The New York Giants are coming off of their second consecutive losing season. Following a 7-9 season in 2013-14, the Giants stumbled to a 6-10 record, highlighted by an eight game losing streak midway through the season. The Giants made some key moves in the offseason, signing Shane Vereen, Kenrick Ellis, and J.T. Thomas in free agency, and drafting Ereck Flowers and Landon Collins. With a new look roster, lets take a look at the five best players New York has to offer.
*the following list is in alphabetical order, not in order of skill/value.
Prince Amukamara, Cornerback
The Giants first round pick in 2011, Prince Amukamara has quietly become a very good NFL cornerback. Despite being sidelined for half of the 2014-15 season with a torn bicep, Amukamara will likely be the teams top corner in 2015-16. Before his injury, Prince ranked eight among 116 NFL corners who played 25% or more of their teams defensive snaps in passer rating against. He also had three picks and 11 passes defensed. He did not miss a single tackle, and his 4.0 run stop percentage was second among NFL corners, according to Pro Football Focus.
While he might not be a household name, Amukamara is among the NFL’s finest corners, and a fully healthy 2015 will only add to his rising stock. At 25 years old, and already with a Super Bowl ring, Amukamara is one of the Giants best recent first round selections.
Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver
Odell Beckham Jr. put up one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history. His catch against the Dallas Cowboys has been dubbed the greatest regular season catch ever. After just one season, he won Madden’s annual cover athlete contest. Is there anything this guy can’t do?
Despite missing the first four games with injury, Beckham Jr. put up insane numbers, including 91 catches, 1,305 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Beckham Jr. is only 22, and with a potential Hall-of-Fame career ahead of him, how could he not be one of the five best Giants heading into the season? Big things to come from Beckham Jr.
Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver
Once one of the best receivers in football, Victor Cruz is somewhat of an afterthought heading into the 2015 season.
For one, he tore his patellar tendon in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, a gruesome injury that ended his season. And secondly, the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. as the teams top receiver led many Giants fans to forget just how good Cruz can be.
The undrafted receiver out of the University of Massachusetts was a key cog in the Giants 2011-12 Super Bowl run, and combined for 168 receptions and 19 touchdowns in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Since then, he’s accumulated 96 catches and only five touchdowns.
Cruz’s health remains up in the air, but not being the teams top option will definitely help him get open more, as defenses shift to containing Beckham. Cruz, when healthy, is still a top 10-15 wide receiver in the NFL, and could form one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL when healthy. But his health remains a massive question, which is why Giants fans shouldn’t be too optimistic heading into the new season.
Eli Manning, Quarterback
Starting quarterback Eli Manning has been heavily criticized over the past two seasons. Yes, winning 15 games in two seasons is unacceptable, especially in the Big Apple, and especially for a two-time Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP, but it isn’t all on Manning.
In 2014, Manning threw his third lowest total of interceptions in his career. He threw the second most touchdowns in his career, had the fourth highest touchdown percentage of his career, and had the second most yards total and yards per game in his career. He also had the third highest passer rating of his career. It was, by no means, a down season for Eli, who was let down by injuries on both sides of the ball.
With a revamped defense, a healthy Victor Cruz, and full season of Odell Beckham, don’t be surprised if Eli spearheads a Giant return to the playoffs.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End
After two consecutive down years, Jason Pierre-Paul quietly enjoyed a fantastic season. 12.5 sacks and 53 tackles in a full 16 game season was refreshing for a player who was under intense criticism from the fans, and who struggled with health. Pierre-Paul played the part in a contract season, and then was promptly franchise tagged.
Pierre-Paul is 26 years old, and still has a good five years left in his prime. With some new players on the defensive line, including third round pick Owamagbe Odighizuma. Pierre-Paul hasn’t been able to string together two strong seasons in a row, but we’ll find out if he can in 2015.
Just missed the cut: Justin Pugh, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, J.T. Thomas