New York Giants: Chad Wheeler Talks Battle With Mike Remmers

New York Giants, Mike Remmers, Minnesota Vikings

It looks like one of the bigger position battles this year for the New York Giants will quite predictably be on the offensive line, which is getting reshaped after poor performances during much of the last season – a factor which played a huge role in the Giants being nearly completely out of the playoff picture by the time the midway point of the season rolled around.

Chad Wheeler is the one who came into the offseason as the established starter at right tackle and that position hasn’t been removed from him just because the Giants signed Vikings tackle Mike Remmers – who immediately was projected by experts to take the job and to likely improve the play on that side. However, Wheeler intends to keep the position battle competitive, and the coaches themselves haven’t just named Remmers the starter yet.

“I’m going to bring my best, he’s going to bring his best. We’re gonna let the chips fall where they fall,” Wheeler told the New York Post.

“Obviously I’m still here. I showed flashes, I guess. I saw some plays where I shined and did well and then other plays were just, I don’t know if I was patient enough or didn’t get off the ball enough or just my set, hand placement, got to get lower in the run game, get my second step down. There’s all these little things I’m trying to become very consistent at so I help our O-line ascend,” Wheeler continued.

Those flashes from last season came when Wheeler replaced the much maligned Ereck Flowers, who the Giants ended their three year experiment with last October. Wheeler wasn’t the best right tackle in the league by any means, and was considered by many to be subpar, but still offered better performances than the player that he had come in to replace. With Remmers coming off of an injury that helped lead to his exit in Minnesota, Wheeler is being given a real chance to improve here and compete for the starting job.

“He just needs to get better with every rep he is presented with. I think he has done that. We like his focus and his attention to detail. He is doing everything he can to get better,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur stated.

Remmers himself is welcoming the competition. “I mean, honestly, competition makes everyone better. They have some great players here and even though they need that spot, there’s a lot of competition out there still and that will help everyone develop and get everybody ready for the season.”

 

New York Giants: 3 rookies that can make a significant impact

New York Giants defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.

The New York Giants made the most of their draft picks by adding numerous high-profile prospects, here is how they rank by impact.

The most efficient way to build a team in the NFL is through draft picks, specifically picks in the first two rounds. The New York Giants told the world that this ideology was their priority after they traded away Odell Beckham Jr. for draft capital.

Holding two first-round selections and a second-round pick presented the front office with an opportunity to fill positions of need with premium talent. However, not every top selection will have an impact on the 2019 season, in fact, a majority of the later round players will likely hold the most value in specific situations.

Here are the 3 rookies that will hold the most value for the New York Giants:

1.) CB DeAndre Baker

Moving up into the top of the first round to snag DeAndre Baker from Georgie might have been one of the better moves general manager Dave Gettleman executed during the most recent draft.

Baker is an extremely talented corner with the ability to develop into Janoris Jenkins’ ultimate replacement. He was considered the best corner in the draft, and moving up to grab him turned out to be a sneaky good move. Corners began flying off the shelf just after Baker was selected.

He’s feisty in coverage and physical at the line of scrimmage. He will be an impact player for a secondary that lacked talent considerably.

2.) OLB Oshane Ximines

As stated before, sometimes players drafted after round two can turn out to be the most significant. Old Dominion pass-rusher Oshane Ximines can be that player for the Giants. He has a quality counter-punch, which impressed Gettleman enough to earn a second-round grade. Grabbing him in the third was a great pick for the Giants, as they acquired a high-upside outside linebacker to essentially replace Olivier Vernon.

Coming from a smaller school will force Ximines to hurdle the obstacles of transition, but he seems to be adapting well so far. Adding a few pounds of muscle and facing off against NFL talent should provide him with the skills to develop into a player of impact in 2019.

Despite coming from a small school, Oshane tallied 18.5 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks in 2018, proving he’s capable of getting into the backfield with tenacity. Additionally, he’s skilled in forcing fumbles, a category the Giants will be looking to improve upon this upcoming season. The Giants only forced nine fumbles last year, ranking 30th in the league.

