We've had the 2016 NFL Draft. The free-agency splurge by the New York Giants is now a distant memory. There will be additions to, and subtractions, from the roster as it currently looks. Still, with those things done and with the team's rookie mini-camp coming up in a few days, let's take a very preliminary look at what the Giants' 53-man roster might look like four months from now.
And yes, sadly, real football that matters is still five months away.
QB (2) -- Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib
Nothing to see here. Moving on.
RB (4) -- Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Paul Perkins, Andre Williams
I think the Giants keep four running backs. In truth, beyond Vereen and Perkins I really have no idea how this will play out. After having a career-best season, Jennings deserves to stay -- and open the season as the starter -- but, who knows? He is 31, his guaranteed money is paid, and 2016 will almost certainly be his final year with the Giants. Maybe the Giants move into the post-Jennings era a year early.
Then again, despite coach Ben McAdoo having said nice things about him this offseason, maybe they move on from Williams, a disappointing (thus far) 2014 fourth-round pick.
I like Orleans Darkwa's talent a lot, and there has to be a reason other than being a training camp body that the Giants signed Bobby Rainey, but right now I don't have either of them making the team.
FB (1) -- Will Johnson
Nikita Whitlock was a nice story in 2015, and I like him a lot as a player and a person. That said, I think the signing of Will Johnson and the drafting of tight end Jerell Adams could be bad news for Whitlock.
Johnson is a four-year veteran with much more versatility ON OFFENSE than Whitlock. He can, and has, carried and caught the ball. He can play fullback. He can play H-Back. He can even line up in-line and play as a blocking tight end.
A collegiate defensive tackle, Whitlock loves to hit and is a wrecking ball on special teams. He admitted last year, though, that he is still learning the fullback position. Johnson is a more accomplished player. And no, I don't see Whitlock making a full-time conversion to defensive tackle.
TE (3) -- Will Tye, Jerell Adams, Matt LaCosse
Two names missing here. Larry Donnell and Jerome Cunningham. Donnell is really a pass-catcher only, and I think Tye showed the potential last season to be better at that than Donnell. The Giants will bill tight end as a competition, but I believe it's Tye's job. Your No. 2 or No. 3 tight end shouldn't be a guy who is a liability as a blocker, which Donnell is. The Giants have other options in the newly-drafted Adams, LaCosse -- and even Johnson. That's bad news for Donnell if everyone stays healthy. As for Cunningham, he was -- and likely never will be -- more than a bit player. His part may already be played out.
WR (6) -- Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard, Dwayne Harris, Geremy Davis, Ben Edwards
Provided they are all healthy, the first four spots are obvious. The last two, not so much. I have Davis and Edwards there, but consider that a "soft" decision. It's telling that Davis, a sixth-round pick in 2015, was bypassed on the depth chart last season by midseason pickups Hakeem Nicks, Myles White, and Edwards. I still think the Giants like Davis' size and his potential to at least be a special teams contributor, and give him one more opportunity to impress. The Giants have basically waited two years for Edwards, formerly an undrafted free agent from Richmond. If he finally stays healthy I think he's got a shot at taking a spot away from White.
You're going to ask about Anthony Dable, the French wide receiver the Giants took a flier on this offseason. He has intriguing size at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. He has a lot to learn, however, and a lot of work to do to prove he can handle NFL-level competition. My guess, without seeing a training camp or preseason to get a better read on his NFL readiness, is that he is ticketed for the practice squad as a developmental player.
OL (9) -- Starters: LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry, RT Marshall Newhouse; Reserves: Bobby Hart, Brett Jones, Ryan Seymour, Bobby Stingily
The Giants carried eight linemen last season, and I always felt like that was one less than they ideally would like to have. So, in this very early and almost certainly very incorrect, iteration of a 53-man roster I am giving them nine.
I have listed as starters the five guys who finished last season in those spots. Please don't flip out. As coach Ben McAdoo said after the draft "the story is yet to be written on the right side of the offensive line."
