The Giants were all but in the playoffs as NFC East division winners up 31-10 against the Eagles in week 15. An embarrassing blowout at Lambeau field a week later squashed the slim chances they did have and capped another playoff-less season for the G-men.
Still this is certainly not a team that lacks talent. The defense thrived under new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and the offense possesses some of the best skill position players in the league. Injuries to the WR position and along the offensive line hardly slowed down a potent unit.
While Eli Manning failed to put up exceptional numbers, many of his interceptions were not his fault as he ended up ranked 8th overall in our passing rankings. A number of Giants underperformed in 2010 so it’s difficult to identify their needs per se, although there are certainly some positions they could look to upgrade.
Kareem McKenzie is firmly entrenched as one of the premier starters on the right side. The same cannot be said of David Diehl on the left side however. After a couple of poor years in 2008 and 2009, Diehl’s performances fell off a cliff. To be fair to him this was probably partly due to injury but he’s shown previously he’s a below average starter anyway. His -18.4 pass block ranking was 6th worst in the league, giving up eight sacks, ten hits and 24 pressures in 438 pass blocks.
The Giants did invest a second round pick in William Beatty in 2009 and he was serviceable in a couple of starts at left tackle. Still he doesn’t seem like a long term solution as he gave up three penalties in one of his starts and six on the year in just 150 snaps. The Giant coaching staff don’t appear to have a lot of confidence in him either as he predominantly received time as a tight end in heavy sets. Shawn Andrews was the primary backup and he gave up just ten pressures in 196 snaps, however, injuries continue to plague his career.
Franchise left tackles don’t tend to hit free agency and rookies also tend to struggle. Jared Gaither has a lot of upside but also carries durability concerns while Matt Light could provide a veteran stopgap. In the draft, players like Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin, Anthony Costanzo of Boston College, Nate Solder of Colorado and Derrick Sherrod of Mississippi are all considered to be late first round prospects.
The interior of the offensive line could also use some help. Shaun O’Hara played fine in an injury shortened season but he’ll be 34 at the start of the 2011 campaign. There was definitely a drop off in his pass protection from 09 to 10 as he gave up 15 combined pressures in 619 pass blocks compared to 9 in 218.
There aren’t any obviously alternatives on the roster either. Rich Seubert can kick inside if he needs to, but he’s already a quality starter at left guard. Adam Koets was disappointing in his three starts, registering a -6.2 rating Week 3 to Week 5. Kevin Boothe struggled in time at left guard too so Seubert is probably best left where he is.
Harvey Dahl is the kind of rugged run blocker the Giants could look at and his teammate Justin Blalock might be an option too. In the draft, the Giants have been linked with OG/C Mike Pouncey of LSU.
For a team that uses the fullback as much as Giants, having a quality lead blocker is a must. Despite ravings over Madison Hedgecock, he’s far from special, and was hurt in 2010. In the first four games of the season, before he was put on IR, he had a -5.1 rating and graded in the red three out of the four times. He also gave up two pressures in just ten pass blocks.
His replacement, the aptly named Bear Pascoe, was no better. In the all important run blocking aspect, he had a -3.6 rating and gave up three penalties. He could offer more as a pure tight end. For a position that gets nearly 500 snaps a season in the Giants’ offense, they should probably look for an improvement.
Vontay Leach offers a lot of upside in free agency and Le’Ron McClain offers more in the receiving and rushing department.