New York Giants: Two practice squad players that could be called up in 2019

New York Giants, Reggie White Jr.

The New York Giants have been active the last few days trimming the roster down to the required 53-men and bringing in waiver players to fill positions of need.

On Sunday, the Giants put in waiver claims for several players including CB Corn Elder, WR Cody Core, OT Eric Smith, and TE Tomlinson. In the process, they cut receiver Allonzo Russell, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass against the New England Patriots last Thursday.

The Giants made several surprising moves as well, one of which included cutting second-year quarterback Kyle Lauletta over Alex Tanney. One of the more interesting decisions by GM Dave Gettleman and HC Pat Shurmur, Tanney got the nod due to his experience and knowledge of the game. He’s expected to help Daniel Jones in his development.

However, the practice squad was also filled with decent players, and some could have an impact on the 2019 season.

Here are two New York Giants practice squad players that could be pulled up:

1.) WR Reggie White Jr.

Hauling in eight catches for 115 yards over the preseason, White Jr. showed his ability to play at the professional level. The Monmouth product corralled several impressive passes for significant gains and displayed separation from cornerbacks. While he didn’t face off against first-stringers, White could make a small impact during the 2019 season.

The Giants have faced significant injuries and issues with the wide receiver corps this season, making the elevation of White a matter of ‘when.’ Golden Tate’s suspension of four games and Sterling Shepard’s thumb injury will eventually alleviate, but he could fill in as a back-end pass catcher if need be.

Keep an eye on Darius Slayton’s health, because that slot would be the best opportunity for White to slide onto the active roster.

2.) TE CJ Conrad

Conrad is one of the more fascinating players of the preseason, he didn’t leave too much of a mark in the passing game, but he has excellent potential. After clearing waivers, Conrad signed on with the Giants’ practice squad. He has solid blocking abilities and can make a difference in the passing game. He’s a bit slow and unathletic, but his grit and heart make up for it in some facets.

With Scott Simonson out with a high ankle sprain and Evan Engram an injury waiting to happen (knock on wood), Conrad will likely see the field this upcoming season. With more developmental time, I believe Conrad can emerge as the next Rhett Ellison.

New York Giants: CJ Conrad can’t stop impressing

New York Giants, CJ Conrad

The negativity surrounding the New York Giants wide receiver corps has cast a dark shadow over the team during training camp. However, there’s plenty of positivity to go around — one player that is taking advantage of this opportunity is CJ Conrad from Kentucky. The rookie tight end took first-team offensive reps on Friday and hauled in an impressive catch from Eli Manning.

While he did drop one or two passes from Daniel Jones, he did finish strong connecting with Kyle Lauletta on a pair of touchdowns.

With Evan Engram returning after struggling with a hamstring issue, the tight end group is full of talent and potential. They currently have Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, and CJ Conrad.

I anticipate Conrad eventually emerging as the number one option given his dual capabilities as a blocker and pass catcher. While on Kentucky, he was a trusted option in the passing game but also influenced the run game as well.

“He’s a tough, competitive guy, and I think those are necessary traits to play our game,” said head coach Pat Shurmur before Saturday’s afternoon workout. “So that’s where you start. He’s a good learner. I would say he’s a notch better blocker than he is a route-runner at this time, which is a good thing. He’s becoming a little bit of a fan favorite out there. He’s made some nice catches in practice. But then he’s also made his mistakes. I like the way he competes, and I think he’s a tough guy. I think he has a bright future.”

The New York Giants should expect a learning curve with CJ Conrad:

Of course, Conrad will endure struggles while he develops. His rookie season will be full of mental mistakes, but the potential he’s shown so far proves that he can be an influential player down the road. As a primary blocker, he can help right away in the run game. Imagine the Giants will still utilize Ellison as the primary blocker in that facet of the offense, but Conrad is a quality back up.

His grit and hustle make up for his lack of quality at the moment, but that is a good thing as he has plenty of time to grow and show that he’s capable of being a starting-caliber player.

My concern, though, is that the Giants will be carrying four tight ends if they elect to keep Conrad on the final 53 man roster, and that seems like a waste of a roster allocation. However, letting a player of his potential go is inadvisable.

New York Giants: Can CJ Conrad steal the starting tight end job in 2019?

New York Giants, CJ Conrad

The New York Giants might have a surplus of talent at the tight end position, but none of the options available are capable of being an every down player.

Evan Engram is a pass-catching specialist with elite speed, Rhett Ellison is a primary blocker, and Scott Simonson can manage both roles in an average way but is a favored blocker. The Giants are lacking a true dual-threat tight end that can execute on all levels.

