As Giants fans know, building a football team is not easy. For every brilliant draft pick and smart free agent signing, there are moves that don’t work out so well. Some young players’ skills don’t translate from college to the pro game as well as scouts thought they would. Other times a free agent acquisition will get complacent or old or both and won’t perform as well as he did with his former team. There are all sorts of ways for teams to end up with bad players on their roster. No matter how they got here, this is a look at the five worst Giants heading into training camp.
5. Zack Bowman
The former Bear had a pretty good season in 2013. He picked off three passes and made seven starts in 16 games. Before that, though, Bowman had just four starts with Chicago in the previous three seasons. He just hasn’t been the same since his sophomore season, when he intercepted six passes and made 66 tackles. With the Giants having also imported players like Walter Thurmond and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Bowman will be hard-pressed to find a role on this team.
4. J.D. Walton
Walton was a full-time starter for his first two seasons in Denver from 2010 to 2011. Like Bowman, however, Walton’s performance fell off after his second season in the NFL. Unlike Bowman, Walton’s problems are mostly due to injury, as he dislocated his ankle four games into the 2012 season. That caused the Baylor product to miss the rest of 2012, and he was benched for most of 2013 before being picked up by the Redskins in December. If healthy, Walton can be a good player for the Giants, but the selection of fellow center Weston Richburg in the second round of the 2014 draft shows how much confidence the team has in that happening.
3. Daniel FellsFells is a hard-working tight end who seems to find at least a small role for himself wherever he goes in the NFL. Even though he started out as an undrafted player receiving no playing time with the Falcons, Fells persevered and found a way to make himself useful for the Rams, Broncos, and Patriots from 2008 to 2012. However, in 2013, he was released by the Patriots right before the start of the season, and he’s been out of the league since then. Fells’ work ethic might be useful in mentoring Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell, but don’t be surprised if the Giants cut him before the season like New England did.
The Giants and their fans are certainly grateful for what Hillis did in his fill-in role last season. With the team reeling from the losses of Andre Brown and David Wilson to injury, New York needed someone experienced to step forth and give the running game a boost. Hillis did just that, with the Giants rolling off four straight victories as soon as the veteran joined the team. That said, Hillis wasn’t the ideal option at halfback, and the Giants brought in Rashad Jennings as well as Andre Williams during the offseason to try to replace him. It looks like Hillis will have to fend off younger players like Michael Cox and David Wilson or learn to play fullback if he wants to stay on the team into September.
The fact that Kiwanuka is a candidate for a starting spot at defensive end heading into training camp says a lot about the state of the Giants’ defensive line. The veteran out of Boston College was formerly a very valuable player for New York, but those days appear long behind him. Though Kiwanuka has appeared in 16 games in each of the past three seasons, his production has been unremarkable to say the least, with just 10.5 total sacks and 109 total tackles during those years. If Kiwanuka doesn’t show great improvement in training camp, he should be a reserve player for the Giants this fall.