The New York Giants are going to face some difficult decisions in putting together a 53-man roster this season. How do I know? Well, because the post-offseason program 53-man roster projection you are about to read was torturous to put together.
I wrote, and then re-wrote, my choices at several positions. There are things about this projection I don’t like — such as keeping only three tight ends and cutting two draft picks.
Still, it’s only June. Take it the way it’s intended — as food for thought long before training camp is held, injuries happen, and decisions have to be made.
In: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
Out: Tommy DeVito
Who is the third quarterback? It isn’t likely to be DeVito, so the Giants will probably spend the rest of the summer and the preseason looking for a quarterback to stash on the practice squad. There is a chance, of course, that the Giants could keep a third quarterback on the 53-man roster to take advantage of the league’s newly reinstated emergency quarterback rule.
Running backs (4)
In: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Gary Brightwell
Out: Jashaun Corbin
The question here is Brightwell. If the Giants keep just three backs he is almost certainly the odd man out. Brightwell, though, is a core special teamer, the favorite to win the kickoff return job, and has been useful on offense in small sample sizes.
Tight ends (3)
In: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager,
Out: Tommy Sweeney, Chris Myarick, Ryan Jones
I would rather keep four tight ends. It bothers me a bit that Bellinger is the only inline blocking tight end making the roster in this prediction. The Giants, though, can always use an offensive lineman as a jumbo tight end if need be. I also think that the Giants could get one or two of the ousted tight ends to the practice squad, should they desire.
Wide receiver (7)
In: Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, Sterling Shepard, Collin Johnson, Jamison Crowder
Out: Wan’Dale Robinson (PUP), Jeff Smith, Jaydon Mickens, Kalil Pimpleton, Makai Polk, Bryce Ford-Wheaton, David Sills
As of now, I’m guessing that Shepard is ready to start the season and Robinson is not. Both players are returning from ACL tears. Shepard was running routes, and cutting hard, during minicamp. He said his goal is to be ready for the opening of the season, and judging by what we saw at minicamp I think he makes it. Robinson worked exclusively on a back field with trainers. He is farther behind.
The last three spots came down to Johnson, Crowder, and Smith. There are valid reasons to keep all of them, and I might be wrong to leave Smith off the roster. Johnson offers a body type and skillset no other true Giants’ wide receiver has. He is also an experienced special teams player. Crowder is an accomplished receiver, and if he makes the roster is the favorite to be the punt returner. Here, I chose him over Smith, who would bring value with his speed and his ability on special teams coverage units.
Offensive line (9)
In: Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredeson, John Michael Schmitz, Mark Glowinski, Evan Neal, Josh Ezeudu, Tyre Phillips, Shane Lemieux, Marcus McKethan
Out: Matt Peart, Korey Cunningham, Jack Anderson, JC Hassenauer, Devery Hamilton, Wyatt Davis
The starting center/left guard combo might be uncertain, but Thomas, Bredeson, Schmitz, Glowinski, Neal, and Ezeudu are making the roster. I think Phillips is almost as certain to be part of the 53. I have Lemieux and McKethan getting the final two spots.
I know Lemieux has done virtually nothing for the past two seasons, but it was apparent a year ago that this coaching staff likes him. He has also done enough work at center that he is likely seen as a legitimate backup option there. McKethan is a Joe Schoen draft pick and a potential long-term successor to Glowinski. I don’t see the Giants risking losing him to waivers while trying to slide him to the practice squad.
This projection leaves only one true backup tackle, but Ezeudu can play out there in an emergency and one of Peart or Cunningham should get through waivers, allowing the Giants to stash an experienced tackle there.
Defensive line (5)
In: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson, D.J. Davidson
Out: Vernon Butler, Kobe Smith, Ryder Anderson, Jordon Riley
The final spot comes down to a competition between the three young players. Davidson was a 2022 fifth-round pick who is coming back from a torn ACL. Anderson is a second-year player who stuck last season as an undrafted free agent. Riley is a seventh-round pick.
I will take Davidson, provided he is healthy. He worked only with trainers throughout the spring. I think the Giants could get one or both of Anderson and Riley to their practice squad.
In: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines, Tomon Fox
Out: Elerson Smith, Habakkuk Baldonado
As of now, it looks like the Giants are running it back with the same group they had a season ago. It won’t be a shock, though, if they add to this group before training camp or look to supplement it with a veteran player once roster cuts are made at the end of the preseason.
Inside linebacker (5)
In: Bobby Okereke, Darrian Beavers, Jarrad Davis, Micah McFadden, Cam Brown
Out: Carter Coughlin, Dyontae Johnson, Troy Brown
Coughlin, whose value is purely on special teams, loses his spot. Second-year man Darrian Beavers could start. If he doesn’t Jarrad Davis likely will. If Davis isn’t going to start, I think there is a chance the Giants cut him and keep Coughlin. That, though, is not the choice I make here.
In: Adoree’ Jackson, Deonte Banks, Cor’Dale Flott, Aaron Robinson, Tre Hawkins III
Out: Darnay Holmes, Rodarius Williams, Zyon Gilbert, Gemon Green, Leonard Johnson, Amani Oruwariye
We have talked a lot this offseason about Darnay Holmes. If he loses the slot cornerback role to Flott, Robinson, or even Zyon Gilbert, I’m not sure the Giants keep him on the roster. I think you take the $2.7 million in cap savings (only $197,972 in dead money) and move on.
I think Holmes’ situation is similar to the one Darius Slayton was in last season. Which will the Giants see as more valuable — keeping Holmes on the roster, or gaining the cap space by releasing him?
I almost kept Oruwariye. He wasn’t good for the Detroit Lions in 2022 but flashed some ability in his first three seasons. In the end, though, I kept an extra wide receiver. One reason I am comfortable with just five cornerbacks is Nick McCloud’s versatility to move back to that spot if needed.
In: Xavier McKinney, Nick McCloud, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Bobby McCain
Out: Gervarrious Owens, Trenton Thompson, Alex Cook
I think it is possible that Owens, the Giants’ seventh-round pick, takes a spot from the veteran McCain. Still, Pinnock, Belton, and McCloud are all inexperienced safeties — with McCloud converting to the position this season. Not keeping an experienced player like McCain, at least for depth, would be a risk. Owens can likely pass through to the practice squad.
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
In: PK Graham Gano, P Jamie Gillan, LS Casey Kreiter
Out: LS Cam Lyons
No surprises here.
Your thoughts, Giants fans? How far off is this way-too-early projection?