the pre-season. Unless the Giants trade Nassib, quarterback is not a need.
Need Level: 7/10
By its nature, the offensive line needs to be evaluated as a whole. For an offensive line to be successful, five men need to act as one.
The biggest need along the Giants' offensive line is health. Looking at 2015, Will Beatty, Weston Richburg, Geoff Schwartz, and Justin Pugh should have the left tackle, center, right guard, and right tackle positions (respectively) locked down. That only leaves left guard, and depth, as obvious holes.
At left guard, the Giants have the inexplicably inactive Brandon Mosley as a potential starter. He started at right guard in pre-season, and played the same position well in 2013 against the stout defenses of Seattle and Detroit.
If the Giants choose to look outside the organization, there aren't many potential free agents. Mike Iupati (San Francisco 49ers) headlines the class, with strong run blocking, but only mediocre pass protection. Could he perform better with a less mobile (and more cerebral) quarterback in Eli Manning? Maybe, but for the price he could command, that is a risky proposition. Other young names are James Carpenter (Seattle Seahawks), who has struggled on the field and with injury, and Clint Boling (Cincinnati Bengals).
In the draft, there are several guards, such as A.J. Cann (South Carolina), Tre' Jackson (FSU), and John Miller (Louisville) who fit the Giants' mold of big, powerful, yet reasonably athletic, maulers, who can help to protect the under-sized Weston Richburg, open holes in the middle, and give Eli Manning a pocket to step into.
And as shown by under-performing J.D. Walton and Adam Snyder, as well as new former-Giant Charles Brown, the Giants will also need to invest in some quality depth for their offensive line.
Need Level: 5/10
The hot-button issue going into the season, Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells have been a very pleasant surprise. Going forward, Donnell is an "exclusive rights free agent" and Daniel Fells is a 30-year-old unrestricted free agent. Also, Adrien Robinson has done good work as a blocking tight end, and thrown in some nice catches as well. The Giants will likely stand pat here, re-signing Donnell and Fells, and perhaps giving Robinson more reps in the offense.
Need Level: 6/10
The Giants' running game is in shambles. That isn't necessarily an indictment of the running backs. The run blocking by the offensive line has been basically non-existent. The Giants lead back, Rashad Jennings, has proven to be an excellent free-agent signing, preforming well in every phase of the game. Andre Williams has looked like what he is: A promising rookie. He floundered as the temporary starter, but with the returns of Jennings and Schwartz Williams has looked better. Recent acquisition Orleans Darkwa was a fan favorite in Miami, and could prove to be diamond in the rough for the Giants.
However, the Giants backfield sorely misses the presence of a big-play threat out of the backfield. Right now they are using Odell Beckham in that role, but a true running back who can be a big-play threat (like David Wilson was) is needed.
Fortunately, the running back position in the 2015 NFL Draft looks to be absolutely loaded, comparable to the receiving class of 2014. Running backs like Duke Johnson (Miami), Mike Davis (South Carolina), Tevin Coleman (Indiana), Jay Ajayi (Boise St.), Javorius Allen (USC), could all fill that role, and could be available in the mid-rounds. Steals, considering their talent.
Need Level: 7/10
Beckham is a star. Not a star in the making, he already is one. Unfortunately, he's the only real offensive weapon the Giants have.
Victor Cruz is recovering from a torn patella tendon, and while he's already off crutches, there are no guarantees about the type of receiver he will be going forward. The Giants also have Rueben Randle under contract for 2015. Randle hasn't blossomed into the successor to Hakeem Nicks that fans' hoped he could be, but he is performing well as a possession receiver. Preston Parker is playing well as a thirrd option, and giving a spark to the return game, but his hands have been inconsistent.
At the back end of the roster -- including injured reserve and the practice squad- the Giants have several intriguing options at receiver. Corey Washington became a preseason star when he delivered game-winning touchdowns in four of the Giants' five preseason games. Likewise, Marcus "Soup" Harris was a camp phenom who runs good routes and caught everything thrown his way. Mid-season practice squad additions included Juron Criner and Chris Harper. Both are big bodied receivers with reliable hands, and solid athleticism.
If the Giants want to look to the draft to add another weapon at receiver, they could find themselves in position to draft either Amari Cooper (Alabama) or DeVante Parker (Louisville). Neither of them possess Beckham's rare athleticism, but both have his level of technical polish and would create a dangerous receiving corps.
There are several interesting, and talented free-agent options available. The first is the Giants' own Jerrel Jernigan. He ended the 2013 season with a bang when he finally got the chance to play slot receiver. Jernigan would provide an insurance policy in case Cruz can't come back from his injury. The most intriguing free agent is Green Bay's Randall Cobb. He has become such a big part of their offense that he is unlikely to test the free agent market unless he wants to. If he does, it would behoove the Giants to take an interest. Another name to -- potentially -- look out for is Baltimore's Torrey Smith. It seems as though Smith is being phased out of Baltimore's offense, but he remains one of the league's true big-play threats. He really isn't a premier No. 1 wide receiver, but with Beckham, he doesn't need to be. He provides that same kind of twitchy athleticism and ability to turn any play into a big one that Ben McAdoo's offense thrives on.
That's the New York Giants offensive personnel right now. They still have a couple holes to fill, but it is clearly not the same offense that John Mara proclaimed to be "broken". It isn't fully fixed yet, but that is as much -- if not more -- of a function of injuries robbing the roster of talent as much as there not being talent to begin with.
The Giants still have work to do on this side of the ball in free agency and the draft. The complete rebuild, retraining, and retooling of the offense was just too dramatic to realistically be done in a single season.
There's no question that the Giants offense would look dramatically different if Geoff Schwartz, Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, JerrellJernigan and David Wilson were healthy all season.
The arrow is definitely pointing up for the Giants' offense.