The New York Giants hold their mandatory mini-camp Tuesday thru Thursday, June 7-9. Let’s summarize what we have learned this spring and what we can expect to see during the next few days.
The Giants have an intriguing rookie class, and will need contributions from many of these first-year players to have a successful 2022 season. Let’s go through what we know so far.
Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux (Round 1, No. 5) — Unfortunately, we aren’t likely to see Thibodeaux do much this week. Thibodeaux has not practiced since suffering some type of lower-body injury during the first week of OTAs. Last Thursday, when media had access, Thibodeaux was sprinting and doing agility drills under the watchful eye of a Giants trainer.
Coach Brian Daboll was evasive last week about a timeline for Thibodeaux to get back on the field. Among the things he said about Thibodeaux:
- “We’ll see next week how it goes. There’s a lot of things that can happen over the weekend.”
- “Knock on wood, hopefully he’ll be good to go.”
- Hopefully [he will be ready by training camp]. Again, I’m not going to promise anything. He may or may not.”
This will fall on deaf ears, but let’s not get all bent out of shape about Thibodeaux’s injury until we get to training camp and see where things stand.
OT Evan Neal (Round 1, No. 7) — Neal is clearly entrenched at right tackle. Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson said this about Neal early in OTAs:
“He puts a lot of pressure on himself. I’ve learned that in a short period of time. One of my keys with him right now is hey my job is to coach you. If you need any pressure applied let me do it. Don’t do it to yourself. You’re too young, you won’t know when to turn it off … right now my job is to teach, my job is to coach, my job is to mentor. I don’t need to apply any more pressure than what’s there. He had enough pressure the day he was drafted.
“He wants to be really good. To me as a coach that’s the first thing.”
Veteran right guard Mark Glowinski has been impressed.
“Just dominant. As long as he gets his hands on guys, that’s the end of the story,” Glowinski said. “So just making sure that we put him in the right place; make sure that he is doing the right things. He has come along drastically every day, learning more and more.”
WR Wan’Dale Robinson (Round 2, No. 43) — The Giants said they had a “very clear vision” for how Robinson would be used in their new offense. It has become clear that the Giants will use a lot of RPOs and quick throws to get the ball into the hands of playmakers in space, and that they will use a variety of formations in an effort to create mismatches. It is also clear Robinson will be a big part of that. We will be watching to see how his relationship with quarterback Daniel Jones continues to develop.
OL Joshua Ezeudu (Round 3, No. 67) — The assumption has been that Ezeudu would compete for the starting left guard spot. He still could, but the last two times media had access to OTAs, Ezeudu was taking first-team left tackle reps in place of Andrew Thomas, who is working his way back from ankle surgery.
CB Cor’Dale Flott (Round 3, No. 81) — Flott has been working as a backup slot cornerback, with Darnay Holmes taking first-team reps. That would seem likely to continue this week.
TE Daniel Bellinger (Round 4, No. 112) — The tight end from San Diego State has been impressive throughout the spring. The Giants have used him with the first team in a variety of alignments, and Bellinger has caught everything thrown in his direction. He looks like a comfortable security blanket underneath, and has been able to stretch the field down the seam a couple of times.
S Dane Belton (Round 4, No. 114) — Honestly, Belton didn’t do much to stand out during the OTAs. Still, the Giants will need more than Xavier McKinney and Julian Love at safety. It will be interesting to see if a defined role for Belton begins to emerge.
LB Micah McFadden (Round 5, No. 146) — McFadden flashed a couple of times as a blitzer in OTAs open to media, but it is actually hard to tell how much of an accomplishment that was as these are non-contact practices with minimal blocking efforts. Can McFadden do enough to cut into Tae Crowder’s playing time?
DT D.J. Davidson (Round 5, No. 147) — In non-contact practices in shorts and t-shirts it is impossible to really learn anything about defensive line play. We won’t really learn much about whether or not Davidson can be a rotational part of the defense until pads come on in August.
OG Markus McKethan (Round 5, No. 173) — McKethan has thus far worked at right guard with the second and third groups. That will likely continue.
LB Darrian Beavers (Round 6, No. 182) — Beavers flashed in coverage a few times during OTAs, perhaps a bonus since athleticism/coverage are not supposed to be strengths. Can Beavers force his way into the competition at inside linebacker? In the end, he is likely a special teams player.
Undrafted free agents — Early in camp, Daboll singled out running back Joshua Corbin as having been impressive. There are a number of undrafted tight ends, defensive backs and defensive linemen trying to catch the eye of the coaching staff. We’ll see if any of them take a step forward this week.
Saquon the receiver
While we haven’t — and won’t — see the entirety of the Giants’ new Daboll-Mike Kafka playbook, the general direction of the Giants’ offense is crystal clear. The Giants will spread the field. They will use motion. They will look to create mismatches via formations. The RPO will be prevalent. Probably the zone read, too. The ball will often come out of quarterback Daniel Jones’ hands quickly as the Giants look to get the ball out and let playmakers try to make plays. Much of that quick passing game seems destined to replace the running game.
From what we have seen thus far, throwing the ball to Barkley appears to be a big part of the plan. We have seen Barkley catch passes while lined up as a wide receiver, a slot receiver and as a running back. The Daboll-Kafka offense seems determined to make Barkley a centerpiece of the passing attack, something he has not truly been the past couple of seasons.
We have already discussed the likelihood that Thibodeaux will remain in a red jersey this week. Let’s talk about other guys who are unlikely to do much this week.
It is a given that center Nick Gates, rehabbing a fractured leg, and offensive tackle Matt Peart, coming back from a torn ACL, won’t practice. Same with Sterling Shepard (torn Achilles).
Kenny Golladay began OTAs in a red jersey, was out of the red jersey but didn’t practice the second time media has access, and wasn’t seen last Thursday. Dexter Lawrence and Shane Lemieux have progressed out of red jerseys.
Kadarius Toney (arthroscopic knee surgery) seems unlikely to practice. Other players who have been in red jerseys are wide receiver Collin Johnson, linebacker Cam Brown and left tackle Andrew Thomas. Thomas (offseason ankle surgery) did not appear to be moving all that well on Thursday. That is going to need to be monitored.
Roster spots are not being won — or lost — at this time of year.
“Really this is a teaching camp because, again, it’s important. People are learning our language, our playbooks, how we want to do things here in terms of the building. So there’s been a lot of teaching going on, which it needs to be,” Daboll said during the OTAs.
Who will — and will not — be on the roster will crystallize during training camp and the preseason.
“The evaluation process [right now] is really more can they take the stuff from the classroom to the field,” Daboll said. “Other than that, without any pads on and stuff like that, that will be more in training camp.”
There are interesting battles for depth positions across the roster.
Offensively, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line are positions to watch. Defensively, inside linebacker and the secondary are of interest. We will be watching for mini-camp standouts.
As was said above, no one can win a job now. What a player can do is put himself in position to receive additional training camp opportunities.