Mid-July. In the NFL world, that means there is little to nothing happening. Which makes it the time of year for national football writers to come up with all sorts of lists, rankings, ratings and detailed, yet perhaps not all that important, analysis. Some we choose to discuss. Some we just ignore.
One that we will discuss is ESPN’s 2016 NFL Future Power Rankings [Insider only]. This annual ranking projects which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons and are a good way for us to discuss the state of the New York Giants.
Projecting the next three seasons, thru the 2018 campaign, ESPN’s panel of five analysts has the Giants ranked middle of the NFL pack, 16th overall. That puts them second in the projection among NFC East teams. The rest of the NFC East looks like this:
- Washington Redskins — No 12 overall, No. 1 NFC East
- Philadelphia Eagles - 24/3
- Dallas Cowboys — 26/4
Let’s paraphrase ESPN’s analysis of the Giants:
High point: Eli Manning should continue to play at a high level thru this three-year window.
Low point: GM Jerry Reese’s inability to stock the roster with enough talent. ESPN, though, praises the 2016 draft and says it could be “Reese’s best since 2007.”
What could change: Manning’s performance could deteriorate or injuries could begin to catch up with him.
How the rating works
ESPN used five categories graded from 0-100 — roster (excluding quarterback), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching. The Giants ended up with an average score of 67.3 for the five categories. The Redskins came in at 74.2, The Eagles at 63.5 and the Cowboys at 63.0.
John Clayton’s crystal ball
In a separate post, ESPN’s John Clayton offered 30 projections for the next three years. He offers a positive projection for the Giants:
Ben McAdoo of the New York Giants has the best chance to improve his team among the league's seven new head coaches. General manager Jerry Reese spent more than $200 million in free-agent contracts to fix the defense, and the offense is the best among the teams with new coaches.
I believe the Giants, whether they make the playoffs in 2016 or not, are in a better position than they were a couple of years ago. In 2014, thanks to a draft black hole from roughly 2009-2013, the roster was largely barren of home-grown talent. That necessitated a free-agent splurge during which the Giants signed more than a dozen players. That failed, and with the exceptions of Rashad Jennings and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the players signed that year are long gone.
When you look at the roster now you see hope. You see a core of young players on their first contracts, beginning with Justin Pugh and Johnathan Hankins from the 2013 class. Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg and maybe Devon Kennard from 2014. Ereck Flowers, Landon Collins and maybe Owa Odighizuwa from 2015. A 2016 class that looks like it could produce several productive players down the line.
The 2016 free-agent spending splurge was different than the 2014 one. This one targeted a few specific top-notch defensive players, rather than just trying to fill up the roster. That’s because the Giants needed impact players. Two years ago, they were so devoid of players they simply had to collect bodies.
As long as Manning stays healthy and productive, I see no reason the next three years cab’t be better for the Giants than the last three.