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Final Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: Ed’s Version

Tough decisions loom for Ben McAdoo, Jerry Reese

NFL: New York Giants at New England Patriots
Matt LaCosse (left) and Geno Smith are among bubble players who can only wait and hope they have made the Giants’ 53-man roster.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Ben McAdoo said before Thursday’s game against the New England Patriots that the New York Giants had 50 players competing for 15 roster spots in the preseason finale. That was probably an exaggeration, but it was indicative of the fact that the Giants have a number of difficult decisions to make to reach the 53-man roster limit by Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Here is my final prediction on what the roster will look like. Keep in mind that more than 1,100 players will be cut by teams around the league on Saturday. There will, inevitably, be some shuffling after Saturday as the Giants are awarded waiver claims or sign as free agents players who clear waivers.

Offense (25)

Quarterback (3)

Starter: Eli Manning
Backups: Geno Smith, Davis Webb

No change. The Giants will go with Geno Smith and hope if ever has to play he does so like the guy who was 10-of-11 Thursday night. Like it or not, Davis Webb will be inactive on game days, unless something changes.

Running Back (4)

Starter: Paul Perkins
Backups: Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman

Gallman’s time might come, but it won’t be from the beginning. I’m curious to see how much work the Giants give Darkwa. Shaun Draughn had a nice game Thursday vs. the New England Patriots, but it won’t be enough.

Fullback (1)

Starter: Shane Smith

If the Giants keep a fullback — and that remains a big if — Smith is the guy.

Tight End (3)

Starter: Evan Engram
Backups: Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams

I still don’t believe Will Tye or Matt LaCosse make the final roster. LaCosse had a huge game Thursday (5 receptions, 60 yards, 2 TDs) but I don’t see the Giants keeping both a fullback and a fourth tight end.

Wide Receiver (6)

Starters: Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard
Backups: Dwayne Harris, Roger Lewis Jr., Travis Rudolph

Change: Rudolph in, Tavarres King out

Hate to see King lose his opportunity because of an injury, but while he hasn’t been playing both Rudolph and Lewis have stepped up. Rudolph, in particular, has earned a spot.

Offensive Line (8)

Starters: Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Bobby Hart
Backups: D.J. Fluker, Brett Jones, Adam Bisnowaty

It looks like Jerry is going to remain in the starting lineup. Fluker, Jones and Bisnowaty are the three backups I’ve had all along. Honestly, I’m not sure at all about Bisnowaty. He hasn’t played well, but his status as a draft choice probably saves him. If there were to be a real surprise cut in this group, it might be Fluker. For now, though, he stays. This is an area where I believe the Giants will be looking closely at the waiver wire in an effort to improve their depth.

Defense (25)

Tackle (4)

Starters: Damon Harrison, Jay Bromley
Backups: Dalvin Tomlinson, Robert Thomas

Change: Robert Thomas in

In my last projection, I had Thomas missing out. With Bromley injured and, as of now, unlikely to play against the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener, he’s back in.

End (6)

Starters: Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul
Backups: Kerry Wynn, Romeo Okwara, Avery Moss, Jordan Williams

Change: Devin Taylor out

Someone has to lose a spot to make room for the fourth defensive tackle. Taylor is a useful pass rusher, but he’s superfluous with the group the Giants have. The more you watch Moss, the more you see why the Giants like him. Wynn and Williams can both swing inside to defensive tackle. They stay.

Linebacker (5)

Starters: Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, B.J. Goodson
Backups: J.T. Thomas, Calvin Munson

Change: Keenan Robinson out (to IR), Thomas in

Amazingly, Thomas makes the roster because he is the healthiest of the veteran reserve linebackers the Giants could choose from to open the season. Robinson hasn’t really practiced in weeks because of his concussion. Same with Mark Herzlich, who I had missing the cut in my last projection, because of his stinger. Thomas can fill in across all the spots. Munson makes it for his special teams work. If Robinson clears the concussion protocol in time, he would be in, but right now I have to go on the basis that we haven’t seen him.

Cornerback (5)

Starters: Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple
Backups: Michael Hunter, Donte Deayon

I’m keeping the diminutive Deayon for now. There isn’t a better choice on the roster. this could be one of those cases, though, where Deayon makes the cut on Saturday only to lose his spot on Sunday when the Giants claim a veteran corner off waivers.

Safety (5)

Starters: Landon Collins, Darian Thompson
Backups: Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe, Eric Pinkins

No change. Berhe’s experience, and Pinkins’ special teams play, earn them spots. Pinkins, though, is on shaky ground. With Apple (ankle) and Hunter (concussion) uncertain for Week 1 the Giants might need to keep a sixth corner. If they do, Pinkins seems like the logical candidate to be dropped.

Special Teams (3)

Placekicker — Aldrick Rosas
Punter — Brad Wing
Long-snapper Zak DeOssie

It was pretty obvious from the fact that Rosas did all the kicking Thursday night that the job is his. Going 8-for-8 (four field goals, four extra points) and nailing a 48-yard game winner sealed the deal.