Who will make the initial 53-man roster for the New York Giants? We have been making projections on that for months now, even updating them after each preseason game.
Well, there are no more preseason games and rosters have to be trimmed from 90 players to 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. So, here is our final 2018 Giants 53-man roster projection. Let’s see how close I get. I’m putting the over/under on correct selections at 49.
Quarterback (3) — Eli Manning, Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta
Manning is still the Giants’ guy. Webb is No. 2. Lauletta, like Webb did last season, will spend game days in street clothes unless an injury moves him up the depth chart.
Running back (4) — Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Jonathan Stewart, Shane Smith
Robert Martin was impressive in the preseason until an ankle injury derailed him after 3 carries for 11 yards on Thursday. Jhurell Pressley (7 carries, 40 yards, 5.7 yards per carry) and Jalen Simmons (11-41-3.7) have also made strong cases for themselves. One of those guys is going to land on the 10-man practice squad [See full practice squad explainer]. I’m just not sure which one.
Tight end (4) — Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams, Scott Simonson
I have gone back-and-forth on the idea of keeping four tight ends on the roster. Considering that the Giants will rely heavily on two-tight end sets this season keeping a fourth tight end on the roster, especially one who is a blocker first, seems like a good idea. Simonson gets the nod over Ryan O’Malley and Garrett Dickerson.
Wide receiver (5) — Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, Hunter Sharp
Change: Sharp in, Kalif Raymond out
The Sharp-Raymond battle really comes down to which guy the Giants prefer as the punt returner. Judging by the fact that Sharp got first opportunities throughout the preseason, he would be guy. Despite his preseason drops, I also think the 5-foot-11, 198-pound Sharp could be more useful as a wide receiver than the 5-9, 160-pound Raymond.
Offensive line (9) — Starters: Nate Solder (LT), Will Hernandez (LG), Jon Halapio (C), Patrick Omameh (RG), Ereck Flowers (RT); Reserves: John Greco, Chad Wheeler, John Jerry, Nick Becton
Change: Brett Jones traded to Minnesota Vikings, Nick Becton added
Becton left Thursday night’s game with an ankle injury, which complicates this projection somewhat since we have no idea of the severity. I am going to put him on the roster for now, giving me two reserve inside players and two reserves tackles.
I will admit I cheated a little on this one. Becton is my ninth lineman, and I was sorely tempted to choose veteran guard Chris Scott. Thing is, I think whoever the ninth lineman is will be getting cut no later than after Week 1 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars. I strongly believe the Giants will be searching the waiver wire for a veteran swing tackle.
Sitting in the press box Thursday night, Patricia Traina reminded me that Scott is a vested NFL veteran, meaning that if he is on the initial 53-man roster his salary is guaranteed for the entire season. Becton is not a vested veteran (you need four years experience) and the Giants would be able to cut him without penalty.
Defensive line (6) — Starters: Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill; Reserves: Kerry Wynn, Robert Thomas, A.J. Francis
Change: Avery Moss dropped
Moss didn’t really belong with the defensive linemen, anyway. Besides, he played far less than Romeo Okwara and others in the first three preseason games. They have somewhat redundant skills set, but I think both Thomas and Francis make the squad. If the Giants want an additional EDGE player, Okwara would be in and Francis out.
Linebackers (8) — Starters: Alec Ogletree, B.J. Goodson, Olivier Vernon, Kareem Martin; Reserves: Lorenzo Carter, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Mark Herzlich, Connor Barwin
I’m sticking with Herzlich over Calvin Munson or undrafted free agent Tae Davis. Every time I try to stick a fork in Herzlich’s Giants career I end up being wrong. If I’m going to be wrong this time, it will be because Herzlich finally actually doesn’t make it.
The thing I’m really concerned about here is Barwin’s health, both for this projection and for his ability to contribute.
Cornerbacks (6) — Starters: Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple; Reserves: B.W. Webb, Donte Deayon, Chris Lewis-Harris, Leonard Johnson
Change: Deayon and Lewis-Harris in, Grant Haley out
Deayon pretty much demanded to be kept on the 53-man roster with his monster two-interception night Thursday. Lewis-Harris who got the majority of the early action Thursday. He was active vs. the run and the pass with 6 tackles and 2 passes defenses. Haley is intriguing, but I have reservations about his readiness for the active roster. Practice squad makes sense for him.
Johnson could lose this spot if the Giants keep someone like Okwara for the pass rush or one of the young running backs.
Safeties (5) — Starters: Landon Collins, Curtis Riley; Reserves: Michael Thomas, William Gay, Andrew Adams
Change: Gay added, Darian Thompson out
Thompson, the third-year free safety, did not dress again on Thursday due to a lingering hamstring injury. He hasn’t played or practiced since the first preseason game. The guess here is that he’s headed to injured reserve. Unfortunate for him, but it means the Giants won’t have to choose between Gay and Adams for a final safety spot.
Placekicker — Aldrick Rosas
Punter — Riley Dixon
Long-snapper — Zak DeOssie
Practice squad (10 players)
RB Robert Martin, C Evan Brown, OL Nick Gates, S Sean Chandler, DL Tyrell Chavis, TE Garrett Dickerson, WR Amba Etta-Tawo, CB Grant Haley, WR Travis Rudolph, LB Tae Davis