From free agency to last week’s draft and now the rookie free agents signings, the Giants are stocking the 2014 roster with competition.
And that’s the way Tom Coughlin likes it.
“Let’s get this thing going,” the head coach said in Saturday’s post-draft press conference. “Let’s get the mesh going, let’s get this camaraderie thing going, let’s get out on the field and be smart about it. Compete. We’d like to be able to match up all of the positions with some competitiveness because that’s how you get better.”
>> ANALYZING THE COMPETITIONS ON OFFENSE
With that in mind, Giants.com has broken down competitions heading into the summer, and here we look at the top ones on defense:
Roster: Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, Johnathan Hankins, Markus Kuhn, Kelcy Quarles, Eathyn Manumaleuna, Jay Bromley (2014 third-round draft pick)
The Giants made stopping the run a top priority last offseason, and they followed through, ranking sixth in the NFL in giving up 3.8 yards per attempt in 2013. But while key signings like Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson -- who helped make it happen -- return for another season, the Giants parted ways with Linval Joseph in free agency. Now someone needs to fill the void left behind by the three-year starter.
A fellow second-round draft pick by the Giants may be the answer. Johnathan Hankins, whom the Giants selected last year with the 49th overall pick, spent his rookie season behind the veterans but did play in 11 games and recorded 16 tackles. He’ll try to place his stamp in the rotation this season, as will a healthy Markus Kuhn, the third-year pro who returned to the field late last season after recovering from a torn ACL. Meanwhile, the Giants used their third-round pick this year on Jay Bromley out of Syracuse.
“Well, it was very important,” Coughlin said. “We’ve had some people move on, so we have an offensive line and a defensive line and what we’re trying to do is play New York Giant football, get back to the physical aspect of how we play, the camaraderie, the believing in each other, the ability to be the stronger unit on the field.”
Roster: Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Damontre Moore, Robert Ayers, Emmanuel Dieke, Jordan Stanton, Kerry Wynn
Playing next to Joseph, Justin Tuck’s departure means the Giants have to replace the entire left side of their defensive line. Mathias Kiwanuka, who is entering his ninth season with the Giants, will bring stability to the position room while others will be asked to step up and play opposite of a healthy and ready Jason Pierre-Paul. Damontre Moore, the Giants’ 2013 third-round draft pick, looks to be one of those players after making an impact on special teams in his first season with a couple of blocked punts. Meanwhile, former Bronco Robert Ayers, who signed with the Giants this offseason, won’t concede anything as he tries to add to the legacy of pass-rushers in his new organization.
Roster: Antrel Rolle, Will Hill, Stevie Brown, Quintin Demps, Cooper Taylor, C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon, Nat Berhe (2014 fifth-round draft pick)
Antrel Rolle enters the season as not only a leader in the position room, but also of the entire defense. Behind him, however, is competition under a defensive coordinator who has been known to use three-safety looks. Perry Fewell will look to complement the position with a cornerback group that was bolstered by the free-agent signings of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond III. And while the team awaits the appeal process for safety Will Hill, Stevie Brown is itching to return to the field. After recording eight interceptions in 2012, he sustained a season-ending knee injury last preseason.
The competition will also include Quintin Demps, a seven-year pro the team signed this offseason, and Cooper Taylor, who was a fifth-round draft pick by the Giants last year. The team also signed undrafted rookie free agents C.J. Barnett and Thomas Gordon this week in addition to drafting Nat Berhe, who played a hybrid safety/cornerback/linebacker role at San Diego State, in the fifth round.