Giants’ big spending on defense earns B offseason grade

The Giants' 2016 roster will feature a rejuvenated defensive line, but Nathan Jahnke warns that several weaknesses still remain.

| 1 year ago
(Jon Durr, Getty Images)

(Jon Durr, Getty Images)

Giants’ big spending on defense earns B offseason grade

After three straight losing seasons, the Giants made several changes this offseason in an attempt to get back to their winning ways. On the field, they improved at some positions, but their positions of need in previous years remains their positions of need to this day. Here are the moves the Giants made to earn a “B” grade for their offseason. thus far

Offseason grade: B

Free agency/Trades

New arrivals: DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins, LB Keenan Robinson, LB Kelvin Sheppard
Re-signings: TE Larry Donnell, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, K Josh Brown
Departures: DE Robert Ayers, OL Geoff Schwartz, CB Prince Amukamara, WR Rueben Randle, DT Cullen Jenkins, S Brandon Meriweather, S Craig Dahl, DE George Selvie, DT Markus Kuhn, CB Jayron Hosley, OL Dallas Reynolds, CB Trumaine McBride

The Giants focused on the defense in free agency, adding some of the top players available. All of their additions are upgrades, but at defensive end and cornerback, they are improvements where they had someone good, but allowed them to leave in free agency. They added Olivier Vernon, who graded as our fourth-best 4-3 defensive end in pass-rushing productivity, but it comes at the expense of the departure of Robert Ayers, who was also in the top-10 at the position. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins had more interceptions and passes defended than Prince Amukamara, but he also allowed a higher catch rate, more touchdowns, and had more missed tackles. At linebacker, they added new players to the rotation, but no one that should inspire much optimism. Their other big needs heading into the offseason were at safety and offensive line, and at both positions they only had players leave without having clear upgrades at the position.

2016 NFL draft

  • Round 1 (pick No. 10): Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
  • Round 2 (pick No. 40): Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
  • Round 3 (pick No. 71): Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
  • Round 4 (pick No. 109): B.J. Goodson, LB, Clemson
  • Round 5 (pick No. 149): Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
  • Round 6 (pick No. 184): Jerelll Adams, TE, South Carolina

The Giants started their draft with an interesting pick with Eli Apple. It’s curious because New York has already invested a lot in their starting two cornerbacks, Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who are both solid players. None of those three players have much experience as a slot corner, and Apple is more of a press cornerback, where last year, the Giants played a lot of man-coverages. After that pick, the Giants did a nice job of finding players who both were a value at that point in the draft and fit a need. Both Sterling Shepard and Darian Thompson could be day-one starters. When Shepard was targeted last year, Oklahoma had an NFL passer rating of 135.9, which was fourth-best among all FBS receivers. Goodson, Perkins, and Adams could all work into rotations at their positions, thanks to their talent and New York’s lack of depth at those positions.


Over the course of the offseason, the Giants made sure their 2016 team would be an improvement over the 2015 version. After using 14 different players on the defensive line last year, they should have a much smaller rotation that, on paper, is one of the best in the league. Despite turning one big negative into one big positive, they still have several areas of weakness that will make it difficult to make a run in the playoffs if they are able to get there. They are a team that needs to win now, because Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger, but a lot of players need to improve quickly in order to make that happen.

New York Giants’ projected base defense in 2016:

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 8.36.15 AM

New York Giants’ projected base offense in 2016:

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 8.36.32 AM

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Liked what the G-men did in free agency but their draft was just so-so. With a new head coach it will take time for everyone to get on the same page. The NFC East is probably the most wide open division so the Giants can be a factor if they stay healthy.

  • Mike

    Considering Steve Spagnola was promoted to head coach, offense shouldnt miss a beat. Just depends on how Eli performs, as it has the past few years. Although the revamped defense may make it less imperative that he performs at the high level of the past. Hopefully.

    • Craig

      Spags wasn’t promoted to head coach he is still the defensive coordinator. Also Elis performance hasn’t been the issue considering he’s posted back to back career Yeats and the result has been two 6-10 seasons. The problem has been the defense and has been for a long time. Hopefully these moves they made will pay off but our lb’s are still trashbag.

  • DaRightRadical

    Oliver Vernon is going to bust. He doesn’t have the requisite physical tools to be a consistent pass rusher. He had 4.50 20 yard SS time, and a 34 1/2″ vertical coming out of Miami. Those are just so so numbers for a pass rusher. Typically an elite PR has a SS time less than 4.42 seconds. Yes it’s just a few hundreds of a second off, but when combined with his average vertical. He’s just not explosive enough. Here are the tales of the tape for some of the better and more consistent recent p. rusher. I didn’t include Mack or Miller, because the well exceed the numbers. Check out the SS, 10 yard sprints, and VJs

    Chandler Jones

    Justin Houston

    Conner Barwin

    Ryan Kerrigan

    Good luck going up against the Tackles of the NFC east Oliver you’re going to need it. Not sure if your grading system, takes into account caliber of competition. In this case it should. It’s highly doubtful this player meets the investment made in him.

    • Leo

      His best game last season came when he went 1 on 1 against Tyron Smith so I think he’ll be fine.

    • fuster

      Oliver will do quite well playing on the D-Line that the Giants have put together.