With New York Giants veterans reporting for training camp on Wednesday let’s update our 53-man roster projection.
I will be honest here. I am absolutely not sure what to do with offensive line depth, mostly because no matter how I have tried to configure it I don’t believe it’s good enough. Next, you will see that I have only three safeties on the roster. I think the Giants need four, but until we get to camp and preseason games — or the Giants sign Tre Boston — I don’t know who the fourth could be.
Starter: Eli Manning
Backups: Daniel Jones, Alex Tanney
No change from the spring.
Tanney threw 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 didn’t pick up a whole lot. He was fourth in the quarterback pecking order during the spring, and I’m really not sure he can move up from there.
The big story at quarterback, of course, is when — or if — Jones will take over for Manning at some point this season. This Manning-Jones story is going to dominate training camp coverage of the Giants, but in my view it probably should not.
Coach Pat Shurmur can phrase it any way he wants — competition, not a competition, yada yada — as long as he is healthy Manning is starting Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Where things get interesting is during the season, especially if the Giants play poorly. It is hard to imagine the Giants going through the entire season without getting Jones at least some meaningful playing time.
Running backs (4)
Change: Gallman out
Starter: Saquon Barkley
Backups: Rod Smith, Paul Perkins
Fullback: Elijhaa Penny
The surprise here, at least to me, is that I think Perkins takes a job away from Gallman. In the spring, I had five running backs making the roster. The more I have thought about it, though, considering how few touches there are likely to be for the players behind Barkley, I think it’s hard to justify using that many roster spots on running backs.
Why Gallman, Barkley’s backup last season, as the odd man out? One reason — I have a hard time getting past Gallman’s five fumbles in 210 career touches. At minimum, the job of a backup is to not hurt his team when he gets opportunities. A fumble every 42 touches simply isn’t good enough.
Perkins can run the ball, catch it and is a capable pass blocker. After a year on IR, I just have a suspicion he earns a spot on the team.
I’m also keeping even though the 235-pound Smith has fullback size and played the position at the beginning of his career. The Giants have emphasized that they want to be a running team, and if that’s going to be the case I have a hard time seeing them try to do that without keeping a true fullback on the roster.
Tight ends (4)
Starters: Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison
Backup: C.J. Conrad, Scott Simonson
Change: Simonson in
I have Conrad, an impressive undrafted free agent out of Kentucky, making the roster. In my last projection I had the Giants keeping only three tight ends. That, though, feels thin. The Giants employed 12 personnel (two tight ends) 24 percent of the time in 2018. So, Simonson is in.
Also, I speculated recently that Ellison could be on the roster bubble. I believe that to be true, but I also believe odds are pretty good that he is part of the 53-man roster.
Wide receivers (6)
Starters: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate
Backups: Cody Latimer, Corey Coleman, Darius Slayton, Russell Shepard
The more I watched the wide receivers in spring practices the less I worried about the receiving group without Odell Beckham Jr.
Sterling Shepard and Tate are good players, and in OTAs and mandatory mini-camp Eli Manning was getting them the ball regularly. Cody Latimer was 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 rebounded nicely from a rough first practice of rookie mini-camp. The speed and potential are obvious.
In the spring I had Fowler making the roster ahead of Russell Shepard. I wasn’t completely sold on my own prediction, though, and have changed it. Shepard isn’t going to give the Giants a lot as a receiver, but his importance on special teams is hard to overlook. I think it gets him a roster spot.
Offensive linemen (8)
Starters: Nate Solder (LT), Will Hernandez (LG), Jon Halapio (C), Kevin Zeitler (RG), Mike Remmers (RT)
Backups: Spencer Pulley, Chad Wheeler, James O’Hagan
Changes: Evan Brown, George Asafo-Adjei out; O’Hagan in
Obviously, I’m not really sold on the depth here. For now, I have O’Hagan, a UDFA from Buffalo, beating out Brown. I have Asafo-Adjei landing on the practice squad.
I have a hard time believing the Giants are really sold on Brown, since they never bothered activating him for a single game last season. Asafo-Adjei is right tackle only, and I think the Giants might end up trying to get him to the practice squad. Honestly, I’d like to keep more linemen than this, but I’m recalling that the Giants generally only dressed seven on game days a season ago.
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 (6)
Starters: Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, Dexter Lawrence
Backups: R.J., McIntosh, Chris Slayton, Olsen Pierre
Change: Added Olsen Pierre
After spring workouts I left Pierre off the final 53 because he was held out of practice during OTAs and mini-camp. The more I have thought about it, the Giants can’t go into the season with only two backups who have six games and 65 snaps worth of experience. So, I’m adding the former Cardinal to the mix.
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, Josiah Tauaefa
Change: Tauaefa in, Nathan Stupar out
After spring practices I wasn’t willing to make this move. I think, though, Tauaefa could end up being a guy the Giants want to keep around. They used a big chunk of their UDFA budget to get him. I will go out on a limb here and say he justifies that move.
Starters: Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love (slot)
Backups: Sam Beal, Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, Antonio Hamilton
I have Love eventually overtaking Haley to be the slot corner. I have added special teams gunner Antonio Hamilton.
Starters: Jabrill Peppers, Antoine Bethea
Backups: Michael Thomas
I really want to keep a fourth safety, but right now I don’t know who that would be. The obvious choice is Sean Chandler, but he was held out of spring practices. I need to see him healthy. If he is, Chandler probably makes the roster and Ballentine could be ticketed for practice squad duty to start the season.
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.