By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: With the first 2 pre-season games out of the way, I thought it would be appropriate to give my first edition of the New York Giants 53 man roster at the halfway point. Thus far, the Giants are having a solid pre-season with a 2-0 record and some new faces have emerged as major contributors in these pre-season games. I wouldn’t be a surprise if we do see some new faces making the roster as the competition in nearly every position has been intense. Here’s a look at my 1st edition 53 man roster projection for the New York Giants.
Starter: Eli Manning: This is Manning’s team as both Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur have full confidence in the future Hall of Famer. Biggest question here will be: If the Giants start the season 1-5, will Gettleman and Shurmur still have Manning’s back.
Backups Daniel Jones/Alex Tanney: Jones is definitely next in line should Manning get injured or if the Giants find themselves 1-5 or worse. Unlike last season, the Giants didn’t feel that Kyle Lauletta was ready to step in for Manning; which is why Alex Tanney is ahead of him on the depth chart. Tanney was very steady throughout training camp and his value in the quarterback room exceeds anything that Kyle Lauletta could bring to the table. Lauletta fails to make the team and could be traded or land on the practice squad if he passes through waivers.
Running Backs (5)
Starter: Saquon Barkley: Barkley is already the best player on the Giants roster and it’s expected that the offense will run through him. Barkley’s record-breaking rookie season is just the tip of the iceberg. With the improvements on the Offensive Line, Barkley should lead the league is rushing multiple times and break every Giants rushing record before he retires.
Backups: Rod Smith/Eli Penny/Paul Perkins/Jonathan Hilliman: This group thus far have done the best through 2 games and could change dramatically by the final cuts or once players pass through waivers from other teams. For now, these are the backups as Gallman becomes the odd man out and if he continues to be out performed; we could see a trade. Veterans Smith and Perkins have outplayed Gallman and rookie running back Hilliman has taken his opportunities and has ran it with by leading the team in rushing. Penny is a solid Fullback and will add much needed blocking for Barkley and can on occasion catch the ball out of the backfield.
Tight Ends (4)
Starters: Evan Engram: Many are expecting Engram to have a more defined role in 2019 with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. I still believe the Giants haven’t utilized Engram’s talents and biggest asset; which is his speed. The Giants need to implement the seam route more into their offensive scheme; which doesn’t seem to be the case over the past two seasons since drafting Engram. Former Giant greats Mark Bavaro and Jeremy Shockey made a living with the seam route and in order to get the most out of Engram; this needs to be the plan moving forward.
Backups: Rhett Ellison/C.J Conrad/ Scott Simonson: The Giants could go with four Tights Ends here, but that could change based on other positions production . The emergence of UDFA tight end C.J Conrad was not a total surprise as he showcased a full range of blocking skills to go along with soft hands and yards after the catch. GM Dave Gettleman could through a wrench here by the end of pre-season by trading/releasing Rhett Ellison and saving the Giants $4.5M in cap space; while only adding $1.25M in dead money. If so, then the Giants will carry only 3 tight ends rather than 4. Scott Simonson will serve as the depth Tight End and be more utilized in blocking assignments and occasional passing plays.
Wide Receivers (5)
Starters: Sterling Shepard & Golden Tate: Shepard and Tate are locks for the Giants at the top two wide receiver spots. However; both are very similar in size and style of play. Neither player possesses the elite playmaking skills of the departed Odell Beckham Jr. However; neither will provide the negative drama that came with OBJ as well. Shepard and Tate should provide steady production and give Eli Manning reliable targets throughout the season.
Backups: Cody Latimore, TJ Jones, Bennie Fowler: This is another fun positional battle throughout the 1st two games for the Giants. Coleman’s season ending injury (torn ACL) was a major disappointment for the Giants, but it’s giving the other wide receivers the opportunity to earn a spot. Latimore has size; which the Giants wide receiver group lacks and provided the Giants with consistent contribution thus far. Fowler has been steady and reliable for the Giants and TJ Jones has leaped frog over notable receivers to earn the final spot with his versatility and special team’s skills. The Giants could go with 6 wide receivers here as rookie Darius Stayton and Alonzo Russell could battle for that final spot, if the Giants decide on which position (tight end or wide receiver) will get the nod.
Offensive Linemen (9)
Starters: Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, Kevin Zeitler, Mike Remmer: Gettleman’s addition of Zeitler and Remmer on the right side of the line has made a huge difference throughout the pre-season games as the Giants running attack appears better. The Giants are no longer a predictable run left running attack any longer.
