This week's New York Giants Twitter mailbag, thanks to those of you who used the #nygmail hashtag on Twitter this week.

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Giants' last five drafts: 2013

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
12:00
PM ET
Twenty days remain until the NFL draft, which is still too many, but this week we've been taking a look back at the New York Giants' five most recent drafts. Today, we look at the most recent -- last year's, which produced a surprise 16-game starter at tackle in the first round.

The Picks

First round (19th overall): Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse
Second round (49): Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Third round (81): Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Fourth round (110): Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
Fifth round (152): Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond
Seventh round (225): Eric Herman, G, Ohio
Seventh round (253): Michael Cox, RB, Massachusetts

Still with Giants: All

Games played for Giants

Pugh: 16
Hankins: 11
Moore: 15
Nassib: 0
Taylor: 10
Herman: 0
Cox: 14

Review: Pugh was drafted because the Giants believed him to be versatile enough to play several positions and they didn't know what their specific line needs were going to be in the future. They thought that maybe he could go to training camp and challenge David Diehl for the starting right tackle spot, but they were fine if he needed a year to develop. But injuries in the preseason elevated Pugh to starting right tackle, and he started all 16 games there and did a competent job. He projects as the starter there again this year and into the future, and there's even been some talk of possibly moving him to the left side if things don't work out with Will Beatty.

Hankins likely could have played more if the Giants hadn't had so much depth at defensive tackle last year, and he's slated to start there this year with Linval Joseph gone.

Moore could be a starting defensive end to replace Justin Tuck, but he'll have to beat out Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers for the spot. He's got the talent, and showed enough on special teams to get the Giants and their fans excited about him. He needs to show a more reliable understanding of his role on defense this spring and summer.

Nassib was drafted as a project and it's still too early to know what they have in him. He'll get more reps this summer, and he could conceivably win the backup quarterback spot, but there's no way to project. Taylor and Cox both helped on special teams, Cox as a return man.

All in all, one first-year starter and possibly three second-year starters make this look like the best Giants draft we've reviewed this week. It will come down to how good Hankins and Moore turn out to be, and if Nassib becomes a worthwhile player and/or trade chip, that could make this draft a whopper.

Grade: B+ (for now)
In the NFL news lately, you've no doubt seen a lot about fifth-year options for players drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. This is a new phenomenon, because it's part of the CBA that went into effect in 2011 and governs players drafted that year. The rule in question states that every player selected in the first round of the NFL draft, starting in 2011, has an automatic fifth-year option added to his contract. The team has to decide by May 3 of the fourth year whether to exercise the option. At the time it's exercised, the option becomes guaranteed only against injury until the first day of the option-year season, at which point it becomes fully guaranteed.

So the reason you're seeing news about guys like J.J. Watt and Tyron Smith getting their options picked up (and about whether the 49ers will do the same for Aldon Smith) is because May 3 of this year (a little over two weeks from now) is the deadline for the decision on guys picked in the first round of that 2011 draft. The Texans picked up Watt's option for 2015. They can still work on a long-term deal with him in the meantime, but they at least know they have him under their control for a fifth year if they want him, which they surely do.

Amukamara
The New York Giants player to whom this applies is cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was selected with the No. 19 pick in that 2011 draft. To this point, the Giants have not made a decision about Amukamara's option, and it's not a slam-dunk decision.

For players drafted after the top 10, the option-year salary is the average of the third through the 25th highest-paid players at that player's position from the prior year. Working off of 2014 salary numbers, I estimate that figure to be about $7.13 million for cornerbacks. So if the Giants wanted to, by May 3 of this year, they could exercise an approximately $7.13 million option on Amukamara for 2015.

Tough call. That number is slightly higher than the average annual salary on the contract of fellow Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, whom Tom Coughlin described last month in no uncertain terms as the team's new No. 1 cornerback. Amukamara is a good player, but if he were on the market this offseason it's hard to imagine he'd have been paid according to that option number. So the Giants have to make a decision about a player they like at a price that's likely too high for him.

