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New York Giants position-by-position breakdown: Examining the current 53-man roster

Looking for the strengths and weaknesses of the 2020 Giants

New York Giants Training Camp Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The New York giants have set their 53-man roster. There are only two spots left to fill on the practice squad. Let’s take a look and see how all the pieces fit together.

Quarterback

53-man roster (2): Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy
Practice squad: Cooper Rush

This worked out the way the Giants wanted it to. They kept just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, which, to be honest, took my a little bit by surprise. Then again, as a rookie head coach we really didn’t know what Joe Judge would do.

Anyway, former Dallas Cowboys backup Cooper Rush got through waivers and the Giants — as they seemed to hope they would be able to — got him to the practice squad. That gives them a third quarterback ready to go in the event of injury or illness.

Running back

53-man roster (4): Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Eli Penny
Practice squad: Sandro Platzgummer [International exemption, not eligible to be added to 53-man roster in 2020]

I thought the Giants might add Tavien Feaster, who spent the last week or so of training camp with the team, to the practice squad. Has not happened.

The other thing that has not happened is that undrafted free agent Javon Leake, cut in favor of Feaster, has not been added to the practice squad. Leake, as of this writing, has not been signed to the active roster or practice squad of any of the NFL’s other 31 teams.

Tight end

53-man roster (4): Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Eric Tomlinson
Practice squad: None

In my final 53-man roster projection, I said I had wanted to keep four tight ends. I only kept three. I’m kicking myself for not adding Tomlinson. I suspected the Giants would prefer Tomlinson because of his experience, blocking ability and special teams work to Garrett Dickerson, the better pass catcher. That turned out to be true.

With Jason Garrett running the offense, don’t be surprised to see a lot of two- and three-tight end sets, necessitating keeping an extra tight end on the roster.

Wide receiver

53-man roster (5): Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, C.J. Board, Damion Ratley
Practice squad: Alex Bachman, Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor, Johnny Holton

Yes, I’m surprised by the Giants cutting Corey Coleman. The simple reality is the organization believes that Board, who was impressive in training camp, and Ratley, whom they claimed on waivers from the Cleveland Browns, have more upside. Coleman, 15th overall pick by the Browns in the 2016 NFL Draft, has never lived up to that billing.

The practice squad is filled with young players who all had their moments in training camp. I am a little surprised by the addition of Dillon to the practice squad, but you can’t teach 4.28 40-yard dash speed. The Giants, obviously, want to see if they help Dillon learn how to use that speed to become a productive player.

Offensive line

53-man roster (9): Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, Kevin Zeitler, Cameron Fleming, Spencer Pulley, Shane Lemieux, Matt Peart, Jackson Barton
Practice squad: Tyler Haycraft, Kyle Murphy

I didn’t know who Barton was until the Giants claimed him on waivers Sunday. I just knew that Chad Slade, cut to make room, was a guard who was expendable because of the presence of Lemieux. Barton gives the Giants two inside backups (Pulley/Lemieux) and two tackle reserves, rookie Matt Peart being the other.

Kind of a bummer that Jon Halapio would not accept a practice squad berth, but not really shocking. Halapio feels, probably correctly, that if he waits he can get a better offer.

Haycraft, an undrafted free agent who was a right tackle in college, is an intriguing player converting to center. I’m glad the Giants kept him. Down the line, later this year or next, that might pay dividends. Murphy was given more money to sign than any other Giants undrafted free agent. The organization likes him. They weren’t letting him go if they could help it.

Defensive line

53-man roster (6): Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams, B.J. Hill, Austin Johnsonn, R.J. McIntosh
Practice squad: Niko Lalos

Somehow, R.J. McIntosh keeps hanging on to his job. I didn’t expect the Giants to keep six defensive linemen, and didn’t expect McIntosh to land on the active roster. He did, though. Now we will find out if the Giants actually have a role for him.

Lalos, the former Dartmouth defensive lineman, earned a practice squad spot. Honestly not sure why the Giants chose Lalos instead of Daylon Mack. Maybe because he is more on a 5 technique end rather than a nose tackle.

Inside linebacker

53-man roster (4): Blake Martinez, Devante Downs, Tae Crowder, T.J. Brunson
Practice squad: None

Head coach Joe Judge closed the book on Ryan Connelly by saying the players the Giants kept are “guys that we think give us versatility and have the ability to develop and keep shaping this roster in a positive way.”

It’s a nice way of saying that Connelly simply wasn’t what the Giants were looking for at linebacker.

Now I’m closing the book on Connelly.

The Giants kept Devante Downs. It was apparent throughout training camp that they like him, and he has a reputation of being a good coverage linebacker. They also kept both rookie seventh-round picks, Brunson and Crowder. They should help on special teams.

David Mayo (IR) should miss less than half the season. So, he will be a factor at some point.

Edge

53-man roster (6): Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, Kyler Fackrell, Oshane Ximines, Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown
Practice squad: None

In my projection I chose Brown over Coughlin, though I admitted it was a coin flip. The Giants solved that coin flip by keeping both rookies on the active roster. The two rookies are different types of players, but have intriguing skill sets. The Giants didn’t want to risk losing either.

Defensive backs

53-man roster (11): James Bradberry, Corey Ballentine, Logan Ryan, Darnay Holmes, Julian Love, Brandon Williams, Isaac Yiadom, Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love, Adrian Colbert, Nate Ebner
Practice squad: Chris Williamson, Jarren Williams

I lumped cornerback and safety together. I think “defensive back” is going to be a better term for how the Giants are going to use players like Ryan, Love, Peppers and perhaps others.

The Giants made a number of moves in the secondary over the past week, trading for Yiadom, signing Ryan, and adding Brandon Williams and Colbert. Have they done enough? How quickly can it all come together? We’ll see.

Williamson was the only one of the 10 draft picks who did not make the active roster. Still, I think the Giants are intrigued. I know they are intrigued by Jarren Williams. Practice squad is a perfect landing spot for him as he adjusts to the NFL after spending at UAlbany last season, an FCS school.

Special teams

53-man roster (3):
Riley Dixon (punter)
Graham Gano (placekicker)
Casey Kreiter (long snapper)
Practice squad: Long-snapper Chance Tinker, punter/placekicker Ryan Santoro

It isn’t what the Giants did on the 53-man roster that is interesting here. It’s what they did on the practice squad. The Giants reacted to the CoVID-19 pandemic by making certain they are carrying an emergency long snapper and by signing Santoro, who could fill in for a game or two at either punter or placekicker. Smart.