With training camp now nicely underway we thought it might be a good time to post our man pre-camp (almost) opening day 53-man roster hich gives one a idea where the Giants’ strengths this season might lie (and they do have some strengths), as well as where there are weak links which, among other things, will need to be addressed at some point down the road.
QB: (2-3) Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor, Davis Webb … Needless to say Jones and Taylor are locks. It will be interesting to see if the Giants opt to keep Webb as the #3 guy whose main job may be to be a kind of QB ‘whisperer’ on the bench for Jones
RB: (3-4) Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell … Barkley and Brieda are locks and Brightwell is probably because of his special teams’ ability. Teams generally only keep 3 backs these days as there tend to be a lot of decent veteran journeyman types out there in free agency who are going to be just as good as any 4th back they are likely to keep, although rookie free agent Jashaun Corbin might be worth keeping on the original 53.
WR: (6-7) Kenny Golladay, Sheldon Shephard, Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slaton, Richie James … If at first you don’t succeed!! The Giants’ of course made beefing up their skill positions their top priority last year to give Jones something in the way of weapons to work with by signing Golladay and using their #1 pick on Toney. Unfortunately, they never could get a quorum for a healthy unit, so let’s try again with the addition of Robinson, this year’s #2 pick. In fact, the top 4 is pretty well set, but there are lots of questions after that. Start with Slayton who has underachieved the past couple of years and isn’t even guaranteed a roster spot, but right now he’s the only guy on the roster who gives them any potential at all of a big-play deep threat so we figure he’s here until he’s not. And if the Giants do need an extra body at times at WR they have a number of generally interchangeable parts they should be able to keep on the practice squad including CJ Board, Collin Johnson, David Sills and Robert Foster.
TE/FB: (3-4) Dan Bellinger, Ricky Seals-Jones, Austin Allen, Jeremiah Hall (FB) … The one thing you can say for sure about the TE position is that it will be completely different than last year with Eric Engram and Kyle Rudolph now playing in Florida and Kadon Smith still looking for a job. And it’s really hard to know how much Brian Daboll and company plan to use their TEs this fall, if their primary goal is to run a lot of 4-5 receiver sets. The other thing we can say with some certainty is that rookie Bellinger will be on the roster, while the Giants will also almost certainly keep at least one of veterans Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins, but we have a feeling that undrafted free agent Allen just might sneak in a head one of the vets.
OT: (3) Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, Matt Gono … Do the Giants suddenly have one of the best pair of young bookend OTs in the league? Just maybe. And the versatility of OG Josh Ezeudu means the Giants likely won’t keep a 4th tackle which is good because they really don’t have anyone else in camp at the position capable of stepping in and playing at a decent level.
C/G: (6) Jon Feliciano, Shane Lemieux, Mark Glowinski, Josh Ezeudu, Jamil Douglas, Marcus McKethan … Gs Lemieux and Glowinski and C Feliciano look to be locks to start inside at least to start the season. Meanwhile, Ezeudu is also the primary back-up at OG, while veteran Jamil Douglas is the only other legit C on the roster. And it’s just hard to see the Giants cutting a 6-6, 340-pound 5th round pick like McKethan. That could leave veteran OGs Ben Bredeson and Max Garcia vulnerable, while Nick Gates looks to be a candidate spend the year on IR while he continues to rehab from the broken leg he suffered last season.
DT/5TDE: (5-6) Leo Williams, Dex Lawrence, Justin Ellis, Nick Williams, DJ Davidson … Williams (Leo) and Lawrence give the Giants one of the better 1-2 combinations at DT (or DE when they are in 3-4 mode.) But for a position normally manned by 300-plus pound guys, the Giants are dangerously this up front on defense. Ellis has plenty of experience on the nose, but his best years were as many as four years ago, while the rookie Davidson is big, but raw. Adding the other Williams (Nick) gives the Giants a little experience at DT, but he’s still very much a journeyman. The Giants could also conceivably get some snaps inside from ERs Jihad Ward and Ellerson Smith, but it certainly wouldn’t be a shock if the Giants were to add at least one, and maybe even two, defensive linemen either in a trade or off the waiver wire.
ERs: (4-5) Az Ojulari, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jihad Ward, Quincy Roche, Ellerson Smith … Fingers crossed that Ojulari and Thibodeaux emerge as one of the better ER duos in the league, while they have decent depth with Ward, Roche and Smith. Meanwhile, Oshane Ximemes has to really step up his game to have any chance of sticking this summer.
LB: (4-5) Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, Darrian Beavers, Micah McFadden … Hopefully, the defense will get a boost with the return of Martinez assuming he’s 100% recovered from last year’s ACL injury. And having that stabilizing veteran presence around should make Crowder, who did have 130 tackles and 2 picks last year, a better player, although he could be pushed for PT by the rookie Beavers sooner rather than later, while it’s hard not to see McFadden, the other rookie MLB, at least making the 53. That could leave veterans Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown again scrambling to stick as special teamers.
CB: (5-6) Adoree Jackson, Aaron Robinson, Cor’dale Flott, Darnay Holmes, Rod Williams, Michael Jaquet … The departure of James Bradberry left a big hole in the secondary, but Jackson has the physical skills to be a #1 shutdown corner in his own right. It’s just that there’s not much proven talent after that making corner another position where it won’t be a surprise if the Giants ultimately try and upgrade through a trade or waiver wire claim.
F/SS: (4-5) Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Dane Belton, Andrew Adams, Jarren Williams … McKinney, Love and Belton look like locks, while Adams provides some veteran depth and Williams is a versatile guy who can also play the slot in a pinch.
ST: (3) Graham Gano, Jamie Gillan, Casey Kreiter … Given that PK Gano, who has arguably the Giants’ MVP the past couple of years, LS Krieter, and P Gillan, who comes over after three reasonably productive years in Cleveland, are the only three specialists currenly on the roster, well you do the math!!
Notes: While the coaches are saying that every job is open, in reality, as many as 40 of the 53 roster spots are probably already pretty well set barring injury. And who can play on special teams will be a major factor in who ends winning one of those final dozen or spots. In fact, one of the big differences between what fans would do and what coaches is actually do is that fans usually want to use the final 2-3 slots on guys with future potential, whereas coaches ask the question: What can a player do for us on game day such as can he play specials and/or can he provide extra depth at more than one position etc.
Of course, the original 53-man roster is hardly set in stone and there is always some tinkering before the opening game. In particular, as noted, one shouldn’t be surprised if the Giants look to upgrade the depth on their defensive line, as well as a at CB. And while it’s a long way off until the 2023 draft, and a lot can, and will change between now and then, it is hard not to figure that the DL and CB situations will be areas that the Giants will be addressing in numbers this coming off-season. Stay tuned!