However, they just might have found one in undrafted Kentucky star, CJ Conrad. For those who aren’t familiar with the rookie, he’s a talented player that was dropped from the NFL Combine due to a heart issue. The concern proved to be non-life-threatening, which allowed him to continue forward toward his dream to reach the NFL.

CJ Conrad has made the most of his opportunity with the New York Giants:

Prior to the NFL Draft, Conrad was thought to be a top-7 tight end and a solid prospect in the top five rounds. Unfortunately, the heart issue ruined those projections and forced him to take another route — one that ultimately landed him on the Giants.

So far, he’s been nothing but eye-popping.

With starting TE Evan Engram sitting out due to a hamstring injury, Conrad was able to sneak in some work with the first team, catching a pass from Eli Manning.

His big moment came with the second-string group, snagging a deep ball from Alex Tanney that dropped a few jaws in the audience.

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“He’s done a good job. He’s kind of caught our eye as a rookie. He’s a tough, kind of gritty guy,” Shurmur said. “I think the one thing about him, and you can say this about a lot of rookies, is he gets better with more reps. So he’ll benefit [from that]. And he’s a tough guy. He loves the reps. He benefits from it.”

The first-team reps are extremely beneficial towards CJ’s development, and he realizes the impact of that experience.

“It means they’re seeing progress in me, which is good. I’m just trying to take every day and take advantage of all the reps I can get,” Conrad said. “If it’s ones, it’s two’s, it’s three’s, I don’t care. Whenever I’m out there I don’t worry about that, I just say hey it’s an opportunity to show a reason to keep me around.”

One of the more exciting aspects of Conrad is his focus on the team. He’s willing to take himself out of the offense or act as a decoy to succeed. He won’t complain or throw a fit if the ball isn’t thrown his way. Having a tough guy blocking on the inline and a receiving option to go with it is something the Giants will treasure down the road.

I anticipate he will be the starting tight end by 2020.



New York Giants: Tight end unit may take an interesting turn this offseason

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants have plenty of talent at the tight end position, so much so, they’re likely to cut at least one player to address other positions of need.

Having Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, and rookie CJ Conrad at tight end is rather unnecessary. All of them serve a different purpose, while Conrad is the only true dual-threat (potentially). Ellison is capable of catching passes and holding value in that sense, but he’s a primary blocker that serves mainly a single purpose.

I’m really intrigued by Conrad and what he has to offer coming out of Kentucky. He’s a big body in the run game and can be an impact player in the passing game — I believe he will steal starting time away from Ellison and Simonson.

Ellison is my cut candidate from the group as he holds the biggest cap hit and is seemingly becoming less of a necessity as the Giants add youth to the position. Counting $5.75 million against the cap, Rhett also has a $2.5 million dead cap hit, so the team would save $2.75 million if they cut him, a nice chunk of change that could make a difference at a weaker spot.

How will the tight ends factor in for the New York Giants offense?

Engram, a primary receiver, will be a frequent flyer on the offense as per usual. His consistent injuries pose a problem and I’m convinced he will miss more time during the season as he’s currently dealing with a hamstring issue. His injuries will give options like Simonson and Conrad more time to develop and play with the first team.

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Again, I see Conrad making an impact this season after earning 318 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2018. He was Kentucky’s primary threat through the air but opposing defenses allocated a ton of resources towards limiting his production. He was one of two players to earn reps with the first team this offseason, Darius Slayton being the other.

The Giants could use a good amount of two tight-end sets this season, as head coach Pat Shurmur will look to cause confusion in the defensive secondary and unpredictability with receivers out of the slot. It will be interesting to see how the offense operates without Odell Beckham Jr.

New York Giants News, 6/27 – CJ Conrad can surprise us all

New York Giants, CJ Conrad

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

If there’s any player capable of surprising us all, it’s Kentucky tight end CJ Conrad. The undrafted player was unable to participate at the combine due to a heart ailment that was previously undiagnosed. However, he passed physical tests and is able to play at the NFL level.

The Giants might have secured a steal with the versatile tight end, given his size and speed off the line of scrimmage. He was one of two players, the other being Darius Slayton, to earn first-team reps during mini-camp OTAs.

While his size is certainly exciting, it’s his offensive capabilities that have been excited. He was one of Kentucky’s top targets in 2018, hauling in 30 passes for 318 yards and three scores. He has the skill-set to be a fantastic red-zone target and potentially steal playing time away from Scott Simonson. He could also prove to be the catalyst in the cutting of Rhett Ellison if he continues to show improvement this offseason.

