This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more 2014 Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The New York Giants prepared for situations like this. Thanks to a solid showing during the early stages of the 2014 NFL free agency period, New York figures to be able to withstand some key losses in their secondary.
The biggest is easily safety Will Hill, who was slapped with yet another suspension this off-season and quickly cut thereafter by Big Blue. The G-Men simply grew tired of Hill’s lack of dedication and discipline.
Some may count the cutting of Hill (who signed with an arena football team) as a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, but with his third suspension in as many years in the NFL, a decision had to be made.
While it may have been the right call from a character perspective, the Giants still dropped an elite safety in an area of their team that struggled at times a year ago. In other words, at least on the surface, the Giants needed Hill pretty badly in 2013 just to come off as serviceable at times. Losing him altogether would at the very least put them at risk of regressing when it comes to their pass defense.
Again, that’s just on paper. The Giants did still make some solid moves on the defensive side of the football in free agency, and appear to have the depth in place to make up for the loss of Hill. Stevie Brown is fully expected to man the free safety spot, with Antrel Rolle cemented in at the strong safety spot.
On paper, those are two very talented safeties that individually shouldn’t hurt the Giants. If New York’s pass rush can pick back up to a respectable level (just 34 sacks a year ago), their new safety duo should be plenty good enough to consistently get the job done.
It’s not like going to Stevie Brown is a bad thing. It’s true that he’ll need to prove himself as he comes off a torn ACL that robbed him of the entire 2013 season, but he was an elite ball hawk safety in 2012, picking off eight passes and doing a solid job as a last resort protector with 76 total tackles.
Hill offered a little more balance and stability, as well as youth, but Brown is nothing to shrug off. Provided he can return to full health and that 2012 form, the Giants should be quite solid at the free safety spot still.
Strong safety with Rolle would be the mild concern, as he hasn’t always been the most consistent performer. With that said, he’s coming off a very productive 2013 season and overall has lived up to the hype since signing a big deal back in 2010. In fact, with Rolle entering a contract season at 31 years old, he’ll have every reason to be on top of his game.
With the G-Men apparently surviving the release of Will Hill with a solid safety duo, their only other real question in the secondary is with cornerback Jayron Hosley.
Like Hill, Hosley was served a suspension to start the 2014 season and could be on the roster bubble. He’s slated to sit out the first four games of the 2014 NFL season and despite solid talent, doesn’t appear to really be relied on for big production this year.
In other words, it may not really matter what happens to him. The Giants could elect to give him another shot and slide him into the rotation when he’s active for their fifth game of 2014, but even if they don’t, it looks like they made the right moves to equip them with enough depth to withstand an ineffective or completely absent Hosley.
New York already had a solid corner on the rise with Prince Amukamara, but didn’t leave their secondary to chance this season, as they paid top dollar for former Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, while also snagging Walter Thurmond III and retaining solid depth corner, Trumaine McBride.
The signing of DRC was massive, vaulting him up to New York’s #1 corner slot, with Amukamara likely starting on the opposite side. That puts Thurmond, a guy the Giants deem as “special”, who was somewhat hidden in Seattle behind would-be superior talents in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.
Thurmond appears to have the physicality and tools to even start ahead of Amukamara if need be, but would truly be an elite presence as a nickel corner. With these three corners locking up the top three spots, a still solid McBride gets pushed to the fourth spot, leaving the disappointing Hosley to battle with Zackary Bowman for the fifth spot.
Hosley is still talented enough to return and put pressure on McBride for the fourth spot, but is clearly no longer being depended on. Not only had he been an arguable disappointment through his first two seasons, but his suspension obviously casts doubt on how much the G-Men can trust him going forward, as well.
The Giants appear to have covered their bases quite well in every way when it comes to their secondary. The funny part is they worked hard to address this area during the off-season and now it’s the least of their worries. Instead, they’ll have to hope they can ignite their pass-rush, as well as get better against the run. If they can’t do one or both, their new, impressive secondary may struggle, regardless of how well it is constructed.