What helps them is the nature of the option-year guarantee at this point. It's guaranteed only against injury. So if they pick up the option and Amukamara has a healthy but otherwise not-so-great season, they could still cut him prior to 2015 and not be on the hook for the money. They also could continue to talk to him about a long-term deal in the meantime, especially if they get into the 2014 season and like what they see.

The Giants like Amukamara. He plays hard, is a sound technician, keeps himself in shape and pays attention to detail. But they also brought in a bunch of new cornerbacks this year. Walter Thurmond, for instance, is in on a one-year deal, but it's not out of the question that they could get to the end of 2014 believing Thurmond is a better choice than Amukamara is going forward.

Players such as Watt and Tyron Smith are easy calls -- Pro Bowl caliber guys who are delivering big returns on their teams' first-round investments. Players such as Christian Ponder and Danny Watkins are easy calls the other way -- no chance those options get picked up. But Amukamara falls into a gray area as a player who's played well but hasn't necessarily cemented himself as a must-keep, franchise-cornerstone player. My guess is they pick up the option and hope he does that this year, while all along keeping open discussions about an extension at a more reasonable rate.

Giants' last five drafts: 2012

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
2:30
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The NFL draft is three weeks from today, which still gives us plenty of time to talk about what the New York Giants will do with the No. 12 pick and the importance of having their first really good draft in a really long time. But as we ponder all of that, this week we are taking some time to look at the last five Giants' drafts, and today's stop is on 2012, when they were defending Super Bowl champions and did something they hadn't done in more than a decade. They took a running back in the first round.

The Picks

First round (32 overall): David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

Second round (63): Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

Third round (94): Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

Fourth round (127): Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati

Fourth round (131): Brandon Mosley, T, Auburn

Sixth round (201): Matt McCants, T, UAB

Seventh round (239): Markus Kuhn, DT, North Carolina State

Still with Giants: Wilson, Randle, Hosley, Robinson, Mosley, Kuhn

Still in NFL: McCants (Raiders)

Games played for Giants

Wilson: 21

Randle: 32

Hosley: 23

Robinson: 3

Mosley: 13

McCants: 0

Kuhn: 15

Review: Wilson was a revelation as a kick returner during his rookie year but a disappointment when handed the starting running back job in 2013. Two fumbles in the season opener got him benched, and once he was back in good graces, he injured his neck and missed the final 11 games of the season. Should he return healthy and develop into a star, that would help the long-term grade of this draft. But it also could get a boost from Randle, who has an opportunity to replace Hakeem Nicks as the team's playmaking deep threat at wide receiver. Hosley showed something as a nickel corner in 2012 but has had trouble staying healthy and now finds himself well down a stacked depth chart at cornerback. Robinson hasn't been able to get on the field, though they haven't given up on him yet and right now he's probably their projected starter. Mosley couldn't find his way onto the field in spite of massive problems at offensive line last year. They like Kuhn on special teams and think he can help as a rotational player at defensive tackle this year. It's too early to give a definitive grade to anyone's 2012 draft, but the Giants haven't had much immediate early return on this. The extent to which Wilson and Randle develop as offensive playmakers will determine whether this is remembered as a good draft or another in a series of busts. As with the three drafts we've already profiled this week, it doesn't appear as though they turned up anything of major value in the middle rounds.

Grade: C-minus (so far)
A 7-9 record in 2013 earned the New York Giants the No. 12 pick in next month's NFL draft. After an offseason that has seen them sign 15 outside free agents, they still have needs at tight end, wide receiver and on the offensive line, one of which could reasonably be addressed with that pick. It also wouldn't be out of character to see them add a defensive lineman if that's who they felt the best player was at No. 12.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest mock draft is up today here on ESPN.com. It's two rounds long this time, and you have to have Insider access to read it. His picks for the Giants are aimed at finding some help for quarterback Eli Manning.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

I was up in Bristol the last two days doing TV, and I asked former Colts center Jeff Saturday what he thought about newly signed New York Giants center J.D. Walton.