Conrad is a player to keep your eye on as he’s a very talented athlete with plenty of potential. I would love to see him earn playing time in 2019 and showcase his abilities with the first team. Eli Manning could use a tight end that can do it all, it’s been awhile.


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New York Giants: 3 rookies that could earn playing time on starting team

New York Giants, Julian Love, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love

Looking at three underrated New York Giants rookie that can make a difference during the 2019 season:

The Giants drafted ample talent in the 2019 NFL Draft, some of which will be immediate starters with impactful roles. However, there are multiple players that will fight for their right to earn even limited reps, while others will emerge as starters after training camp.

Here are 3 New York Giants rookies ready to steal starting jobs:

1.) CB – Julian Love

Julian Love, drafted in the fourth round, was an absolute steal. Ranked as a top four corner entering the draft, Love is a tenacious athlete. He’s great in off-ball coverage and has adequate speed to keep up with receivers. He will likely slide into the slot corner spot and compete with Grant Haley, formerly undrafted in 2018.

Haley played in 11 games last season and proved he’s capable of playing at the NFL level. Love is more refined in his skill-set, though, which gives him the upper hand in stealing the job away from Haley. This will be an exciting position battle to keep an eye on.

2.) TE – CJ Conrad

An undrafted free agent this year, Conrad is a big tight end that has looked fantastic so far this summer. He was one of two players to earn first-team reps at the end of OTAs. He’s an above average receiving tight end and has the size to block at the line of scrimmage.

Coming out of Kentucky, a team that didn’t have many offensive playmakers, Conrad shined despite opposing defenses focusing on him. He’s one of my darkhorse players for the season ahead and could steal starting reps away from Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison.

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3.) LB- Ryan Connelly

The fact of the matter is, BJ Goodson never really lived up to his potential coming out of Clemson. Believe it or not, he played in 15 games last season, and I barely remember seeing him on the field. That should give you an idea of his influence on the team and the lack of impact he provided on the defense.

Ryan Connelly, however, is an instinctive linebacker with the ability to get into the backfield in a hurry. Racking up 89 total tackles as a senior for Wisconsin, Connelly showed what he’s capable and why he belongs on an NFL team. He also picked up 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 12 games (Sports Reference).

I’m anticipating him breaking through at some point in 2019 and earning reps during the regular season. Aside from his abilities close to the line of scrimmage, he can also cover running backs and tight ends. He’s a player that I believe will blossom with a bit of development – he’s a well-rounded player that can be a three-down linebacker.


New York Giants: 3 surprise impact players for the 2019 season

New York Giants rookie, Oshane Ximines.

With training camp around the bend, the New York Giants are in a good place, atmospherically and skill-wise. They have plenty of talent to begin building a roster that competes on a weekly basis, something we haven’t seen in quite some times.

The rookies on the team have shown they’re capable in shorts and t-shirts, but now it’s time to test them in live-action, and we will really see who can make a name for themselves.

Here are 3 surprise New York Giants players for the 2019 season:

1.) CB – Corey Ballentine

When the Giants drafted Ballentine in the 6th round, it wasn’t expected that he would make a starting impact on the team. This offseason, though, he’s shown his length and aggressiveness in coverage, something that will pay dividends if he’s forced into a starting role.

I believe his influence will come in the form of special teams play. His speed and athleticism should make him a decent gunner on the outside, and we’ve seen what a bad special-teams unit can do to the success of a team.

2.) TE – CJ Conrad

The undrafted tight end out of Kentucky has lit up OTAs and mini-camp so far for Big Blue. He’s one of just two players (Darius Slayton) to earn first-team reps.

His impact will be exciting and surprising — I anticipate him beating out Scott Simonson for the third TE job and seeing a fair amount of snaps for a rookie. Simonson only counts 90K against the cap if cut, so he’s expendable. In favor of providing Conrad with essential playing time and development, I believe he will prove his worth on the football field.

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3.) OLB – Oshane Ximines

Despite coming from a small school (Old Dominion), Ximines acquired impressive skills for an edge-rusher. He has struggled with the change to outside linebacker and understanding his assignments, but once he does, his tangibles traits will be on full display.

Gettleman was impressive with his counter-punch in college, a move most veterans haven’t even perfected. Some teams had Ximines rated as a second-round talent, but the Giants grabbed him in the third. Looking forward, he will earn himself a solid number of reps in 2019, and if he can add a bit of muscle, there’s a ton of value that can be extracted from the rookie pass-rusher.

However, I do believe his rookie season will be bumpy and there will be a learning curve facing off against more physically stout athletes.

