Reader Mailbag: Post Rookie Minicamp Edition

The Giants rookie minicamp is in the books, so let’s check in with the fans to see what’s on their minds.

From Ted M.

Are the Giants going to look at that linebacker recently released by the Cardinals? ( sorry I forgot his name ). But he was pretty highly credentialed, 30 years old, and the press release suggested that, a change of scene might benefit  Also, I read that the Giants just signed a kicker from Canada whose tape shows field goal conversions from 75 yards. Any feedback on him yet?

Ted, The Giants haven’t signed another kicker, at least not at last check They did have a Canadian kicker/punter in the minicamp on a tryout basis, but they haven’t signed him—thus far their only kicker on the roster remains Aldrick Rosas, and yes, I will have some detailed feedback on him (including a few quotes as I got a chance to speak with him at the minicamp) in the May issue.

As for the former Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington, no, I don’t think they’re interested in a 30-year-old linebacker at this time.

Coach, you’re probably not alone with your opinion. Steve Spagnuolo didn’t declare Dalvin Tomlinson the starter to replace Johnathan Hankins—he said there would be a competition with Tomlinson, Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas—but I have to believe Tomlinson has the inside track to the job.

Last year, both Bromley and Thomas had their moments, but I don’t think either separated himself from the pack. If Tomlinson can do that, he could be the winner before camp opens.

Thanks for the question, Joseph. I think Chad Wheeler is the only kid at the rookie camp from USC, so I’m not sure who the second kid is your’e referring to—having a name would help.

Anyway, it’s too early to go off one rookie minicamp practice to make a roster projection. It’s impossible to get a good feel for offensive and defensive linemen until the pads go on—the coaches will even tell you that.

And when it comes to rookie camps, remember, it’s rookie versus rookie. a guy might look like a star, but then put him against a higher level of competition and his stock drops. I would hold off on those questions until we get to see them in a few more practices at least, preferably until he summer when the pads go on.

As for right tackle, there’s a competition going on there. Bisonwaty is another guy who is going to throw his hat into the right where he’ll compete against Bobby Hart, D.J. Fluker and John Jerry for a spot on that right side (Bisnowaty can also play guard). So, we’ll see how that shakes out in the summer when the pads go on.

I wrote a few observations about Davis Webb in this minicamp report. Again, it’s early, but so far, I like what I’ve seen.

I think the offense is going to improve drastically if everyone stays healthy. The additions they’ve made combined with the anticipated improvement on the offensive line should be more than enough to get the Giants offense back into the top 10 as it was in 2015.

I don’t see the defense taking a step back. This unit came together nicely last year and has tremendous chemistry. Most of the guys are back and they’re all probably more comfortable in Steve Spagnuolo’s system. So again, barring injury, I think this defense is going to take another big step forward.

Thanks for the question Jim. I haven’t formed any specific favorites based off one practice, but I will say that I see the potential in a lot of these rookies and it’s going to be exciting to see that potential refined.

The key thing will be to see which rookies take steps forward throughout the spring and summer, and it will also be important to see how they fit in when the veterans start mixing in. Right now it’s jut way too premature to draw any concrete conclusions other than to appreciate the enthusiasm these kids showed in their first practice.

From John V.

How do the Giants manage to evaluate all the tryout players in such a short time? Are they integrated with the draft choices and undrafted free agents? Do they work in position groups? Do they do any testing like running 40’s or 3 cones? How are they informed about how they did?

John, excellent question. I don’t think the Giants do any of the combine drills all over again—I believe they have a preliminary scouting report on all these guys, their measurable, etc.

What I think happens is the coaches dish out a ton of information and the look to see how well guys are retaining it. They also obviously see how the players are executing on the field in their position drills and I suppose they also have to make a snap decision as to whether a guy has a chance to get better over time.

I’m sure the players receive some sort of feedback—I don’t know how formal it is, but  I’m sure there is some sort of exchange of information.

From Jeff B:

 I know everyone in Big Blue Nation is so very concerned with our offensive line, but in pointing out some figures to the contrary, our line wasn’t that bad. When you throw in the 5 games Pugh missed, and starting a second year 7th round pick, they did a heck of a job.

The media, both political and sports, use the stats they want to that support their opinions and don’t mention the ones that don’t help their case. So, in 2016 the Giants offensive line was the 3rd BEST in the NFL at not giving up sacks. I know that Flowers and Hart gave up so many pressures and blah blah and Eli is great at not taking sacks, blah blah. But, that is a fact.

The Cowboys have a great line and a very mobile quarterback and gave up 6 more sacks. The two teams who did better than the Giants, the Steelers and Raiders, had almost identical pass attempts and gave up 1 and 3 less sacks.

And both are thought to have good offensive lines. What this tells me is that the line must be getting dinged for not doing well in the run game. Well this is a fact, the Giants had the fourth worst rush offense in the league. Right down there with the Broncos and Ravens.

However, rushing does not always equate success. The bottom half of the league in rushing yards per game feature 6 playoff teams. The top half of the league in rushing yards per game features 6 playoff teams. Last season the Giants were not built to run the ball.

They featured the 4th worst running back in the game, Rashad Jennings. He was worth a whopping negative 84 defensive yards above replacement according to Football Outsiders. Perkins was worth a positive 12, and when he took over for Jennings, the line looked better. It is worth noting that when Perkins took over, Pugh was out.

Overall, with how very young Flowers is and overall the line is, perhaps the Giants see that the line is showing the improvement that they want, didn’t have much help from the TE position and had no fullback, and is doing the right thing by not panicking and throwing random rookies in to start.

It seems that Giants fans want the Dallas line in New York and anything less is just not good enough. The Giants know they have a good thing going, and perhaps with better talent at the RB and TE position, it will show in the running game. Because our line is one of the best when it comes to pass blocking. Your thoughts?

Honestly Jeff, I have nothing to add. I think you presented a well-conceived and researched letter, though I would caution you that the reason the Giants didn’t give up a lot of sacks last year is because they got rid of the ball so fast, so I wouldn’t necessarily compare apples to apples when looking at the Giants protection vs. the Cowboys’.

I do think though if you ask anyone on the team they’ll tell you they can play better. And I think the offensive in particular WILL play better this year. I’m encouraged that Hart and Flowers have been here working out instead of sitting on their couches at home.

I’m encouraged by reports that Flowers was embarrassed last year and is angry enough to do something about it. I am also encouraged by the videos and tweets by newcomer D.J. Fluker. Overall, I think the best is yet to come from this offensive line. Certainly, it has nowhere to go but up.