If you're looking for an overall theme of the 2011 Giants roster, I can sum it up in one word - speed. Let me explain:
New wave of LBs
There were quite a few surprises for these final cuts and a significant rebuild of the Giants roster. Most interesting to me was the total rebuild of the LB crew. Last year's relatively high draft choice, Dillard as well as Adrian Tracy have been cut from that group and the Giants added four young, athletic fast LBs this year. Clint Sintim, also part of last year's LB unit has been put on IR, and with Kiwanuka joining the LBs there are essentially five new LBs. Frankly, I love it - Dillard and Tracy did not show much and the four new ones added: Williams, Jones, Paysinger and Herzlich are all really fast and good ST players. In this group alone, the Giants have greatly improved their team speed. It's a real feel good story that Herzich made the team. I am really pleased that he did, because aside from the emotional aspect, he is a real good football player. Presumably by next year, he will have regained his full strength following his bout with cancer and if he does, he will be a starter in the NFL for a long time.
Surprise at the RB position
The RB position was also a crowded one. Andre Brown looked so good, I thought he would be a lock to make the roster. But the Giants carried 9 OL-men, where often they will carry only 8 and this gave them room for one less player in some unit somewhere. It looked to me like Brown was the casualty. I would not have been surprised if the Giants kept Brown and tried to trade DJ Ware. But - the Giants like Ware a lot, mostly because of his smooth style and speed. Da'rel Scott, who I said in the last post, just has to make the roster, that he just looks like a football player, in fact beat out Brown. While I liked Brown and was rooting for him, I am sorry to see him go, but am really pleased that Scott made the team. Once again, the Giants have improved the overall team speed and athleticism with this move. Da'rel Scott is an absolute burner. I don't know if he can catch the ball for KO returns, but they just have to get him on the field. He's a threat to break one all the way every time he touches the ball. My opinion is that he is this year's Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Giants decided to go with Steve Weatherford and I am a little disappointed with that move. Weatherford is a solid punter, but he has been in the league for 7 years now and he is what he is. He will never get any better than he is right now. Dodge, on the other hand has a cannon for a leg, has a huge upside and, if he marshalls and controls his talent will be a pro bowl punter in the NFL someday. Weatherford will make fewer mistakes and will probably nestle a few more kicks out of bounds inside the 20 than Dodge would. But if the Giants are backed up at their goal line and need a big kick to gain back some field position, Dodge will be 10 or 15 yards longer than Weatherford.
Carr at QB
At QB the Giants IR'ed Rosenfels, which is a real classy move on their part as opposed to releasing him, because it means he gets paid. But the move at QB, keeping Carr instead of Rosenfels had an affect on the decision at punter. Rosenfels and Weatherford are the two best (only?) holders for place kicks on the team. Since they were going with Carr and not Rosenfels, that argues strongly for keeping Weatherford as holder. You tend to get a lot of fumbled snaps and preciously few made FGs if you don't have a holder. (jk)
Mild surprises were Micahel Coe and Derrick Martin in the DB-field. Both played mediocre at first and improved through the preseason schedule. Veteran Brian Williams also made the team. Coe and Martin were a little unpolished, but both have real good speed. They stepped up and played well in the Patriots game.
The Giants also completely rebuilt this unit, carrying 6 WRs and adding four players that were not fixtures on last year's roster. Hixon and Cruz were on the team in 2010 but were IR'ed. Devin Thomas was on the team, but only for a few games towards the end of the year and Jernigan is this year's 3rd round draft choice. It looks to me like the Giants added speed at this position too, compared to last year when Michael Clayton, Duke Calhoun and a few other slower WRs were on the team. The question to answer is what to do when Ramses Barden recovers and is ready to come off the PUP list in week 7. The obvious move is to see which WR is least productive and cut him in favor of Barden. My prediction, however is something different. Because Amukamara will be back and active by then, if he looks like he is playing well, Giants could cut one of the CBs, either Michael Coe or Brian Williams and carry 7 WRs instead of 6. It's unlikely that either of these DBs would be picked up by someone else, so the Giants would be able to call them back in case of injury later in the year.
TE and FB
Hynoski and Pascoe both made the roster as FB's, though Pascoe can also play TE. Pascoe has looked awful blocking at the point of attack at TE and Hynoski has been no better than mediocre at FB. I would not at all be surprised if the Giants pick up a TE and/or FB from the training camp cuts of other teams in the next few days.
If you have been reading my blog religiously, you will have seen that I predicted that Dillard was on the bubble and that the young LBs all looked really good to me. I also predicted that Da'rel Scott looked so good that the Giants just had to find a roster spot for him. For all things Giants- keep following.
One other item of interest - Sinorice Moss was cut by the Eagles. To me, he is a perfect fit for this Giants roster, giving them a pure burner on the outside. They may have cut him because they expected Steve Smith to return, but I would give Moss some consideration. In all honesty, I should add that I always liked him and thought the coaching staff misused him.
Final note - 3 players from the 2010 draft class - Dodge, Dillard and Tracy have been cut, making 2010 a weak performance by the front office.