By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: Originally, The new CBA ruling for the practice squad was to have an increase from 10 players to 12 players to start the 2020 season. However; with COVID-19 pandemic still among us; the NFL has been discussing an alternative for the 2020 season by increasing the practice squad roster (current total unknown) to compensate in case player/players contract the virus during the season. The NFL should come to a decision shortly, so teams can plan accordingly. In this article, I will just provide 12 players who I believe has the best chance of making the Giants practice squad. If the league does increase the numbers, then I will have a revise article out with any additions.
Quarterback: I believe the Giants will only go with two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster mostly because of the new CBA practice squad ruling. Therefore; I believe that Cooper Rush gets the nod over Alex Tanney and Case Cookus.
Running Back: I project UDFA Javon Leake will impress the Giants coaching staff throughout training camp enough to be one of the final cuts and then placed on the practice squad. Leake’s versatility will be the key factor in this decision.
Tight End: The Giants brought in a lot of tight ends in the off season and there’s a chance they could go with four on the final roster. However; I believe the Giants will go with Eli Penny over Eric Tomlinson and UDFGA signee Rysen John will be placed on the practice squad and Tomlinson will be picked up by another team after his release.
Wide Receiver: In my opinion, this will be one of the most watched battles in training camp; despite the fact that the Giants didn’t draft a wide receiver in 2020. What the Giants did do was invest heavily in the wide receiver position through the UDFA signings by adding Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon and Rysen John (transitioning to Tight End). The Giants also have David Sills as well who could earn a spot if the Giants plan to go with seven instead of my projected six on the final roster. I believe Victor earns a spot on the final roster and we could see Mack and Sills placed on the practice squad, if they’re not picked up by another team.
Offensive linemen: The Giants were active in the draft with the selections of three linemen taken (Thomas, Peart & Lemieux) and in free agency by signing Cam Fleming. The Giants also signed two UDFA linemen in Kyle Murphy and Tyler Haycraft. I believe Kyle Murphy could end up on the 53 man roster if the Giants don’t explore any offensive linemen outside the organization. If so, then look for Murphy to be placed on the practice squad mostly because of his versatility of playing every position on the line.
Defensive linemen: The Giants went with five DL in 2019 and project that they will again in 2020. In this scenario, Chris Slayton and R.J McIntosh will both find there way onto the practice squad if not claimed by another team; which is highly likely. The Giants also signed UDFA Niko Lalos out of Dartmouth who has some pass rushing abilities. However; I don’t see the Giants placing three Defensive Linemen onto the practice squad.
Linebackers: This group should see a fierce battle in training camp as GM Dave Gettleman drafted a total of four linebackers in the 2020 draft (Coughlin, Bronson, Crowder and Brown), signed two in free agency (Martinez and Fackrell) and also signed UDFA Oluwole Betiku and Dana Levine, but have since been released. The Giants also brought back Markus Golden, so when you factor all that in, I believe the Giants will keep a total of ten linebackers on the final roster and T.J Brunson will be edged out by Tae Crowder and along with OLB Devante Downs be placed on the practice squad.
Cornerbacks: This is another position that GM Dave Gettleman has invested in over the last two season and luckily it paid off as Baker will no longer be a Giant regardless if he is convicted or not and Beal has opted out. I believe the Giants will explore options outside the organization, but until then 7th round pick Chris Williamson gets the final spot on the roster and UDFA signee Christian Angulo makes the practice squad.
Safety: I still believe that the Giants will want to place a safety on the practice squad and I also still believe that the Giants still like the overall makeup of Mark McLaurin. His size and speed are attributes that can’t be taught and last season he wasn’t really able to showcase his ability with nagging injuries. I believe the Giants want to give him every opportunity now that he appears to be fully healthy.
Cooper Rush (QB) R.J McIntosh (DL)
Javon Leake (RB) Chris Slayton (DL)
Rysen John (TE) T.J Brunson (ILB)
Austin Mack (WR) Devante Downs (OLB)
David Sills (WR) Christian Angulo (CB)
Kyle Murphy (C) Mark McLaurin (S)
Final Thoughts: Keep in mind that if the NFL decides to increase the total players on the practice squad, you will see that reflected on my final edition before the start of the season. Also, there’s a good chance GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge will add players from other rosters that were waived as this year cuts projected to have the best overall talent in recent years, due to the talent from the 2020 draft class and also the lack of preparation due to COVID-19.Lastly; there’s a strong possibility that any of these players on the list could be taken by another team as they all need to go through waivers before being placed on the practice squad.