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New York Giants post-mini-camp 53-man roster projection

Let’s see if offseason workout have changed the potential makeup of the Giants’ 2021 roster

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Who will be running out of the tunnel for the Giants in 2021?
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge was clear that jobs were not being won or lost during the team offseason workouts. The lack of competitive work during mandatory mini-camp drove home the point.

Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate about the Giants’ potential 2021 roster. Thus, here is a post mini-camp 53-man roster projection.

Offense (25)

Quarterback

Current roster: Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Clayton Thorson

In (2): Jones, Glennon
Out: Thorson, Webb
Change: None

This one is pretty simple. The Giants signed Glennon to be the No. 2 quarterback. Thorson probably heads to the practice squad. Webb? He is mostly a special teams player, and as much as head coach Joe Judge and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey love that about him, I don’t see any room.

Running back

Current roster: Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker, Gary Brightwell, Taquan Mizzell, Sandro Platzgummer, Ryquell Armstead, Corey Clement

In (4): Barkley, Booker, Clement, Brightwell
Out: Mizzell, Platzgummer, Armstead
Change: Clement in

Since my post-draft roster projection the Giants added Corey Clement via free agency and Ryquell Armstead via waiver claim to a running back room that looked like it needed more competition.

What those additions mean when it comes to expectations for Saquon Barkley at the beginning of the season, we don’t know. The focus right here, though, is simply on who will and won’t make the roster.

As I look at the roster, I figure that out of Brightwell, Clement and Armstead two are making the roster. Brightwell caught the ball well during mini-camp and his passion for, and ability on special teams should endear him to head coach Joe Judge.

Clement, I think, is probably ahead of Armstead right now. When the Giants signed him after a rookie mini-camp tryout, Judge said “I’ve known him for a long time now and admired the way he’s played both in the offense and kicking game.”

Armstead missed all of last season due to COVID-19 complications and, while he has an intriguing skill set, was rarely noticed during the three days of mini-camp I watched. Armstead has time to impress the Giants in training camp and the preseason, I just think if the roster had to be set today he would probably end up on the outside.

There is always the possibility that both Clement and Armstead make the roster and the Giants try to pass Brightwell through to the practice squad.

Fullback

Current roster: Elijhaa Penny, Cullen Gillaspia

In (1): Penny
Out: Gillaspia
Change: None

Gillaspia was a valued special teams player over 23 games with the Houston Texans the past two seasons, which is likely a big part of the reason he is now a Giant. Still, he played only 20 offensive snaps over those two seasons. Penny is also a good special teams player, and he offers usefulness on offense. Unless the Giants plan to abandon the occasional use of a traditional fullback, I can’t see Penny losing his spot.

Tight end

Current roster: Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Nakia Griffin-Stewart, Rysen John, Cole Hikutini, Kelvin Benjamin (sort of)

In (4): Engram, Rudolph, Smith, Toilolo
Out: Griffin-Stewart, John, Benjamin, Hikutini
Change: None

If the top four tight ends are healthy, it seems pretty cut and dried. There is one nagging thought I have, though. If Kyle Rudolph is healthy, he would be ahead of Kaden Smith on the depth chart and the two are similar players. Smith was a key part of the success the Giants had running the ball with Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris, but in my view also an under-utilized part of the passing attack. I wonder if, should the Giants feel they need a roster spot elsewhere, Smith could be a casualty. Honestly, I think that would be a mistake.

Benjamin’s status is curious. He was signed after a rookie mini-camp tryout at tight end, ostensibly to try and revive his NFL career at that position. The Giants, though, list Benjamin as a wide receiver on their official website. During mini-camp, Benjamin ran some tight end routes, but spent more time working with the wide receivers. So, I’m not really sure what he is or where to plug him in when trying to figure out the roster.

Wide receiver

Current roster: Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, John Ross, Dante Pettis, Austin Mack, C.J. Board, Alex Bachman, Derrick Dillon, David Sills V, Kelvin Benjamin (sort of)

In (5): Golladay, Slayton, Shepard, Toney, Pettis
Out: Ross, Board, Bachman, Dillon, Sills, Mack, Benjamin
Change: Ross, Mack out; Pettis in

When I did my post mini-camp projection, I wrote that keeping John Ross on the 53-man roster was “an easy choice” for me. Well, obviously I have re-considered.

Maybe I’m affected here by recency bias, but Ross barely got on the field at mini-camp, sitting out the first day and leaving practice early on the third day. Pettis practiced fully all three days. Ross has only played in 27 of 64 potential regular-season games in his career, and spent at least part of three seasons on IR. If you’re not going to be available it doesn’t matter how fast you run when a team has other options.

