By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: The New York Giants have just completed their pre-season with a final drive victory over the New England Patriots (31-29) and finished at 3-1. GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Pat Shurmur will need to trim the roster and make the final cuts to determine the 53-man roster. The Giants had a solid pre-season and a lot of players have performed well enough to warrant a final roster spot. Unfortunately; there are going to be some players left off the roster that could/should have made it. In my final projected 53-man roster, this is the roster that I believe the Giants should go with and not what they probably will. So let’s get to it:
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/Kyle Lauletta: Jones has been the best Giants QB in pre-season based on his stats 29-34 for 416 yards, 2 touchdowns & no interceptions). Jones has shown poised and good decision making to warrant more playing time. The final spot could go either way between Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta, but for me; Lauletta has out-performed Tanney in every offensive category. In fact, Tanney has the worse QB rating among the quarterbacks and has thrown 3 interceptions in the pre-season. Also, Lauletta is 9 years younger and should have a higher ceiling to improve. As I mentioned earlier; this could go either way as the Giants could take advantage of Lauletta’s success this pre-season and look to trade him for either a draft pick or a position of need. My decision would be to hold onto him.
Running Backs (4)
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 will certainly have a target on his back as he enters his sophomore season after his record-breaking rookie season. Many football analyst project the absence of Odell Beckham Jr. having a negative effect on Barkleys performance, however; I’m not so sure.
Backups: Rod Smith/Eli Penny/Paul Perkins: In my first edition, projecting the 53-man roster; I had the Giants going with 5 running backs. However; in my final projections I’ve decided to only go with 4 running backs as Jon Hilliman and Wayne Gallman become the odd men out. This could be a reach on my part, but Perkins has shown much more than Gallman and believe the Giants will look to move Hilliman on the practice squad. Smith and Penny are a given as both add value with their overall abilities.
Tight Ends (4)
Starters: Evan Engram: Evan Engram is being expected to take the next step up in his development this season and become the lethal weapon many expected; especially with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr.
Backups: Rhett Ellison/Scott Simonson/CJ Conrad: Rhett Ellison had a typical pre-season for the Giants, nothing flashy; just solid blocking and an occasional reception sprinkled in. Scott Simonson adds depth and is as good a blocker as Ellison. The final spot went down to the wire between C.J Conrad and Garrett Dickerson with Conrad winning the battle for on spot on the 53-man roster. Conrad has more of an upside than Dickerson and would give the Giants another offensive tight end in certain packages. The Giants could look to move Dickerson to the practice squad.
Wide Receivers (7)
Starters: Sterling Shepard & Cody Latimer: Golden Tate will be serving his four-game suspension to start the season, so he will be omitted from this 53-man roster selection. Shepard will be ready for opening day after sustaining a broken thumb in training camp, so he could be a little rusty to start the season. Latimer had a very productive pre-season with 5 catches for 105 yards. His 21 yards per catch is a strong indication that Latimer could provide the Giants with deep threat production.
Backups: TJ Jones, Bennie Fowler, Brittan Golden, Reggie White Jr & Alonzo Russell: This was arguably the toughest position to narrow down as I decided to go with 7 wide receivers for the 53-man roster. Jones and Golden not only add value at wide receiver with solid numbers, but they also were lethal on special teams in kickoffs and punt returns. Fowler is more of a possession receiver with reliable hands and had two touchdowns. UDFA rookie Reggie White Jr. showed enough skills to earn a spot with his 8 receptions for 115 yards. The final spot went to Alonzo Russell as he out hustled his way on the roster. Russell has good size, speed and can provide solid special teams play to go along with wide receiver depth. The Giants 5th round pick WR Darius Slayton battled injuries all pre-season and could be placed on IR to start the season. Once Golden Tate returns after his four-game suspension, the Giants will most likely go with 5 wide receivers.
Offensive Linemen (8)
Starters: Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, Kevin Zeitler, Mike Remmer: This a no-brainer as the 1st unit offensive line played well in the pre-season; opening holes in the running game and providing effective pass protection.
Backups: Spencer Pulley, Chad Slade & Evan Brown: Pulley started 9 games in 2018 and can also fill in at guard. Brown’s versatility to play both the guard and center position bolds well as Slade. Last season’s starter Chad Wheeler failed to make the roster and could be released or placed on the practice squad.. 2019 draftee OT George Asafo-Adjei was injured for most of the pre-season and couldn’t showcase his value. He will most likely also be a practice squad candidate or placed on PUP to start the season.
Defensive Line (6)
Starters: B.J Hill, Dexter Lawrence & Dalvin Tomlinson: This trio appears to be set and should form a strong run defense. I’m still concern with the lack of a pass rush throughout pre-season and hope that as the season progresses; certain players will produce.
Backups: Olsen Pierre, R. J McIntosh and Chris Slayton: My decision to go from my original projection of 5 to 6 defensive linemen is simply because rookie Chris Slayton has upped his game over the final two pre-season games and deserves a spot on the roster. All three players can contribute and give DC James Bettcher that rotational production he coverts.
Outside Linebackers (4)
Starters: Markus Golden & Lorenzo Carter: This tandem gives the Giants a duel threat on the edge as both can stop the run and go after the quarterback.
Backups: Oshane Ximines & Kareem Martin: Ximines has really shined this pre-season and I expect to see him improve as the season unfolds. Martin needs to take it up a notch as he has looked inconsistent at times; the Giants could release Martin should a better option becomes available through the waiver wire. Releasing Martin would provide Gettleman with the allotted cap space to claim another player.
Inside Linebackers (4)
Starters: Alec Ogletree & Tae Davis: Ogletree and Davis give the Giants a pair of inside linebackers that can contain the run and also provide pass coverage skills (especially Davis).
Backups: Ryan Connelly & B.J Goodson: Connelly is breathing down Davis back for more playing and he could un-seed Davis sometime during the season. Goodson is still young and has value; but needs to stay healthy and become a little better in pass coverage. Goodson beats out Nate Stupar and Jake Carlock for the final spot as Carlock should find his way onto the practice squad.
Starters: Janoris Jenkins & de Andre Baker: This was the projected tandem once the Giants traded back into the 1st round for Baker and it still is. Jenkins should see much improvement from last season and Baker is a magnet on opposing receivers.
Backups: Sam Beal, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine & Grant Haley: I went with only 6 corners as oppose to 7 in my final projections as I added an extra defensive linemen instead. Now that could not be the case as Gettleman and Shurmur could value the cornerback position over the defensive linemen position and go with 7. If so, then Antonio Hamilton (special teams skills) should be added into the mix. Beal has missed a lot of time; but expect him to still make the roster along with Ballentine and Haley; who have both played well.
Starters: Jabrill Peppers & Antoine Bethea: Peppers and Bethea played well in the pre-season and have given the Giants a 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 will get their fair share of playing time in DC James Bettcher system as well has Julian Love is certain defensive packages.
Special Teams (3)
Punter: Riley Dixon: Dixon edges out challenger Johnny Townsend to earn a spot on the roster, but it was close. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Giants place Townsend on the practice squad.
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: My final projections for the Giants 53-man roster is certainly debatable as this is what I would do based on the team (player’s) performance in pre-season. Also, we could see GM Dave Gettleman do what he did last year when he signed many players off waivers before the start of the season. However; until that happens this is the group I would feel comfortable going with to start the season.