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3.) DL Dexter Lawrence

The Giants desperately needed to add a big body to the interior of the defensive line. While BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson have proven they’re capable players, there’s nothing that compares to adding a massive 6-4, 342-pound goliath to the trenches.

Lawrence is a massive, far bigger than the infamous Vince Wilfork. If he can be just as talented the Giants will have hit a home run with this pick. The Clemson product is expected to be a force in the pass-rush game as well, despite recording just 3.5 sacks in 2018.

Despite his lack of numbers in the sack category, he will be a key cog in the run defense. I’m hoping he can add a bit of quickness to his game and develop into a capable pass-rusher, as that would really round out his influence on the team.

Honorable mentions:

-Julian Love

-Darius Slayton

-Ryan Connelly

New York Knicks Sixteen: Draft Prospect Darius Garland

Could the New York Knicks look into Vanderbilt star, Darius Garland?

This is the start of a new series here on Empire Sports Media, where I’ll look at sixteen potential New York Knicks draftees.  This will include first and second round prospects, ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20th.

Here’s Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland:

Darius Garland came into this year as a highly-touted recruit, who, along with fellow five-star Simi Shittu, was going to turn Vandy basketball around. Fast forward six months and the Commodores didn’t record a single SEC win, and head coach Bryce Drew lost his job.

None of this is Garland’s fault, however. He played in just five games: vs. Winthrop, at USC, vs. Alcorn State, vs. Liberty, and vs. Kent State, the latter of which he registered just two minutes after suffering a knee injury that ended up forcing him to miss the season.

In a weird way, though, Garland’s injury elevated his draft stock. While players such as RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and even Shittu  saw their projected draft positions drop over the course of the season due to performance, Garland was able to remain an unknown, and in a weak draft, his mystique and intriguing potential are the only things to talk about since he only played in four games.

Cons:

Garland is really small. He was listed at six-foot-two, 175 pounds, and he’s thin as a rail. He’ll need to get stronger because this lack of size really hurts him on defense. He’s fine off the ball and shows flashes of good communication and quick rotations.

The problem is, he’s similar to Stephen Curry in that he’s going to have to be hidden on defense in the playoffs. His lack of length and consistent lateral movement on the defensive end is something he has to improve on in order to become an All-Star level player.

Garland also is inconsistent as a playmaker. He shows flashes of excellent vision and reads, but so often Garland ends up making a bad decision and turning the ball over, or just simply not seeing the open man.

He has said in the past that he is a “pass-first” point guard, but when you watch those four games, he seems to have a scorers mindset. That’s perfectly fine, but because he is such a good shooter, he often gets doubled out of the pick and roll and is forced to make the entry pass to get the action started, and if he can’t do that on a regular basis, he’ll be relegated to the bench.

Pros:

Three things come to mind when thinking about Garland’s skill: shooting, ball-handling, and speed.

Garland is far and away from being the best off-the-dribble shooter in the class, and it is probably his most enticing ability. Players like Curry, Kyrie Irving, Dame Lillard, and other quick, shoot-first guards have taken over the league, and it’s easy to see Garland becoming the next in line.

He shot 48% from three (in only four games) at Vandy, and displayed the lightning-quick release that makes him so hard to guard. It’s particularly effective running off of screens, or in the pick and roll, where he can step back and just let it fly.

The other thing about Garland is that ball-handling ability, which is about as good as it gets from a prospect. He keeps the ball low and tight and is able to effectively maneuver through and around defenders with no problem.

His speed is helpful in this department, and he is able to push the ball in transition and get to the rim. While his finishing at the rim leaves a little to be desired, he is solid in that department, and his incredible handle and elite-level shooting make me think he will be effective offensively throughout his career.

New York Knicks – Other Notes:

Garland’s father, Winston, was an NBA player who played for eight teams in his career. He is a high character, high attitude person who checks all the boxes in that area.

