Top Six Players: Make or Break in 2020

By Michael Stewart@golerbad

The Giants are still considered in a rebuilding phase, however; there are five players who must show the Giants coaching staff and ownership that they deserve to be a part the team’s future beyond 2020. The Giants aren’t expected to earn a playoff spot; although stranger things have happened in football history; Head Coach Joe Judge is looking to mold a team into a championship caliber that will contend yearly.

These five players could be a vital part of that success for the Giants, although they haven’t been able to put it all together for some reason. The clock is now ticking and it’s time to show up or pack your bags; here are my top six Giants that must produce to be considered as part of the Giants future:

  • Evan Engram (TE): We all know and read about the overwhelming ability of Evan Engram, how he can create mismatches on any given Sunday since he was drafted in 2017. Unfortunately, the media and Giant fans have been teased with very small samples of this and the inconsistency in which he performs at that level. The Giants are still holding out that Engram can become more durable and perform at the level expected as they picked up his 5th year option in the hopes that he can finally turn the corner. 2020 is going to be a make or break year for Engram and his Giant career as many believe that Gettleman and Judge are reaching the end with Engram and expect him to be the tight end they had hoped. Keep in mind that Engram is one of a few holdovers from the Reese era and if he can’t manage to stay healthy and produce on the field, then his days are numbered.
  • Leonard Williams (DL): Williams appears to have all the tools to be a dominant defensive lineman in the NFL and for the most part he does dominant against the run. However; Williams expects to be paid as an elite Defensive end and the Giants don’t view him as one, but rather more of a defensive tackle who is one dimensional. Williams must show the Giants coaching staff and ownership that he can be that duel threat and start producing more as a pass rusher; which hasn’t been the case thus far in his career. In 2019, Williams led all defensive in quarterback pressures which sounds good in conversation, but not so good on the field as those are basically missed opportunities for a sack. Williams collects .5 sack in 2019, which doesn’t translate into a Defensive End contract. In order for Williams to convince the Giants he deserves a mult-year contract and a part of their future, he needs to get very close to double-digits in sacks in 2020. Is it possible? Sure it is, but it’s not going to be easy.
  • Sterling Shepard (WR): Shepard makes this list due to his shortcomings in 2019 where he sustained not one, but two concussions; which limit his playing time and production. Being a slot receiver, Sterling is more susceptible to contact by bigger opponents; specifically, linebackers and many Giant fans (including myself) will be holding our breaths each time Shepard sustains a hit like that over the middle this year. The Giants GM Dave Gettleman handed Shepard a multi-year before the start of the 2019 season and now it seems that the Giants are walking on eggshells with every hit that comes his way.
  • Jabrill Peppers (S): Like Evan Engram, the Giants picked up Jabrill Peppers 5th year in hopes that he will perform to his potential since being drafted in the 1st round by the Cleveland Browns back in 2017. In Peppers 1st season as a Giant, he showed a small sample of what he can do on the field with his play making abilities by allowing a QB rating of only 71.5 and no touchdowns in coverage. One area that Peppers does need to improve upon is his QB completion percentage; which was 63.9. The Giants believe with the addition of 2nd round Xavier McKinney playing along-side of Peppers, both players will benefit and their overall performance will improve. With Julian Love projected as a swing-man for the Giants in 2020 (safety and cornerback) and his performance in Peppers absence; which produced an overall PFF grade of 87.7 and a coverage grade of 86.5. Compared to Peppers overall PFF grade of 66.5 and a coverage grade of 70.2. So is this an important year for Peppers? Absolutely; as he has a very capable player in Love breathing down his back.
  • B. J Hill (DL): Hill was drafted in the 3rd round in the 2018 draft and had a solid rookie season playing in all 16 games and produced 5.5 sacks along with playing solid against the run. However; in 2019 Hill suffered a setback and his play on the field reflected that as he saw his playing time diminish once the Giants acquired Leonard Williams. Hill’s fate could be determined by the outcome of Dalvin Tomlinson who is a free agent after this season and historically; the Giants haven’t been accustom to handing out contracts to their Defensive linemen after their rookie contracts have expired. Also, if Austin Johnson and R.J McIntosh raise their level of play as well, Hill could be looking from the outside if he doesn’t rebound in 2020.
  •  Lorenzo Carter (LB): Lorenzo Carter was also drafted in the 3rd round in 2018 and performed well as a rookie with 4.5 sacks and showed glimpses of playmaking ability off the edge. In 2019, Carter’s performance seemed to sputter at a standstill and sacks totals at 4.5 duplicated his rookie season. With the addition of outside linebackers added to the roster via free agency and the draft, and also the possibility of the Giants bringing back Markus Golden after July 22, Carter could see his playing time diminish; which could hinder his chances to produce at the level that could convince the Giants coaching staff that he could be a vital piece to the Giants future.

Final Thoughts:

The 2021 draft is projected to be deep again overall and especially at positions that will benefit the Giants. Edge rushers, Wide Receivers, Defensive Tackle, and safety headline next year draft, and these are four positions that the Giants need to consider on draft day. The Giants GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge are hoping that the above six mentioned performing to their best ability; which will only help the Giants improve in 2020 and possibly beyond.

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