With just a couple of day remaining before the New York Giants open training camp, let’s rank the roster the Giants will open with from 91-1. Yes, it is 91 players because I am counting Saquon Barkley, though his being unsigned means he is technically not part of the roster.
We will go in reverse order starting from the back of the roster. Since we are so close to camp, this will be done in three installments. Today, 91-61.
A quick note. I won’t be surprised by quibbles with individual ranking spots. My main concern, especially until we get to about No. 30, is making sure players are in — at least approximately — the proper groups of 10.
91. Cameron Lyons, LS
90. Darren Evans, DB
89. Kobe Smith, DT
88. Habakkuk Baldonado, Edge
87. Gemon Green, CB
86. Dyontae Johnson, LB
85. Ryan Jones, TE
84. Troy Brown, LB
83. Alex Cook, S
82. Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR
81. Tommy DeVito, QB
Cameron Lyons gets the dishonor of being low man on the roster totem pole. Where else would you put the undrafted rookie backup long snapper who has zero chance of making the roster unless veteran snapper Casey Kreiter suffers an injury?
If you look at this bottom of the roster grouping, what I have done is pretty simple. This is the undrafted free agent group, with a couple of the camp body signings — Darren Evans, Kobe Smith — tossed in.
Quarterback Tommy DeVito and wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton get the highest rankings in this group because entering camp they likely have the best shots of anyone here to at least stick around as practice squad players.
All of these rankings make sense overall. UDFA rookies probably have the hardest time getting snaps and impressing with those practice reps – and that definitely makes their chances of making the final roster slim.
I do think there are several players here who will almost certainly grab a spot on the practice squad, and potentially make the competition for the back end of the roster interesting.
Tommy DeVito seems like a pretty sure bet to inherit Davis Webb’s job as the Giants’ QB3 on the practice squad. Ryan Jones also seems like a prime candidate for the practice squad, as he looks like a natural receiver out of the backfield, but also only has two years on the offensive side of the ball.
Habakkuk Baldonado, Troy Brown, and Bryce Ford-Wheaton, all have opportunities to push for final roster spots, thanks to depth questions at their respective positions. They all have warts on their games (which is why they were undrafted in the first place), but the opportunity is there.
This is an intriguing group of players, and we could see one (or more) of them really raise their profiles over the coming days and weeks.
80. Vernon Butler, DT
79. Jashaun Corbin, RB
78. Trenton Thompson, S
77. Makai Polk, WR
76. Kalil Pimpleton, WR
75. Jaydon Mickens, WR
74. Devery Hamilton, OL
73. Korey Cunningham, OL
72. Rodarius Williams, CB
71. Wyatt Davis, G
This group consists mostly of 2022 practice squad players. There are a couple of names worth mentioning.
Perhaps this ranking is unfair to running back Jashaun Corbin, but the addition of James Robinson and the fact that a year ago the Giants showed a clear preference for Gary Brightwell make his path to the 53-man roster difficult.
Someone from the offensive line group of Devery Hamilton, Korey Cunningham and Wyatt Davis might find his way to the roster.
It was clear a year ago that the coaching staff doesn’t have much faith in Rodarius Williams. Maybe he sticks on the practice squad, but I will be very surprised if he has a realistic chance of making the 53-man roster.
I like Kalil Pimpleton’s potential as a return man, but he is buried on a deep wide receiver depth chart and I doubt his chance of making the roster is very good.
The two who stand out to me in this group are Corbin and Hamilton, and I think that if they aren’t higher than this now, they could be soon.
Hamilton is likely behind Tyre Phillips on the tackle depth chart, but he does have experience at a bunch of OL positions. He was quietly impressive last year, and his ability to back up both guard and tackle competently could give him a realistic path to the 53-man roster. The Giants could look at Hamilton as a potential “Super Sub” alongside Josh Ezeudu, which could further help his chances.
Corbin is an interesting case. He was the least productive of the three back-up ball carriers a year ago, but the best receiving back and a solid-enough return option a year ago. Corbin was good enough in last year’s camp and preseason that Ed had him making last year’s roster out of training camp.
He was a good receiver and returner in college, and the Giants’ off-season moves certainly showed a desire to improve their passing offense. If the Giants even keep a fourth running back (We’ll assume Saquon Barkley doesn’t sit out regular season games), Corbin and Gary Brightwell could be in a real dogfight for a roster spot.
70. Gervarrius Owens, S
69. Jordon Riley, DT
68. Tre Hawkins III, CB
67. Elerson Smith, Edge
66. Shane Lemieux, G
65. D.J. Davidson, DT
64. Ryder Anderson, DT
63. J.C. Hassenaeur, C
62. Tomon Fox, Edge
61. Marcus McKethan, G
This group is an interesting one. It includes the remainder of the 2022 practice squad players, a trio of late-round draft picks who figure to land on either the 53-man roster or practice squad, and a quartet of experienced players who played at least some in 2022 but have much to prove.
Elerson Smith and Shane Lemieux have spent most of their Giants’ careers injured. This figures to be their last chance to show they can be useful. D.J. Davidson, who missed most of the 2022 season with a torn ACL, and Ryder Anderson are second-year players who are on the roster bubble after the Giants upgraded their defensive line depth.
Second-year guard Marcus McKethan will be interesting to watch after missing his rookie season with a torn ACL. Maybe, just maybe he can develop into a 2024 replacement at right guard for Mark Glowinski.
In some ways, this group is a bit like the group of UDFAs, and most of them could have a legitimate shot at pushing for a final roster spot.
Elerson Smith and Tomon Fox both play at a position with scant depth on the Giants’ defense. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari are a potentially dynamic duo, but while Wink loves Jihad Ward, and the Giants decided to bring back Oshane Ximines after the draft, they aren’t the most inspiring backup edge defenders. Fox was a very pleasant surprise for the Giants as a UDFA last year and played well-enough when his number was called during the season. Elerson Smith could be one of the “X-Factors” on the Giants’ roster. It’s possible – even likely – that injuries derailed his NFL career before it ever really even began. But his length and explosiveness are still undeniably intriguing, and he could be a definite surprise if he can stay healthy long enough to (finally) put it all together.
Staying in the defensive front, Jordon Riley and D.J. Davidson were both (obviously recent) draft picks by this front office. The Giants have made significant investments in their defensive line, spending heavily on very heavy men. Both Riley and Davidson would figure to be back-up nose tackles, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if one made the final roster while the other spent the year on the practice squad.
On the flip side we have Shane Lemieux and J.C. Hassenauer on the interior offensive line. Lemieux has his warts, but he does have experience at guard and center, and that versatility (albeit with plenty of warts on his game), has value when constructing a roster. On the other hand, the Giants are relying on a rookie center in John Michael Schmitz. He’s very highly regarded and was one of my very favorite offensive line prospects in this year’s draft, but he’s still a rookie. It would be useful to have an experienced voice to help him develop. The Giants could also want a direct back-up and natural center available. Aside from Hassenauer, the Giants’ primary plan at center seems to be moving Ben Bredeson from left guard to center, then inserting a backup in Bredeson’s spot. That’s a lot of moving parts, and having an experienced and natural center to back up your rookie center might be preferable.