Backups: Spencer Pulley, Evan Brown, Chad Slade, & Nick Gates: The backups for the Giants are arguably the deepest group the Giants have had in many, many years. The battle between Halapio and Pulley is very close and if Halapio struggles a little, it wouldn’t surprise me if Pulley is inserted immediately. Brown has really upped his game and can play both guard & center as Slade and Gates have moved ahead of Chad Wheeler at the tackle position and could put him in jeopardy of earning a spot. Injuries has derailed rookie tackle George Asafo-Adjei and could result in the Giants placing him on the practice squad; should he clear waivers.
Defensive Line (5)
Starters: B.J Hill, Dexter Lawrence & Dalvin Tomlinson: Lawrence is having a solid pre-season and is really establishing himself as a force in their 3-4 Defense. Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J Hill have been steady, especially against the run, but have not been that impressive in the pass rush.
Backups: Olsen Pierre, R. J McIntosh: This is a close battle that includes 7th round pick Chris Slayton for the final two spots. Pierre and McIntosh are the front runners at this point, but again; I think Slayton could make it interesting. If so, The Giants will have some tough decisions to make.
Starters: Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, Alec Ogletree & Tae Davis: Got some new faces at the starting Linebacker position thus far as Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter have outplayed Kareem Martin for the outside linebacker spots. Alec Ogletree and Tae Davis been the best inside linebacker in the 1st two games, but rookie Ryan Connelly is making it interesting. Keep an eye on that as the season progresses throughout the year as Connelly could eventually un-seed Davis for more playing time. Last year starter B.J Goodson is in danger of either being released or possibly traded.
Backups: Kareem Martin, Ryan Connelly, Oshane Ximines, Nate Stupar, Jake Carlock:. Martin could be traded before the start of the season; which would be a better option than releasing him as it would save them an additional $4.775M in cap space; while only having $1.66M in dead money. Connelly and Ximines should earn a spot as well as Stupar for his exceptional special skills. Rookie Jake Carlock has done everything and more that’s expected as he has the Giants only defensive touchdown with an interception. If the Giants do trade/release Kareem Martin, they could go with just eight linebackers or add the ninth from their roster or through the waiver wire.
Starters: Janoris Jenkins/ Corey Ballantine/Grant Haley: Jenkins was penciled in to start well before training camp and pre-season games and has done nothing to change that. 6th round Corey Ballentine is actually the best cornerback for the Giants after the first two games thus far with his strong play. Rookie CB DeAndre Baker and 2nd year corner Sam Beal have been hampered by injuries early on. Julian Love has had some up and downs with missed assignments and poor angles in coverage, but should make the team. Grant Haley has provided the Giants with consistent play and earns the slot corner position just for now.
Backups: Sam Beal, Julian Love, DeAndre Baker: This is by far the deepest and most talented group of cornerbacks the Giants have had since their Super Bowl years. Giants have interchangeable corners who can contribute in any situation and also on special teams as well. Right now I have the Giants going with six corners, but that could change based on positional needs. If so, then Antonio Hamilton would get the nod as he excels on special teams.
Starters: Jabrill Peppers & Antoine Bethea: Peppers and Bethea performed well in the pre-season thus far and are giving the Giants better pass coverage than Collins and Riley did in 2018. Another area of improvement was the ability to make open field tackles; which was dreadful in 2018; mostly due to the inability of Curtis Riley.
Backups: Michael Thomas & Sean Chandler: Really like the safety position for the Giants as it has stability and reliability. Thomas and Chandler could see a lot more playing time as the season unfolds; based on their play in the pre-season.
Special Teams (3)
Punter: Riley Dixon: Dixon has shown enough early on in pre-season to retain his hold as the New York Giants punter, however; the recent signing of punter Johnny Townsend should be interesting to see unfold in the remaining two pre-season games.
Kicker: Aldrick Rosas: Rosas has picked up where he left off from his stellar 2018 season; which resulted in Pro Bowl honors. Thus far, he has been steady and consistent and shouldn’t have trouble making the roster.
Long Snapper: Zak DeOssie: DeOssie has the longest tenure with the Giants and that will be extended for at least another season as DeOssie will once again handle the long snapper assignment in 2019.
Final Thoughts: Again, this is based on just two pre-season games as we should see changes after the final pre-season game and the final cuts are made. Still believe GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Pat Shurmur will reach out to the waiver wire for additional depth to solidify the final roster. Next article: Final Projected 53 man roster for the New York Giants.