New York Giants: 3 rookies that will fight for a roster spot in 2020

New York Giants, Chris Williamson

Taking a look at three New York Giants rookie who will be fighting for a spot on the roster this season:

When most believed that the Giants would package some of their seventh-round picks together to move up in the 2020 NFL draft, management saw it as an opportunity to add multiple bodies to compete for active roster spots. General manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge stood pat in the seventh round, selecting all four picks and adding several high-upside players in the process.

The Giants landed outside linebacker Carter Coughlin out of Minnesota, inside linebacker TJ Brunson out of South Carolina, cornerback Chris Williamson out of Minnesota, and linebacker Tae Crowder out of Georgia.

All four have starting experience and upside, but some are more developmental than others.

Here are three rookies who will battle for roster spots this upcoming season:

1.) TJ Brunson

Brunson isn’t the most athletic prospect in the draft, but he was a team captain and was voted one of the most valuable players in 2018. He led the team with 106 tackles, four sacks, and 10.5 for a loss. He’s a tough inside linebacker who shows minimal fundamentals and short-area quickness. He has the size at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds to plug running lanes and anchor down, but he struggles in following the right angles and covering ground quickly.

I imagine he will compete for an active roster spot, but would likely land on the practice squad for the Giants. It is clear that the coaching staff did not like their depth at the linebacker position and decided to allocate late-round picks to find a few supplemental pieces hopefully. Brunson can be one of those players, but he needs to improve his fundamentals and play with more tenacity.

2.) Chris Williamson

Williamson is a player who has the coverage abilities but severely lacks tackling fundamentals. He is extremely aggressive and feisty in the slot, a position where the Giants have struggled in recent years.

If he can solve his tackling issues, Williamson can compete with Darnat Holmes, Julian Love, and Grant Haley in the interior. He is strong off the break and has the athleticism to match up with speedy slot receivers. His athletic profile gives him the high upside Gettleman and Judge were looking for. However, he is not the best anticipator and has lackluster ball skills.

3.) Tae Crowder

Crowder was the final pick in the 2020 NFL draft, a.k.a. Mr. Irrelevant. The Georgia product has a stocky frame and is built for attacking downhill, but he is bad in coverage and a bit conservative for an inside linebacker.

Crowder is a scheme-specific player and will likely fill-in on early downs to stop the run. He is purely a depth piece with some potential, but given his lack of ability to cover in space, he will be fighting for a roster spot this upcoming season. He is another grinder, though, as he was one of the final signees for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2015. His determination and mentality make him a positive contribution to the locker room. Still, his skill set is just too thin at this point to consider him more than a supplemental player.

New York Knicks should target this player over Chris Paul

New York Knicks, Spike Lee

As we all know, the New York Knicks need a point guard.  There are plenty of rumors about trading for Chris Paul and the possibility of drafting a point guard.  However, is there a better option?

Instead of the Knicks trading for Chris Paul, who arguably has one the worst contracts in the NBA, they should consider their options.   Paul still has two years left on his deal and getting 80+ million.  Not to mention Paul is an aging point guard despite having a very good season.  Plus, the Knicks shouldn’t be thinking about giving up young assets, and most likely picks, for a 34-year-old point guard.

Who the Knicks should really target is Fred Van Vleet, 26-years old, from Toronto.

Some may think that offering Van Vleet max money will be a ‘trap contract’.  He’s playing very well for the Raptors but once he gets paid, he’s play could decline.  In New York, playing for the Knicks, that’s definitely possible.  We’ve seen it before.

Some team out there, maybe the Knicks, is going to offer Van Vleet a lot of money, possibly max money.  He’s a scrappy style of play forces turnovers and has that underdog story that everyone loves.  Van Vleet is quick, can score and has a defensive mindset.

Van Vleet best season was 2018-19 really stepping up his game in the NBA finals.  The Raptors probably don’t win the title without him, and he came back from that championship run an even better player.  Sure, we all wish he was a little taller but he has the determination and drive to win.  As of right now, he’s better than any other point guard the Knicks have on their roster.  He’s averaging 17.6 points, 6.6 assists and 1.9 steals this season.

