The Philadelphia Eagles had no shortcomings making news during the NFL offseason. The most recent storyline surrounding the team involved a contractual stare-down with offensive guard Evan Mathis, who was scheduled to earn $13.5 million over the next two years. Much to the chagrin of general manager/head coach Chip Kelly, the two-time Pro Bowl selection was seeking an extension and a pay raise.

Head up the Interstate and the player that Philadelphia trashed just might be a welcomed treasure in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Unable to find any takers, the Eagles released Mathis, who will be seeking his fifth organization. With some talented, yet unproven players on their offensive line, there’s certainly a need for a proven commodity like Mathis. However, what appears to be a match made in heaven, could be met with a couple of stumbling blocks preventing this deal from becoming a reality.

For starters, Mathis is not only seeking a multi-year deal but he also wants to be paid amongst the best guards in the NFL. The Giants are looking to get younger and healthier along their offensive line, adding a soon-to-be 34-year old coming off a season in which he played only nine games isn’t the kind of player that General Manager Jerry Reese shells out money to. Especially when you look ahead to free agency next year, the Giants will be attempting to re-sign quarterback Eli Manning, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and cornerback Prince Amukamara. Unless they could obtain Mathis on a one-year deal, it seems highly unlikely that Reese would make this signing a priority over the others.

Secondly, what the Giants need right now, perhaps more than anything else, is a veteran presence at left tackle. Right now, the Giants are counting on their 1st round draft pick, Eric Flowers, to be their man. Flowers has been playing left tackle during OTA practices, while veteran and free agent pick-up Marshall Newhouse has been starting at the right side. Although there’s optimism with Flowers, the reality is the Giants do not have any quality depth at left tackle. Flowers is a talented prospect, but few if any thought he’d be a starting left tackle nearly the moment he was drafted since, among other things, his technique and hand placement needs work and Flowers needs to get used to the speed he’ll see on the left side. The Giants have to find themselves some insurance in case Flowers truly struggles at left tackle in the early going. Perhaps the Giants simply swap Flowers and Newhouse if Flowers does indeed struggle when they put the pads on during training camp the preseason, but based on Newhouse’s recent struggles and lack of playing time the last couple of seasons, it seems clear that he isn’t the answer at left tackle, and that’s the problem. Although the Giants don’t have the best guards in the league, they seem more than ready to move forward with what they have there, while the same cannot be said about their situation at left tackle.

What if the Giants decide to go against the grain and do something sudden and sign Mathis? For one thing the addition of Mathis would keep the inconsistent veteran guard John Jerry off the field, which would likely be improvement and it would obviously add another quality starter to the offensive line. While the addition of Mathis and figuring out where to play him and the rest of their starters would surely entice Tom Coughlin and the Giants, the type of contract Mathis is looking for is simply more than what the Giants would be willing to give. As Jerry Reese often says, the Giants will “investigate everything,” and contact Mathis’ representatives if they haven’t already, but unless he is willing to sign a deal that is far more team friendly, don’t expect Mathias to be in blue this season.

It’s no secret to anyone in the NFL that the key to the Giants’ success during the Tom Coughlin era has had three parts: Eli Manning, the offensive line, and the defensive line, all of which were vital facets of New York’s championship seasons in 2007 and 2011. Since the 2013 NFL Draft, Jerry Reese and his staff have taken a more conservative, but also a more practical approach to selecting talent. Instead of taking players with high ceilings and high bust potential such as linebacker Clint Sintim, wide receiver Ramses Barden, tight end Travis Beckum, defensive tackle Marvin Austin, and cornerback Jayron Hosley, who were all either a 2nd or 3rd round pick, the Giants have lately selected players who didn’t necessarily have the highest ceilings, but were good, solid college football players with plenty of potential and minimal risks. With that said, it’s no surprise that most of the players the Giants have taken in recent years play on either side of the line of scrimmage. In fact, the Giants have used seven of their top nine draft choices the past three years on either offensive or defensive linemen, where Reese and the rest of the Giants’ management have a pretty decent track record.

Even with plenty of attention on the offensive and defensive lines the last few drafts, the Giants’ have a number of promising players under 25 spread throughout the roster. Let’s take a lot at the top ten.

