Projecting the New York Giants’ 53-man roster

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram

With free agency and the draft having come and gone, we know what the majority of the NFL rosters are going to look like for this upcoming season. There still are roster additions to be made with the remaining free agents and players who get cut over the next couple of months, but there most likely won’t be any major moves coming for the New York Giants.

For those of you thinking that the rosters have been expanded to 55 players, you’re both right and wrong. Teams still have to trim their final roster down to 53 players, but the difference is they get to call up an extra two players from the practice squad each week, which has been expanded to 12 players this season. So the final roster remains at 53 players but can increase to 55 players on Sundays.

With all that being said, I’m going to take a crack at how I think the Giants 53-man roster will end up looking:

Quarterback (3): Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Cooper Rush

I am of the party who would prefer the Giants keep only two quarterbacks, but I think they’ll end up going with 3. Daniel Jones is the obvious starter and should be in for a big sophomore year with the improved offensive line. Colt McCoy provides a reliable veteran backup with a lot of experience, especially of the NFC East, and Cooper Rush beats out Alex Tanney simply because of his familiarity with Jason Garrett’s offense, not to mention he’s much younger. Undrafted free agent Case Cookus seems like a prime practice squad candidate.

Didn’t make the cut: Alex Tanney, Case Cookus

Running Back (4): Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Javon Leake, Eli Penny

This group was a relatively easy one to figure out. Saquon Barkley is one of the best backs in the game and could be in line for an MVP-caliber year in Garrett’s offense. Dion Lewis is a good veteran back who compliments Barkley’s game nicely, and Javon Leake is a very intriguing undrafted free agent who averaged 7.2 yards per carry for Maryland last year.

I chose Leake over Gallman because of the value Leake brings on special teams, particularly in the return game. Gallman played well in Barkley’s absence last year, but it seems like the writing is on the wall for one of the last Jerry Reese products left on the roster. Eli Penny will return as the fullback. Austrian running back Sandro Platzgummer, who the Giants were awarded through the NFL’s International Pathway Program, is also a guy to watch out for who could stick around on the practice squad.

Didn’t make the cut: Wayne Gallman, Sandro Platzgummer, Jonathan Hilliman, George Aston

Wide Receiver (6): Golden Tate III, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman, Cody Core, Binjimen Victor

This group, even though it lacks a true number one option, is an above-average group with the trio of Golden Tate III, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton, who is looking to build off of his great rookie season, at the top. The Giants had high hopes for Corey Coleman last season before he tore his ACL, so we’ll see if he can pick up where he left off and become a factor.

Core is fantastic on special teams, and Binjimen Victor is an intriguing undrafted free agent who has the size that this group is lacking. Other undrafted guys like Derrick Dillon, who has 4.29 speed, and Victor’s college teammate Austin Mack are prime practice squad candidates. Also, don’t be surprised if the Giants dip into the waiver wire here, depending on which receivers get cut around the league.

Didn’t make the cut: Derrick Dillon, Austin Mack, Da’Mari Scott, David Sills V, Alex Bachman

Tight Ends (3): Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo

This is a talented group headlined by the young duo of Evan Engram and Kaden Smith. Engram is one of the most electric tight ends in the game and should be in for a massive season with the way he’ll be used in this offense as long as he can stay healthy. Second-year man Smith was a pleasant surprise down the stretch last season as both a receiver and blocker after Engram went down and is looking to take the next step in 2020. Levine Toilolo replaces the retired Rhett Ellison and provides great depth, as he’s a great blocker and huge red zone target for Jones at 6’8”.

A person to keep an eye on here is Rysen John, an undrafted free agent from Canada, who played receiver in college but is likely to transition to tight end with the Giants. He’s 6’7” and can be used in that WR/TE hybrid role, but he is very raw, so look for the Giants to try and stash him on the practice squad for now while they develop him.

Didn’t make the cut: Rysen John, Garrett Dickerson, Eric Tomlinson, Kyle Markway

Offensive Line (9): Andrew Thomas (T), Will Hernandez (G), Kevin Zeitler (G), Nate Solder (T), Spencer Pulley (C/G), Nick Gates (C/G/T), Cameron Fleming (T), Matt Peart (T), Shane Lemieux (G/C)

The offensive line was the main focus of the offseason for the Giants, and the result is a much-improved group. Andrew Thomas is the left tackle of the present and future, and Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler will remain the starting left and right guards.

Nate Solder and Cameron Fleming will probably battle it out for the right tackle spot, with Matt Peart being the long-term option who needs some fine-tuning before taking over. Nick Gates, Spencer Pulley, and Shane Lemieux will fight for that center spot with the two who don’t win the job serving as valuable depth. Undrafted free agent Kyle Murphy from Rhode Island is a versatile and talented lineman. He can go to the practice squad and become one of the two additional players added to the game-day roster each week since one of the players has to be an offensive lineman.

Didn’t make the cut: Kyle Murphy, Chad Slade, Eric Smith, Tyler Haycraft, Nate Wozniak

Defensive Line (6): Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, B.J. Hill, Austin Johnson, R.J. McIntosh

This is a very talented and somewhat underrated group that has the chance to have a big year. Dalvin Tomlinson is a good nose tackle, and Dexter Lawrence had a very encouraging rookie campaign. Leonard Williams, as much as the ugliness of his trade and $16 million dollar cap hit continue to linger, led all interior defensive lineman in quarterback hits last season.

