Veterans report Tuesday for what will be the most unusual training camp in NFL history. When it’s all said and done, what will the New York Giants’ 53-man roster look like?
Here is my first projection of the summer. I did one way back in May, but we’re not counting that one. I’m putting the over/under on correct picks in this projection at 48. Which would you take?
Quarterback (3) — Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Cooper Rush
Out: Alex Tanney, Case Cookus
McCoy and Rush as the 53-man roster backups to Jones with one or both of Tanney and Cookus on the practice squad is what makes sense to me. It also gives the Giants the most depth/protection should injury or illness strike the position. I could even see Tanney being cut outright and, since it seems unlikely he would be in demand by other NFL teams, serving as a sort of “on call” quarterback should the Giants need to bring him back.
Running back (3) — Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Javon Leake
Out: Wayne Gallman, Jon Hilliman, Sandro Platzgummer
I might be wrong about Gallman, especially in a year where experience is going to matter. I know Chris gets mad at me every time I mention Gallman not making the roster. I know that the previous coaching staff didn’t have a lot of faith in him, and my belief is that if this one did the Giants would not have signed Lewis. I think Leake’s big play potential and kick return ability could win him a spot.
I can see Hilliman being kept as a practice squad player. Maybe Gallman, too, with the loosening of restrictions on veterans being kept on practice squads this season.
Regardless, this position comes down to the health of Barkley.
Fullback (1) — Elijhaa Penny
Out: George Aston
Penny has been the Giants’ fullback for most of the last two seasons. We can only speculate when it comes to how the fullback fits into Jason Garrett’s offense. There is, though, no reason to expect the Giants to replace the soon-to-be 27-year-old.
Tight end (4) — Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Eric Tomlinson
Out: Garrett Dickerson, Kyle Markway, Rysen John
Engram, Smith and Toilolo are obvious 53-man roster choices. Tomlinson? Not so much. Still, he can block and he has special teams ability — including the ability to long snap in an emergency — that will appeal to Joe Judge and could be incredibly valuable under the circumstances. In an offense that could be tight end heavy, keeping an extra one wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Wide receiver (6) — Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Corey Coleman, Cody Core, Austin Mack
Out: Alex Bachman, Derrick Dillon, Da’Mari Scott, David Sills V, Binjimen Victor
It would seem that five receiving slots are likely settled, with Coleman and Core as backups. The sixth spot is up for grabs among several young, unproven players. I have to pick someone here, and I’ll go with Mack.
Honestly, even without preseason games wide receiver might be one of the easier positions for the coaching staff to judge players. A lot of the on-field practice work turns into a glorified passing camp, anyway.
My guess at this point is that Scott, because of his kick and punt return ability, would be a practice squad favorite if he doesn’t make the roster. Victor or Dillon, particularly the speedy Dillon, could also be players to watch.
Offensive line (9) — Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley, Kevin Zeitler, Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates, Cameron Fleming, Shane Lemieux, Matt Peart
Out: Chad Slade, Kyle Murphy, Tyler Haycraft, Eric Smith, Nate Wozniak
This one seems pretty straightforward to me. It seems pretty apparent that all nine of these players will make the roster — unless the Giants decide to replace Pulley with a different veteran center.
Undrafted free agent Kyle Murphy seems like a player the Giants would at least like to keep on the practice squad. Perhaps one of the tackles currently on the roster — Nate Wozniak and Eric Smith — could land on the 16-man practice squad, as well.
Defensive line (5) — Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams, B.J. Hill, Austin Johnson
Out: R.J. McIntosh, Chris Slayton, Dana Levine, Niko Lalos
I can’t see the Giants keeping any more than five full time hand-in-the-ground defensive linemen, and I think the top five heading into camp are fairly obvious.
Edge (5) — Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Kyler Fackrell, Cam Brown, Markus Golden
Out: Carter Coughlin, Oluwole Betiku, Chris Peace
Golden has yet to sign his tender. I am working off the belief, though, that he eventually will. Coughlin, the seventh-round pick out of Minnesota is an insanely difficult cut for me. He’s a guy who might not make it through waivers to the practice squad.
Thing is, it came down to Coughlin or Cam Brown for me, and I went with Brown because I think he could play also play inside as a coverage linebacker.
Inside linebacker (4) — Blake Martinez, David Mayo, Ryan Connelly, T.J. Brunson
Out: Tae Crowder, Josiah Tauaefa, Devante Downs, Mark McLaurin
There is only one reason I am giving Brunson the final spot here over Crowder. I think only one can make the roster, and Brunson was drafted 17 spots earlier. That probably won’t mean diddly once the players really start competing, but right now I have to base my decision on something. That’s all I’ve got.
Something I could see is only three true inside linebackers making the roster. Brown’s ability to slide inside might give the Giants the flexibility to keep Coughlin on the 53.
Cornerback (5) — James Bradberry, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes, Chris Williamson
Out: Grant Haley, Dravon Askew-Henry, Christian Angulo, Malcolm Elmore
Haley had two seasons to lock down the nickel cornerback job, and failed to do so. He’s a try hard guy who is an excellent run defender and tackler. Coverage? The primary job of a slot corner? That, sadly, he hasn’t done very well. I think Haley and Askew-Henry, who has safety versatility, could slide to the practice squad.
I’m not 100 percent confident in the selection of Williamson. I think, though, Askew-Henry has a better chance of getting to the practice squad and that could be a safe play in a year when stockpiling depth takes on added importance.
Safety (4) — Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Montre Hartage
Out: Sean Chandler, JaQuarius Landrews, Rashaan Gaulden
Peppers, McKinney and Love will likely play extensively. Hartage played for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham last season with the Miami Dolphins, and his familiarity with the defense gives him a leg up on a roster spot. Love and Hartage have cornerback experience, adding versatility. Williamson, the rookie cornerback, also has safety versatility.
Special Teams (4)
Placekicker — Chandler Catanzaro
Punter — Riley Dixon
Long-snapper — Casey Kreiter
Specialist — Nate Ebner
The signing of Catanzaro to replace Aldrick Rosas drew a mixed reaction. If you aren’t thrilled with the signing of a placekicker who “retired” after struggling last preseason I recommend not obsessing about it. Maybe Catanzaro wins the job, maybe he doesn’t. There are other veteran kickers available, and several others who will be cut before the season begins. Reports are that Catanzaro signed only a one-year deal. If the Giants don’t like what they see, or a clearly better kicker comes along and the Giants have an opportunity to bring him in, they will.
I’m also guessing that some of you are flipping out because I have 26 offensive players and only 23 defensive ones. Remember, though, that Ebner can play safety in an emergency. So, he’s a 24th defender.
Practice squad (16)
Quarterbacks (2) — Alex Tanney, Case Cookus
Running back (1) — Jon Hilliman
Fullback (1) — George Aston
Tight end (1) — Kyle Markway
Wide receiver (2) — Derrick Dillon, Da’Mari Scott
Offensive line (2) — Kyle Murphy, Eric Smith
Defensive line (1) — Chris Slayton
Linebacker (1) — Tae Crowder
Edge (1) — Carter Coughlin
Defensive backs (4) — Dravon Askew-Henry, Grant Haley, Rashaan Gaulden, Sean Chandler
I’m honestly shooting in the dark when it comes to the practice squad guys. What I have done is simply tried to cover pretty much every position with a viable option to add to the roster. The catch is this — I think it would be really smart for teams to keep a punter and placekicker on the practice squad. Right now, the Giants don’t have second guys at those spots for me to add here.