The knee injury, a torn meniscus, shouldn’t be a problem at the next level, but it is something to note when taking a holistic look at Garland’s draft profile.

Overall, I think Darius Garland is going to be a very good player at the next level, and in my mind, he is right there with RJ Barrett as a player who the Knicks should be considered at three. If for whatever reason, Scott Perry and Steve Mills are positive they are getting two stars in Free Agency, then Garland should be the pick because he is a better fit than the ball-dominant Barrett.

New York Knicks Sixteen Prospects: RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks are considering drafting RJ Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

This is the start of a new series here on Empire Sports Media, where I’ll look at sixteen potential New York Knicks draftees, both in the first and second rounds, ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20th. I’ll start with the favorite, Duke’s RJ Barrett.

RJ Barrett already has a special place in Knicks fans’ hearts. The six-foot-seven, 202-pound forward who excelled in Durham this past season has been tweeted about and discussed more than anyone else by the Knicks fan base since it was revealed that New York would select third in the draft.

Barrett is a polarizing player; a guy who attacks the rim with reckless abandon and has shown flashes of high-level playmaking, rebounding, and defense, but who also had a shooting line of .454/.308/.665 and overall played poorly on defense. There are questions about nearly every part of his game, and yet, he remains in the “elite-but-not-Zion” tier of the draft class along with Murray State’s Ja Morant (who is going to be picked second by Memphis).

Cons:

On the surface, it seems hard to criticize a player who averaged 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game at the highest level of college basketball. However, it is impossible to project whether or not Barrett’s game will translate. He was a menace in the open court, and often powered his way through traffic to the rim. This may not work in the NBA, where defenses are much bigger, faster, and smarter than in college.

The aforementioned shooting percentages are also a major concern. If Barrett was shooting with below-average efficiency at the amateur level, he may struggle to adapt at the professional level, where the three-point arc is further back and the defenses are significantly more stout.

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There are two things that contribute to Barrett’s poor percentages. First, it’s his lack of a go-to move. Barrett has no one move that is his fallback when strength does not prevail, and he often tries to simply force up a shot. Far too often Barrett will just shoot to shoot, particularly late in the shot clock and late in games.

Second, while Barrett is a very good athlete, he lacks the explosiveness in tight spaces that makes his teammate Zion Williamson so good. When the defense collapses around him, Barrett is unable to explode, and thus forces shots up that have no chance.

Pros:

Barrett is an absolute terror in transition and utilizes moves like spins and euro-steps to get to the rim. This is a skill that will translate immediately, as the NBA is predicated much more on transition basketball. He’s strong and powerful, and won’t hesitate to dunk all over a defender. When R.J. gets a full head of steam, good luck.

He has also shown a ton of promise as a passer, ball-handler, and rebounder. Barrett will make one or two extremely impressive reads or passes each game, and he could be a fantastic drive-and-kick guy at the next level.

As a ball-handler, it is easy to see him being a secondary playmaker in the NBA, primarily in the pick and roll, where he could either toss up a lob or put his head down and get back to the rim. This is because his handle is very solid. He won’t necessarily break ankles, but he’s above average in this department, and could easily handle point guard duty for New York.

Barrett is very strong, and this is evident by his rebounding. He skies for defensive rebounds, and once he gets his hands on the ball, it’s his. Barrett projects as a likely triple-double guy, and he compares favorably to Russell Westbrook in that he snags rebounds and then likes to go coast to coast.

Other Notes:

Barrett has won at every level, going back to high school, where he lead Montverde Academy (FL.) to a National Championship, as well as Duke to an ACC Title. He’s a player who will do whatever it takes to win, sometimes to a fault. I love his toughness and competitive fire.

Finally, and it can’t be ignored, Barrett WANTS to play for the Knicks and he loves the city of New York.

Overall, RJ Barrett is the guy I want the Knicks to take with the third pick. He could easily be a star at the next level, and at worst, he’ll add value as a bench scorer. Though Barrett is a flawed player, he’s also the best option in a weak draft.