While people in the Knicks organization think Paul can change the culture of the team, it’s best to stay away.  The Knicks have been down that path too many times.  Trying to take on big contracts for a quick fix. It doesn’t work.

Why this wasn’t the best breakdown of Van Vleet or Paul, it’s really simply.  If the New York Knicks are going to trade for or sign a point guard, fans would rather them go younger than older, with a very expensive contract.

New York Yankees Should be 22-10, 3 Division Poll Results, and Gerrit Cole

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

Yankees should be well ahead in the AL East

The New York Yankees, as of today, would have played 32 games during the regular season, had it not been for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.  By this time, the Yankees would have played games against the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Athletics, Rangers, Reds, the Tigers, and the Indians.  Considering that nearly half of all games played would have been between the Yankees and the two worst teams in the AL, Detroit, and Baltimore, the Yankees should be well ahead in the East.

With no date for the start of the regular season yet announced, MLB will have a challenge to get in a season of 100 games unless they extend the season into October. The coronavirus and health officials have the upper hand in when a season can begin.  At present, it looks as if some type of resumed spring training will start late this month or in June with a hopeful start of the regular season near July 1.

Sometime this month, MLB will have to make decisions on when the season will start and where the games will be played.  The “Arizona plan” would have all 30 teams play all games in Arizona.  There is another plan that would start games in the traditional spring training locations, and still a third plan that would begin games in empty home field parks.  There are also two plans to realign the divisions; the first one made no sense at all.  The latest plan calls for three divisions, East, Central, and West, to cut down on air travel and to get in as many games as possible.

What do New York Yankees fans think about new divisions?

Earlier this week, MLB announced a plan to realign divisions to get in as many games as possible and to reduce air travel. The unveiled plan would have all east coast teams regardless of league play all games between each other.  No more cross country travel.  All central teams would be pitted together, and west coast teams include the two Texas teams would face each other.

In the East, the New York Yankees would play more games against their crosstown rival New York Mets.  They would also face the Jays, Phillies, Pirates, Orioles, Red Sox, Nationals, Rays, and Marlins.  Central League for the teams in the center of the country, and a Western League that would encompass the West Coast teams and the two Texas teams would round out the three divisions.  No plan for the postseason was laid out.

Yesterday on Facebook, I conducted a poll on the new plan.  I suggested that if the realignment plan worked out well and teams, players and fans alike, liked the new divisions, would you be in favor of making the change permanent?  Here are the results of the poll that was conducted in five Facebook Yankee fan groups consisting of over 50k members.

  1. I hate the plan – 38%   2. I like the idea 31%  3. I am undecided –  29% 4.  I think the season should be canceled and start anew in 2021- 2%.

I was somewhat surprised by the results of the poll.  I thought fans would be overwhelming against keeping the three divisions.  Those that hate the plan and like it are represented by just a 7% difference, although there were many that were undecided.   Whatever the case, fans do want to see baseball this year as only 2% thought the season should be canceled.  Several fans commenting on the poll, said they like the plan for this year but would not want to see it be made permanent.

Yankees have paid over $5 million for Cole not to pitch

The coronavirus has come at a wrong time for the New York Yankees.  Newly acquired pitching ace Gerrit Cole garnered a postseason deal worth $324 million over the next nine years.  If the regular season had started on time, Cole would have already pitched five games.  At just over a million per game, the delayed season is costing them big time.  Of course, the final deal between MLB and the players union will determine the pay for games not played.

In a very short sample, Cole did not impress in the shortened spring training.  In only nine innings, he was 0-0, but with an inflated ERA of 7.  To be fair, the high ERA is mostly due to him being hammered for 3 runs in just 2 innings pitched.   The nine innings was in four games started.  Meanwhile, Cole is at his newly purchased home in Greenwich, CT.  He has been staying in form pitching to his pregnant but very athletic wife Amy and to Yankee manager Aaron Boone who lives nearby.

