Have the New York Giants closed the talent gap on the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs and other top-tier NFL teams during this offseason? Pro Football Focus does not appear to believe so.
The Eagles are No. 1 in PFF’s recently-released roster rankings. The Giants? PFF has them at No. 23, which means PFF believes they are near the bottom quarter of the league in talent.
Here is how PFF sees it:
Biggest strength in 2023: Rushing Attack
Head coach Brian Daboll leaned on the running game in his first year at the helm. The Giants shortened games and made clutch plays when needed. Led by a healthy Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones‘ legs, the Giants bullied their way into the playoffs. Their running game could be even better if their other young offensive linemen (Evan Neal and John Michael Schmitz) develop on the same track as stud left tackle Andrew Thomas.
Biggest weakness in 2023: Back seven on defense
The Giants have a talented defensive line, but their back seven leaves a lot to be desired. Their linebackers finished as the fourth-lowest-graded group in the NFL, while their safeties were second worst. The cornerbacks were a little better at 22nd, with Adoree’ Jackson being a bright spot. New York’s end result masked the low-grading profile of this unit, so the team will need to be better on the back end to avoid regression to the mean in close games.
X-Factor for 2023: TE Darren Waller
The Giants sent a third-round pick to Las Vegas for Waller. He brings needed athleticism and versatility to their tight end room. Giants tight ends ranked in the bottom 10 in receiving grade, receptions and receiving yards during the 2022 regular season. Waller should be an excellent scheme fit working across the field in Daboll’s system. Health is the key for Waller, as he’s missed 14 games over the past two years after terrific seasons in 2019 and 2020. A healthy Waller would be huge for an offense searching for big plays through the air.
Rookie to watch: CB Deonte Banks
Banks was the third-ranked cornerback on PFF’s big board. He is an athletic freak with the potential to be a CB1 if he’s developed properly. Adoree’ Jackson was the Giants’ only cornerback in 2022 to play 100 snaps and grade out with at least a 70.0 mark. Banks fulfilling that potential soon would make a huge impact on a unit that plays more man coverage than any other team.
Over/Under 7.5 win total: Under
The Giants are due for some regression to the mean. They finished 9-7-1 despite being the fourth-lowest-graded team in the NFL overall. They’re heavily reliant on the running game, and their back seven on defense has major question marks. A last-place finish in the NFC East wouldn’t be that shocking.
I think PFF is entirely too dismissive of the offseason accomplishments by GM Joe Schoen and the Giants.
In no way would I argue that the Giants are ready to go toe-to-toe with the Eagles based on talent. They aren’t. I am not sure what PFF is looking at, though, when it ranks the Washington Commanders’ roster as No. 17 and the Giants’ roster as No. 23.
I think you can make the argument that the Giants have touched each area of the roster in a significant enough way this offseason that potentially each position group on the roster could be better than its 2022 counterpart. That doesn’t mean each will be better — but the possibility is there.
On offense, significant additions have been made at wide receiver, tight end, the offensive line and running back. That should make the quarterback better.
On defense, potential upgrades have been acquired at linebacker, cornerback and the defensive line. Increased health from Azeez Ojulari on the edge, Adoree’ Jackson at cornerback and Xavier McKinney at safety would also improve those units.
As for the Giants being “due for some regression to the mean,” I have written previously that being more talented on paper doesn’t necessarily mean the Giants will win the same number or more games in 2023. We will just have to wait and see.
I do think, though, that when the Giants open training camp this summer they will do so with a better roster than the one they ended 2022 with.