The NFC East is a weird and magical place. Just about any team in the East can win each year, regardless of talent, coaches or injuries, because in the NFC East, something weird happens annually. The New York Giants landed third in the division last year. Though the team had one of the best offenses last year — thanks, in part, to another huge year from Odell Beckham Jr. — the defense was bad enough to see a promising 5-4 season end with losses in six of the final seven games.
The Giants went out to fix this problem in the offseason and picked up two of the biggest defensive free agents. Now the Giants are one of the most popular picks to win the East this year (behind everyone’s favorite pick every year: The Dallas Cowboys). Can they turn things around that quickly? Big Blue View helps us find out.
2015 record: 6-10
Matchup with Lions: Week 15 in New York
Line: Giants by 3
Last meeting: Lions 35, Giants 14 (2014)
Notable free agent additions: DE Olivier Vernon; DT Damon Harrison; CB Janoris Jenkins; LB Keenan Robinson; LB Kelvin Sheppard; FB/TE Will Johnson
Notable free agent departures: DE Robert Ayers; CB Prince Amukamara
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
Eli Apple, CB, Round 1: Whether or not the reports are right that the Giants preferred either LB Leonard Floyd or OT Jack Conklin no longer matters. They selected Apple 10th overall, and he figures as one of the team’s top three corners. Whether that is in the slot or not has yet to be determined, but teams use three corners a great deal now, so Apple will play a lot.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Round 2: The Giants seem more excited about getting Shepard than any of their other picks. He has been called a "perfect fit" for the West Coast-based Giants offense. Whether he starts or not, Shepard is expected to be a major contributor immediately.
Darian Thompson, S, Round 3: Thompson is competing with Nat Berhe to start alongside Landon Collins. He is a ball-hawking free safety and that skill set is something the Giants have been lacking for a couple of years.
Paul Perkins, RB, Round 5: The Giants’ backfield is crowded with veteran players, but the Giants drafted Perkins for a reason. He could be their featured back of the future. Will that come this season? It might, but veteran Rashad Jennings figures to get first crack at the job.
Biggest offseason addition: It’s not one guy. It really is the troika of high-priced free-agent defensive players the Giants signed -- Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins. The defensive was worst in the NFL last year, and the Giants were aggressive trying to address it. Five of the six big free agents they signed were defensive players, and three of their first four draft picks were also defensive players.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Ben McAdoo says he is "over it" already, when asked about being a first-time head coach and replacing a franchise legend in Tom Coughlin. Still, the changes from Coughlin to McAdoo are noticeable around the practice facility and on the practice field. Will they be noticeable in the won-loss record?
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: For Giants fans this is not under-the-radar, but I will say the question of when or if the Giants will ever address their offensive line by bringing in a veteran right tackle to replace Marshall Newhouse. Fans have been screaming about it since the end of last season. The Giants have missed on a few free agents and did not draft an offensive lineman. What the Giants do, or don’t do there, will continue to be a story.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: No new ones of major significance, which is the first time in several years that has been the case. Perhaps the "injury" of note is Victor Cruz coming back from a torn patellar tendon in 2014 and calf surgery that cost him all of 2015. Maybe the story is that with a new head coach in Ben McAdoo and new strength coach in Aaron Wellman the Giants have yet to suffer any devastating injuries