By Michael Stewart @golferbad
New York Giants: Top 3 Rise and Fall Performers
Introduction:It was a busy off season for the New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman with the additions of nearly half the roster through trades, free agency, the draft and UDFA signings. As expected the Giants have a new coaching staff led by Head Coach Pat Shurmur, new Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher and Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula.
With all these changes and if the Giants could avoid major injuries to key players; we should see a big improvement over their 3-13 record from last season with the help of Barkley. Looking over the roster I could see three players having solid seasons and unfortunately I can see three players having a drop off in production from last season.
Top 3 Breakout Season:
1. RB-Saquon Barkley: The Giants didn’t draft Barkley 2nd overall to window shop him this season as all indications strongly suggest that Barkley will have a large role for the Giants in 2018. The Giants are committed to the running game, so expect Barkley to be a major contributor in that department.
If Barkley turns out as advertised and thus far all indications are pointing to that; expect a 1000 plus in rushing, another 500 plus yards receiving and double digits in touchdowns. By the way, let’s not forget 1st team all-rookie team and probably offensive rookie of the year.
2. TE-Evan Engram: Although Engram led all rookie tight ends in receptions and yards last season there is plenty of room for improvement. Engram should benefit the most with a healthy OBJ and Barkley lining up. Opposing linebackers will also be playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Look for Engram to eclipse his totals of last season by a great deal and lift his game up to the next level.
3. OG-Will Hernandez: If Barkley is the X factor for the Giants offense, then Hernandez is the Y and the Z factor along with a new improved offense line; which includes Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh. Hernandez was rated a close second to rookie guard Quentin Nelson who was selected 6th overall by the Colts. Many football analysts were shocked that Hernandez wasn’t taken in the 1st round and to compound that further; they were completely surprised that the Browns passed on him with their 1st pick in round two (selected Offensive Guard Austin Corbett).
Hernandez plays mean and will give the Giants a little nastiness on the offensive line that they haven’t had in quite some time. Look for Hernandez to live up to the hype and have a solid season; which will reward him with 1st team all rookie team on offense.
Top 3 Let Down Season:
1. WR-Sterling Shepard: Sterling Shepard could see his production fall a bit with Beckham, Barkley and Engram on the field. You would think that he would benefit the most as opposing teams will look to double team on Beckham and to clog the lanes on Barkley. However; great players find way’s to produce and Beckham has had the target on his back since his rookie season and keeps producing; while Barkley still needs to prove it at the NFL level; all indications has him living up to the hype.
Shepard is expected to line up more on the outside and not in the slot where he is more suited; which in my opinion will limit his chances and production. Basically, Shepard will become the 4th option in the Giant’s offense and as long as they can compete and win enough games to earn a playoff spot, nothing else should matter.
2. 2. CB-Jarnoris Jenkins: My selection of Jenkins is mainly due to his struggles in 2017, especially in man to man coverage. Gettleman brought in a lot of free agent Cornerbacks, UDFA signings and most recently, Gettleman added cornerback Sam Beal in the supplemental draft for compensation of their 2019 3rd round. Unfortunately, Beal sustained a season ending injury to his shoulder and will miss all of the 2018 season. Regardless; many believe Beal could un-seed Jenkins in 2019 and if so, Jenkins could very well be a casualty cut next off season; which would save the Giants $9.25M in cap space. Unless Jenkins plays like an All Pro this season, that scenario will likely be the case.
3. 3. CB-Eli Apple: I have some concerns about the Giants two starting cornerbacks as you can see with Eli Apple joining Jenkins on my list. 2017 was probably the worst year for Apple during his football career (college & professional) and how he responses could possibly make or break the Giants season. Apple has problems in man to man coverage. He has had trouble in the past and if he doesn’t improve then this team will be victimized through the air in 2018.
I really have a hard time believing that Eli Apple has the makeup or the tools to be a shutdown corner in the NFL. I believe his struggles will continue.
Final Thoughts: We still have a long way before the Giants finalize the roster down to 53 players. As I mentioned earlier, the Giants could have a few additions not currently on the roster now by opening day. The Giants management and coaching staff will have a short rope on many players battling for a roster spot. Camp will remain very entertaining for the Giants.