Maybe Bobby Hart wins a starting job. Maybe the Giants sign free-agent Mike Slauson, or someone else who shakes loose before the season begins. Maybe right tackle Anthony Davis un-retires and the Giants swing a trade. It's the beginning of May and the Giants don't play a game that counts for more than four months. So, relax and see what happens.
As my backups currently, I have Hart, former CFL star Brett Jones (because somebody has to be the backup center), Ryan Seymour (because of his connection to offensive line coach Mike Solari and his ability to play every position), and Byron Stingily (because there has to be a backup tackle and he at least has a decent amount of NFL experience).
Admittedly, if the starting situation on the right side is in flux, figuring out who the reserves will be is pretty much impossible. But, for now, that's my guess.
Defensive tackles (4) -- Johnathan Hankins, Damon Harrison, Jay Bromley, Montori Hughes
Hankins, Harrison, and Bromley are the only ones I feel good about predicting. Hughes was ahead of Louis Nix on the depth chart last year and (sorry, Chris) I'm leaving him there for now.
Defensive ends (4) -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn
Pretty much the same deal as with the defensive tackles. These are the four guys who I feel good about predicting should be on the roster. I'd like to add one more defensive lineman -- either a tackle or end -- but right now I have no idea who that might be.
Linebackers (6) -- Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, Jonathan Casillas, Jasper Brinkley, B.J. Goodson, Keenan Robinson
The Giants have a lot to sift through at this position. They re-sgined Jasper Brinkley, added free agents Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard, then drafted Clemosn's B.J. Goodson in the fourth round. It's a muddled picture, but at least there are choices.
The biggest name you see missing here is Mark Herzlich. The former Boston College star who beat cancer to have an NFL career, has been with the Giants for five seasons and never been more than a special-teamer and fill-in linebacker. Given chances to secure larger roles on defense, he's never been able to do so. Herzlich, 29 when the season begins, was a Tom Coughlin favorite. Coughlin is gone, though, and so too might Herzlich be.
I also have Brinkley and Robinson making the team over Sheppard and Uani 'Unga. We'll see what happens, though. Beyond Kennard, Goodson, and Thomas I'm really not sure of anything when it comes to this group.
Cornerbacks (5) -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Trevin Wade, Tramain Jacobs
The drafting of Eli Apple helped the depth here, but I think the Giants could still benefit from adding one more experienced player. Jerraud Powers was in for a free-agent visit before the draft, and if the Giants could get him to sign even after drafting Apple he would -- in my view -- slide ahead of Wade on the depth chart and give the Giants a proven option in the slot.
Safeties (5) -- Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Bennett Jackson
Five safeties is actually a lot, considering that the Giants have entered some seasons with only three on the roster. I have Jackson and Mykkele Thompson, both of whom played cornerback in college, making the roster. I think there's a chance one of them could end up being looked at cornerback depth. Of course, after knee injuries that cost him each of his first two NFL seasons, we have to see how well Jackson moves around. As impressive as he was last preseason, there's a chance the injuries have cost him a step, and a roster spot.
Cooper Taylor fans will also not be pleased that I don't have him making the roster. He has had three years to show the Giants something, and they keep drafting guys to push in front of him. That should tell you what you need to know.
Special Teams (3)
Placekicker -- Josh Brown
Punter -- Brad Wing
Long-snapper -- Zak DeOssie
Really nothing to see with the specialists. Provided all of these guys enter the 2016 season healthy, they will enter the season on the Giants' 53-man roster.
One mystery spot
If you're good at math, or were bothering to count, you probably figured out that I only named 52 players to the 53-man roster. Yeah, yeah, that's a cop-out and you're staring at your computer screen/phone/tablet or whatever and thinking I should just man up and pick a 53rd guy. But, I'm not going to.
For me, Whitlock is a wild-card. I don't see him as a defensive player, but Johnson's versatility and Whitlock's special teams acumen make me wonder if the Giants would find a way to keep both.
The other wild-card here is the defensive line. Look above and you will see that I only have eight. I would like nine, but between defensive ends Brad Bars and Stansley Maponga, and defensive tackle Louis Nix I have no idea who to add. Or even if I can feel good about adding any of the three.
So, for now I'm leaving one spot as "To Be Determined."