Saturday remembered talking to the Broncos about Walton in 2012, when Denver had Saturday in to talk to him about joining the team following its signing of Peyton Manning. He said it sounded as though the Broncos liked Walton, who would end up showing some improvement early in 2012 before suffering an ankle injury that has kept him from playing since. (Saturday ended up instead with the Packers for what would turn out to be the final season of his career.)

Saturday said he felt Walton would be an upgrade over former Giants center David Baas, and that everything he's been told about Walton is that he's a good guy and a hard worker, but that he's not a big, bruising, push-em-back type of offensive lineman. But he also said that the Giants' blocking scheme doesn't require that of its center -- that it relies on its guards to dominate, and that may be where the concern still lies.

Geoff Schwartz is almost certainly an upgrade at left guard, but Chris Snee remains a question mark coming off his second hip surgery in as many years, and John Jerry is no sure thing behind him. I know NJ.com wrote recently about the Giants' potential interest in Colorado State center Weston Richburg, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them address center in the draft next month. But I also wouldn't be surprised if they addressed guard also or even instead. Not with their first-round pick, mind you -- No. 12 overall is too early to take an interior offensive lineman this year -- but maybe in the second and/or third rounds.

The ability of opposing defenses to pressure Eli Manning through the A-gaps last year was devastating to the Giants' offense, and they need to make sure their guard play is vastly improved if they want Manning and the offense to have a chance to recover.

Giants actually add Josh Freeman

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
1:05
PM ET
Even after we spent the past couple of days discussing it here, and even after Matt Flynn went back to Green Bay and left Josh Freeman as the last man standing in the New York Giants' search for an extra quarterback for the offseason, it was still hard to believe it would happen. Freeman washed out of two organizations last year, and the one game he played for the Vikings after the Buccaneers cut him was hardly a helpful audition. You'll remember that "Monday Night Football" fiasco as the Giants' first victory of the season, and the fact Freeman obviously wasn't at all prepared to play in the game was the main reason they were able to stop their losing streak.

Freeman
But they did it. The Giants have in fact agreed to terms with Freeman on a one-year deal, which means he'll likely be in the building next week when they start their offseason program and will be a candidate to take some of the snaps in OTAs and minicamp if starting quarterback Eli Manning's recovery from ankle surgery takes longer than expected.

I guess, if he shows something, Freeman could beat out Curtis Painter for the backup quarterback job. That assumes second-year project Ryan Nassib can't get into that mix, but given the level of his competition I don't know why he couldn't.

I know there isn't much out there on the quarterback market, and that Freeman was the best and most experienced of the candidates once Manning had surgery last week, and the Giants decided they needed to add a reserve quarterback. But if Freeman is on the 2014 Giants, I can't see how that helps them. Nothing we've heard about Freeman over the past year has indicated he'd be a useful backup. And while I'm willing to give him a pass for his ugly exit from Tampa Bay because I believe loony former Bucs coach Greg Schiano to have been at least as much at fault for their conflict as Freeman, it says a lot that he couldn't beat out Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder for playing time after the Vikings signed him in October. It also says a lot that this week was the first time any sort of market materialized for Freeman this offseason, given the state of the quarterback market.

So if you think Freeman is going to be some sort of diamond-in-the-rough signing for the Giants, or that having him on the team makes them better prepared to weather a potential Manning absence than they were yesterday, I'm going to take the opposite point of view. The best thing you can say about this move is that it probably can't hurt. But if the addition of Freeman has any impact on the Giants' 2014 season, they're in trouble.

Giants' last five drafts: 2011

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
12:00
PM ET
With the NFL draft still a relatively painful three weeks and one day away, we're taking a look this week at the New York Giants' last five drafts to see how much they've helped. Today we look at the 2011 draft, which saw the Giants pick a defensive back in the first round and then kind of flail around a bit.