 

New York Knicks could have a chance at Ja Morant at No. 3

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

It seems as if the New York Knicks could have a chance at Ja Morant if the Memphis Grizzlies bow out:

While the odds aren’t in the favor of the New York Knicks to land Ja Morant with the No. 3 overall pick, there’s certainly a possibility.

Morant underwent a minor knee procedure to ensure he enters the NBA with a clean bill of health, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Morant — the projected No. 2 pick in this month’s NBA draft — will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure on his right knee Monday, league sources told ESPN.

Morant is expected to be fully recovered in three to four weeks, sources said.

In reality, Morant having this surgery actually helps his chances at the next level as it was just a cleanup procedure. The Knicks will bring Morant in to work him out before the draft, but the chances he lands in their laps is small.

However, the Knicks will still have a fair shot at Duke star, RJ Barrett, the 3rd ranked prospect in the draft class. It’s possible that teams actually rank Barrett ahead of Morant, a player that put on a show while Zion Williamson was out with an injury. In the six games, Zion was out, Barrett put up an impressive 26.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 5.1 APG.

The Memphis Grizzlies hold the second-overall pick in the draft – they have Mike Conley Jr. at point guard, averaging 21.1 points per game and 6.4 assists. He’s a solid point guard that has two years left on his contract, which would indicate they plan on developing Morant behind Conley if they elect to draft him. Most believe that Ja can be an instant starter in the NBA, which poses a theory that sees Memphis go in a different direction.

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After the top three picks, the talent dropoff is massive in the upcoming draft. The Knicks would still be getting an elite offensive playmaker and defender in Barrett, but while he’s no Zion, there’s no question he would be an impactful player in the Mecca of basketball.

Marc Berman of the New York Post has stated previously that the Grizzlies and Morant aren’t a guaranteed deal, presenting a sliver of hope for a Knicks team in need of a top-tier point guard to run the show in New York for the next five years.

Ever See A New York Yankees Game Against The Red Sox?

New York Yankees

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend my first ever New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox game, and boy it was something else.

The environment is just so different against the Red Sox compared to every other team. Everyone is so much louder, and of course it starts with the Bleacher Creatures behind the Yankee bullpen, and roll-call.

I was sitting in the second deck in left field, in the front corner of the deck. Andrew Benintendi was playing left, and fans were all over him. He didn’t hear the end of it, as he got constant heckling until he was moved to center field late in the game.

Throughout the game, basically every time a Yankee pitcher threw a strike or a Yankee batter took a ball, Yankee fans erupted. It doesn’t take much for Yankees fans to be pleased if the team is playing well.

One of the highlights of the game that wasn’t actually in the game was a good ol’ drunk fight between a Sox fan and a Yankees fan. No idea how it escalated, but two fans were going at it in the bleachers, almost right next to me. It happened when Chad Green was working out of a jam in the fifth, and the energy picked up big time in left.

Overall, attending this game was a fantastic experience. Was it cheap? Nope. Was the five hour drive from Ithaca, New York in heavy traffic fun, especially getting back at 4:30 AM? Nope. Was it worth it? Oh yeah, 100%. You aren’t a real Yankee fan if this game isn’t on your bucket list. Let’s go Yankees!

New York Giants: A linebacker position war could be forming

New York Giants linebacker, B.J. Goodson.

The New York Giants drafted Wisconsin linebacker Ryan Connelly in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, an instinctual player that has the ability to shoot gaps and stop runners in the backfield. Considering he’s a late draft selection, there’s not much to justify him earning a starting role immediately.

Veteran linebacker BJ Goodson has been the player of choice for the Giants in recent seasons, given his tackling efficiency and run-stopping prowess. However, he’s not much of a force in the passing game as his coverage skills are below average. Connelly is an above average LB in coverage and can stop the run at an average level.

