Offseason priority #1: OT?

Over the regular season the Giants’ offensive line ranked 7th in the league.  This includes a ranking of 7th in sacks allowed and 13th in QB hits allowed.

If we break it down by individual positions along the line, the tackle spot becomes more of a pressing need heading into next season.  Pro Football Focus published their latest statistics for pass blocking efficiency.  Unfortunately, the Giants did not fair well on an individual basis in this category.  David Diehl finished dead last in the league with a pass blocking efficiency rating of 90.4.  The pass blocking efficiency rating takes into account sacks, quarterback hits allowed, quarterback hurries allowed divided by the number of pass blocking snaps.  The soon to be free agent, Kareem McKenzie, came in only 12 slots better in overall ranking with a 92.7 efficiency ratio.  Finally, Will Beatty, in his first year as starting LT, came in 50th out of 75 with a 93.6 rating.

If we look at their run in the playoffs the offensive line truly only faced one very formidable test as it relates to pass blocking.  Atlanta had an aging John Abraham, Green Bay has Clay Matthews but not much else and the Patriots outside of their DT in Wilfork are not known for their pass rushers.  That leaves us with the 49ers.  In the postseason the Giants OL finished dead last in offensive line statistics.  But let’s put this into perspective.  They played more games than anyone.  The 49ers accounted for 6 of the 11 sacks the Giants gave up in the postseason and 12 of the 29 quarterback hits on Eli in the postseason.

The NFL is a copycat league.  Teams will take notice of how effective the 49ers were against the Giants. The NFC East teams will invest top dollars to improve their pass rush ability.  Overall, you could conclude that an OT position will be given high attention by the Giants’ front office heading into the NFL combine, free agency and/or the draft.  We all witnessed Eli Unitas’ clutch play and elusiveness in the pocket all season and into the playoffs.  If the organization wishes to protect their $100 million investment, an upgrade at the tackle position should be a high priority.  It also wouldn’t hurt to improve upon a running game that finished dead last in rushing yards with 1,427 and yards per carry, 3.5, in the regular season.

The Giants are reportedly $5 million plus over the cap.  We should expect some restructuring of contracts as “Eli has a 2012 cap number of $16.35 million and is due $11.25 million in total compensation, largely coming via a $10.75 million base salary that could be reduced and converted into a signing bonus that is prorated over the four remaining years of his contract.”  Other candidates to keep are “Safety Antrel Rolle ($7 million cash, $9 million cap), guard Chris Snee ($5.75 million cash, $8.5 million cap) and defensive tackle Chris Canty ($6.25 million cash, $7.95 million cap).”

It is doubtful that the Giants will have the cap dollars to seek free agency help at tackle but some names to keep an eye on are Jared Gaither and Demetrius Bell.

The collegiate prospects to keep an eye on at the combine are: Mike Adams (Ohio State), Riley Reiff (Iowa), Andrew Datko (Florida State) and Jonathan Martin (Stanford).

Finally, a good read on why Victor Cruz won’t likely be getting a huge payday anytime soon.

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