Columnist Court Weston will be breaking down the team needs for all 32 NFL teams this off-season. Last up, the Giants…
1. Wide Receiver – Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham made for one of the most feared receiving corps in the NFL in 2011, and with Eli Manning throwing them the ball, the Giants became Super Bowl champions for the second time in four years. Manningham, the hero of New York’s title-clinching drive by making various miraculous catches, is now a 49er, the very team the Giants beat in the NFC championship game to get to the Super Bowl. Finding Manningham’s replacement is a priority this offseason, but the free agent receivers have been depleted. Expect New York to take a wideout in the second or third round of the draft.
2. Left Tackle – David Diehl is 31 and is not an elite left tackle, but Eli Manning deserves one. Giants management said the team will take a “best player available” approach to the draft, and at No. 32, there is a good chance that Ohio State’s Mike Adams could fit the bill.
3. Inside Linebacker – New York’s defense is consistently considered one of the best in the league, and part of that is due to the linebackers’ play. Chase Blackburn has anchored the Giants’ linebacking corps for the last seven years, but is now a free agent. Locking up Blackburn should be New York’s top defensive priority this offseason.
4. Right Tackle – Just as Diehl is a concern on the left side of the O-line, Kareem McKenzie is a concern on the right side. McKenzie, 32, is a free agent, which is a blessing for Giants. It allows the team to find a potential upgrade at the position through the draft as well as the option of re-signing McKenzie to a reasonable contract. Whether McKenzie starts next year depends on who New York can bring in, but if he remains the atop the depth chart, he would provide an excellent mentor for his eventual successor.
5. Cornerback – The Giants have re-signed Terrell Thomas and Justin Tryon, but the more vital corners have yet to be locked down. Aaron Ross is a complete cornerback and if he leaves New York, the team’s secondary takes a huge hit. In addition to Ross, backup Will Blackmon is a free agent that should be re-signed. If the Giants retain Ross and Blackmon, their secondary should be solid in 2012.
Previously: The New England Patriots