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Breakout candidates for the Giants in 2018

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Which players will make big jumps in 2018?

NFL: New York Giants-OTA
Cody Latimer
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some potential breakout candidates for the 2018 New York Giants.

Offense

Cody Latimer, WR

The Cody Latimer breakout could be more to due with the circumstances of the New York Giants lack of depth at the WR position then with Latimer himself. A fifth-year player, Latimer was originally drafted by the Denver Broncos because of his enormous potential. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Latimer ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at his pro-day while clearing a 39-inch vertical and bench pressing 23 reps.

Latimer, though, didn’t shine with his limited time in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, Latimer only tallied 19 receptions last year for two touchdowns at 287 yards. The Broncos quarterback situation hasn’t been terrific and their game plan has been conservative, but that is not enough production to be a starting NFL receiver. With the Giants, Latimer is playing with the best group of skill position players he has played with which should leave him with little attention. I wouldn’t expect the world from Latimer, but someone has to win the outside WR slot and Latimer is the inside favorite for the starting position and could be in line for 55-60 catches for 800 yards and maybe 6-8 touchdowns.

Evan Engram, TE

Evan Engram is definitely poised to be a breakout player if he’s not already considered a star. Something I have been tinkering with the idea of (and who knows if Pat Shurmur would) is Engram essentially becomes the second WR as the outside WR opposite Odell Beckham Jr. with Sterling Shepard in the slot and Rhett Ellison taking on the more traditional tight end role. In this scenario the Giants could use Engram similar to how teams use the Devin Funchess’, Kelvin Benjamins, and Mike Evans of the world. Engram’s athletic profile is better than Evans. It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants plan on using Engram this year with a new offensive coordinator and with both Jerrel Adams and Rhett Ellison more than capable of playing more traditional tight end roles.

Chad Wheeler, OL

The Giants have to figure out the configuration of their offensive line and whether or not Ereck Flowers is going to be a part of it in the present or the future. Shurmur and Dave Gettleman have insisted that there is a clean slate, but clean slate will only get you so far if the play doesn’t improve. Flowers has shown flashes of brilliance, but is learning a new side and Flowers has already lacked in his consistency. If Flowers flames out the Giants will have to figure out an alternative and Wheeler could be the guy.

Other considerations:

Wayne Gallman — Gallman might not have the uptick in production with Barkley, but his effectiveness might be much greater.

Roger Lewis — Latimer, Engram, Lewis one of these three are in line to get more touches this year.

Defense

B.J. Goodson, LB

Goodson has all the talent in the world, he just needs to stay healthy. If he stays healthy we could be talking about one of the more productive linebackers in the league. That seems like an exaggeration, but in seven games last year Goodson had 53 tackles. Extrapolated over a full 16-game season that would have put Goodson at 121 tackles, good enough for 13th-best in the league. Goodson could also see an uptick in the switch to a 3-4 defense which can rely on defensive linemen eating space to let the linebackers roam.

Eli Apple, CB

Often times we forget or ignore the fact that professional athletes are still just human beings who can be affected by influences outside of their sport. The difference is when athletes bring their professional lives into their work place millions of people are watching them. Apple has all the tools to succeed and had a very promising rookie season before it fell off the rails last year.

Lorenzo Carter

Carter is one of the more athletic linebackers the Giants have had in a long time. He’s a classic height/weight/speed type pick. Carter is 6-5, 250 pounds with a 4.5 40-yard dash. His spider chart is impressive and has an immediate chance to win the starting OLB position from the start and at the very least a prime opportunity to be a pass rushing specialist.