New York Giants: Shurmur Noncommittal On Saquon Barkley’s Role

New York Giants running back, Saquon Barkley.

Saquon Barkley doesn’t even have two seasons in the league yet, but the running back might be the best player on the roster for the New York Giants. During a season when just about everyone seemed to be in a slump, from the defense to the offensive line to Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., Barkley was one of the bright spots and one of the reasons to keep watching with interest every week even as the Giants’ record continued to grow worse during much of the season.

Going into his second year, it looks like Barkley will have to take the lead if the team is going to have more success than they did over the past two seasons.

Beckham is gone and the team’s receiving corps is for the most part unproven, with Sterling Shepard taking a larger role than before and Golden Tate arriving as a first year free agent signing. It remains to be seen how those receivers will mesh on the field, and going into the season, Barkley is the one consistent star that the team has on offense.

So it only makes sense that Barkley might end up with a larger role in 2019. According to head coach Pat Shurmur, however, that’s still not decided. When asked about Barkley getting a large role, Shurmur didn’t lean too much one way or the other in his answer.

“I don’t know about more. He had a big load a year ago. It makes sense for us to hand him the ball, and we can throw it to him as well. He will be involved, for sure…. I wouldn’t say manage [Barkley’s load], but we will try and spread the ball. We have other good players that should touch the ball as well,” Shurmur said.

Those other players include Shepard, Tate, tight end Evan Engram, and others such as Cody Latimer, but with the Giants likely changing their schemes up with the departure of Beckham, it’s not a certainty that those players will have a bounce back season from last year, where the offense wasn’t enough to win in many games.

As the second leading rusher in the NFL during his rookie season, it will be hard for Barkley to top his numbers, but that’s quite in the realm of possibility both because the Giants have made moves to improve his blocking and because a larger role isn’t out of the question, with Barkley being one of the top performers on the revamped offense. We’ll just have to see during the season whether or not this unique set of circumstances leads to Barkley finding himself with a larger role.

New York Giants: Can Dexter Lawrence be a pass rush force?

New York Giants defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.

The New York Giants selected interior defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence with the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s known for his size and ability to clog up holes in the trenches. Lawrence will most certainly be a key cog in the Giants’ run defense, but the coaches also believe he can be a pass-rushing force.

I am quite baffled at the idea of Dexter being a force in the pass-rush, simply due to his less-than-exciting statistics in the category during his college career. My logic is if he wasn’t efficient in the factor at the college level, why would he be in the NLF?

Lawrence managed 10 total sacks in three seasons for Clemson, only recording 1.5 in his final year in which the team won the National Championship. At 6’4″, 342-pounds, he’s a huge body in the middle of the defensive front, and alongside BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter should have a significant impact. However, I’m not convinced it will be as a pass-rusher.

Coming from a talented Clemson team should benefit his transition, according to head coach, Pat Shurmur:

“When you pick a guy from Clemson, he’s played on the biggest stage there is in college football,” Shurmur said. “The other thing that struck me [aside from his size] is this isn’t going to be too big for him.”

Shurmur tends to believe that the nose tackle can be a multi-faceted player that moves around the line in difference packages:

“The first thing that jumps out about Dexter is he’s a pretty big man,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s a guy that can play the run and rush the passer.”

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New York Giants’ first-round pick Dexter Lawrence wants to prove everyone wrong:

“I’m definitely underrated,” he said. “It’s kind of on me to prove myself, right? I’ve always been able to collapse the pocket, now I’m focused on escaping blocks or finishing the plays and things like that.”

Imagine a bigger Vince Wilfork, that’s the potential Lawrence brings to the table. He’s fast for his size and strong beyond belief. He presents a big problem for opposing offensive lines, but I’m most excited to see him battle against a renovated Giants offensive front.

It’s going to be an exciting offseason period, folks!

 

New York Giants Betting on Secondary to Mask Pass Rush Flaws

New York Giants, Janoris Jenkins

The New York Giants secondary got off to a blazing start in the first practice of OTAs. Both Eli Manning and Daniel Jones struggled passing in their first practice together. Manning with two interceptions, Jones with one.

The most notable of the three picks occurred when second-year cornerback Sam Beal deflected a Manning pass into the arms of newly acquired Jabrill Peppers. Missing the entire 2018 season due to injury, Beal on the field may be a rookie but mentally is a second-year pro. Beal worked with the first team opposite of Janoris Jenkins with Grant Haley in the slot.

An Influx of Talent for the New York Giants at corner

The Giants selected Beal in the third round of the 2018 Supplemental draft and gained praise in their selection. Draft Scout Matt Miller of Bleacher Report wrote an article last July labeling Sam Beal as the best Supplemental draft prospect since Josh Gordon in 2012.

