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Giants’ Roster Bubble Watch: Defensive Ends In Intense Competition

Several qualified players competing for spots as backups to OV, JPP

NFL: New York Giants-Training Camp
Romeo Okwara and Steve Spagnuolo talk during training camp.
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Giants consider how they will shape their 53-man roster for the 2017 NFL season, some positions look “heavy” with talent, having more good players than they could possibly keep. Some look “light,” positions where they could perhaps use some outside help.

One of the positions that is “heavy” would be defensive end, where the Giants have a mix of young and upcoming players along with veterans who have already proven useful competing for spots behind Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul.

“I think we’re going to have some hard decisions there,” coach Ben McAdoo said a few days ago. “We have a lot of guys who have been productive in ballgames and we have some young players who have some good upside to them.”

Let’s break down the players competing for spots on the roster.

Romeo Okwara

Why he will make it: He showed lots of potential last season, and looks to have gotten even better this time around. He’s a young player with lots of upside, and the Giants won’t let him get away.

Why he won’t make it: No reason. He’s the No. 3 defensive end and he’s making the roster.

Kerry Wynn

Why he will make it: Wynn is a veteran, dependable guy. He gives effort on every snap, can play inside and outside and can be relied upon to understand his assignments. Plus, he’s a good guy in the locker room who understands his role.

Why he won’t make it: Because he is what he is, a limited player who won’t do anything spectacular and can get exposed when he has to play more than a handful of snaps. What you have seen in the past from Wynn is what you are going to get.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Why he will make it: Because he still carries the status of being a third-round draft pick on his rookie contract, and GM Jerry Reese rarely gives up on those guys before their rookie contracts expire. If he shows anything over the next few weeks, the Giants will find a way to justify keeping him on the roster.

Why he won’t make it: His first two seasons, simply, haven’t been very productive. He has three tackles and no sacks in 18 games over two years, not nearly what the Giants hoped to get from a third-round pick. He has had a quiet training camp, and pretty much everyone on this list has been playing better. Evan undrafted free agent Evan Schwan has made more plays.

Devin Taylor

Why he will make it: Pass-rush ability. He’s 6-foot-7 with crazy long arms and the ability to be disruptive in the pass rush. He has 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons, and every team can use extra pass rushers. He has a history of playing well as a part time pass rush specialist.

Why he won’t make it: Taylor is only 27 and has been in the NFL for just four years, but coach Ben McAdoo keeps talking about him like he’s a grizzled, 12-year veteran trying to hang on to his career. He’s probably a guy who would be only a situational pass rusher, and the Giants might choose to use their younger players in that role.

Avery Moss

Why he will make it: The Giants just used a fifth-round pick on him. He shows strength and athleticism and could eventually turn that into play-making ability.

Why he won’t make it: It seems unlikely he will be ready to contribute much beyond special teams initially. The Giants could decide to keep a more established player and try to sneak Moss to the practice squad. That, though, would be a huge gamble and it seems unlikely.

Jordan Williams

Why he will make it: Because Jonathan Casillas said he should! Well, no, seriously, Williams is having a good camp. He doesn’t make a lot of splash plays, but to my eyes he is a very similar player to Wynn. Tremendous effort, and can play inside and outside. In fact, has played more defensive tackle in college and the NFL than he has outside. Plus, right now he appears to be the Giants’ backup long snapper.

Why he won’t make it: The numbers. There are a lot of talented defensive ends on the roster, and guys with more impressive NFL resumes. That could lead Williams to drawing the short straw.