Reader Mailbag: Pre-combine Edition

What’s on the minds of Giants fans ahead of the combine?

Pat Says: Let me start with your second question. Jason Pierre-Paul said the day after the Giants were eliminated from the postseason that he wasn’t interested in signing another one-year contract, so my guess is if they tagged him, he probably wouldn’t rush in to sign the deal.  (I believe a franchise player can hold out until Week 10 of a season before signing.)

Sometimes teams do use the franchise tag if they think they’re close to signing the player and need more time—they did that with punter Steve Weatherford a few years ago. I am not so sure they do that with Pierre-Paul this year because if I’m his agent, I advise him to see what’s out there on the market.

As for your first question, going strictly on the eyeball test, I’d say yes, Pierre-Paul was very much a factor against the run.

 

Pat Says: First, we don’t know how free agency is going to shake out. If the Giants sign a 28-year old offensive tackle, then my guess is they don’t go offensive tackle in the first round because it makes no sense.

Second, we don’t know how the board is going to fall. Last year it was widely believed the Giants wanted Jack Conklin and/or Leonard Floyd. If I had told you they’d end up with Eli Apple in the first round ahead of the draft, would you have believed me? Probably not.

Third, fans need to look at the depth at each position in the draft. Offensive tackle is said to be a weak group while tight end is said to be deep. If I’m running a draft and I know I can get a good tight end in the second or third round, then I jump all over a tackle in the first round if one I like falls to me.

To answer your question, there are any number of scenarios I can see happening at this particular moment regarding the draft making it very hard to get a feel for what might happen. If I’m writing a mock draft, I’m basing in on what players I like rather than trying to run a simulator regarding who falls where and to what team.

So what would I do? If I don’t think an offensive tackle will be there–and I don’t as of this writing–I would probably go defensive end at No. 23, unless Jason Pierre-Paul re-signs.

 

Pat Says: First, I’d be stunned if Williams is on the board at No. 23 based on what I’ve read early on.  With that said, the draft is deep in receivers. Again, this is my philosophy and not necessarily the one to which the Giants prescribe, but if I’m running the draft, I grab a player of need from a smaller talent pool first if one is there versus getting one from a deeper talent pool like receiver.

 

Pat Says: Klein is an interesting free agent prospect, but I think the Giants want B.J. Goodson to step into that starting role in the middle.

Pat Says: When I’m looking at a potential tackle, I think I would prefer a guy who can play both left and right tackle because I’m still not sure where Ereck Flowers’ best position is and I want the flexibility to try out multiple combinations to get it all sorted out.

I’m also looking for a guy who can be a starter for me for more than a couple of seasons because I don’t want to have to keep tinkering my offensive line every other year.

With that said, I suspect that Russell Okung, once he hits free agency, is going to jump to the head of the class once his release becomes official. The Giants wanted him last year, but it didn’t work out. They obviously did their homework on him and I suspect they will circle back to him once he hits the market.

Pat Says: I do think they keep Rodgers-Cromartie. You need three solid cornerbacks in this league and I think Rodgers-Cromartie did more than enough to justify a spot on this year’s roster. I also think if they were going to cut him, they would have done so already.

Pat Says: That all depends on who else is on the board. If I know I’m likely to get 2-3 more years out of Eli Manning, then I probably won’t take a quarterback at No. 23; I think I go for a guy who can step in and help the team right away.

Pat Says: Offensive line, offensive line, offensive line. I keep saying this, but until that line is solidified, it won’t matter who they put behind it.

A very close second priority is keeping that defensive unit together as best as possible. If they can bring back two of Jason Pierre-Paul, Keenan Robinson and Johnathan Hankins, then I would consider that part of free agency a huge success.

 

Pat Says:  My gut feeling is they look at the draft for a 3-tech guy.

Pat Says: I think that’s a realistic possibility. Usually you need about 2-3 years to develop a young quarterback, though obviously the process can be expedited. I do think the Giants will try to re-sign Josh Johnson for the veteran experience and that they will try to add another young prospect.

 

Pat Says: I think if it comes down to one guy, JPP is the higher priority. As I look at the depth at defensive end In terms of depth, I like what I saw of Romeo Okwara and I’d like to see Owa Odighizuwa make it through an entire year and take the next steps forward in his development.

At defensive tackle, I’m not as crazy about the depth behind the starters, but I do think they might be able to pick up a defensive tackle in the draft.

Pat Says: If you’re talking the big names, I doubt it. If I’m a free agent set to cash in on a big pay-day, I check out what the market might bring.

If, however, you’re talking about some of the guys who aren’t expected to draw a lot of attention in the open market or who are probably “lifers” (Zak DeOssie comes to mind), then yes, there is very good chance those guys will be signed before free agency opens.

Pat Says: I really doubt it. The Giants have phased out the use of a pure fullback in their offense in favor of a tight end, so I can’t see them spending limited salary cap resources on a pure fullback. People keep forgetting they have Will Johnson, who was signed to be the tight end/fullback. If Johnson is healthy–and from what I have heard, he is, he will be the lead blocker.

Pat Says: With all these new additions to the free-agent tackle market, I would be shocked if the Giants make a play for Whitworth. I don’t know what kind of money he’s asking for, but I suspect his price tag might be a bit too much.

I think they’re going to go younger at the position to where they can hopefully get 5-6 years out of the next tackle they sign. With the news about the Broncos declining the option year on Russell Okung, as I said in another letter, keep an eye on him as a possible target.

Pat Says: That’s always going to be the case. However, if you’re asking who, let’s see how the roster shapes up through the draft; by then I can probably give you a better idea as to who might be on the bubble.

 

Pat Says: Considering they signed punter Brad Wing to a long-term deal last year even after having him signed to a ERFA tender, my guess is yes, they’re happy with him.

And why not? Left-footed punters are a rare bird in the NFL and can be an asset once they get going.

Regarding kicker Robbie Gould, I never got the sense they were unhappy with him, but I guess we’ll find out when free agency opens.