The New York Giants have completed mandatory mini-camp and will finish up their offseason program this week. It’s far too early to know exactly what the 53-man roster will look like in September. Let’s take a preliminary guess at what it might look like if the Giants had to play a game this weekend, though.
Starter: Eli Manning
Backups: Daniel Jones, Alex Tanney
Tanney has thrown the ball well all spring, and the Giants obviously like what the 31-year-old brings to their quarterback room. As a non-threatening No. 3 quarterback he can be useful to both Eli Manning and Daniel Jones.
Kyle Lauletta? His spring start was slowed as he recovered from knee surgery, and it hasn’t picked up a whole lot. He has been fourth in the quarterback pecking order, and I’m really not sure he can move up from there.
Running backs (5)
Starter: Saquon Barkley
Backups: Wayne Gallman, Rod Smith, Paul Perkins
Fullback: Elijhaa Penny
The surprise here, at least to me, is that I think Perkins has an excellent chance to make this team. I think he may even surpass Gallman on the depth chart because, thinking back to his 2016 rookie year, he’s more explosive with the ball in his hands. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula also recently lauded Perkins’ ability in pass protection.
The Giants like the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Smith’s size and his ability on special teams, where he played 261 snaps for the Dallas Cowboys last year. The stunner here could be if the Giants move on entirely from Gallman, who got only 51 carries last season.
Tight ends (3)
Starters: Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison
Backup: C.J. Conrad
I have Conrad, an impressive undrafted free agent out of Kentucky, beating out journeyman Scott Simonson and second-year man Garrett Dickerson. Simonson would stick in this scenario if the Giants keep four tight ends, but in this projection I don’t have room.
Wide receivers (6)
Starters: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate
Backups: Cody Latimer, Corey Coleman, Darius Slayton, Bennie Fowler
The more I watch the wide receivers — and quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs are all you can really watch in spring practices — the less I worry about the receiving group without Odell Beckham Jr.
Shepard and Tate are good players, and in OTAs and mandatory mini-camp Eli Manning has been getting them the ball. Cody Latimer has been good all spring. Corey Coleman should be better with a full offseason and training camp to learn the playbook, and his speed is undeniable. Rookie Darius Slayton has rebounded nicely from a rookie first practice of rookie mini-camp. The speed and potential are obvious.
I have Fowler making the roster ahead of Russell Shepard. As valuable as Shepard is on special teams, there is just something about the veteran Fowler. The ball keeps finding him, and he brings an energy to the practice field other guys just don’t show.
Offensive linemen (9)
Starters: Nate Solder (LT), Will Hernandez (LG), Jon Halapio (C), Kevin Zeitler (RG), Mike Remmers (RT)
Backups: Spencer Pulley, Evan Brown, Chad Wheeler, George Asafo-Adjei
Once Remmers gets on the field in training camp and proves he is healthy following back surgery I will be happy with this starting group. It isn’t filled with All-Pros, though Hernandez might get there one day and Zeitler is an exceptional pass blocker. It is, however, filled with solid, professional players who should combine to give the Giants the best offensive line they have had in a while. That bar isn’t high, but getting over it is critical.
What I’m not happy about is the depth here. Pulley showed he can handle center adequately last year, but I’m not sure either Pulley or Brown can adequately play guard in a pinch. In fact, I’m not sure if Brown can play at all. We never saw him last year. I’m also less than thrilled with Wheeler as the swing tackle, and I wonder if the Giants might try to sneak Asafo-Adjei to the practice squad.
If I’m GM Dave Gettleman I’m scouring the waiver wire for veteran castoffs during the preseason to bring in as depth players.
Defensive linemen (5)
Starters: Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, Dexter Lawrence
Backups: R.J., McIntosh, Chris Slayton
The name missing from this group in Olsen Pierre, the free agent signed from the Arizona Cardinals. Problem is, as far as I can tell, Pierre missed the entire spring. I can’t put him on the roster until I see him out there competing. No room for veteran John Jenkins, either. So, a really, really young group of interior linemen.
Edge defenders (4)
Starters: Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden
Backups: Oshane Ximines, Kareem Martin
I have thought at times that the Giants might choose to move on from Martin and take the $3.275 million in cap savings, but right now I don’t see anyone else stepping up and taking that fourth edge spot. Martin is an adequate player, and his experience in James Bettcher’s defense is a plus.
Inside linebackers (5)
Starters: Alec Ogletree, B.J. Goodson
Backups: Tae Davis, Ryan Connelly, Nathan Stupar
Stupar, who is really a liability on defense, stays because of his special teams acumen. I am going to be interested to see if either Mark McLaurin or Joseph Tauaefa, undrafted inside linebackers, can push for roster spots.
Starters: Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love (slot)
Backups: Sam Beal, Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine
I have Love eventually overtaking Haley to be the slot corner. I also wonder if the Giants would keep special teams gunner Antonio Hamilton and try to pass Ballentine to the practice squad.
Starters: Jabrill Peppers, Antoine Bethea
Backups: Michael Thomas, Kamrin Moore
You’re probably wondering where the name Sean Chandler is. Well, we did not see Chandler work out all spring as he was off to the side riding a bike. Moore made a few plays and even got some first-team reps during mandatory mini-camp. If Chandler is healthy, I would prefer him to Moore. Like Pierre on the defensive line, though, I need to see him on the field.
Special teams (3)
Punter: Riley Dixon
Placekicker: Aldrick Rosas
Snapper: Zak DeOssie
Unless injury dictates a switch somewhere in here, there is no reason to make any changes to this group.