We loved the Giants’ schedule, their abundance of playmakers, and above all their ability to pressure the quarterback. We put the Giants D/ST No. 4 (higher than most publications) in our pre-camp rankings.
But now it’s time for a re-examination. A disastrous preseason has turned this unit into a second-tier D/ST.
Incredibly, the Giants have lost four corners to serious injuries. The latest: Terrell Thomas, who had 101 tackles, 5 INTs and 4 forced fumbles last year. He tore his ACL on a freak play in Monday night’s win over the Bears. He was supposed to start opposite Corey Webster.
First-round pick Prince Amukamara of Nebraska broke a bone in his foot in the Giants’ second practice. He’s out until at least October.
Brian Witherspoon (torn ACL) and Bruce Johnson (ruptured Achilles tendon) also are done for the year.
So who’s left? Aaron Ross likely will join Webster as a starter. PFF data shows Webster, despite his big reputation, ranked just 45th overall among corners last year. If you look only at pass coverage, Webster’s -4.1 grade put him 73rd.
Ross played 411 snaps as the third corner and posted a -4.7 coverage rating, which ranked 76th.
It should be noted that Thomas was even worse. He posted a -8.5 coverage rating, putting him 92nd. But from a fantasy perspective, the guy is a playmaker. He’s picked off 11 passes in 44 games, including 10 over his last two years.
In contrast, Webster has 10 interceptions in 85 games.
The Giants are looking to add a veteran, maybe Lito Sheppard or Kelvin Hayden.
One of the starting safeties, Kenny Phillips, is outstanding. He ranked ninth overall in PFF grades. Antrel Rolle, however, is looking to bounce back from a 2010 season in which he finished dead last among safeties in coverage (-12.2).
New York still has a terrific front four led by Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora (11.5 sacks each last year). The Giants must rely on the D-Line to generate heat as they cannot expose this secondary.
None of this is to say the Giants are undraftable. But they no longer look like an upper-echelon unit.
Now they deserved to be drafted seventh, after Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Philadelphia, the Jets, Baltimore and Kansas City.