  1. Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. [Rd.1-2014 LSU, SEC]: The Giants thought they got a very talented player when they selected Beckham, but no one with the Giants thought Beckham would provide the instant impact that tight end Jeremy Shockey and linebacker Lawrence Taylor provided during their rookie years. What made the rookie of the year’s season all the more impressive was the fact that he missed all of training camp, the entire preseason, and the first four games of the regular season before taking the league by storm. Everyone in the football world is waiting to see how Beckham will top last year’s 91 catches, 1305 yards and 12 TDs, but his impact will be greater than his own production. With tremendous speed and agility, hands, and route running ability, Beckham is a player that will keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. The attention he’ll get will make life easier for the rest of New York’s skill players on offense.
  1. Defensive Tackle, Jonathon Hankins [Rd.2-2013, Ohio State, B1G]: Hankins quietly had a breakout year in 2014 with 7 sacks and 51 tackles. At 6’3 320 pounds, Hankins clearly has the size and the girth to stuff the run, but Hankins is surprisingly athletic with excellent quickness and is a very talented pass rusher. Going into his third season, Hankins is on the verge of becoming a pro bowl defensive tackle.
  1. Defensive End, Demontre Moore [Rd.3-2013, Texas A&M, SEC]: After contributing and playing well on special teams in 2013, Moore saw part-time action at defensive end in 2014 and recorded 5.5 sacks and 32 tackles. With defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo back with the Giants, many feel Moore could ascend under Spags similar to former Giants’ defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora since Moore has the size, speed, and ability to be big time player.
  1. Tackle, Eric Flowers [Rd.1-2015, Miami, ACC]: With veteran left tackle Will Beatty out five-to-six months with a pectoral injury, Flowers will get a chance to prove his worth right away. Flowers will bring much needed strength, power, and attitude to the Giants offensive line. The mammoth Flowers enjoys putting defenders in the ground and could help New York’s offensive line regain the physical presence it once had.
  1. Center, Weston Richburg [Rd.2-2014, Colorado State, MWC]: Playing exclusively at guard during his rookie season as he grew accustom to Ben McAdoo’s offense and the NFL, Richburg will be New York’s starting center in 2015. Richburg is exactly the kind of player the Giants need on the offensive line: talented, smart, and tough. If the offensive line gets things turned around in 2015, expect Richburg to be a big reason why.
  1. Wide Receiver, Rueben Randle [Rd.2-2012, LSU, SEC]: Randle may finally be ready to play to his potential and be a great compliment to Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz in 2015. It was clear that Randle never completely grasped former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s system, as many of Eli Manning’s passes back then to Randle were either incomplete or intercepted. However, with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, Randle put forth a solid season in 2014 with 71 catches for 938 yards and 3 TDs.
  1. Safety, Landon Collins [Rd. 2-2015, Alabama, SEC]: At 6’ 225 pounds, Collins has good size and is an excellent tackler as he proved at Alabama with 190 tackles in three years. New York feels Collins has better range in coverage than others suspect, so look for Collins to lineup all over the field and be a young leader on the Giants defense.
  1. Linebacker, Devon Kennard [Rd.5-2014, PAC-12]: Kennard surprised many with his quality play that included 4.5 sacks and 43 tackles in 2014. Kennard is a smart, versatile linebacker, capable of playing inside or outside while being a good pass rusher. Many think Kennard could turn out to be New York’s best linebacker since Antonio Pierce and a staple in the middle of the Giants’ defense for years to come. 
  1. Running Back, Andre Williams [Rd.4-2014, Boston College, ACC]: Williams played in every game for the Giants in 2014, while turning in a decent rookie campaign with 721 yards and 7 TDs. At 5’11 230 pounds, Williams is a well built runner with excellent strength and a decent burst. As long as New York’s offensive line improves their run blocking, Williams could be one of the better down-hill runners in the league, while helping the Giants regain their reputation for being a physical team.
  1. Defensive Tackle, Jay Bromley [Rd.3-2014, Syracuse, ACC]: Bromley’s rookie season ended up being a bit of a wash as he played in only eight games and recorded just five tackles. Bromley spent time this offseason training with Jason Pierre-Paul and his trainer and has added strength while slimming down and should be better equipped to play against run this season. Aside from Jonathon Hankins, the Giants have some questions and unknowns at defensive tackle, so Bromley will have a chance to come onto the scene in 2015.

