July 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Giants 53-man roster showcased: Improved depth pushes standout veterans into the bubble

Giants 53-man roster showcased: Improved depth pushes standout veterans into the bubble

The Giants’ roster picture became clearer in year two under general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Dabol. The roster now consists mostly of players who were drafted or signed by that system, so there were fewer spots up for grabs during the recently concluded offseason program.

Training camp and pre-season can turn things around, but here’s an early prediction for who will earn a spot on the Giants’ 53-man roster:

Quarterback: 2

in: Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor
Outside: Tommy DeVito

The Giants only kept their quarterbacks last season when they had a veteran third baseman in Davis Webb. So there’s no chance of keeping DeVito, a non-drafted rookie, on the active roster this season. He should land DeVito (or another quarterback) on the practice squad like Webb did last season.

Backs: 4

in: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breda, Eric Gray, Gary Brightwell
Outside: Jason Corbyn

Yes, Barkley will be on the list this season. But it may not be a smooth path to get to that point if he doesn’t get a long-term extension before the July 17 deadline. Breida returns as the top backup, while Gray was selected in the fifth round to enhance depth. Brightwell will be on the roster, but he’s a regular special team player who offered limited offensive opportunities last season.

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Wide receivers: 6

in: Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, Paris Campbell, Wandell Robinson, Galen Hyatt, Sterling Shepherd
Outside: Colin Johnson, Jeff Smith, Jamison Crowder, David Sales, Clail Pembleton, Gaydon Meekens, Mackay Polk, Bryce Ford-Wheaton

The Giants have upgraded their wide receiver depth, making calls tougher in the end points. Slayton, Hodgins, Campbell and Hyatt are locks on the list. Robinson is also a lock, but it’s not clear if he’ll be fully recovered by the start of the season from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered last November. Shepard tore his ACL two months ago, so he’s moving forward with his recovery. The veteran looked sharp running trails in the junior camp. If he’s healthy, he’s easily one of the six best receivers on the list.

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The Giants carried seven wide receivers at the start of last season. If they do it again, it could open the door for Johnson, who practically produced in each of the past two seasons, but missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon. One problem with the six best receivers is that they offer no particular value to teams, so Smith, who has experience in the kicking game, could make the Lions a candidate for a roster spot.

tight ends: 3

in: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Kager
Outside: Tommy Sweeney, Chris Merrick, Ryan Jones

It’s clear that Waller and Bellinger are the ultimate best guys. The plot is whoever gets the last point(s) in the position. The Giants held three tight ends most of last season, and they’re considering doing so again, as they need to be able to keep their best on the insurance practice squad. Keager gets a nod for picking it up.

Offensive linemen: 9

in: Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredison, John Michael Schmitz, Mark Glowinski, Evan Neal, Josh Izodu, Marcus McKeithan, Tyre Phillips, Shane Lemieux
Matt Burt, Corey Cunningham, Jack Anderson, JC Hasenauer, Devery Hamilton, Wyatt Davis

The six best linemen—Thomas, Bredison, Schmitz, Glowinski, Neale and Izudu—were booked, and the only question was who would start at left and center guard between Bredison, Schmitz, and Izudu. A flexible at guard and tackle, McKeithan dented his 2022 fifth-round pick before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in training camp last year.

Phillips, Peart, and Cunningham would fight for the swing tackle job. Phillips filled this role last season and has the added value of his ability to play guard. Injuries hampered Lemieux’s return, but he stood out among a crowded pack for a final back-up spot to the inside cabin.

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Defensive men: 5

in: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DJ Davidson
Outside: Ryder Anderson, Gordon Reilly, Vernon Butler, Kobe Smith

The top four positions in the D-line are occupied by veterans – Lawrence, Williams, Robinson and Roche Nunez. The Giants carried five defensive players last season, leaving a group of youngsters vying for last place on the roster. Davidson, who is recovering from a torn ACL, gets a slight advantage because he was a fifth-round pick last year, but those numbers will be tough competition.

External back: 5

in: Kavon Thibodeau, Aziz Ogullari, Jihad Ward, Ochan Zimens, Tomon Fox
Outside: Ellison Smith, Habakkuk Baldonado

The Giants bring back the same outside linebacker lineup as last season, with the only addition being Baldonado, an undrafted rookie. So it’s easy to get into the best outside midfielders from last season at this point, especially with Smith once again in the side adjusting from an injury over the spring. But this is a situation crying out for a preseason promotion, especially with some veterans (Justin Houston, Melvyn Ingram) on the market.

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Inside linebackers: 6

in: Bobby Okrick, Jarrad Davis, Darian Beavers, Micah McFadden, Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin
Outside: Deontay Johnson, Troy Brown

It feels excessive carrying six inside linebackers, but Brown and Coughlin are two totally special teams. They led the team on special teams by a wide margin last season, so they should have roster spots until others emerge who can fill their roles. Davis was a starter during the spring before missing the minor camp due to an undisclosed injury. It could be a surprising cut if the Beavers come back from a torn ACL in training camp and grab the starting job next to Okereke.

Cornbucks: 5

in: Adoree ‘Jackson’, Deonte Banks, Cor’Dale Flott, Aaron Robinson, Tre Hawkins
Outside: Darnay Holmes, Amani Orwar, Rodarius Williams, Zion Gilbert, Jemon Green, Leonard Johnson

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Flute and Holmes would compete for the starting cornerback slot job. Flott was a third round pick by this system and is cheaper, so that should give him an advantage. It’s hard to see the Giants holding Holmes as a backup since they could save $2.7 million in salary cap savings if they cut or trade him. Robinson is a wild card because he was limited by injuries his first two seasons and was on the side to rehabilitate a torn ACL in the spring. But the 2021 third-round pick has the ability to play both indoors and outdoors, which could make him even more valuable as a backup.

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Safety: 5

in: Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock, Nick McCloud, Dane Belton and Bobby McCain
Outside: Gervarius Owens, Trenton Thompson, Alex Cook

Pennock, McCloud, Belton and McKinney will battle for the starting spot alongside McKinney. It is difficult to hinder this rivalry because Pennock and Belton have been sidelined this spring due to injuries. McCain has the most experience in that group, but he could be on the brink of collapse if he doesn’t win the first job because he’s not a special contributor to the team. The Giants could instead choose to keep Owens, a seventh-round rookie.

Specialists: 3

in: K Graham Gano, B Jimmy Gillan, LS Casey Crater
Outside: LS Cam Lyons

Janu and Ceylan have no competition for their jobs. The Giants added Leon as an undrafted free agent, but he is not seen as a serious competitor to Kreiter, who has been the team’s long snapper for the past three seasons.

(Photo by Cor’Dale Flott, Darnay Holmes, and Zyon Gilbert: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)