Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Politicians running to succeed an incumbent US President often ask this question on the campaign trail. It so happens that Giants' GM Dave Gettleman is in his 4th year. Ostensibly, in 4 years, with good drafting, trades, and free agent signings, it should have been possible to make the Giants' roster much better than it was when he arrived. But today's 1-5 team, embarrassed and outclassed by its last two opponents, calls this assumption into question. So this is a good time to ask: Is the Giants' roster better than it was 4 years ago when Gettleman took over?

NFL rosters are constantly changing, so it is not a simple matter to define what a team's 53-man roster is in any given year, and what a team's roster is on Opening Day is often not the same as what the team envisions its roster being because they use NFL rule magic to designate injured players as on IR, PUP, etc., with the intention of adding them to the 53 once they have served the number of weeks specified by NFL rules and have gotten to the point they can play.

So I made a table, shown at the end of this post, of the Giants' 53-man roster as of 9/1/21, but substituting Aaron Robinson and Elerson Smith for players who were actually temporarily on the roster then. Likewise, for the start of the Gettleman era, I took the Giants roster for 3/1/18, i.e., at the start of the NFL year and before the 2018 draft, to fill out a 53-man roster with what they designated as first- and second-team players plus a select few from the third string who (as memory serves me) played for the Giants the previous year. The difference between the two is what the Gettleman era hath wrought.

You can make your own comparisons, but here is my take:

QB: The Rams game notwithstanding, Daniel Jones is now as good or better a QB than "checkdown Eli" was by 2018. Mike Glennon is a better backup than Geno Smith or Davis Webb.

RB: Even with the injuries, Saquon is a much better RB than anyone we had in 2018. But the group of Darkwa, Vereen, Gallman, and Perkins impresses me more than Booker, Penny, Brightwell , Gillaspia at the moment. I don't know why they don't give Brightwell some snaps to see what he can do.

TE: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Little change in my book. Rudolphs should have been an upgrade, but whether due to age or lisfranc, he's not. Smith would be an improvement except they don't use him.

WR: OBJ is better than any receiver the Giants have now, but by 2018 he was not the 2014 version we all remember. Shep was there in 2018 and 2021. The other 6 Giants' WRs are by far better than what we had then, and arguably one of the best in the NFL if youever get them all healthy. This is the greatest achievement of the Gettleman era.

OL: Andrew Thomas is better than any OT we had in 2018. Pugh and Richburg when healthy were better than any IOL we have now. I'll slightly take the rest of the 2021 group over the rest of the 2018 group based on potential alone.

DL: I like LW, Dexy, and Austin, but JPP, Snacks, and Dalvin were better, though JPP was not great for the Giants by 2018. Slight nod for Wynn/Thomas/Bromley over Shelton/R. Johnson because Shelton has been awful and RJ hasn't gotten much of a chance yet.

EDGE: In 2018 the "EDGE" classification wasn't as common as it is now, so I made my own assignments to split these off from LB and DE, which you may or may not agree with. But our 2018 group was head-and-shoulders better than the current group, though I think Ojulari is generally playing well and I cross my fingers on Smith.

LB: An undistinguished group then and now except for Martinez. Clearly the weakest position on the team.

S: By 2018 Landon Collins had been exposed as a S who cannot cover. In 2021 Jabrill Peppers has been exposed as a S who cannot cover. Otherwise the current group should be far better than the 2018 group, though you wouldn't know it by their play this year.

CB: In their prime, Jackrabbit and DRC were excellent corners. By 2018 the arrow was pointing down. The current group of corners is much deeper than the 2018 group and should be much better. But they are not playing that way.

ST: Gano > Rosas by a lot. Dixon > Wing by a little. Kreiter > later DeOssie.

So my scorecard for the Gettleman era: Boxes checked as improved (including replacement of aging players from 2018) for QB, WR, S, CB, ST and slightly for LB. Not much change at RB, TE, OL. Worse off now than then for DL and EDGE.

Cast your ballot...

3/1/18 9/1/21

QB (3) QB (2)
Eli Manning Daniel Jones
Geno Smith Mike Glennon
Davis Webb

RB (4) RB (5)
Orleans Darkwa Saquon Barkley
Shane Vereen Devontae Booker
Wayne Gallman Eli Penny
Paul Perkins Gary Brightwell

Cullen Gillaspia

TE (3) TE (3)
Evan Engram Evan Engram
Rhett Ellison Kyle Rudolph
Jerell Adams Kaden Smith

WR (7) WR (7)
Sterling Shepard Sterling Shepard
Odell Beckham Jr. Kenny Golladay
Brandon Marshall Darius Slayton
Roger Lewis Kadarius Toney
Dwayne Harris John Ross
Tavarres King C.J. Board
Travis Rudolph Dante Pettis

OL (8) OL (8)
Ereck Flowers Andrew Thomas
DJ Fluker Nate Solder
Justin Pugh Will Hernandez
Weston Richburg Nick Gates
John Jerry Shane Lemieux
Adam Bisnowaty Billy Price
John Greco Matt Peart
John Halapio Ben Bredeson

DL (6) DL (5)
Jason Pierre-Paul Leonard Williams
Damon Harrison Dexter Lawrence
Dalvin Tomlinson Austin Johnson
Kerry Wynn Danny Shelton
Robert Thomas Raymond Johnson
Jay Bromley

EDGE (4) EDGE (4)
Olivier Vernon Lorenzo Carter
Devon Kennard Azeez Ojulari
Romeo Okwara Oshane Ximines
Avery Moss Elerson Smith

LB (5) LB (5)
BJ Goodson Blake Martinez
Jonathan Casillas Tae Crowder
Keenan Robinson Reggie Ragland
Mark Herzlich Carter Coughlin
Ray Ray Armstrong Cam Brown

S (4) S (4)
Landon Collins Jabrill Peppers
Darian Thompson Logan Ryan
Andrew Adams Xavier McKinney
Nat Berhe Julian Love

CB (6) CB (7)
Janoris Jenkins James Bradberry
Eli Apple Adoree' Jackson
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Darnay Holmes
Ross Cockrell Rodarius Williams
Brandon Dixon Aaron Robinson
Donte Deayon Sam Beal

Keion Crossen

ST (3) ST (3)
Aldrick Rosas Graham Gano
Brad Wing Riley Dixon
Zak DeOssie Casey Kreiter

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