The Supplemental draft takes place each year after the official NFL draft. In most cases, a player who enters the supplemental draft has been deemed ineligible by the NCAA for the upcoming season. More often than not, a player who has entered in the supplemental draft usually comes with off the field issues. Beal, however, was different. Beal was ruled academically ineligible due to poor performance in the classroom.

In the 2017 season, Beal had 10 pass breakups, 26 tackles, a forced fumble, and two interceptions. Perhaps the biggest interception of his career came against former USC and now Jets Quarterback Sam Darnold. Tallied at 6’1, 185 lbs, and running a 4.40 forty yard dash, it is his length mixed with speed that put him on the NFL radar in the first place.

2019 Draft Products

In addition to Beal, The Giants selected All-Americans Deandre Baker (Rd1) and Julian Love (Rd4) in the 2019 NFL Draft. Love was arguably the biggest steal of the draft. If not for an underwhelming 4.54 40 yard dash, Love would have most likely been selected on Day 2 of the draft. He received a second-round grade from the NFL’s college advisory committee. Deandre Baker won the Jim Thorpe Award which represents the Nations Most Outstanding Defensive Back. Julian Love was a finalist for the same award, who is listed right below Baker in the graphic below. 

By passing on Josh Allen at 6, the Giants have shown that they believe in James Bettcher and his ability to create pressure in other ways aside from the edge. In a prior article, I mentioned that it was clear Bettcher’s scheme had to be altered due to a lack of talent on the back end. With the addition of Baker and Love, the hope is that Bettcher will be able to send extra pressure after the quarterback with confidence the secondary can hold its own in 1v1 matchups.

The New York Giants Have One Of The Best Young Defensive Fronts In The NFL

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2018. For this reason, the Giants totally revamped their defense in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants’ secondary is completely different from last season.

No particular defensive position group excelled for the Giants in 2018. But their best group in 2018 was certainly the young group of defensive linemen, and that group has improved in 2019.

Why The Giants’ Defensive Linemen Are Excellent

Dexter Lawrence:

The Giants had three 1st-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Dave Gettleman drafted an interior defensive lineman with his second 1st-round pick, the 17th pick overall. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson was the pick, and he is expected to make a huge impact on the Giants defense in 2019 and beyond.

Dexter Lawrence is the absolute hog-molliest football player on the Giants’ defense. Lawrence weighs in at a whopping 342 pounds, filling out his tall 6 feet 4-inch frame. Dexter was possibly the best run defending nose tackle in the 2018 draft class.

In three years at Clemson, Dexter totaled 131 tackles and 18 tackles for loss. Additionally, Dexter is an underrated pass-rusher. According to Pro Football Focus, Dexter Lawrence racked up 33 total pressures in 2018 (T12th in draft class) and he also had the third-highest pass rush productivity percentage in the draft class, applying pressure on 13.8% of his snaps.

B.J. Hill:

The Giants’ 3rd-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, B.J. Hill, was one of the best players on the Giants’ defense last year. Hill has some serious star potential.

B.J. Hill is not merely a run stuffer. Hill proved that he is an excellent interior penetrator in 2018. B.J. set a New York Giants franchise record in 2018. His 5.5 sacks were the most ever by a rookie in Giants history since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. The 5.5 sacks were also the fourth most by a rookie this season.

50+ tackles and 5+ sacks put B.J. Hill in elite company. Other notable rookie defensive linemen in NFL history with 50+ tackles and 5+ sacks include J.J. Watt, Ndamukong Suh, Kevin Williams, Justin Smith, Jevon Kearse, Simeon Rice, Charles Haley, and Reggie White.

Dalvin Tomlinson:

Dalvin Tomlinson has been a quietly efficient defensive lineman for the Giants. He is not a flashy player, but he gets the job done. And he gets his job done better than most seem to realize.

Pro Football Focus listed Dalvin Tomlinson as one of the NFL’s secret defensive superstars. Tomlinson ended his 2018 season on an incredibly efficient tackle streak. He had the longest active streak of tackles without a miss with 60. Dalvin has only missed one tackle in his two-year NFL career.

Dalvin clearly learned a lot from former Giants run-stuffing extraordinaire Damon Harrison. He has turned into one of the NFL’s best run-defenders in only two pro seasons. Tomlinson has racked up 24 defensive stops against the run in two years in the NFL. His continued development will make him one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.

New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers can be exactly what the defense needs

The New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns that sent Jabrill Peppers to New York.

When the New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, the initial reaction was hostile even before seeing the underwhelming return. However, Big Blue gained defender Jabrill Peppers, a player that didn’t perform at an elite level in his first two NFL seasons.

But, there’s a reason to believe he’s going to elevate his game significantly in 2019. Playing in a James Bettcher defense, Peppers’ skill-set will be utilized to the max. He has stellar coverage abilities for strong safety, and he can also play the run very well.