The Picks

First round (19th overall): Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Second round (52): Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

Third round (83): Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Fourth round (117): James Brewer, OT, Indiana

Sixth round (185): Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State

Sixth round (198): Tyler Sash, S, Iowa

Sixth round (202): Jacquian Williams, LB, South Florida

Seventh round (221): Da'Rel Scott, RB, Maryland

Still with Giants: Amukamara, Jernigan, Brewer, Williams

Still in NFL: Austin (Cowboys), Jones (Titans),

Games played with Giants

Amukamara: 36

Austin: 8

Jernigan: 36

Brewer: 24

Jones: 20

Sash: 29

Williams: 46

Scott: 20

Review: The Giants have already received more in terms of playing time and production from the second half of their 2011 draft class than they did from their 2009 and 2010 draft classes. Williams was a strong performer during the 2011 playoff run, especially in the NFC Championship Game victory in San Francisco, and could end up being a starter at linebacker this year with a good camp. Jernigan showed something as a Victor Cruz replacement in the final weeks of 2013. And Amukamara is a legitimate starting NFL cornerback. But all of that said, Austin was a swing-and-a-miss in the second round as an injury guy they hoped would work out. Brewer hasn't turned into anything in spite of repeated opportunities. And Jones, Sash and Scott were bit players at best at their peaks. Again, as we've discussed all week, you don't assume you're getting anything in those fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. But if you go three or four years without hitting on anything at all in those rounds, your roster gets thin in a hurry. If you've been following this series all week, you've seen that the Giants haven't turned up many helpers in the late rounds in the last half-decade. This draft was about Amukamara, a guy who fell to No. 19 in spite of pre-draft projections that had him in the top 10, and not much else.

Grade: D.

Josh Freeman, Giants agree to deal

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
11:55
AM ET
video

Quarterback Josh Freeman and the New York Giants have agreed to a one-year contract, according to a league source.

Freeman worked out for the Giants on Tuesday. He also recently visited the Chicago Bears.

Freeman will compete for the No. 2 job on the Giants with Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib.

Eli Manning underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle Thursday but expects to be able to run again in about six weeks, the team previously announced. His 151 consecutive starts rate as the longest active streak in the NFL following the retirement of Washington's London Fletcher, and it is the third-longest by a quarterback in league history.

Freeman was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in October. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings and started just one game -- losing to the Giants on "Monday Night Football."

Freeman, 26, a first-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2009, started 56 games for the team. He enjoyed his best season in 2010, when he started 16 games and threw for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns with six interceptions. 

He has struggled since, throwing 43 interceptions over the past four seasons.

Adam Caplan is an ESPN NFL Insider.


(Read full post)


Eli Manning In Decline?

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
10:21
AM ET


video

Dan Graziano discusses QB Eli Manning's future with the Giants and whether he will have a bounce-back season.

NFL Nation Buzz: New York Giants

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
10:00
AM ET
video
ESPN.com Giants reporter Dan Graziano says quarterback Eli Manning can do plenty to help his teammates while he recovers from ankle surgery.
Mike Sando has an interesting piece Insider on ESPN.com looking at which current NFL quarterbacks would be worth trading the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. The premise is that the Houston Texans, who need a quarterback and have the No. 1 overall pick, are concerned about the quality of their choices and may opt not to take any of this year's quarterbacks No. 1 overall. So if, hypothetically, someone would trade them a quarterback for that pick, which quarterbacks would be worth it?

Manning
Mike asked ESPN analyst Bill Polian, ESPN.com scout Matt Williamson and an NFL GM which quarterbacks would be worth it. Polian and the GM both listed New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning among the answers. Matt did not, as Mike explains:
Williamson listed nearly as many quarterbacks (17) as the other two panelists combined, but he left off Manning after a brutal 2013 season.