Since their victory in Super Bowl 46, the Giants have had to replace many important players in a short amount of time. This includes many players on the offensive and defensive lines such as David Diehl, Kareem McKenzie, Chris Snee, David Baas, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora. The last three drafts do seem promising in regards to making both lines the top strengths of the team with the additions of Hankins, Bromley, Moore, Richburg, Flowers, Pugh, and even rookie defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Many of the young players mentioned, though, still have to prove themselves and show if they have what it takes to make the Giants contenders again. Either way, Jerry Reese has done a quality job of implementing plenty of younger players on the Giants’ roster, as they only rely on a handful of veterans. The Giants currently only have ten players on the roster who are 30 years of age or older and one of those players is quarterback Eli Manning. Three others are specialists: kicker Josh Brown, punter Steve Weatherford, and longer snapper Zak DeOssie. Only four other players 30 and older have played significant downs the past couple of seasons: linebacker Jon Beason, tackle Will Beatty, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, and running back Rashad Jennings, while the two final players are backup guard Dallas Reynolds and 34 year old rookie defensive end, Brad Harrah.  So, overall, the Giants appear to be doing a good job of getting younger and more talented, but we won’t know for sure until this fall.

I was never really into Collins’ work then I heard a live performance of In the Air Tonight a year back…it was such a moving event that a sentence cannot fully describe the experience.  In the Air Tonight truly awakens and excites my spirit as the lyrics express the feelings that come when challenging the unknown or whatever I’m afraid of, while looking forward to the moment ahead of me. It’s a truly inspiring music and it’s my opinion that a person of any background or character can listen to In the Air Tonight can instantly feel the power of the human will surge through them.

Collins has had success as a solo artist and as part of Genesis with other songs like Turn it on Again, Easy Lover, Sussudio, and One More Night, but not all his work is truly immaculate in my opinion. In Too Deep just never moved me – it feels incomplete. From a lyric perspective, the work is solid as the issues of desperation and domination by one side of a relationship are evident, however, the music doesn’t quite complement the lyrics like it should. I’m not the biggest fan of Collins’ love songs. I enjoy Two Hearts, but I much prefer his songs that aren’t about being in love of falling out of love. I much rather prefer his songs that are about the struggles, victories, and experiences that come with life’s journey.

The lyrics, the music, his voice, and his songs bring me a sense of liberation like I’ve never experienced, which is most evident in I Don’t Care Anymore and Take Me Home. Nothing quite replenishes my emotions that are drained by constantly dealing with the frustrations and trials of everyday life like I Don’t Care Anymore. With a cold beat that convey feelings of loneliness, anger, and possibly even hate, the lyrics provide the urge not to put up with nonsense and the idiocy of today and instead to do things as I see fit, while not worrying if society sees me as “cool”. Take Me Home is truly unique as it touches my emotions on more than one level. The music has a festive, eager sound, which I find quite relaxing, liberating, and even optimistic, but the real emotion that’s conveyed to me through the music is nostalgia. When I hear Take Me Home, I always think of the time and place I came from and how I want to go back to that since nothing else has felt more comfortable. 

Even with all the positive remarks I have given on some of Collins’ work, nothing, in my opinion, speaks to me like Another Day in Paradise. What a great song – my personal favorite. When I heard this song a year ago, the opening chords took me back about twenty years as I recalled listening to Another Day in Paradise in the backseat of our minivan as a child. With the memories aside, I find so much solace in the subtle, yet clear chords of the song. When I hear the opening tone mixed with drums then when the electric keyboard and acoustic guitar emerge, I feel receptive to everything happening around me. It’s like someone pulls the wool away from my eyes every time I hear the start of this song. Some may say the lyrics are depressing and quite basic and perhaps even dull. They may be basic, but the lyrics are quite powerful to me. Collins tells a story of a poor woman who is ignored by people who live well, puts life in such a clear perspective for me. I know what I am, what I’ve done so far with my life, and what I haven’t done, but Another Day in Paradise instills comfort in me knowing I am not in as bad a situation as so many others, thus putting me in a appreciative mindset, as I realize what I do have. What a moving song.