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Saquon Barkley, Andrew Thomas, and Dexter Lawrence ranked among NFL’s best players

How do the Giants’ best players compare to the rest of the NFL?

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The New York Giants 2023 training camp kicks off next week, and the other 31 training camps will be convening over the coming week as well. That means we’re almost out of the Dog Days of Summer, and into the period where we get real football news.

But that’s next week. Right now, we’re still in the tail end of the Dog Days, and that means we’re still in Power Rankings Season.

Pro Football Network released their rankings of the Top 100 players in the NFL on Thursday morning. The Giants are represented on the list by RB Saquon Barkley, OT Andrew Thomas, and iDL Dexter Lawrence. Pro Football Focus has also been releasing their list of the Top 50 players, with players 50-11 released so far. Lawrence and Thomas represent the Giants on PFF’s list as well.

What do PFN and PFF have to say about the Giants’ best players?

99) Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

The NFL and many of its fans seem to agree that running backs aren’t necessarily difference-making enough to pursue long-term, high-dollar contracts. Barkley is known for his unparalleled elusiveness at 230 pounds and the explosiveness he possesses in a straight line when he opens up his stride. Barkley has always been a bit boom or bust in his rushing style, which is partially why he sits in the middle of the pack in yards per carry while being second in 15+ yard runs.

The drama surrounding Barkley’s contract negotiations has hung over the Giants’ offseason like a shroud. We finally got a resolution to the situation on July 17th, but it wasn’t one anyone wanted.

Despite the two sides failing to find common ground, Barkley was a massive part of the Giants’ offense a year ago. He accounted for 1,650 of the Giants’ 5,676 total yards (29 percent), as well as 60 of their 365 points scored (16 percent). Barkley is one of the Giants’ leading returning receivers with 57 catches (tying Richie James from a year ago) for 338 yards. As PFN notes, he’s one of the most explosive players in the NFL, which was used by Mike Kafka to manipulate defenses and create opportunities elsewhere with RPOs, play-action, or delayed quarterback scrambles.

45) Andrew Thomas, OT, New York Giants

Andrew Thomas was one of the best left tackles in the NFL a season ago and has the ability to pursue that crown over the next decade, although it won’t be easy with the number of talented tackles in their mid-20s.

Two seasons ago, Thomas figured it out, and by last season, was well in form. He’s allowed only five sacks over the past two years after allowing 10 as a rookie, a time that is well behind him now. New York will hope Evan Neal sees the same progress in 2023.

Andrew Thomas might be the biggest success story on the Giants’ roster. His rookie season was an undeniable rollercoaster, as he flashed promise but was also too frequently a liability. Thomas seemingly turned the corner over the Giants’ bye week in 2020 and has been an ascendant player ever since. He’s the sixth-best OT according to PFN, and he could push to be a top five tackle (left or right) in the NFL by the end of his rookie contract.

Pro Football Focus is even higher on Thomas, ranking him 32nd in their Top 50 rankings. They say,

The 2022 season marked the arrival of Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas as one of the very best in the game. Thomas has consistently improved after an ugly start to his rookie year, and last year he was a dominant force. He allowed just 23 total pressures across 18 games and earned an 81.0 run-blocking grade, making him one of just three tackles to grade above 80.0 in both facets of play.

The Giants certainly hope that fellow young linemen Joshua Ezeudu, John Michael Schmitz, and Evan Neal can all come close to Thomas’ level of play. The Giants very well could have the best offensive line in the NFL if they do.

27) Dexter Lawrence, DT, New York Giants

We’ve reached peak cowardice. We’ve taken touching tags too far over the next three rankings, but the truth is depending on what you’re looking for on your roster may decide which of the three players one would choose.

Dexter Lawrence is freaky. At 6-foot-4, 340 pounds, one would expect to see Vince Wilfork 2.0 on the field. But despite being a nose tackle in appearance (and alignment, most often), Lawrence is far from simply being a space eater. What makes each of these players special is the wholeness of their games. Lawrence finished second in total pressures, but what may be most impressive are the over 850 snaps he played at his size.

What keeps him from ranking above the next two players is consistency throughout the course of their careers so far. But if Lawrence replicates his 2022 production in 2023, it’ll be hard to argue against him.

Sexy Dexy was the Giants’ breakout player a year ago. His potential was always plain to see thanks to his size and explosiveness. However, he struggled to consistently play up to his upside had a frustrating tendency to disappear in games. Last year, however, it all came together under Coach Patterson and in Wink Martindale’s defense. Patterson was the coach who finally unleashed Linval Joesph’s potential — a players with a similar blend of size, power, and athleticism as Lawrence — in Minnesota, and his attention to detail and technique seems to be what Lawrence needed. Where he tried to simply overpower offensive linemen as a younger player, Lawrence now uses strategy and technique to fully harness his athleticism and beat opposing players.

The result was one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL, and PFF agrees (ranking him 29th), saying,

Lawrence became one of the most unstoppable defensive linemen in the game last season. His 92.0 overall grade tied with Chris Jones for the best among interior linemen in the regular season, and he finished with 63 total pressures. Unlike most pass-rushing interior linemen, Lawrence still spent over 500 snaps lined up in the A-gaps as a true nose tackle at over 340 pounds.

The sheer number of snaps played by Lawrence is impressive, but also a something of a concern here. He’s too good to want to see off the field often, but wear and tear, as well as fatigue, could degrade his play over the course of a season. Hopefully the Giants’ investments in the defensive front with A’Shawn Robinson, Raquim Nunez-Roches, D.J. Davidson, Jordon Riley, and others, will help keep the Giants’ best player fresh and healthy.