New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman and coach Joe Judge remind us that the roster-building season is never done. Still, free agency and the draft are done. So, let’s take a stab at what a 55-man (yes, 55, and it sounds weird) roster would look like for the Giants if they had to establish one right now.
Starter: Daniel Jones
Backups: Colt McCoy, Alex Tanney
You might be rooting for undrafted rookie Case Cookus to knock Tanney off the roster. I can’t predict that at this point, though. I have never seen the kid play, and all I know about him is what Mark Schofield told us. If and when we get to a training camp/preseason and get the chance to see him on the field maybe then we can judge whether or not he is a legitimate contender for a roster spot.
Running back (4)
Starter: Saquon Barkley
Fullback: Elijhaa Penny
Backups: Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman
I will admit that I am a little surprised by having Gallman on the roster. Thing is, I don’t know who replaces him. I don’t see Jon Hilliman as a better option. Undrafted free agent signee Javon Leake? He is a really raw kid who carried the ball less than 200 times at Maryland and probably lands on the practice squad. He might have a better chance if the NFL had not de-emphasized the kickoff return so much in recent years. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Giants continue looking for one more veteran back, maybe even all the way up to final cuts at the end of the preseason.
Offensive line (9)
Starters: Andrew Thomas, Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, Spencer Pulley
Backups: Nick Gates, Cameron Fleming, Matt Peart, Shane Lemiuex
One of the changes with the 55-man roster is that teams will be required to dress at least eight offensive lineman on a game day roster that will include 48 active players. In the past, teams would often sneak by with seven active lineman, ending up with players out of position if there were in-game injuries. Honestly, I can see the Giants keeping 10 offensive linemen on the 55-man roster. Right now, I just couldn’t tell you who the 10th guy might be, though I would guess Chad Slade. Jon Halapio? He is still unsigned.
Tight end (4)
Starter: Evan Engram
Backups: Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Eric Tomlinson
I think four tight ends is the right number. The first three, if healthy, are no-brainers. The fourth could be Tomlinson, Garrett Dickerson or undrafted free agent Kyle Markway.
Wide receiver (6)
Starters: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton
Backups: Cody Core, Corey Coleman, Da’Mari Scott
Quite honestly, after Shepard, Tate, Slayton, Core I have no idea what will happen. I have Coleman and Scott in here simply because both have at least some playing experience and the ability to return kicks. There will be a horde of young receivers fighting for backup spots and there is really no telling right now how this will shake out.
Defensive line (5)
Starters: Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams
Backups: B.J. Hill, Austin Johnson
RJ McIntosh and Chris Slayton both lose out here. Slayton probably lands back on the practice squad. I would like to keep a sixth interior lineman. I’m just not certain it will be necessary.
Starters: Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines
Backups: Kyler Fackrell, Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin
This group is obviously going to be impacted by whether or not Markus Golden ends up back with the Giants.
Inside linebacker (5)
Starters: Blake Martinez, Ryan Connelly
Backups: David Mayo, Tae Crowder, T.J. Brunson
I have both Crowder and Brunson making the 55-man roster, though I could easily see at least one of them sliding to the practice squad.
Starters: James Bradberry, DeAndre Baker
Backups: Darnay Holmes, Corey Ballentine, Dravon Askew-Henry, Chris Williamson
In this way-too-early version of the roster, Grant Haley and Sam Beal don’t get seats at the table. One or both could make the roster, especially if the Giants decide Williamson needs time on the practice squad. Askew-Henry is one of those guys who can play in the slot or at safety, increasing his chance to make the roster. That versatility is why I have him ahead of Beal and Haley right now. What this appears to be indicative of, though, is that the Giants have given themselves legitimate choices.
Starters: Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney
Backups: Julian Love, Nate Ebner, Montre Hartage
Ebner is a lock because of his special teams ability. I don’t think the Giants claimed Hartage. a player Patrick Graham had in Miami, to cut him. Love could be the starting slot corner. He could see time in three-safety packages. My guess right now is that both he and Holmes are going to play a significant number of snaps. The player who loses out here is Sean Chandler. Ebner has played little defense in his career, so guys like Love and Askew-Henry who can rotate back to safety could be important.
Special teams (3)
Placekicker: Aldrick Rosas
Punter: Riley Dixon
Long-snapper: Casey Kreiter
Nothing to see here. The Giants have cleared the deck for Kreiter, a Pro Bowler in 2018 with the Denver Broncos. Rosas and Dixon are your kickers.
Going through this exercise made me realize there are a ton of competitive spots on the current roster. It’s really anybody’s guess how the backup spots at wide receiver and across the linebacker, cornerback and safety positions are going to turn out. That’s a good thing.
Honestly, without seeing any practices or preseason games to get some idea of how guys are being used or who is getting practice reps and who isn’t I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m way off on a few of these.
Still, I thought it was worth doing as I think it clarified — at least for me — some area where the Giants face real decisions this fall.