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BBV Mailbag: Andrew Norwell, linebackers, Paul Perkins, more

It’s another loaded Big Big Blue View mailbag

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New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles
Will Paul Perkins have a role in the offense next season?
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

For the second straight week, the Big Blue View Mailbag is overflowing with excellent questions. Let’s open it right up and see if my answers are as good as your questions.

Ed says: The Giants aren’t “doomed” to anything. The Eagles do appear to be in a position where if things break their way they could be good for the next few years. They have a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. They have a quality roster with almost all of their key players under contract for the next few seasons They have a good coach.

What happens with the Giants, though, is up to the Giants. I think analytics will play an increasingly large role not only with the Giants, but across the league. There is more and more data available to teams about players, about the percentages of taking risks in certain game situations, etc. The teams that use that data well will have an advantage.

You still have to use your eyes in scouting, and you still have to coach well. We will see if the Giants can.

Ed says: Wow, two Paul Perkins questions! Raphael, you hit the nail on the head in terms of what might be a likely role for Perkins in 2018. Shane Vereen is a free agent, and Perkins has shown some aptitude as a pass receiver and a guy who can make plays in the open field.

He flashed some ability running in 2016, but Perkins looked really tentative running the ball last season. I don’t see him as more than a rotational player, perhaps with third-down responsibilities, going forward. I think the Giants will look elsewhere, maybe even to Wayne Gallman, as their primary back.

Mike Geller asks: We know that previous Giants defenses relied on the front four and back end as the strength of the defense. With the move to Bettcher’s system, what positions can we expect high-end resources to be dedicated to? Or should we expect to see resources spread more evenly across the defense?

Ed says: The need for linebackers is something Pat Traina and I talked about during a recent edition of the ‘Locked on Giants’ podcast. Pat also broke down James Bettcher’s extensive use of defensive alignment with four or more linebackers for The Athletic (subscriber only).

Yes, the Giants need linebacker help. Desperately. Yes, I believe they have to address it with some high-end resources. They have B.J. Goodson. Maybe Olivier Vernon is used standing up as an outside linebacker. Maybe Landon Collins drops down on occasion. I would like to see Devon Kennard re-signed.

The Giants need more, though. We have been profiling free agents, and there aren’t many three-down linebackers likely to be available. If the Giants are going to add an impact linebacker, that player is probably going to have to come from the 2018 NFL Draft.

Jerry Reese was GM from 2007 until being fired in December. In that time Clint Sintim (Round 2, 2009) was the only linebacker he selected before the fourth round. I suspect Dave Gettleman, especially with Bettcher running the defense, will see the position differently.

Matt Annunziata asks: For argument’s sake, let’s just say that Flowers is our starting LT in 2018. In your opinion, what OTs in the draft would be most likely to start at the RT spot in 18 and take over LT in 19?

Ed says: Let me start here — I think there is a better chance than many would like to admit that Ereck Flowers really is the Giants’ left tackle next season. Maybe a quality left tackle shakes loose in free agency, but the pickings appear slim right now. In the draft, I don’t see a whole lot of “plug and play” left tackle options. There are guys who might develop into quality left tackles over time, but outside of Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey and maybe Connor Williams of Texas probably not anyone I would feel really comfortable about putting in that spot next season.

I haven’t studied every tackle prospect in depth, but here are a few guys I like: Orlando Brown (Oklahoma), Martinas Rankin (Ole Miss), Brian O’Neill (Pitt), Alex Cappa (Humboldt State), Tyrell Crosby (Oregon). Check Chris Pflum’s “Prospect Profile” series for details on these guys and many others.

Free agency questions

Austin Kelly asks: Do you think the Giants will move on from Pugh not because of cost, but because he is not a hog mollie the GM likes?

John Cullen asks: Besides Norwell who are some names the Giants will be targeting in free agency?

Jorge Passapera asks: Andrew Norwell or Josh Sitton?

Ed says: These are really all some version of “how should the Giants approach the offensive line in free agency?” So, let’s answer them together.

