Since the 2015 season ended, the New York Giants have done a great deal in an effort to improve a roster that simply hasn't been playoff-caliber for a number of years now. As we have tried to acknowledge a number of times, though, it is simply not possible to fill the number of holes the Giants had in one offseason. Or, at least fill them the way the fan base would like them filled -- with top-tier big-name free agents or early-round draft choices.
We know that despite a massive free-agent spending spree and a draft that has earned plaudits, there are still holes. Let's look at the most obvious ones, and see how the Giants might be able to address them.
Right side of offensive line
There's only one way to put it -- at least one "PG" way to put it. Giants fans are still freaking out over the fact that the team did not select any offensive linemen in the 2016 NFL Draft and that they might once again have to watch John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse man the right side of the offensive line.
Or will they? Remember what general manager Jerry Reese said way back before not only before the draft, but before free agency.
"We may have the starter on the team right now."
Could that be 2015 seventh-round pick Bobby Hart? It certainly is far from a guarantee that Hart will a starting job, but the Giants seem set to give him a chance to unseat either Jerry or Newhouse.
Could Byron Stingily, who started five games for the Tennessee Titans last year, push Newhouse for the right tackle job?
Perhaps the Giants will continue to scour the market as veterans get cut leading up to and during training camp. "Retired" tackle Anthony Davis of the San Francisco 49ers is also a name to keep an eye on. If, that is, he un-retires.
"The story is yet to be written on the right side of the offensive line," head coach Ben McAdoo said. "We’re going to look at every possible combination, give guys a chance to compete, and see where it goes from there."
Defensive line depth
The Giants also did not add any defensive linemen in the draft, and when I did an early 53-man roster projection -- selecting four tackles and four ends -- I acknowledged wanting to have at least one more lineman.
Could that be Brad Bars, an undrafted free agent from Penn State who was on the active roster for two games last season? Tackle Louis Nix? There always seem to be veteran defensive tackles available after final roster cuts, so that is another thing to remember. There were also a handful of defensive linemen among the 14 undrafted players the Giants signed. Let's look briefly at them.
- Romeo Okwara, DE, Notre Dame -- A 6-foot-5, 265-pound player, Okwara had eight sacks for the Fighting Irsh in 2015. He is a 20-year-old Nigerian-born player who has only two years of experience at defensive end. In his draft guide, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports wrote that "Okwara requires extended time, but could potentially help in a rotation by year three in the NFL – long-term project."
- Mike Rose, DE, N.C. State -- Had 10.5 sacks for the Wolfpack in 2015. Brugler says the 6-2, 267-pound Rose "doesn’t have ideal size, length or athleticism for the NFL, but does enough on film that makes you notice, competing with a relentless motor and using his chase skills to make stops most linemen aren’t interested in making."
- Greg Milhouse, DT, Campbell -- Brugler says the 6-1, 309-pound Milhouse posses "cat-like quickness" and that he "faces a steep learning curve, but can provide quality depth to a three-technique rotation in a four-man front." NFL.com says "Milhouse's disruptive pass rush traits should be intriguing for teams who like upfield, athletic three-techniques."
- Melvin Lewis, DT, Kentucky -- A huge 6-2, 343-pound player, Lewis broke his leg last season, possibly part of the reason he went undrafted. SB Nation's A Sea of Blue said that "Lewis had a very good season as a nose tackle; soaking up two blockers, and relieving pressure on the inside linebackers, but he still managed a good stat line for a position whose worth usually isn't reflected in numbers. "
Wide receiver depth
The Giants have Odell Beckham Jr., second-round pick Sterling Shepard, Dwayne Harris, and Victor Cruz -- if he is healthy. It is likely that at least two more wide receivers make the eventual 53-man roster, and it is obvious right now that the Giants are hosting a wide-open competition for the last couple of spots. Thirteen of the 73 players who took the field for the recently-concluded rookie mini-camp were wide receivers. Let's break down the competition.
Geremy Davis, Myles White, Ben Edwards -- White, 25, a midseason pick-up in 2015, played in 12 games and caught seven passes in 20 targets. He has the advantage of having worked with head coach Ben McAdoo while both were in Green Bay. Edwards, 23, caught one pass in two games at the end of the season. The Giants really like this former Richmond player, but at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds you wonder if there is room for another slot guy. Davis was drafted in the sixth round a year ago. He has size at 6-2, 219, but caught only two passes in 2015, was bypassed on the depth chart by White, Edwards, and Hakeem Nicks, and was inactive for the final six games.
Undrafted free agents
This category includes Roger Lewis (Bowling Green), K.J. Maye (Minnesota), Darius Powe (Cal).
- Lewis, 6-foot, 196 pounds, was the first layer from Bowling Green invited to the combine since 2012. Brugler had a fourth-round grade on Lewis. There are character concerns stemming from a pair of rape charges filed against Lewis while in high school, though he was convicted of only one lesser charge. Brugler says "Lewis is a talented pass-catcher with starting potential down the road." Tony Pauline of Draft Insider says Lewis "possesses the skill to line up in the slot as a third receiver if he keeps his focus on the field and improves the details of his position."
- Maye is a 5-8, 191-pounder whose 73 catches for 773 yards were both second for single season receiving totals in Minnesota history to current New York Jets receiver Eric Decker. Brugler says "Maye is highly competitive with the body control and toughness needed for the slot – projects as a quicker-than-fast slot target who has the make-up for special teams."
- Powe a 6-3, 220 pounds, offers the Giants size that none of their top four receivers possess. The only other big-bodied wide receivers on the roster are Davis and Anthony Dable. Powe caught 104 passes during his career at Cal.
I put the French wide receiver in his own category because his path to the NFL has been different, and because of the intense interest in him.
Dable, 27, is an intriguing 6-foot-5, 215-pound player who dominated the competition he played against in Germany and France. Former Giant Osi Umenyiora, now working for the NFL as an ambassador in London, helped connect Dable and the Giants.
Dable has physical gifts you can't teach, but in workouts seen by reporters at a voluntary veteran mini-camp and the rookie mini-camp it's obvious he has work to do. His footwork isn't nearly as clean as other receivers you watch during receiving drills, and Friday during the rookie mini-camp he dropped back-to-back on-target throws.
Even after drafting Eli Apple with their first-round pick, the Giants could use veteran depth. Next in line right now behind Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins, and Apple is Trevin Wade. The Giants have visited with a pair of veteran free agents, Jerraud Powers and Leon Hall, both of whom are better in the slot at this point in their careers. If both players end up going elsewhere, expect the Giants to continue kicking the tires whenever veterans are cut loose before the season begins.
Undrafted cornerbacks on the roster are Donte Deayon, a 5-9, 158-pounder who was a teammate of Darian Thompson's at Boise State, and Michael Hunter, a 6-foot, 186-pound corner from Oklahoma State.
Deayon has 4.45 40-yard dash speed, and Pauline writes that Deayon "has been ignored in scouting circles but has definite potential at the next level as a dime back in zone coverage and on special teams."
Hunter was a fifth-year transfer from Indiana. Pauline writes that Hunter "displayed flashes of ability the past three seasons and has the skill set to get consideration as a dime cornerback or 4th safety."