Giants 2nd year players ready to make an impact: Part 2 – Offense
By Steven Ekenstierna (@stevie_oneduhh)
While we know that the best rookies on the Giants 2016 team was on defense, the most vital second year players in 2017 will reside on the offensive side of the ball.
The Giants are aware of the importance of having the offense play at a high level. These two second year offensive players will be the key to driving a dynamic offensive for the Giants enhancing their chances to repeat as a playoff team.
Giants fans were excited about the 4th round selection of Wayne Gallman in this years draft adding much-needed depth to the running back core. Second year man Paul Perkins has been named the starter by Head Coach Ben McAdoo going into OTA’s and presumably Training Camp.
Perkins snatched the starting role as of now based off his performance at the tail end of last season. With Rashad Jennings lacking the explosive ability to break off big runs and more importantly an offensive line that struggled, it was only a matter of time before someone younger and faster took over. Perkins showed flashes of a potential on numerous occasions. Often described as a shifty back, Perkins displayed patience in finding the hole and explosion when going through it.
The biggest impact Perkins looks to make is when he’s in space. When he gets to the second level he shows elite ability to shake defenders in a myriad of ways. His east-west jump cuts are something out of a video game. He gets downright inventive when he gets to the second level and although he doesn’t have elite straight-line sprinter type speed, he’s shown the ability to run away from defenders. This will only improve in year two.
Some players speed translates better in the game than in does in practice when wearing shorts. Perkins is one of those players. He also adds a new dimension to the screen game, something the Giants desperately need.
In 2017 expect Perkins to excel on wheel routes and as a “safety value” for Eli Manning. Something we haven’t seen in a Giants running back since Ahmad Bradshaw lined up behind the QB. Perkins is the offensive player who will get the most opportunity to vastly improve on the NFL. Expectations were small in 2016; however his hard work proved he can contribute. If he can take advantage of this opportunity it could mean all the difference in the world to a Giants championship aspiration. I would go as far as saying his impact could be the difference between making and not making the playoffs in 2017 against a brutal 2017 schedule.
Much like his fellow rookie Eli Apple’s impact on the defensive side of the ball, there’s very little to complain about with Sterling Shepard’s play and impact on the offense. An Elite receiver in college and the son of former NFL player Derrick Shepard. Sterling came into the season with a fair amount of hype. He exceeded expectations with 65 receptions, almost 700 yards, and 8 touchdowns from the slot receiver position. He proved to be durable and willing to go over the middle.
He tailed off at the end of the season a bit which can be expected from a rookie that’s used as much as Shepard was. The Giants were at the top of the league in percentage of plays run with three WRs on the field.
I look for Shepard to continue his progression and be an impact player yet again this upcoming season. With the addition of WR Brandon Marshall and 1st round pick Evan Engram the Giants won’t be lacking in passing options and that means teams are going to have to make important decisions on how to cover each receiver and what player to do it with. This will cause the type of matchup problems that will haunt opposing coaches. Even if Shepard’s numbers dip in certain areas whether it be TDs/yards/receptions his impact will be felt.
It is impossible to stress enough how important it is for the Giants offense to perform at a high level commensurate with the talent on the 2017 roster. Much like the way Paul Perkins’ maturation will be needed, Shepard will need to take the next step even if he’s fighting Brandon Marshall and/or Even Engram for playing time.
The Giants cannot afford to play the way it did in 2016 and expect to return to the playoffs. The schedule expects to be far tougher in 2017. Any expectation of returning to the playoffs and going after a 5th Super Bowl for this franchise, hinges squarely on the development of the draft players. These two second year players, Shepard and Perkins, will be depended on heavily to continue their development through hard work and film study.