The New York Giants have plenty of playmakers to spread the ball around to, but which ones will be prioritized?
The rebuild of the offensive line is complete for the New York Giants after the signing of former Minnesota Vikings right tackle, Mike Remmers. Despite the expected upgrade, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chad Wheeler give him a run for his money, head coach Pat Shurmur did state that the position is Wheeler’s to lose.
The strengthening of the offensive front will ultimately benefit the entire team, especially veteran quarterback Eli Manning and his inability to function without ample time in the pocket. But, while one group of players strengthens, another weakens. The Giants lost star wideout Odell Beckham Jr.’s talents in the electrifying play-making department, but I believe they have plenty of talent to make up for his departure.
Ranking the New York Giants playmakers:
1.) Saquon Barkley
Yes, this is the easiest one of them all. Barkley amassed over 2,000 all-purpose yards in 2018 – his rookie season. There’s no question he will be even more impactful in his second-year behind an offensive front that’s more experienced. Bringing in Kevin Zeitler should do wonders in the run game, especially considering the influence of Jamon Brown midway through last season.
Barkley is always one play away from a game-changing run…or catch. He’s a multi-faceted player that can carve up an opposing defense in many different ways. His talent stretches far beyond running the football, but he will surely utilize that attribute the most in the season ahead.
2.) Eli Manning
You might be wondering, why’s Manning ranked No. 2 here? The reason — without him, the receivers don’t matter. He’s the facilitator for the offense and if he’s playing well, everybody else excels. Manning had the best completion percentage in his entire career last year (66%), according to Pro Football Reference.
While garbage time and Barkley dump offs accounted for a ton of his yardage and statistical efficiencies, it’s part of the game plan. Barkley will be utilized in that fashion frequently. Nobody questions Tom Brady’s success when he racks up yards on short passes in the flat.
I anticipate Manning having a better season compared to the past two seasons, simply due to the offensive line.
3.) Sterling Shepard
This is the year Shepard really comes into his own. He has lived in the shadow of Odell Beckham Jr. his entire career, but now is his time to emerge as the Giants’ No. 1 receiver. He has shown the ability to produce when featuring in the top role, but this season should be his to command.
The attention will be focused around Barkley, which opens up the field for Shep and his quick twitch abilities. Lining him up in the interior and exterior should cause issues for opposing defenses — I’m expecting him to elevate his game after earning a four-year deal worth $41 million.
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4. Evan Engram
The Giants’ third-year tight end is primed for a breakout campaign. He average nearly double the yardage when OBJ was off the field in 2018, but the fact of the matter is he’s a single-dimension tight end. The Giants don’t use him as a primary blocker, but rather a receiver off the line of scrimmage.
Engram has the ability to be a premium pass catcher and red-zone target, but it ultimately comes down to his catch rate that jumped from 55.7% to 70.3% in his two years as a professional. His hands are clearly improving, but Engrams biggest hurdle is his health. If he can remain on the field and maintain consistency, he can emerge as one of the better receiving tight ends in the league.
5. Golden Tate
I don’t want to call Tate, Beckham’s replacement, but that’s exactly what he is. He’s a bit more experienced than Shepard, but he lacks in familiarity with Manning and Shurmur’s scheme. He is the No. 1 receiver in the NFL when it comes to yards after the catch, but he lands in the 5 spot because of his age.
The one thing I do love is how he can line up in the slot and on the outside, similar to Shepard. Opposing defenses will have a very hard time managing both as they flip-flop around the field.