Join me on Facebook and on Twitter @ParleeWilliam

 

How should the New York Giants utilize Nate Solder moving forward?

New York Giants, Nate Solder

With the 2020 NFL Draft officially in the books, the New York Giants finally addressed arguably their biggest need for quite some time now: offensive tackle.

With the selections of Georgia’s Andrew Thomas in the first round and UConn’s Matt Peart in the third, Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge are hoping they found their franchise left and right tackles for many years.

The question now is, what happens with their $62 million dollar man Nate Solder going forward?

Obviously, Solder doesn’t seem to be in the Giants’ plans beyond this season. He’s getting up there in age, his future replacements at both tackle spots were just drafted, and he was a liability last year. For all you fans, and there are a lot of you, calling for the Giants to cut Solder loose right now, I hear you.

However, I would suggest to tough it out for just one more season. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. The most glaring reason is that Solder’s large contract isn’t so easy to get out of until 2021. If the Giants did indeed cut Solder now, they would free up $6.5 million in cap space, but they would take on an ugly dead cap hit of $13 million. They could spread out his dead cap hit over multiple seasons if they cut him after June 1, but still, it may be beneficial to keep him around for one more season.

Another reason why is because of depth purposes, as he provides the Giants with another veteran option. He can start the season at right tackle while Thomas immediately takes over the left side, and if Solder doesn’t show improvement, then he can be another useful swing tackle off the bench.

Maybe, just maybe, new offensive line coach Marc Colombo will be able to unlock something in Solder that Hal Hunter couldn’t and get him to play better. Who knows. Solder also provides valuable experience and leadership qualities. The Giants now have two rookie tackles, and they will need all the help they can get when it comes to learning the playbook and getting adjusted to the pace of the NFL.

It’s difficult for rookies to do all that during a regular offseason, let alone a shortened one due to the pandemic. Having a guy like Solder who is smart and has been in the league for a while could really help the young tackles learn a lot during the summer and throughout the season, especially Peart, who is considered more of a developmental prospect than Thomas.

All in all, Solder’s time with the Giants is inevitably coming to an end, whether it’s now or at the end of the season. It was a questionable move from the start, and so far, it has done nothing but blow up in Dave Gettleman’s face. Fortunately, the Giants are in a better position now with their offensive tackle group. They have more options now to replace him should he continue to play poorly, such as veteran free agent signing Cameron Fleming and promising third-year man Nick Gates who can play there if needed.

Solder may not even need to start the entire season, depending on how quickly Peart develops. So, Giants fans, the disastrous Nate Solder experiment is nearing its end. We’ll just have to see whether or not that end is now or in February, but my money would be on the latter. The plan this season should be to start Solder at right tackle for week one, see how he does, and if he doesn’t do well, send him to the bench for important depth at the position. Regardless, it’s nearly a guarantee at this point that he will no longer be with the Giants in 2021.

Giants’ Defense Promises To Be Deeper, Faster and More Flexible in 2020

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants were 25th in total defense in 2019 and general manager Dave Gettleman knew that something had to be done this offseason to address the situation.

Gettleman added depth, flexibility, speed and versatility to the defense this offseason with a flurry of moves before, during and after the draft.

First, they slapped the franchise tag on defensive end Leonard Williams and re-signed linebacker David Mayo, then signed cornerback James Bradberry and linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell In free agency. They also added defensive tackle Austin Johnson and safety Dravon Askew-Henry.

In the draft, they used seven of their ten selections on the defensive side the football: Alabama safety Xavier McKinney; defensive back Darnay Holmes of UCLA; Penn State linebacker Cam Brown; linebacker Carter Coughlin and cornerback Chris Williamson of Minnesota; inside linebacker T.J. Brunson of South Carolina and Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder.