Pettis isn’t nearly as fast as Ross, but he does have a career average of 15.5 yards on 42 career receptions. Ross averages 14.4 yards on 51 career catches. Pettis also offers flexibility as a return man, especially on punts.

I dropped Mack from the roster because I added a running back (Clement), so something had to give. The Giants can probably slide Mack through to the practice squad.

Offensive line

Current roster: Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, Matt Peart, Jonotthan Harrison, Nate Solder, Zach Fulton, Chad Slade, Kyle Murphy, Kenny Wiggins, Jackson Barton, Brett Heggie, Jake Burton.

In (9): Thomas, Lemieux, Gates, Hernandez, Peart, Harrison, Fulton, Solder, Murphy
Out: Slade, Wiggins, Barton, Heggie, Burton
Changes: None

Fulton for Kevin Zeitler and Solder for Cameron Fleming are the only roster changes. I wonder if Slade might make it in place of Murphy because he can play tackle in an emergency, but the Giants made it clear last year how much they like Murphy.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Heggie and Burton land on the practice squad.

Defense (25)

Defensive line

Current roster: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill, Danny Shelton, Austin Johnson, R.J. McIntosh, David Moa

In (5): Williams, Lawrence, Hill, Shelton, Johnson
Out: McIntosh, Moa
Changes: None

I can’t figure out how McIntosh is still around, to be honest. I also think the fact that many of the edge players on the roster can play hand in the ground defensive end in pass-rushing situations allows the Giants to go with five players here.

Edge

Current roster: Lorenzo Carter, Azeez Ojulari, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Ryan Anderson, Oshane Ximines, Elerson Smith, Cam Brown, Niko Lalos, Breeland Speaks, Trent Harris, Raymond Johnson III

In (6): Carter, Ojulari, Odenigbo, Anderson, Smith, Brown
Out: Ximines, Lalos, Speaks, Harris, Johnson
Change: Carter Coughlin moved to inside linebacker

As GM Dave Gettleman said after the draft, the additions of Ojulari and Smith in the draft and Anderson in free agency mean there is going to be quite a competition for roster spots. The big name I have missing out it Ximines. Maybe he comes to camp and proves me wrong, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling a season ago that the Judge coaching staff wasn’t X-Man’s biggest fan. Sadly, I also have fan favorite Niko Lalos falling short. There is always the practice squad.

The one thing that gives me pause here, especially about Ximines, is that Can Brown and Ryan Anderson both missed the mandatory mini-camp with undisclosed injuries. If one or both has some type of long-term malady that changes things. Since we don’t know right now, I will stay with my original prediction.

Linebacker

Current roster: Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, Reggie Ragland, Devante Downs, T.J. Brunson, Cale Garrett, Carter Coughlin

In (4): Martinez, Crowder, Ragland, Coughlin
Out: Downs, Brunson, Garrett
Change: Carter Coughlin moved from edge group

Since my post-draft roster projection we have learned that the Giants are indeed moving Carter Coughlin inside. So, really all I have done is followed suit and Coughlin from the edge group to the inside linebacker group.

Cornerback

Current roster: Sam Beal, James Bradberry, Darnay Holmes, Adoree’ Jackson, Jarren Williams, Quincy Williams, Aaron Robinson, Rodarius Williams, Madre Harper, Isaac Yiadom, Joshua Kalu, Chris Milton

In (5): Bradberry, Jackson, Holmes, Robinson, Harper
Out: Beal, Jarren Williams, Quincy Williams, Yiadom, Kalu, Milton, Rodarius Williams
Change: Rodarius Williams out

The change from my initial projection is that I have sixth-round pick Rodarius Williams missing the cut and likely landing on the practice squad. That’s a result of adding Nate Ebner at safety, which you will read about below. The flexibility Julian Love showed last season to move to cornerback allows me to go with one fewer true cornerback than I would ideally like to.

I have Isaac Yiadom and Sam Beal not making the cut. This is going to be an interesting competition, and how it shakes out beyond Bradberry/Jackson/Holmes/Robinson is just guesswork right now. By the way, are the Giants trying to collect more guys named Williams than anyone in the league?

Safety

Current roster: Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Montre Hartage

In (5): Ryan, Peppers, McKinney, Love, Nate Ebner
Out: Hartage
Change: Ebner in

Judge has basically admitted that Nate Ebner, who is not currently on the 90-man roster, will be part of the team once his commitment to the U.S. Olympic Rugby Team ends. So, to be accurate, I have to include him.

Special teams (3)

Current roster: Riley Dixon (P), Ryan Santoso (P-PK), Graham Gano (PK), Casey Kreiter (LS), Carson Tinker (LS)

In (3): Dixon, Gano, Kreiter
Out: Santoso, Tinker
Change: None