Giants News: New York Finds Replacements for Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham in Free Agency and Draft

Eli Manning
Some laughed at Manning when he said before the 2011 Season that he was an elite quarterback. After his second Super Bowl MVP, Manning has proven he’s a top five quarterback in the league. He may also be the most clutch quarterback in the entire NFL. Reuters

The Giants won their second title in four years when they beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Despite winning another championship, several key players decided to leave New York in free agency.

Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs, Jake Ballard and Aaron Ross were key contributors on the team a year ago, won't be suiting up for Big Blue in the upcoming season.  Jacobs and Manningham both signed with the 49ers, Ross went to the Jaguars and New York released Ballard after he suffered a season-ending injury.

While they lost a lot in the offseason, the Giants made multiple moves in the draft and free agency that should keep them among the NFC's elite.

First-round draft pick David Wilson has been productive in the preseason. He's gotten the bulk of the carries in the team's first two games, rushing for 69 yards on 15 attempts.

He's a lot smaller than Jacobs, but should split carries with Ahmad Bradshaw. Eli Manning said Wilson is the fastest running back the Giants have had since he entered the league.

Manningham received a lot of acclaim in the postseason, specifically for his catch in the final minutes against New England. New York drafted wide receiver Reuben Randle in the second round to hopefully make up for some of the production they lost in Manningham.

Hakeem Nicks and victor Cruz are still the team's top wide outs, so Randle won't be asked to do too much. The LSU product caught one pass for 49 yards against the Jets on Saturday.

Martellus Bennett will have to make up for a lot of the production that the team will lose without Ballard. He had four disappointing years in Dallas, never even recording a 300-yard receiving season while backing up Jason Witten. He looked good in the Giants first game against the Jaguars, catching thee balls for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Perhaps the Giants biggest offseason pickup was Keith Rivers.

The linebacker came over from Cincinnati to improve possibly the team's biggest weakness. If he can stay healthy, he'll improve an already talented defense. He was one of New York's better defenders against the Jets, recording five tackles, including one for a loss.

Most of the Giants top players from a year ago still remain on the team. Eli Manning leads one of the best offenses in the league. Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck anchor probably the best defensive front in the league.

However, players like Manningham, and Jacobs made some of the biggest plays in the playoffs that helped the Giants on their run in 2011. The newest Giants will play a big role in whether or not New York repeats as Super Bowl champions in 2012.

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