Current Condition: The condition of the defensive line is unstable at present. To be blunt, they should have played far better than they did. They went through stretches where the pass rush was anemic and they were unable to stop the run at critical times.
What is so puzzling is that there is talent on the line, but their play has been sporadic. They were invisible in the loss to the 49ers. They put very little pressure on Jeff Garcia when all it would have taken to win the game was a key stop, or a turnover.
Michael Strahan’s late season production was down.
Cornelius Griffin showed flashes of the type of player he could be if he ever puts it all together.
Kenny Holmes improved this season, but not enough to where production equals pay. As we talked about earlier, he is an example of a 'B' player making 'A' money.
Lance Legree should not be a starter; he’s better suited to a reserve role.
The injury to Keith Hamilton was huge. They missed his presence on the line greatly and they will need him to return to form next season.
The defensive line depth is as bad as the offensive line depth.
NYG UFAs: None
NYG RFAs: Byron Frisch
A-List Free Agents: E Vonnie Holliday, Green Bay; T Daryl Gardener, Washington; T Gilbert Brown, Green Bay; E Hugh Douglas, Philadelphia
B-List Free Agents:E Willie Whitehead, New Orleans; T Montae Reagor, Denver; T Brandon Noble, Dallas; T Cletidus Hunt, Green Bay; E Antonio Cochran, Seattle
First Day Draft: T Jimmy Kennedy, Penn State; T William Joseph, Miami; E Jerome McDougle, Miami; E Antonio Garay, Boston College; E Terrell Suggs, Arizona State; E Kenny Peterson, Ohio State; E Michael Haynes, Penn State; T Cory Redding, Texas; T Dewayne Robertson, Kentucky; E Jonathan Sullivan, Georgia
Possible Departures: Kenny Holmes, Dwight Johnson
The Plan: They need to add an end that can rush the passer. They should get much better production from the side opposite Strahan since he obviously gets the bulk of attention. They also have to prepare for the possibility that injuries will have taken a toll on Keith Hamilton and he will not be the same player. They have to do better than Lance Legree. Byron Frisch, Frank Ferrara and Matt Mitrione are basically role players without very much upside. There are some B-List free agents who can help and this is also a very strong defensive line draft. The Giants should be able to find a lineman or two who can help them.
Current Condition: The situation with the linebackers is that no one is at the top of their game. They are either on the downside like Mike Barrow, on the rise and improving like Brandon Short and Dhani Jones or future prospects like Nick Greisen and Wes Mallard.
Barrow is still effective in the middle, but he showed signs this season of slowing down.
Short has progressed the most, but he still needs to be more consistent.
Jones is still in a learning mode, but he’s shown signs that he can be a player.
Kevin Lewis is valuable because he is a solid special teams player and he can fill in at any linebacker spot. The group as a whole lacked the ability to make plays. More big plays from them will be expected this coming season.
NYG UFAs: None
NYG RFAs: Brandon Short, Dhani Jones, Kevin Lewis
A-List Free Agents: OLB Takeo Spikes, Cincinnati; OLB Mike Peterson, Indianapolis; ILB Chris Claiborne, Detroit; OLB Rosevelt Colvin, Chicago
B-List Free Agents: OLB Darren Hambrick, Cleveland; OLB Jeff Posey, Houston; OLB Shawn Barber, Philadelphia; OLB Chris Draft, Atlanta
First Day Draft: E.J. Henderson, Maryland; Clifton Smith, Syracuse; Lance Briggs, Arizona; LaMarcus McDonald, TCU; Victor Hobson, Michigan; Boss Bailey, Georgia; Gerald Hayes, Pittsburgh; Terry Pierce, Kansas State; Mario Haggan, Mississippi State
Possible Departures: None
The Plan: They need playmakers here. It would be wise to groom Nick Greisen to be Mike Barrow’s eventual replacement. It would not be inconceivable to see Brandon Short switch to middle linebacker at some point either. He’s big and physical enough to make the move. Unless one of the top linebackers falls to them in the draft, we would look to free agency. There are some interesting free agent linebackers who could help this unit; that seems like the best direction for them at this point.