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New York Giants offseason roster analysis: Previewing the offense

Questions, position battles, more as we wait for training camp

Syndication: The Record
Daniel Jones and Mike Kafka
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have completed their offseason program. We have to wait until the final days of July to see the Giants on the field again. What did we learn in the spring? What is there to be answered this summer and this season?

Let’s go through the offense and try to answer those questions. Subsequently, we will look at the defense and special teams.

Quarterback — Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor, Davis Webb

The big question

I shouldn’t have to tell you the answer to this one. It is, of course, whether or not Daniel Jones can prove to the Joe Schoen-Brian Daboll regime that they can and should go forward with him at quarterback after the 2022 season.

Jones’ first three seasons have been a mixed bag, mostly defined by too many turnovers, not enough points or big plays, too many losses and too many injuries. Yet, there is still the belief from many, including Giants ownership, that Jones can and should be better than what he has been able to show thus far.

“We do feel that Daniel can play. We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here. We keep changing coaches, keep changing offensive coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches,” Mara said in January. “I take a lot of responsibility for that, but let’s bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not.”

The Giants hope, with Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, a revamped offensive line and a healthy Saquon Barkley that they can do just that.

The roster question

Tyrod Taylor will be the No. 2 quarterback. The roster question is simply whether or not the Giants will keep Davis Webb on the 53-man roster, or push him to the practice squad.

Running back — Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams, Sandro Platzgummer, Jashaun Corbin

The big question

What version of Saquon Barkley will we see in 2022? The No. 2 overall pick in 2018 had a historic rookie season, but has been beset by a bevy of injuries that have cost him games and effectiveness.

After an offseason spent training rather than rehabbing, Barkley is optimistic.

“I’ll tell you, I feel a lot better than I felt at this point last year. Like you said, I was rehabbing. My body feels good. My body feels strong. Feel like I got my strength back. Feel like I got my speed back. Feel like I can trust my knee again, trust myself to make plays and not think about it,” Barkley said.

“My body feels really good.”

Barkley admitted that he “was a way more confident player in college and early in my career than I was prior to the last year,” but said that with his improved health he is “starting to get that swagger back.”

The roster question

Is the No. 3 running back on the current 90-man roster? Barkley is the top guy, of course. Matt Breida is clearly No. 2. Can any of the group of Gary Brightwell, Antonio Williams, Sandro Platzgummer and Jashaun Corbin earn the third running back spot, or will the Giants have to go outside the organization to add running back depth?

Tight end — Daniel Bellinger, Ricky Seals-Jones, Jordan Akins, Chris Myarick, Austin Allen, Andre Miller, Jeremiah Hall

The big question

Can fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger have a big impact on the offense as a rookie?

“He’s one of those rare guys today that can really do it all. He can block, he can protect and what we want him to do is get open against man coverage. He can do all those things.”

“Most important thing is he’s coachable, he’s smart, he’s not a repeat offender of any kind. There’s a lot we’re throwing at these guys with a new playbook coming out of college, but he’s grasping things well and he’s got a great attitude. We just talk every day about improving today.”

Bellinger had a good spring, showing reliable hands and an ability to impact the passing game in the short to intermediate areas.

The roster question

Coming out of the spring, best guess is that Bellinger is the only lock to make the 53-man roster at tight end.

“We’re just looking for guys to come in, learn the playbook, work hard and put the team first,” Bischoff said. “That’s the kind of group we’re assembling. Whether it be a draft pick or a free agent who has some experience we want team-first guys. It’s a process, and away we go.”

Veterans Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins were both signed of free agents during the offseason, but neither did much to distinguish himself in the spring. Seals-Jones, in fact, spent considerable time working with the third-team offense.

Myarick spent part of last season with the Giants. He is a journeyman blocking tight end with limited pass-catching ability. Allen, Miller and Hall are undrafted free agents with varying skill sets. Allen is a massive 6-foot-8 pass catcher, Miller a converted wide receiver and Hall a player who played two seasons of fullback at Oklahoma and is actually listed as such on the Giants’ official 90-man roster.