If he can start to turn some of those hits into sacks, then he has the chance to silence the critics and have a productive season. B.J. Hill is a guy who had a promising rookie season but regressed hard last season, so we’ll see if he can bounce back. Austin Johnson reunites with his Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer, so him and third-year man R.J. McIntosh provide sound depth with the potential for more. Last year’s seventh-round pick Chris Slayton was the odd man out, and undrafted edge rushers Niko Lalos, Dana Levine, and Oluwole Betiku Jr., who had 9 sacks last season, could make a push for a roster spot or the practice squad at the very least.

Didn’t make the cut: Chris Slayton, Niko Lalos, Dana Levine, Oluwole Betiku Jr.

Linebackers (9): Markus Golden (OLB), Oshane Ximines (OLB), Lorenzo Carter (OLB), Blake Martinez (ILB), Ryan Connelly (ILB), Kyler Fackrell (OLB), David Mayo (ILB), Cam Brown (OLB), Carter Coughlin (OLB)

This group is kind of a wild card, assuming what happens with Markus Golden. The Giants placed the rarely-used UFA tender on him, and Joe Judge recently expressed his interest in bringing him back, but Golden can still sign with another team. I am going to guess that the Giants and Golden figure something out; either he comes back and plays on the tender, or maybe they work out a contract.

If Golden does return, then this group instantly becomes a lot better as they regain the Giants’ only double-digit sack artist from last season. Oshane Ximines will look to take the next step after a promising rookie season where he logged 4.5 sacks in limited snaps, and Lorenzo Carter will be in for a make-or-break third season. Kyler Fackrell can be a low-risk, high-reward signing like Golden was last year, as he will look to replicate his 10.5-sack 2018 season.

On the inside, Blake Martinez, who had his best season with Patrick Graham as his position coach, and Ryan Connelly, should get the starting spots. Connelly looked so promising last season before he tore his ACL, so the Giants are hoping he can get back to being the same player he was. David Mayo played pretty well last season and is good depth, while late-round picks Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin will see a lot of special teams action, but also have the kind of untapped potential that could get them some rotational defensive snaps. Look for seventh-round picks T.J. Brunson and Tae Crowder to start off on the practice squad and try and work their way onto the roster from there.

Didn’t make the cut: T.J. Brunson, Tae Crowder, Josiah Tauaefa, Chris Peace, Dominique Ross, Mark McLaurin, Devante Downs

Defensive Backs (10): James Bradberry (CB), Deandre Baker (CB), Jabrill Peppers (S), Xavier McKinney (S), Julian Love (S/CB), Sam Beal (CB), Corey Ballentine (CB), Darnay Holmes (CB), Nate Ebner (S), Montre Hartage (S)

The defensive backs took a big hit last month when DeAndre Baker was accused of armed robbery charges, but fortunately, it’s looking like his charges will be dropped, and he’ll be ruled innocent. Because of this, I decided to keep Baker in my projection, even though a suspension is still possible.

Overall this is the most intriguing but also the most uncertain position group. The Giants have so much promising youth here, and this group can end up being one of the biggest strengths on the roster for years to come, but a bunch of these guys are still developing, so there will more than likely be bumps in the road. Nonetheless, James Bradberry takes over for Janoris Jenkins as the number one corner, with Baker on the other side. Baker had a rough start to his rookie season but greatly improved as the season progressed so he’ll look to build off that.

At safety, the duo of Jabrill Peppers and second-round pick Xavier McKinney is very exciting and has the chance to be very good very quickly. Julian Love is a vital piece to this group, as he will work as the third safety but also get snaps at slot corner and probably on the outside as well. Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine will be backups and look to continue in their development, and Darnay Holmes has a chance to be the starting nickel corner week one. Nate Ebner is a special teams ace, and Montre Hartage has familiarity with Graham from their time together in Miami last year, so he’ll probably stick around. Look for seventh-round pick Chris Williamson to also start off on the practice squad and work his way to the roster. Grant Haley and Sean Chandler were the odd men out here.

Didn’t make the cut: Grant Haley, Chris Williamson, Sean Chandler, Dravon Askew-Henry, Christian Angulo, Jaquarius Landrews, Rashaan Gaulden, Malcolm Elmore

Special Teams (3): Aldrick Rosas (K), Riley Dixon (P), Casey Kreiter (LS)

This was supposed to be the easiest group to project, but then news came out that Aldrick Rosas was involved in a hit and run in California a few weeks ago. The situation looked ugly, and Rosas’ future with the team is certainly in doubt. Still, until the Giants get more information and make an official decision with Rosas, I’m going to leave him as the kicker.

Other than that, there’s not much to say here. If he stays, Rosas will look to get back to his 2018 form after a shaky 2019. Riley Dixon was arguably our most consistent player last season and punted the ball very well. Casey Kreiter, who made the Pro Bowl in 2018 with the Broncos, will take over long-snapping duties for Zak DeOssie.

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