How did Jabrill Peppers perform in his first New York Giants practice?

In his first OTA practice with the Giants, he recorded an interception and made a handle-full of impressive plays.

After practice head coach Pat Shurmur spoke with the media, stating:

“Jabrill Peppers is super competitive. He loves football. He’s really good in coverage and had an interception already today.”

His diverse skill-set will allow him to play free safety, in the slot, and at the line of scrimmage. The Brown stuck him at free safety in his rookie season which did not end up well. He lacked productivity and didn’t shine as he once did in college for Michigan. He ranked as one of the worst free safeties in the league in 2017, but his efficiency sky-rocketed in 2018.

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Playing in a more “swiss army knife” role last year, he ranked as the #19 strong safety in the NFL, per PFF. He was above average in coverage and saw his total tackles jump from 57 to 79. He also recorded more passes defended (3 in 2017 and 5 in 2018).

Bettcher will utilize him in various different ways in the season ahead, and one part of his game that will stand out is his ability to pick up tight ends in coverage. The Giants have been historically bad at defending pass-catching tight ends, but Peppers should help in that department.

If he can harness his true potential, the Beckham trade might be worth it after all.

New York Giants: Who’s the most underrated offensive lineman?

As we approach training camp, the New York Giants have already begun evaluating their roster through means of OTAs. Cornerback Sam Beal has made headlines, newly acquired safety Jabrill Peppers picked up an interception off Eli Manning, but I want to focus more on the offensive line.

A unit that was decimated by inadequacy during the Jerry Reese-era has been overhauled completely. Just two years ago the line featured Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart as starting tackles and John Jerry at right guard. This upcoming season presents a different narrative.

Acquiring right guard Kevin Zeitler will provide a massive boost to the overall efficiency of the unit, and some might even believe he’s the most underrated player joining the team. I believe that its left guard, Will Hernandez. The 2018 rookie second-rounder played well as a starter, locking down the left side of the offensive front alongside Nate Solder.

I anticipate him making a big jump in 2019 to the next level of quality. Zeitler even advocated for the second-year guard, stating:

“Strong, very, very strong. He’s a good young guard. Even watching today, I think he can be special,” said Zeitler. “He wants to work, he wants to get better every day. I think that’s just the basis of someone who wants to be good in this league.”

Hernandez came from a troubled life — living in a cottage that he could barely fit in. Now, you can imagine the mansion he purchased for his family. He’s a classic rise from the ashes story, and he has a chip on his shoulder.

The young guard received praise from the No. 1 pass-protection guard in the NFL, and now he will be able to learn from him and gain essential knowledge that will help him develop significantly.

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What does the New York Giants offensive line look like now?

Left tackle: Nate Solder

Left guard: Will Hernandez

Center: Jon Halapio/Spencer Pulley

Right guard: Kevin Zeitler

Right tackle: Mike Remmers/Chad Wheeler

If there’s anything GM Dave Gettleman has done well in two years with New York, it’s the complete rebuild of an offensive line that plagued Eli Manning for years.

New York Yankees: Didi Gregorius Begins Gameplay

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

On Monday, Didi Gregorius entered the final stage of his rehab for the New York Yankees. He played five innings of a live, extended spring training game.

During the game, he got two hits in four tries, also fielding three clean balls in the field. However, he did have an error on an apparent overthrow. Aaron Boone jokingly said that his arm is “feeling a little too good”.

Gregorius was expected to play in another extended spring training game on Tuesday, but he was actually feeling a bit under the weather and was scratched from the lineup. With the 90 degrees heat in Tampa on Monday, he seemed to be a bit dehydrated and they hooked him up to an IV for a while and is now feeling much better. He hopes that he will resume play on Wednesday.

When will we see Didi again with the Yankees?

My guess is that it would be around two weeks before we see Didi in the pinstripes again.

The plan for the meantime is to play a few more games in extended spring training, before being transferred to the Tarpons within a week. After a few games there, he would likely spend time with the Railriders the weekend of 5/30-6/2, before hopefully rejoining the team after.

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Remember, these are just estimates. This would be the plan if nothing else goes wrong, and he feels no pain in the arm. They want to be absolutely sure that he is 100% before calling him up.

Once Didi is indeed ready, it will likely be time for Thairo Estrada to be sent down. Estrada has been playing really well, there just isn’t enough room to carry everyone.

It will be exciting once Didi comes back for the Yankees. His play, along with his clubhouse presence benefits the team a ton.

 

The Latest New York Knicks Rumors to be Aware of

Could the New York Knicks draft Ja Morant if they miss out on Zion Williamson?

It is rumor season for the New York Knicks.  All types of rumors will be circulating as we countdown to the draft and free agent signings.

