OK, so with training camp only days away it is time to take a stab at predicting the season-opening 53-man roster. It's an exercise in complete futility. I mean, there is no way to predict injuries, and no guessing what veterans might get picked up right before the season starts.
But, I will take a stab at it anyway. Before Week 1 I will have to remember to look back and see how close I got.
Quarterbacks: Starter -- Eli Manning. Backup -- David Carr, Andre Woodson, Rhett Bomar.
The obvious fight here is between Bomar and Woodson for the third slot. Bomar, this year's fifth-round pick, was better than Woodson, last season's sixth-round pick, in the mini-camps. There is very little reason to think that won't still be the case in training camp. The Giants kept only two quarterbacks on the 53-man last season. Most teams keep three, and I am going to base this choice on Tom Coughlin keeping three.
The picks (3) -- Manning, Carr, Bomar
Running Backs: Starters -- RB Brandon Jacobs, FB Madison Hedgecock. Backup -- RB Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Danny Ware, RB Andre Brown, RB Allen Patrick, RB Dwayne Wright.
The roster spots here are easy to pick. The fight that will develop for carries behind Jacobs is not. I haven't got a clue who will emerge as the true backup behind Jacobs. I know, however, that between Bradshaw, Ware and the rookie Brown I'm not worried about it.
The picks (5) -- Jacobs, Hedgecock, Bradshaw, Ware, Brown.
Tight Ends: Starter -- Kevin Boss. Backup -- Michael Matthews, Darcy Johnson, Lee Vickers, Travis Beckum.
Third-round pick Travis Beckum wasn't drafted to block. Kevin Boss can block, but he is a pass-catcher. That means the third tight end has to be a big-time blocker, and that's what Matthews is.
The picks (3) -- Boss, Beckum, Matthews.
Wide Receivers: Starters -- Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon. Backups -- Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss, David Tyree, Taye Biddle, Shaun Bodiford, Derek Hagan, Micah Rucker, Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden.
There are likely six roster spots to be had out of this group, and barring injury or trade it is pretty clear who will get them. That means a sad goodbye to Super Bowl 42 hero David Tyree. It also means cult hero Micah Rucker is likely playing for a spot on the practice squad.
The picks (6) -- Smith, Hixon, Manningham, Moss, Nicks, Barden.
Offensive Linemen: Starters -- LT David Diehl, LG Rich Seubert, C Shaun O’Hara, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem McKenzie. Backups -- T Guy Whimper, T/C Adam Koets, T Andrew Carnahan, G/T Kevin Boothe, T Cliff Louis, G/T Terrance Pennington, G Tutan Reyes, G/T Orrin Thompson, T Will Beatty.
Each and every Giants' fan should pray that this starting offensive line, one of the league's best, continues to stay healthy. There isn't much in the way of dependable backups.
Second-round pick William Beatty should make the team. Veteran guard Tutan Reyes is likely in. The versatility of being able to play guard and tackle probably gets Kevin Boothe a slot. There has to be a backup center, so Adam Koets probably also sneaks onto the roster.
The picks (9) -- Diehl, Seubert, O'Hara, Snee, McKenzie, Beatty, Reyes, Boothe, Koets.
Defensive Linemen: Starters -- LE Justin Tuck, LT Barry Cofield, RT Fred Robbins, RE Osi Umenyiora. Backups -- DE Mathias Kiwanuka, DE/DT Chris Canty, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Jay Alford, DE Dave Tollefson, DE Maurice Evans, DT Anthony Bryant, DT Jeremy Clark, DT Leger Douzable, DE Robert Henderson, DE Tommie Hill.
If everyone gets through camp healthy, some very good football players will wind up being available to the NFL's other teams. I doubt there is another unit in the league that is this talented and this deep. The hardest cut out of this group will be Dave Tollefson, a popular player who has played well at times in sporadic opportunities. But with all this depth, with Jay Alford doubling as snapper on field goals and PATs, and with the talented Maurice Evans likely ending up on the practice squad I don't know how Tollefson sticks around.
The picks (8) -- Tuck, Cofield, Robbins, Umenyiora, Kiwanuka, Canty, Bernard, Alford.
Linebackers: Starter -- SLB Danny Clark , MLB Antonio Pierce , WLB Michael Boley. Backup -- MLB Chase Blackburn, MLB Jonathan Goff, WLB Bryan Kehl, WLB Gerris Wilkinson, SLB Zak DeOssie, SLB Kenny Ingram, SLB Clint Sintim, MLB Kelvin Smith.
The picks (8) -- Clark, Pierce, Boley, Blackburn, Goff, Kehl, DeOssie, Sintim
Defensive Backs: Starter -- LCB Aaron Ross, RCB Corey Webster, FS Michael Johnson, SS Kenny Phillips. Backup -- CB Vince Anderson, SS C.C. Brown, SS/FS Steve Cargile, CB Kevin Dockery, CB Bruce Johnson, CB Travonti Johnson, FS Sha’reff Rashad, CB Terrell Thomas, CB Stoney Woodson, CB DeAndre Wright.
The Giants are deep and talented at cornerback, a fact that is incredibly important in today's pass and blitz-happy NFL. They aren't so deep at safety, and I think that might leave room for undrafted free-agent Sha'reff Rashad to sneak onto the roster.
The picks (9) -- Ross, Webster, Johnson, Phillips, Brown, Dockery, Rashad, Thomas, Wright.
Kickers (2): P Jeff Feagles, K Lawrence Tynes
Feagles is the best in the business at what he does. Tynes makes many Giants' fans nervous, but he is a perfectly acceptable veteran kicker.