Whether his skill-set makes the transition to the NFL is yet to be seen, but he certainly has the tangible qualities to adapt with a bit of development.

The New York Giants could see a position battle between the two:

This summer will be full of position battles, one of which could emerge between Goodson and Connelly. There’s a clear favorite here, but Goodson’s injury history has derailed his career at times, playing in just 22 of a total 32 games the past two seasons.

Connelly’s health has been solid and consistent, which could present him with an opportunity in 2019. Goodson did play in 15 games last season, but was ineffective for the most part, collecting 61 combined tackles, three QB hits, and four passes defended.

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Compared to Tae Davis, a reserve linebacker for the Giants, his stats look very weak. Davis managed 33 combined tackles in just four starts for Big Blue, adding four QB hits, two sacks, and one pass defended. Davis is also a much better pass-defender, which could provide him with an opportunity to grab the starting job.

This position battle could end up being a three-player war between Goodson, Connelly, and Davis. I imagine all will play in some fashion regardless, whether it be in specific packages or on special teams.

What If Kevin Durant Does Not Sign With The New York Knicks?

There is still plenty of time to speculate about the future of the New York Knicks.  A majority of Knicks fans are overly optimistic that Kevin Durant will sign with New York.  However, things have not always worked out for the Knicks.

As much as Knicks fans, including myself, would love to have Durant play in the Garden, there is still a possibility that he does not sign with the Knicks.

If Durant signs somewhere else, then the Knicks still have a lot of money to throw around.  The organization is in a good position where they will not be reaching for aging players as they have done in the past.

The New York Knicks have to spend their money strategically:

If they were to spend their money elsewhere, then it has to be for players that fit the system that Coach Fizdale is going to run.  Those players will have to know their role and be able to tutor the younger players.  Similar to how DeAndre Jordan has helped Mitchell Robinson’s game.

The Knicks will have to make the right moves for their future and stick with building around their youth.  They already have a good foundation in Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox, and Allonzo Trier.

They will also acquire another young, above-average player with the 3rd pick in this year’s draft, as long as they do not trade it for Anthony Davis.

The Knicks will be young and that is one of the few times fans can say that.  As much as fans want to win now, building through the draft will be the main objective.

Could there be more painful seasons to come?  Possibly.  But, the franchise has to stay the ‘young’ course, if Durant does not sign with the Knicks.

New York Giants: Top News 6/3 – Saquon Barkley is a true leader

New York Giants running back, Saquon Barkley.

Good Morning, New York Giants fans!

It was rare to see Odell Beckham Jr. publicly display support for his teammates when he featured on the New York Giants, something Saquon Barkley does very often.

Barkley was asked about Daniel Jones over the weekend, in which he stated his advocation for the rookie passer.

“He’s really in the perfect position,” Barkley said. “You get to come to New York. You get to learn behind Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, a quarterback who does everything right, and is a leader and captain. When his opportunity comes, he just has to be ready for it.

Being a quarterback in New York is not easy – the constant media attention and negativity, especially after being a questionable draft pick, can often overwhelm a young player. Jones has taken the negativity in stride and has handled the media with ease since being drafted by the Giants.

Jones will sit behind Eli Manning for the next season earning his opportunity to start for the historic franchise. General manager Dave Gettleman has put the future in his hands, and Barkley believes in his new teammate, further stating that the Duke product has been exemplary so far.

Nonetheless–

Your top Giants news of the day!

Dan Benton (Giants Wire) – Giants’ Saquon Barkley had a lot to say on Saturday: 5 takeaways

Paul Schwartz (New York Post) – Chad Wheeler not backing down from Giants’ job battle: ‘Still here’

Alexander Wilson (Empire Sports Media) – New York Giants: 3 rookies that could surprisingly earn starting roles

Dan Benton (Giants Wire) – Giants’ Daniel Jones likely to ‘steal’ playing time from Eli Manning?

Henry McKenna (FTW!) – Saquon Barkley on Odell Beckham trade: ‘We’ve even grown more as a team’

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