NFL: New York Giants Minicamp
Wan’Dale Robinson
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver — Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Richie James, C.J. Board, Keelan Doss, Alex Bachman, Robert Foster, Collin Johnson, Austin Proehl, David Sills V, Darius Slayton, Travis Toivonen

The big question

Will Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard be healthy? All missed significant time last season with injuries, and Golladay is the only one who did even a little bit of on-field work during spring practices.

Golladay had the worst season of his five-year career in 2021, with no touchdowns, and only 37 receptions and 521 receiving yards. Still, shortly after the Giants signed him Mark Schofield detailed for Big Blue View all of the ways Golladay can help a quarterback. Perhaps head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka can figure out how to maximize his abilities.

Toney can be an electric playmaker when healthy, and Shepard is a reliable, quarterback-friendly receiver.

The Wan’Dale factor

Eyebrows were raised when the Giants made the 5-foot-8 wide receiver out of Kentucky a second-round pick. GM Joe Schoen said at the time that the organization had a “very clear vision” for how to employ Robinson, and there have been loud hints throughout the spring.

It looks as though the Giants intend to spread the field, look for matchups and try to get the ball out quickly to let playmakers work in space. Robinson will be a big part of a multi-faceted offensive approach.

“Unique” is how wide receivers coach Mike Groh describes Robinson.

“His skillset really fits in what we do here,” Groh said. “There’s a bunch of different ways to get open, different body types, shapes, sizes. As long as you can get that separation and you’ve got the ability to get open and present that to the quarterback you’ve got a chance to be really productive.”

The roster question

Golladay, Toney, Robinson and Shepard appear to be roster locks. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess. Can Darius Slayton hang on to a roster spot? There are 14 receivers on the roster, with varying skill sets and degrees of NFL experience. There is no telling what the Giants are looking for and who they will choose for the final two or three wide receiver roster spots.

Offensive line — Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, Evan Neal, Matt Gono, Max Garcia, Joshua Ezeudu, Jamil Douglas, Ben Bredeson, Nick Gates, Matt Peart, Devery Hamilton, Marcus McKethan, Josh Rivas, Roy Mbaeteka

The big question

Bluntly, how good will this offensive line be? We think this will be a better line than any the Giants have fielded in a number of years, but we have thought/hoped that would be the case annually for a while now.

The Giants now have a pair of young top 10 draft picks in Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal book-ending the line at the tackle spots. Thomas, though, was hobbled throughout the spring as he recovers from ankle surgery. If he is healthy, he should be fine He still, though, needs to show it. There is tremendous optimism about Neal, but he hasn’t played a game yet and still needs to justify the hype.

The bigger question is on the interior. Right guard Mark Glowinski has been a capable starter throughout his seven-year career, but not much more. Jon Feliciano has never been a full-time starting center. Left guard Shane Lemieux wasn’t good as a rookie in 2020 and missed last season with a knee injury.

The roster question

Beyond the starters, who will be the backups? How many offensive linemen will make the season-opening roster?

An educated guess right now is that Nick Gates (fractured leg) and Matt Peart (torn ACL) should be taken out of the equation. Neither is likely to be ready to play and seem headed toward the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, where they could remain for at least the first half of the 2022 regular season.

Matt Gono, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, would seem to have an inside track on the swing tackle role. Korey Cunningham is also a possibility there.

Rookie third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu fits as a reserve guard and perhaps eventual replacement for Lemieux, and he has tackle flex if needed.

Ben Bredeson, Max Garcia and Jamil Douglas appear to be competing for a job backing up at center and guard, and that might simply come down to which player the Giants feel most comfortable with at center.

Fifth-round pick Marcus McKethan is likely ticketed to begin his career on the practice squad, as is Roy Mbaeteka.