"Eli did have a very unlucky year and he's had a lot going against him of late, but frankly, he hasn't played good football in a year and a half," Williamson said.

So Manning falls into Mike's "Close but note quite" category, behind the seven quarterbacks who fell into the "clearly worth a No. 1 overall pick" category. Those seven are Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Only two of those seven (Peyton Manning and Luck) actually were a No. 1 overall picks, as Eli Manning was.

I think if the Giants offered Eli Manning to the Texans for the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, the Texans would say yes before the Giants ended their first sentence. The question to you, Giants fans, is if you'd trade Eli Manning for this year's No. 1 pick.

I would not, personally. Making a deal like that would require the Giants to find a quarterback to replace Manning, and any of the quarterbacks available in this year's (or any year's) draft would count themselves lucky to have half the career Manning already has had. The Giants have a franchise quarterback -- something not even half of the teams in the league can claim. There's no price to be put on that.

But what do you think?

Giants' last five drafts: 2010

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
2:30
PM ET
With the NFL draft still more than an excruciating three weeks away, we are taking a look this week at the New York Giants' last five drafts. Today we look back at the 2010 draft, which saw the Giants swing for the fences in the first round and hit a home run.

The Picks

1st round (15th overall): Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

2nd round (46th): Linval Joseph, DT, East Carolina

3rd round (76th): Chad Jones, S, LSU

4th round (115th): Phillip Dillard, LB, Nebraska

5th round (147th): Mitch Petrus, G, Arkansas

6th round (184th): Adrian Tracy, LB, William & Mary

7th round (221st): Matt Dodge, P, East Carolina

Still with Giants: Pierre-Paul

Still in NFL: Joseph (Vikings), Dillard (Chargers), Tracy (Cardinals)

Games played with Giants

Pierre-Paul: 63
Joseph: 57
Jones: 0
Dillard: 7
Petrus: 27
Tracy: 16
Dodge: 16

Review: Pierre-Paul and Joseph became standout players, and Joseph is gone only because the Giants decided not to pay him what the market was dictating for top defensive tackle talent this offseason. The two of them were critical components in the Giants' defensive line that helped deliver the franchise's fourth Super Bowl title following the 2011 season, and Pierre-Paul was one of the most dominant defensive players in the league that season and postseason. But after the first two rounds, this was a mess. Jones was promising, but unfortunately never got to have an NFL career as a result of a car accident that nearly killed him during that 2010 offseason. Dodge was their punter for his entire rookie season, but he'll always be remembered for failing to punt the ball out of bounds and allowing DeSean Jackson to run it back for a winning touchdown in the game that crushed their 2010 season. Dillard and Tracy add to the list of mid-round and late-round picks that haven't panned out for them over the past half-decade. If you hit on a couple of those, you're thought of as a good drafting team and you're able to build roster depth. If you hit on none of them, your roster hollows out over time, as the Giants' roster has. This draft will be thought of well if Pierre-Paul can overcome his physical issues and get himself back on the path to stardom. But with Joseph already playing elsewhere at the age of 25, the sad fact is that they didn't get much out of their seven picks in 2010.

Grade: D+

How well do the Giants pay?

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
12:00
PM ET
A look at the ESPN The Magazine/Sportingintelligence Global Salary Survey shows that NFL teams don't pay their players very much, at least compared with teams in other sports leagues around the world. This list ranks all of the professional sports teams in the world by average salary per player, and you'll see that the New York Giants this year came in at No. 139 worldwide with an average of $2,089,848 per player. That figure ranks the Giants 12th among NFL teams, just behind the Cincinnati Bengals and just ahead of the San Francisco 49ers. But the highest-ranking NFL team on this list (the Minnesota Vikings) ranks just 115th in the world in terms of average salary per player.

You can see an explanation of the methodology used to assemble this list here, and this here is a link to some charts showing the top-paid athletes in the world overall and by sport. Giants quarterback Eli Manning no longer ranks among the 10 highest-paid players in the NFL.

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