This Sunday’s matchup will be the New York Giants’ final game of the 2019 NFL season. The 4-11 Giants will see their season come to a close this week against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles, who are fighting for a playoff spot.
The Giants are not fighting for much, but a few players are fighting for future roster spots. It is important to keep an eye on a few individual performances with the future in mind. With that being said, here are three players to watch in Week 17:
General Manager Dave Gettleman made the controversial decision this season to trade for former-Jets defensive linemanÂ Leonard Williams. Williams was acquired in exchange for the Giants’ 2020 3rd-round pick and the conditional pick in 2021.
Since joining the New York Giants, Leonard Williams has played good football. He has been a productive pass-rusher, generating 16 pressures, 10 quarterback knockdowns, and 6 hurries, despite not getting credit for a single sack. Leonard has also done his part against the run with 21 combined tackles. However, Big Cat is set to be a free agent this offseason and has not yet been involved in extensions talks with the Giants.
Leonard Williams will need to impress in Week 17 to earn a long-term contract with the New York Giants. He has played well since joining Big Blue, but it might be hard to justify paying an interior defensive lineman a lucrative contract. A breakout performance could earn Leonard Williams and extension with the Giants.
The New York Giants have dealt with injuries and subpar performances along the offensive line throughout the season. In the season’s final game, the Giants will be without their starting right tackle, Mike Remmers. This will thrust undrafted rookieÂ Nick GatesÂ back into the starting lineup.
Nick Gates has started in 2 games this season. He has exceeded all expectations in those 2 games as a starter. Gates has earned aÂ Pro Football FocusÂ grade of 76.9 this season and has allowed only 1 sack in his 215 snaps. He is naturally an offensive guard but has played a fair share of offensive tackle this season, filling in for Mike Remmers against the New York Jets.
The Giants’ offensive line is bound to change this offseason. But Nick Gates has shown flashes of great potential. Another strong performance in Week 17 could earn Nick Gates a chance at a starting role in 2020.
Like Nick Gates,Â Kaden SmithÂ is another undrafted rookie filling in as a starter in Week 17. Kaden Smith has been starting at tight end for the last 5 weeks. The rookie out of Stanford has been impressive during this stretch of games.
Kaden Smith is coming off of a spectacular Week 16 that saw him catch the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime. Kaden caught 6 of his 8 targets for 35 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with multiple critical blocks in the running game. Smith’s run-blocking ability is what separates him from the rest of the tight ends on the Giants’ roster.
With Evan Engram’s future clouded with uncertainty, another impressive outing by Kaden Smith could secure him a roster spot in 2020 (if that hasn’t already been achieved), and could even give him some consideration as the starter next season, too.