2008 The Year Ahead

Last year Jerry Reese pulled a stunner when he cut Luke Petitgout. The fact that he could not even get a draft pick out of his starting LT shows you why Reese says Shockey is still his starting TE. There is very little trading that goes on in the NFL on a roster-weighted basis. Analysis by Position-

Defense

LB: See yesterday’s ‘Linebacker’ article for analysis. Get a strongside LB. I have two good reasons- we play Jason Witten twice each year. I like Wilkinson, but we did not see the Giants using him that much in the playoffs. Either he is ready to contribute in his third year or someone new can be given the opportunity.

DL: You are only as good as your last at-bat, and the sack of Brady by Jay Alford was a very good at-bat! Unless Strahan retires or Umenyiora holds out, the Giants do not have acute need here. Reese did well to lock up Tuck. There is always Kiwanuka in the wings.

S: Gibril Wilson wants more money. Butler lacks speed. Dahl (torn ACL) was cut after failing a physical. The Giants will be busy looking for safeties, free agent or drafted. Michael Johnson will improve with another camp. Everyone wants Wilson back, but at what price?

CB: Madison and McQuarters were integral parts of the success of the Giants this season, but they are on the downside of their careers. Bring in younger players to challenge these players for their roster spots.

Offense

WR: Steve Smith is the answer. The Giants like Michael Jennings (just re-signed). I think the Giants hold out more hope for Sinorice Moss than I do. When you add Burress, Toomer, Smith, Tyree and Hixon, it is getting pretty crowded in there. Bring in more competition, but no acute need unless Burress does not heal in the off-season or Toomer surprisingly retires.

RB: One new body to keep the mix from getting stale. Droughns will get cut unless we miss in the draft and/or his salary is still competitive with reduced production.

LT: Diehl was the weakest link on the Offensive Line. He is a wonderful Guard, but he is not a full time Tackle. Diehl got beat like a drum by many speed rushers this year. Get a REAL Left Tackle.

QB: a credible backup please.

TE: None.

Summary-
Strongest Need: LB and S
Need: LT, CB
Normal Turnover: WR, RB, QB
Only if too much value present: TE, DL

Final thoughts: Reese calls the draft the front office’s version of the Super Bowl. Constant improvement is critical for the Giants to remain competitive. Players like McQuarters, Madison, Strahan and Toomer need to be viewed as 0-1 year possibilities at a maximum. The Giants have needs, but they have enough cap room and draft picks to address them adequately. The good news is that the Giants are a very young team (see Article on ‘The Rookies’ from Wednesday). Ross is 25, Smith is 22, Bradshaw is 21, Boss and Tuck are 24. Umenyiora and Snee are 26. Eli Manning is 27. DID I SAY TUCK IS 24?!!! These players can all get a lot better- that is scary good. Do you think these players are hungry enough for another Super Bowl title? Their improvement and impact on the field will say a lot about those possibilities. Given how each one of those players improved over the course of 2007, it is hard to imagine how each would not be able to do special things for the Giants in 2008. “They can write this team off again (in 2008) if they want but they’re going to be wrong,” former general manager Ernie Accorsi says. “It’s sound at the key positions and they’re signed, and the QB is going to only get better.”

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