By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: Originally, The new CBA ruling for the practice squad was increased from 10 players to 12 players to start the 2020 season. Now after concerns over the impact COVID-19 might create during the season, the NFL has decided to add additional provisions to compensate for this season. Below are the ones you should get to know:
- Increasing the Practice Squad Roster: The NFL will increase from 12 players to 16 in 2020. This will offset if a player/players should contract COVID-19 at any point in time this season and of course any injuries.
- Exception Players: Each team will be awarded four players to be added to the practice squad with vested NFL experience; which hasn’t been the case since the conception of the practice squad.
- Protection of Players: Each team will have the luxury of protecting four players on the practice squad from being claimed by another team at any time during the season.
- Two players per week: Each team will be able to bring up no more than two players each week to add to the roster for each game. This will enable teams to utilize a players attributes against certain opponents.
- COVID-19 testing for players signed off a practice squad: Any unprotected player claimed from another team must go through a two-day COVID-19 protocol of tests before being able to get on the field. This could alter when teams decide to sign a player or not.
- Passing through waivers: Any of the unprotected players from a practice squad can be brought up twice during the season without needing to pass through waivers on their return to the practice squad. If a player is chosen a third time to play the next game, he must now pass through waivers.
The Giants should have their best group of practice players since it’s conception and with the new CBA rule of adding two players from the practice squad for each game; it will give Head Coach Joe Judge the opportunity to select players whose talents match up well against that opponent. So let’s get to it and here is my final prediction of the New York Giants 2020 practice squad.
Quarterback: After going back and forth with the number of quarterbacks the Giants will keep on their 53-man roster, I decided that they will go with three quarterbacks this season. However; it wouldn’t be a total surprise if they go with only two. With that being said, I believe that Case Cookus or Alex Tanney haven’t shown enough during training camp to place him on the practice squad this year. However; I do believe the Giants should have a quarterback on the practice squad to groom and develop. Therefore; I project they will look for one on the waiver wire once teams make their final cuts, if one becomes available that they like. Outcome: TBD.
Running Back: UDFA Javon Leake was cut last week and appears that he is still unsigned at this moment. So hopefully the Giants can bring him back and place him onto the practice squad as he not only impressed me but also the Giants coaching staff throughout training camp. I’m not 100% convinced that there is a running back on the current roster that will be placed on the practice squad. So it’s highly probable that the Giants look outside the organization and hopefully it’s Leake. Outcome: TBD
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 and only have three on the final roster. That leaves Eric Tomlinson as the odd man out and with UDFA signee Rysen John being placed on IR (injured reserve), Tomlinson could find himself on the practice squad Outcome: Eric Tomlinson.
Wide Receiver: In my opinion, this was one of the best positional 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). In my final 53 man predictions, I selected Victor and Sills to make the roster, however; that was before the Giants added WR Johnny Holton (signed after my final 53-man roster article was released) who is projected to take Cody Core spot on the special teams. Therefore; this will negate either Victor of Sills from making the roster and in the end, Victor gets the nod. This will leave a group of talented wide receivers that include Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon, David Sills and Alex Bachman. I can’t see all four being placed on the practice squad as I believe the Giants could go with three from this group. Tough decision as all provided certain abilities and attributes that could help the Giants, but in the end I think the Giants will choose two wide receivers. Outcome: Austin Mack and David Sills
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. Also, the Giants added Jon Halapio this week as insurance at the center position and he will be given every opportunity to compete for a starting spot at center. I Murphy should be placed on the practice squad mostly because of his versatility and the ability to play every position along the line . I also believe the Giants should add another offensive lineman onto the practice squad and in my opinion that could be Eric Smith who has NFL experience and has played under Joe Judge in New England on their practice squad. Outcome: Kyle Murphy and Eric Smith.
Defensive linemen: The Giants went with five DL in 2019 and I projected in my final 53 man roster that they will again in 2020. In this scenario, Chris Slayton and R.J McIntosh could both find their way onto the practice squad, but I expect at least one of them to be claimed off waivers and in this case it’s McIntosh. If so, then Slayton will find his way on the Giants practice squad along with newly acquired Daylon Mack, who the Giants liked in the 2019 draft out of Texas A & M. The Giants also signed UDFA Niko Lalos out of Dartmouth who has some pass rushing abilities. However; I believe Joe Judge will scan the waiver wire and look for a more established pass rusher if one should come available. Outcome: Chris Slayton and Daylon Mack.
Linebackers: This group provided 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 into the mix. I have T.J Brunson and Josiah Tauaefa losing out to Tae Crowder for the final spot on the 53 man roster and I’m a bit torn on whether or not the Giants would place both on the practice squad to start the season. In the end, I think only one will make it and the other released, this is literally a coin flip folks, but I’m going with T. J Brunson. Outcome: T.J Brunson.
Cornerbacks: This is another position that GM Dave Gettleman has invested in over the last two season and luckily it paid off as Baker is on the commissioner exempt list and Beal has opted out. The Giants have signed Logan Ryan this past week and for now I believe he will be utilize as a rover; playing both the cornerback and safety positions. The Giants traded for cornerback Issac Yiadom from the Denver Broncos for a 7th round pick, so expect him to make the roster. Gettleman also added cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell and Brandon Williams this past week. These moves will push all the other cornerback contenders down a few notches and perhaps enable the Giants to place two cornerbacks onto the practice squad. Outcome: Grant Haley and Chris Williamson.
Safety: The Giants have a slight lack of depth at the safety position within the organization and because of that they could add a safety off waivers should a quality player becomes available. If not, expect the Giants to place Sean Chandler on the practice squad to start the season. Outcome: Sean Chandler.
Special Teams (1)
Long Snapper: The Giants recently signed long snapper Carson Tinker who has 69 NFL games on his resume. Something tells me they brought him in for a reason as the practice squad will be utilized more than ever in 2020. Outcome: Carson Tinker.
Final Thoughts: This was the toughest practice squad predictions for me by far with all the stipulations being applied. Based on my projections, the Giants have 12 spots accounted for on the practice squad, so I expect them to add the remaining four spots through the waiver wire. I just don’t see them utilizing all the spots with their current roster as I mentioned earlier this year projects to the have the deepest talent available due the 2020 draft and the fact that team’s weren’t able to really evaluate their players as much as they would have liked due to the restrictions of COVID-19. It’s unclear which players the Giants will decide to protect (total of four) on the practice squad at this team, so stay tune for more updates as we move forward. As always, the practice squad roster along with the 53 man roster could be a revolving door throughout the season for the Giants and hopefully whoever they add to the mix can contribute in some way.