On the Clock: New York Giants
By Matt Williamson
Even though the Giants made the playoffs, head coach Tom Coughlin nearly was let go and enters this season as the lame-duck commander of a very combustible ship. Although his talent flashes, quarterback Eli Manning remains wildly inconsistent and inaccurate. Now Manning will be without star running back and offensive leader Tiki Barber, who retired in the prime of his career. Manning absolutely has to step up in 2007 and he will be under a ton of scrutiny in the Big Apple. That being said, New York has some very talented players. The Giants have dangerous offensive weapons and are very good in the red zone. However, it remains to be seen how much the loss of Barber affects not only the offense, but the entire team. The Giants' defense could use help at just about every position besides defensive end.
The Giants traded wide receiver Tim Carter to the Browns for running back Reuben Droughns. The trade isn't as significant as it sounds, because both players were probably going to be cut from their respective teams. Still, Droughns is a decent insurance policy behind Brandon Jacobs as the Giants try to replace Barber's production. New York did re-sign starting center Shaun O'Hara. O'Hara isn't a great player, but keeping him was important to help with the continuity of the offensive line, which has become rather thin. The signing of middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell was clearly out of necessity. Mitchell will probably be asked to play on the outside, but he was the best option the Giants had this late in free agency.
The Giants released outside linebackers LaVar Arrington and Carlos Emmons to create cap space. Neither player could be counted on, but their departure leaves a hole at outside linebacker. Offensively, starting left tackle Luke Petitgout also went to Tampa Bay and the Giants are going to shuffle their offensive line to compensate for his loss. Backup tight end Visanthe Shiancoe signed with Minnesota, leaving a gaping hole behind Jeremy Shockey. Kicker Jay Feely's signing with the Dolphins hasn't gotten a lot of publicity, but he did a very good job for the Giants and will surely be missed.
The Giants need a lot of defensive help. They need a starting outside linebacker and will have to draft one high. New York attempted to make a trade with Denver for middle linebacker Al Wilson, but the deal was negated when Wilson couldn't pass the physical and the Giants settled for Mitchell. They haven't had a big-time cornerback in what seems like forever and clearly need an upgrade at the position. They can get by with what they have at defensive tackle, but this group is far from ideal. Another safety wouldn't hurt, either. Wide receiver Amani Toomer is getting up in age and Sinorice Moss is unproven, but has a chance to become a dynamic playmaker. Adding another wide receiver to the mix makes sense. Even though the Giants traded for Droughns, don't be surprised if they draft a shiftier running back in the middle rounds. They could also now use a backup to Shockey, who always seems to be battling one injury or another. Offensive line depth is worrisome as well and their left tackle situation is in flux.
Mock draft: Giants
The Pick (No. 20 overall):
CB/RS Aaron Ross, Texas
Todd McShay: Outside linebacker is a bigger need, but the smart play would be to draft a top cornerback like Ross here, and then target a linebacker such as Oklahoma's Rufus Alexander later on Day 1.