The way the New York Giants approached stocking the safety position in 2015 was one of the season's great gambles. They shed overpaid or underperforming veterans -- including defensive captain Antrel Rolle -- after the safeties were awful in 2014. They basically started over, drafting Landon Collins and banking that other answers would emerge from a cadre of young, unproven safeties collected by GM Jerry Reese.
Injuries derailed the Giants' plan, however, leaving them scraping the bottom of the free-agent barrel as the season began. Let's look back at 2015 and ahead to how the Giants might aim to upgrade the position in 2016.
2015 in review
Collins, basically, was as advertised. He struggled in coverage, especially when asked to play the deep safety and cover more of the field. He got better and better in run support as the season wore on, and showed that he can be a valuable piece to the puzzle as the Giants move forward and try to put their league-worst defense back together. There really wasn't anything else good about the safety situation in 2015.
The Giants had hoped that someone from the young group of second-year players Bennett Jackson and Nat Berhe, third-year player Cooper Taylor, and 2015 fifth-round pick Mykkele Thompson would join Collins and become the team's free safety. The injury Gods had other ideas. Berhe basically didn't make it to training camp. Jackson, a converted corner who looked impressive early on and Thompson, didn't make it out of the preseason. Taylor got chances, got buried on the depth chart, got cut, got re-signed, finally got a little playing time, and got hurt. So it went with Giants' safeties.
Thus, they ended up trolling the street for veteran free agents. They tried Steve Brown and didn't like what they saw. They ended up with Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl, and both guys spent much of the season showing why they didn't have jobs in the first place.
Is this a position of need?
It sure is. There are some who would like to see the Giants move Landon Collins to linebacker, the way the Arizona Cardinals moved 210-pound safety Deone Buccanon to linebacker. For the sake of this discussion let's consider Collins a safety. That still leaves the Giants, who like to employ the three-safety look when they remove a linebacker from the field, with a need for probably two guys who can play regularly. Could, at least, one of those, or maybe both, come from the Jackson-Berhe-Thompson-Taylor group? Sure, but it doesn't seem like the best plan to simply count on that.
First and foremost it seems the Giants could really use a free safety to pair with Collins, allowing him to spend most of his time closer to the line of scrimmage. Could a free agent like Eric Weddle or Tashaun Gipson be the answer? Could the Giants once again use an early-round draft pick on a safety?
We will find out over the next few months. It would be nice, however, if the Giants' safeties would actually afford them some protection in 2016.