It’s one of the most dead periods in the NFL offseason. However, we’re at a point where at least some kind of football has been played by each team during OTAs and mandatory mini-camps. That makes this dead period worse because we’ve been teased with the sight of football, only for it to go away again. All we can do now is wait for training camps to open and look forward to the start of the season.
To that point, one way we can look towards the regular season is to dig into some of the most anticipated individual matchups we’ll get to see. In the video above and written below, we’ve taken a look at five of the top matchups the Giants will see in 2017.
5. Aaron Donald vs. Interior OL
There’s no better interior defender in the NFL right now than Aaron Donald. He can defend the run well enough to keep pace with the top run-stuffing tackles in the league, but he adds to it as the most dangerous pass rusher from the inside. Last season Donald was sixth among all defenders in individual pressures, per Sports Info Solutions charting from Football Outsiders, and first among interior defenders. The Giants’ strength on the offensive line is in the middle, especially with Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh. There was also just one team that ran the ball between the guards more than the Giants did in 2016.
4. Odell Beckham vs. Richard Sherman
Beckham and Richard Sherman met once, back in Week 10 of 2014. Beckham had a good day overall, seven catches for 108, but there was no clear winner in the wide receiver-cornerback matchup. Most of Beckham’s receptions took advantage of Seattle’s zone principles, which didn’t pit the two against each other on every pass. Beckham did beat Sherman down the sideline at the end of the first quarter for a 44-yard gain, but at the end of the third quarter, Sherman had good enough deep coverage to force a Beckham tipped ball into the hands of Earl Thomas in the end zone with the score tied at 17. Seattle scored 21 more points in the fourth quarter, the Giants scored none.
3. Janoris Jenkins vs. Mike Evans
Since Janoris Jenkins developed into one of the league’s best corners last season, there will be plenty of excitement to see him match up against opposing top receivers. His matchups against Dez Bryant are going to get a lot of hype for the next few seasons, but that’s something we saw briefly last year. How Jenkins fares against Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could show how much Jenkins really has improved as a cornerback. Evans and Jenkins last met in Week 15 of 2015. Evans had nine catches for 157 yards total and three of those receptions for 60 yards came with Jenkins in coverage. That includes the below 30-yard reception, where Evans beat Jenkins right off the line.
2. Olivier Vernon vs. Tyron Smith
The biggest matchup against Dallas might be Olivier Vernon against Tyron Smith. Vernon had no sacks in his two games against the Cowboys last season, but overall he led all defenders in individual pass pressures by 13 over the next-best defender. Vernon showed the ability to consistently get in the backfield last season and his pressure rate indicates the sacks will come. Going against arguably the league’s best left tackle twice a year will continue to be a treat to watch.
1. Odell Beckham vs. Josh Norman
There was no way this was coming to come in at anything other than No. 1 on this list. No one needs any retelling of the Beckham-Norman rivalry that goes back to when Norman was with the Carolina Panthers. There’s no avoiding these two colliding when the Giants and Washington meet. That’s going to be delayed, but also compacted this season. These two teams don’t meet until Week 12 for the Thanksgiving night game, then they play each other again to close the regular season in Week 17.