It’s time for some football! The New York Giants have officially wrapped up training camp and are now smack in the middle of yet another NFL Preseason.
Although the Giants are coming off of an uninspiring 27-10 loss in the first preseason game to the Miami Dolphins, execution is more important than results at this stage of the preseason. And in that regard, new head coach Ben McAdoo is working hard to turn his bunch into a playoff contender.
We’ll break down each positional group individually before unveiling a final 53-Man roster projection and depth chart at the end of the article. The roster projection will be updated weekly, so be sure to come back for more following each preseason game!
Not much has changed at the quarterback position for the Giants, but that is far from a bad thing. Eli Manning was his same old consistent self in 2015, a season in which he passed for 4,432 yards, a career-best 35 touchdowns, only threw 14 interceptions, and had a career-best passer rating of 93.6.
Manning is 35 years old, but he still looks like he has plenty of high-quality football left in the tank.
The Giants will presumably have Ryan Nassib as their backup quarterback for the fourth straight season, but his woeful preseason performance could lead to a longer look at camp arm Logan Thomas.
Last season sure was an interesting one for Giants running backs. For most of the campaign, the G-Men used an ill-fated running back by committee approach, which didn’t lead to any back gaining any momentum.
But by Week 14, the Giants finally figured it all out by giving Rashad Jennings the lion’s share of carries, and he did not disappoint. Jennings finished with 863 yards and a 4.4 average, his best totals since becoming a starter. The Giants will look for more of the same from Jennings in 2016.
Shane Vereen returns once again as the Giants’ pass-catching and third-down back, a role he excelled in last year. Coach McAdoo could look to utilize Vereen even more this season.
Speedy rookie Paul Perkins should have a spot on the team barring an injury, as should power back Andre Williams. Veterans Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey will fight for spots as well.
The Giants may be abstaining from a traditional fullback this season in favor of keeping an extra “H-Back”-type: a player who can line up at both fullback and tight end. Enter veteran Will Johnson, who instantly becomes the Giants’ best inline blocker. This could mean the end for versatile Nikita Whitlock, who will compete hard for a job.
As long as Odell Beckham Jr. is on the team, the Giants will always score at least an “A” in the grading, but Big Blue will need more production from his teammates in 2016. The team moved on from the inconsistent Rueben Randle in the offseason, but found a capable replacement in rookie Sterling Shepard.
Shepard will be a full-time starter as a rookie, which is rare but more than deserved for the shifty wideout. He has been compared to speedy slot receiver Victor Cruz, who will certainly have a role on this team as long as he’s healthy.
The Giants are not expecting Cruz to go out and top 80 catches and 8 TDs, but they will absolutely take 50 receptions and 5 TDs from the savvy vet.
Dwayne Harris returns as an inside option and the primary return man. The depth spots will be up for grabs among young players like Geremy Davis, Roger Lewis, Myles White, and Anthony Dable.
The Giants never have a “top” tight end on paper, but they always seem to find scrappers that get the job done. Last year, Will Tye stepped up after Larry Donnell’s season-ending injury. Both are healthy this year, which could lead to some big gains in the passing game.
The third tight end will likely be either Matt Lacosse or rookie Jerrell Adams, and H-Back Will Johnson will see lots of time as a blocking tight end.
The X-Factor for the New York Football Giants this year will be the offensive line. The interior is as sturdy as they come with both Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg top-10 talents at their positions. Veteran John Jerry is not flashy but is dependable at right guard.
The question will be the play of the tackles. If Ereck Flowers can build off of an up-and-down rookie season on the blind side and veteran Marshall Newhouse can hold down the fort on the right side, the Giants will have a playoff team.
But if the unit cannot keep Eli Manning on his feet, the Giants will struggle once again. Flowers’ development could make or break this team.
After a season in which the defensive line only accounted for 19 sacks, GM Jerry Reese spent big on his former pride and joy. He first re-signed the valuable Jason Pierre-Paul to a 1-year deal before adding expensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison and the highest-paid defensive end in the game, young Olivier Vernon, on long-term deals.
Combined with Jonathan “Big Hank” Hankins in the middle, the Giants’ starting D-Line looks poised to wreak havoc in 2016. Rotational players Kerry Wynn, Owa Odighizuwa, and Jay Bromley will be depended on heavily as well.
If everyone stays healthy, the D-Line will be in the best shape it’s been in since the 2011 Super Bowl season.
Much like the offensive line is the X-Factor for the offense, the linebackers will determine the success of the Giants’ 2016 defense. Strongside linebacker Devon Kennard is a fine player when he is healthy, but he is injured more often than not. The same can be said for weakside backers J.T. Thomas III and Jonathan Casillas.
In the middle, a competition between incumbent Jasper Brinkley, veteran Kelvin Sheppard, former Redskin Keenan Robinson and rookie B.J. Goodson is brewing, with the early edge going to Brinkley. Veteran Mark Herzlich will also likely find a way to stick around.
The Giants’ linebackers used to be the playmakers of their defense. If this group can stay healthy, they’ve got the chance to turn back time and excel.
The Giants’ secondary was very inconsistent last season due to a high number of injuries, but much like the D-Line, Jerry Reese spent big to make sure that, if healthy, the Giants’ secondary will be one to be reckoned with.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is still a shutdown number 1 corner, and pricey new addition Janoris Jenkins is a much flashier, albeit riskier, player than former Giant Prince Amukamara ever was. Veteran Leon Hall was an excellent add to play slot corner, which means that Trevin Wade will start out as a backup.
First round draft pick Eli Apple will see time both inside and outside this season before taking on a larger role next year.
Over at safety, Landon Collins is a viable strong safety and rookie Darian Thompson offers a much better free safety option than the Giants ever had last season. Bennett Jackson and Nat Berhe are still around as backup safeties as well.
Much like the rest of the Giants’ defense, the secondary can be dynamite if it can stay healthy.
The Giants finally got a truly “special” performance out of their special teamers last season. Kicker Josh Brown had a career year, as did punter Brad Wing and return man Dwayne Harris. The coverage only allowed 1 touchdown all year and tackled the opposition well.
Unfortunaley, the Giants will begin the 2016 season without Brown, as he is serving a suspension for a domestic violence charge. For at least week 1, veteran Randy Bullock will be the kicker.
Longtime snapper Zak DeOssie will be back if he is fully recovered from a wrist injury suffered last season.
53-Man Roster Projection:
QB (2): Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib
RB (5): Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa, Paul Perkins
WR (6): Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, Dwayne Harris, Tavarres King, Geremy Davis
TE (4): Larry Donnell, Will Tye, Will Johnson, Jerrell Adams
OL (8): Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Marshall Newhouse, Will Beatty, Bobby Hart, Brett Jones
DE (5): Oliver Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Owa Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn, Romeo Okwara
DT (4): Damon Harrison, Jonathan Hankins, Jay Bromley, Montori Hughes
LB (7): Jasper Brinkley, Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, Kelvin Sheppard, Mark Herzlich, J.T. Thomas III, B.J. Goodson
CB (5): Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Leon Hall, Trevin Wade
S (4): Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Nat Berhe, Mykelle Thompson
Special Teams (3):
K (1): Randy Bullock
P (1): Brad Wing
LS (1): Zak DeOssie