A forgettable Giants draft class is almost all gone
The Giants have a new front-office leader in general manager Dave Gettleman and a new head coach in Pat Shurmur. The previous regimes missed out on the playoffs five of the past six years, bottoming out in 2017 with a 3-13, last-place finish in the NFC East. Why would anyone think the newcomers in charge would have much of a desire to keep this team together?
There were 19 of their own unrestricted free agents and expect the majority of them to be employed elsewhere in 2018. The exodus started Tuesday, when center Weston Richburg agreed to a five-year deal with the 49ers and linebacker Devon Kennard agreed to a three-year contract with the Lions.
Just like that, two members of the forgettable 2014 draft class are gone. That draft yielded star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and not much else.
Richburg was the second-round pick and he did not get a second contract, as he lost his starting job last season to undrafted Canadian Brett Jones, was unhappy with the demotion and put on injured reserve with a concussion even after he cleared the protocol. The third-round pick, defensive tackle Jay Bromley, is also a free agent and never established himself as a starting player. The fourth-round pick, running back Andre Williams, was a washout with the Giants and is currently with the Chargers. Safety Nat Berhe and Kennard were fifth-round picks; Kennard started 35 games in four years and was not a very impactful player (9.5 sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles). Berhe is likely headed elsewhere after a history of injury issues and never cracking the starting rotation. The seventh-round pick, defensive back Bennett Jackson, endured a series of knee injuries and is trying to make it with the Ravens; he has yet to play in an NFL game.
Kennard reportedly agreed to a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Lions. The Giants, with James Bettcher as the new defensive coordinator, will show plenty of 3-4 fronts this season, meaning defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon could at times be asked to stand in linebacker stances. Kennard is best-suited to be a strong side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.
The Giants as recently as 2015 envisioned Richburg as their center for a decade but things went awry. He started every game and played through a debilitating wrist injury in 2016 and his performance suffered. He started the first four games last season and did not provide the run-blocking power the coaching staff desired. He left the Oct. 8 loss in Tampa with a concussion and never stepped foot on the field in another game for the Giants. Richburg four years ago was considered a top prospect at center and moving to a new team, with more of a zone-blocking scheme with the 49ers, could rejuvenate his career.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie visited with the Redskins on Tuesday, two days after the Giants terminated his contract.