Taking a look at some of the latest New York Knicks rumors:

According to the New York Posts Marc Berman, a source around the team said the Knicks ‘could’ prefer Murray State’s Ja Morant over Duke’s RJ Barrett. However, the Memphis Grizzlies are apparently ‘enamored’ with Morant, again rumors.

In another post from the Posts Berman, Brendan Suhr, Knicks former scouting director, believes that Barrett is the correct choice for the Knicks.  Suhr suggests that Barrett could become “a good shooting guard for the next 10 years.”

When Suhr was with the organization he drafted players that sustained long, positive tenures in the NBA.  Players such as Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye, Wilson Chandler, David Lee, and Nate Robinson.

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Some may have not have been popular picks at the time.  But, each player has turned into a valuable veteran for teams throughout their careers.  Suhr’s track record of draft picks says that he sees and knows value.

With the direction the Knicks are heading, youth is the way to go.  Barrett could be a very good player in this league for years to come as Suhr suggests.  Not saying Morant won’t, but the Knicks already have plenty of guards.

Barrett can also be an immediate plug-in starting shooting guard for the Knicks, as they lacked a true shooting guard last season.  In this scenario, Suhr’s opinion should be taken into great consideration.

New York Yankees Should Consider Give Dallas Keuchel a Call

Should the New York Yankees consider looking into starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

With New York Yankees starting pitcher  J.A. Happ boosting a 5.16 ERA after an ugly outing against the lowly Baltimore Orioles, shock waves were sent through the organization that reinforcements might be appropriate. Despite the Yankees sneaking out a win in the ninth inning off the bat of catcher Gary Sanchez, the reality is Happ can’t be trusted.

After signing a two-year, $34 million deal with the Bombers, he was planted in the starting rotation as a top three option. He has done nothing but disappoint so far, and at 36-years-old, signing him in the first place might’ve been an optimistic stretch.

The New York Yankees might be forced to look at free agent pitchers:

Luckily, there are several options on the free agent market, one of which is former Astros star, Dallas Keuchel. The seven-year veteran is coming off a season with a 3.74 ERA and 12 wins. He’s just two years removed from an impressive 14 win seasons where he boasted a 2.90 ERA.

The Yanks could elect to scoop him up but he’s looking for a multi-year deal, similar to Happ. Two years, $35 million might get the job done, but I’m not convinced the Bombers feel they need to bring in more expensive talent given the success they’ve had with their current roster.

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However, with James Paxton injured, Masahiro Tanaka getting hit in the foot by a pitch (he wasn’t injured badly), and Luis Severino out until at least June, it might be wise to bring in a talented option that can provide quality starts immediately.

Happ, currently, has a 1.299 WHIP and 6.9K/9 over 52.1 innings. Is it too early to hit the panic button? Possibly, but you can’t be too careful when a majority of the team is hurting with injuries. When you factor in age for guys like CC Sabathia and Happ, it presents even more concern.

Could GM Brian Cashman go out and snag a pitcher like Keuchel? Highly unlikely, but he could be forced into it if the injury bug strikes again.

 

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New York Giants Top News 5/22: Sterling Shepard Lights up OTAs

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Happy hump-day New York Giants fans! Day three of OTAs is upon us and we have seen some great things so far in such a small sample size. Cornerback Sam Beal has looked solid, Sterling Shepard made a great play with Beal in coverage, go figure. Check it out below!

https://twitter.com/PirateLifeFF/status/1130929304605470720

Let’s not look past Eli Manning’s placement and arm strength on this toss, hitting Shepard in stride with Beal running alongside in coverage. That’s a quality throw and catch from the duo, something I hope to be seeing a lot of come the start of the regular season.

Aside from the Giants, former player, Landon Collins has taken his talents back to the media in a rant about GM Dave Gettleman and the direction of the team. He felt as though the Giants let him walk due to their “culture change” approach — some might agree with me, Collins certainly didn’t help himself when it came to locker-room issues.

He publicly humiliated Eli Apple on numerous occasions. The idea that locker-room issues should be handled in-house didn’t resonate well with Collins who was questionable when it came to speaking out to the media. However, it was an isolated incident with Apple. I will post an article below so you can read the whole story.

Nonetheless–

Here is your New York Giants news and coverage:

Jordan Raanan (ESPN) – Collins: Giants let me go for ‘culture change’

Paul Schwartz (NY Post) – Janoris Jenkins survived Giants purge and is facing next challenge

John Schmeelk (Giants.com) – Sideline Notes: Giants OTA No. 2
Mike Moraitis (Giants Wire) – Giants’ Eli Manning in the best shape of his career?
Alexander Wilson (Empire Sports Media) – New York Giants might have a serious cornerback position battle

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