If the Giants move on from Pugh I think it will likely be because Andrew Norwell is better, younger and healthier. Pugh is a year older, has missed 17 games the past four seasons and is coming off a back injury. He didn’t have surgery, but if you have ever had a back injury you know they don’t just disappear. Norwell played every game the past two seasons. Norwell is coming off an All-Pro season. Pugh mised eight games last season. He also played more right tackle than guard and Pro Football Focus graded him in the “poor” category at that spot.

Free agents other than Norwell? Just about anyone with any history of success who ends up on the market will be talked about. I don’t think Nate Solder (New England) is a realistic option. I’m curious to see if Ju’Waun James is let go by the Miami Dolphins. Also what the Buffalo Bills decide to do with Cordy Glenn.

Norwell or Josh Sitton? That’s easy — Norwell all day. He is five years younger, and he’s better than Sitton. That said, I wrote about Sitton recently. If the Giants are unable to sign Norwell or Pugh I could easily see them going after a player like Sitton. He wouldn’t be Plan A, but he would certainly be an acceptable Plan B short-term solution.

Ed says: There are all sorts of trade possibilities. Maybe the Browns want the No. 2 pick as well as No. 1. Maybe the Broncos (No. 5) or Jets (No. 6) want to move up for the quarterback of their choosing. Maybe there is another top 10 team that wants a specific player and would move up.

We keep hearing chatter about the Buffalo Bills (who have the 21st and 22nd picks) moving up. That would require the Bills to surrender more than those two first-round picks. The volume might be nice, but I’m not in favor of moving all the way from No. 2 down into the 20s. If you can move down, stay in the top 10, gain some picks and end up with guard Quenton Nelson, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, or even one of the top QBs I would be good with that.

As for a Day 2 quarterback, I have to believe Mason Rudolph would be the likely target.

Ed says: There’s always a chance, and it’s actually kind of an intriguing idea. Teddy Bridgewater is still a fairly young quarterback — he won’t turn 26 until November. He is a former first-round pick who showed some ability his first couple of seasons in Minnesota before wrecking his knee.

Pat Shurmur is obviously familiar with him — a lot more familiar than anyone with the Giants is with Davis Webb. If the Vikings let him go and he’s a guy Shurmur really likes I could see the Giants making a run at him. If his knee is sound he still has a chance to have a long, successful career.

As for the second part of your question, it’s complicated. You always want to put the best team on the field you possibly can for the upcoming season, but whenever possible you want to make decisions that set you up for the best chance at long-term success. The draft is about much more than the upcoming season, so teams have to look ahead.

Joe Ryan asks: What changes is Gettleman taking with scouting to overcome Reese’s poor mid-to-late round drafting that ultimately resulted in a thin (even by 2017 NFL standards) roster that got exposed throughout the season?

Ed says: So far we only know what we see. One of the first moves Dave Gettleman made as GM was to fire Marc Ross, who been the Giants’ Director of Player Evaluation (basically, lead scout) under former GM Jerry Reese. He has brought in former Carolina Panthers pro personnel guy Mark Koncz to help him evaluate talent leading up to free agency and the draft.

There has been some chatter that Gettleman has changed the process and the grading scale used by the scouting department. We don’t know precisely what that entails, but it likely includes things he learned when he went to Carolina.

If there are going to be changes to the personnel in the scouting department those will come after the draft. When Gettleman was hired in December current scouts already had a full season and in many cases more time than that invested in looking at players. It was too late in the process to bring in a bunch of new people. After the draft, before the scouting for 2019 kicks into high gear, is when those might occur. I won’t be surprised if there is at least some shuffling.

Ed says: Trade? No. I would think that would be unlikely. Free agency? Sure. I wrote (eloquently, I hope) about Bridgewater above. What if the Vikings keep Bridgewater and let Sam Bradford go? Shurmur coached Bradford in St. Louis and Minnesota. He could be veteran insurance for Manning if the Giants either draft a quarterback or aren’t sure Davis Webb is up to the No. 2 job. The Buffalo Bills might part with Tyrod Taylor. If he is forced to settle for a backup job, maybe the Giants kick the tires. After that, you’re probably talking about Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kellen Clemens and those types of guys.