Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The NFL Draft is over and the Giants look to be done with setting up their roster for training camp this upcoming season. But solidifying the right players for the 2020 season is far from over.
With there no longer being a 53-man roster, two more roster slots open thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was voted on this offseason.
So, with rookies and free agents joining the veterans already on the roster card, here is a way-too-early 55-man roster prediction for Big Blue.
Let's start with the offense:
QUARTERBACKS (3): Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Alex Tanney
The Giants could very well carry only Jones and McCoy if they so choose. I'm going to put Tanney there, though, to provide more veteran guidance for Jones in his sophomore season. Also, the Giants have Case Cookus as an undrafted free agent on the roster now, too. He might be able to develop with the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (4): Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Eli Penny
Lewis was a great addition by the Dave Gettleman, as he can provide versatility in the rushing and passing game, as well as Barkley. Gallman moves to third string here after not panning out in his first few seasons. Penny is the team's fullback, so we'll keep him in this category.
TIGHT ENDS (3): Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo
Can Engram stay healthy? The Giants desperately hope so, as his athletic abilities in the middle of the field are still very valuable. Smith was a pleasant surprise when the Giants picked him up off waivers in the middle of the season, so he'll be a good complement to Engram. And with that injury history for No. 88, he's a good backup option to have. The veteran Toilolo, then, provides the blocking tight end option for Big Blue.
WIDE RECEIVERS (7): Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman, Cody Core, Reggie White Jr., UDFA battle
The three starters in Tate, Shepard and Slayton never once played a game together last season, with one or even two hurt at a time. Hopefully that can change this season. Depth is provided by Coleman first, as the Giants are going to give the former first-rounder another shot after tearing his ACL in training camp last year.
Core is mostly a special teams player, but can provide depth if need be. I'm also seeing White take the leap from the practice squad to the 55-man after having a solid camp.
And finally, expect to see a nice camp battle between the undrafted rookie receivers the Giants got in LSU's Derrick Dillon and Ohio State's Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor. If I had to guess right now, Victor's speed and route running gets him a spot on the roster.
OFFENSIVE LINE (10): Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley, Kevin Zeitler, Andrew Thomas, Cam Fleming, Matt Peart, Shane Lemieux, Jon Halapio, Nick Gates
Hog Mollies galore for the Giants, who will likely use one of those extra slots for a lineman. The Giants' first-round pick in Thomas should be in the right tackle slot by the end of camp with Solder opposite him. But New York certainly has the depth now with other rookies like Peart and Lemieux as well as a veteran option in Fleming at tackle.
I'll have the Giants also carrying their two centers in Pulley and Halapio at the moment, as whoever loses that battle could provide depth. And Gates rounds out the bunch after a solid 2019 season that saw him play all over the line.
DEFENSIVE LINE (4): Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill
With Patrick Graham likely running a 3-4 in his first year as defensive coordinator with the Giants, we're going to break down this defensive line starting with the interior muscle. Williams gets the main spotlight after he and the Giants couldn't come to an agreement on a long-term deal, and Gettleman was forced to franchise tag him.
Lawrence was a great rookie last season after going 17th overall to Big Blue, and Tomlinson rounds out the bunch with Hill expected to give them a breather throughout games. This was a solid rotation last year.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (6): Kyler Fackrell, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, Devante Downs
No secret the Giants struggled in the pass rush last season, so stocking up with six OLBs is necessary to see what they can get out of this group after Gettleman failed to bring in a true edge rusher.
Fackrell is the free agent pickup they're hoping can replicate his 10.5-sack season from 2018. Other than that, Ximines and Carter are expected to make leaps in their second and third years, respectively. Brown and Coughlin were late-round picks this year while Downs played seven games with the Giants last season.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5): Blake Martinez, Ryan Connelly, David Mayo, Tae Crowder, T.J. Brunson
Martinez was a solid pickup in free agency, and he takes over for Alec Ogletree in the middle of the defense. He should be the one calling out the plays in the huddle, too. Next to him will either be Connelly or Mayo. Connelly unfortunately suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 after showing great promise in his first taste of the NFL, and that made way for Mayo who had a solid year.
Crowder, aka this year's "Mr. Irrelevant" as the last pick of the draft, and fellow seventh-rounder Brunson round out the depth.
CORNERBACKS (6): James Bradberry, DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Darnay Holmes, Corey Ballentine, Grant Haley
Gettleman surprised everyone and spent on his former second-round pick back in Carolina. So Bradberry comes in and replaces Janoris Jenkins' No. 1 cornerback role, and he will have the big responsibility of leading this group at the young age of 26. Baker is also expected to put his rookie struggles behind him, and show more of the second half finish throughout this new season.
The slot corner position is, then, up for grabs for the last four players. Beal would be the frontrunner going into camp presumably, but Holmes -- a fourth-rounder out of UCLA -- could be a good option as well. Ballentine could be viewed more as a special teams returner, but his speed and potential jump in his second year could see better play. Haley can be slotted anywhere in the secondary and on special teams, so he gets a roster spot.
SAFETIES (4): Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Nate Ebner
A fun group to watch this season, the young and talented Peppers gets to team up with McKinney, who could very well be the steal of the draft after the Giants took him in the second round. His high IQ and play-making abilities had him ticketed for the first round, but that changed. The Giants snatched him up, and couldn't be happier. Expect him to play center field while Peppers stays more toward the line of scrimmage.
Love's role with the team is up for debate now. He tried switching to safety, and though he posted good numbers there, McKinney is a natural for the position. Ebner is Joe Judge's special teams Swiss Army knife that followed him from the Patriots to New York.
SPECIALISTS (3): K Aldrick Rosas, P Riley Dixon, LS Casey Kreiter
Last but not least, our specialists, who are led by the Pro Bowler in Rosas. It was a down year in 2019 compared to his nearly perfect 2018 campaign. The Giants used a second-round tender on him, though, to show just how confident they are in him to provide consistent kicking duties this season and perhaps for the foreseeable future.
While Dixon isn't a new face, Kreiter is with Zak DeOssie finally calling it quits after last season. So a new long snapper that spent the last four seasons and 58 games with the Broncos will join the special teams squad.