Gettleman piled on after the draft with a slew of UDFA signings starting with Illinois defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Jr. and another DE, Nick Lalos of Princeton. Also added were: North Carolina OLB Dominique Ross, DB Christian Angulo of Hampton, Central Methodist CB Malcolm Elmore, safety Jaquarius Landrews of Mississippi State and Temple DE Dana Levine.

That’s 20 new faces on defense headed for training camp. The Giants are simply throwing ideas and names against the wall to see what sticks. Training camp will sort it all out. Head coach Joe Judge, who is entering his first season on the job, hasn’t even met the veterans on his team yet, never mind the rookies and no one is sure with the COVID-19 restrictions when that is going to happen.

Judge was asked after the draft do you feel with how he felt this team sits right now compared to when he started in January.

“We haven’t been on the field yet so that’s the biggest answer right there. Look, you can’t really evaluate until you get on the grass,” he said. “Right now we have a lot of names on paper. There’s a lot of guys that are itching to get on the grass and compete and start proving themselves. Look, everyone laughs when I say it, but our depth chart is a blank slate right now. We have a lot of names, everyone has to earn every spot they get. So, when we get out there on day one whoever the first five linemen are that are out there, that’s just the first five guys taking a rep. That’s not a spot in concrete at all. They’ve got to earn to keep that spot. We’ll change it up continuously throughout training camp or OTAS, whenever we get these guys. To answer as far as where we are, I think we’ve made some good moves in terms of bringing in pieces that can help us. But overall, I can’t really give you a solid answer just because I can’t comment on specific players until we really get them on the grass, otherwise it’s just speculation and hypotheticals.”

As of right now, the starting lineup could look something like this:

DL: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson
OLB: Lorenzo Carter, Tyler Fackrell
ILB: Blake Martinez, David Mayo (or Ryan Connelly)
Safety: Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney
CB: James Bradberry, DeAndre Baker, Darnay Holmes (slot/nickel)

That is without any injuries or surprises in camp. A lot can happen, as Judge said, once the players hit the grass.

New York Giants: Victor Cruz Not Yet Over Boat Trip Photo

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Victor Cruz

The New York Giants haven’t been in the playoffs for the past few seasons, and in the last season that they did make it into the postseason, one memorable moment stood out more than anything else – the infamous trip to Miami which resulted in a famous boat picture and was followed up by a loss to the Packers in the divisional round.

The loss, and the way that it happened, ended the most recent era of the Giants being competitive and introduced the era of losing, head coaches changing quickly, and the team having less and less star players. One well known Giant that went out on that loss was Victor Cruz, who departed from the Giants afterwards, and the trip that happened in the buildup to the game has still stuck with him even after retirement.

“This photo will haunt me for the rest of my life,” Cruz told E! News recently. “It was more so the feeling of, ‘Man, when am I going to get to do this again? When am I going to get to be an athlete, win a football game, go on a private jet, go to Miami the same night?’ It was one of those things where I was just like, ‘I think I’m just going to feed our ego tonight.'”

The picture quickly became a talking point and was perhaps talked about even longer than the Giants poor on the field performance against the Packers. It was also, possibly, the point when the relationship between the Giants and Odell Beckham Jr. started to go downhill. Despite multiple players being in the picture, it was Beckham that received flak about it the longest, mainly in the debate about whether or not the Giants should have kept him.

It wasn’t uncommon, by then, for detractors to add in snide remarks about the Miami trip when arguing against the Giants keeping the wide receiver. In the end, the Giants ended up trading him to the Browns.

“If this was 1999, no one would have known about the trip, we would have went, had a great time, come back. And then had we won the game, that’s the part that kind of bothers me, too. If we won the game, they’d be like, ‘Go to Miami every week, apparently that’s the good luck charm.’ The fact that we lost, left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth,” Cruz elaborated further on the topic of the infamous picture.

Like it or not, the picture is now a part of Giants fan lore – and until the team makes it back to the playoffs and advances rather than flopping, it’s going to remain there as a symbol of the last time when the Giants were competitive and in the running for a playoff run… Even if they did enter the postseason in 2016 as underdogs.