New York Giants News, 6/15 – Ranking the top 3 rookies so far

New York Giants, Julian Love, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The Giants might have replicated the success they had in the 2018 NFL draft this year, but practicing in shorts with no pads can be deceiving. So far, we’ve seen some good things from the rookies, though, enough to provide optimism moving forward.

The progression of Darius Slayton and CJ Conrad has been impressive, Daniel Jonas has had his fair share of successes, and cornerback DeAndre Baker has been excellent. But who’s really played at the top of their game?

Here are the top 3 rookies so far:

1.) TE – CJ Conrad

The Giants snagged undrafted tight end CJ Conrad in the hopes of him providing value. Speaking of value, he’s one of just two players that earned first-team reps this summer. He’s been a great addition for a UDFA, and hopefully, he can make an impact during the regular season.

2.) CB – DeAndre Baker

The Giants’ expected No. 2 corner has played well enough to fit the part. His tenacity in coverage and speed will provide quality alongside Janoris Jenkins, I’m looking forward to seeing more from the young defender.

3.) WR – Darius Slayton

After starting off with multiple drops, Slayton picked up the slack as training camp progressed. He was the other player to earn first-team reps. His chemistry with Jones has been growing steadily and his speed makes him a threat everywhere on the field. His progression will be exciting to watch.


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New York Giants undrafted rookie CJ Conrad proving to be a steal

New York Giants, CJ Conrad

It’s very possible New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has struck gold again in the NFL Draft. Last year, he landed Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter, and BJ Hill, all impact players going into their second season with high expectations.

He also snagged undrafted rookies Tae Davis and Grant Haley, two players that will earn starting playing time in 2019. This year, he secured a handful of top talents – DeAndre Baker, Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence, but undrafted tight end CJ Conrad might be the biggest surprise.

Coming out of Kentucky with a discovered heart issue at the NFL Combine, Conrad’s stock plummeted before the draft. He fell out of the draft entirely but was picked up by Big Blue after his ailment was proved to be insignificant.

So far, he’s been nothing short of fantastic, hauling in every pass thrown his way. For the first time this spring, two rookies were gifted the chance to play with the first stringers during OTAs. Conrad and wide receiver Darius Slayton were the lucky winners.

Coming to the team as a long-shot to make the active roster, Conrad has shown he’s more than capable of competing at the NFL level. Prior to the draft, some analysts believed he was a top seven tight end prospect that would go in the first five rounds – him falling out of the draft benefited the Giants greatly as his skill-set can be diverse with a bit of development.

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At 6-4, 248-pounds, Conrad is not only a talented pass-catcher, but he can be a solid blocker on the line of scrimmage as well. The Giants have struggled to find themselves a do-it-all tight end that can operate in every facet of the offense. They’ve been forced to utilize multiple players at the position that have different skills – Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Scott Simonson.

While Conrad has a while to go before he can claim a starting role, he’s certainly on the right path.



New York Giants: Ranking the top 5 rookies on their development

New York Giants rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones during voluntary OTAs.

With minicamp coming to a close for the New York Giants and OTAs starting up again next week, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the rookies.

The Giants had a solid draft in 2019, grabbing Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence, DeAndre Baker, Oshane Ximines and more, but who has looked the best so far this offseason?

Ranking the top 5 New York Giants rookies in terms of progress and development playing with the veterans:

1.) DeAndre Baker – Cornerback

The Giants traded up into the first round to grab Georgia standout corner, DeAndre Baker. An aggressive cornerback with the ability to man-mark receivers provides the Giants with a true No. 2 alongside Janoris Jenkins.

So far, Baker has been nothing but stellar in camp. He’s been on the back of every assignment, playing extremely close in coverage and showing elite speed on the ball. Head coach Pat Shurmur mentioned that he loves how Baker can play press, but the Giants haven’t been able to exercise the part of his game due to the restrictions of practice thus far. He’s been great in every other aspect.

Having Jenkins as a mentor should help Baker see his true potential. I expect him to eventually overtake Jackrabbit for the top role within the next two seasons.

2.) Daniel Jones – quarterback

Drafting Jones with the 6th overall pick certainly forced a few head scratches, but he’s developed very well since joining Big Blue. Every practice has seen the Duke product elevate his game and grow in comfort. His deep ball has been solid, accuracy on point, and progressions seamless.

In fact, he has looked better than Eli Manning so far, which only attests to his potential at such a young age. He will undoubtedly sit behind Manning for the first year of his career, and that will only allow him to prepare for Eli’s succession even more efficiently.

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3.) Darius Slayton – wide receiver

When Slayton entered camp for the Giants, it was thought he forgot how to catch. His fundamentals were completely sideways and looked as if he was a redshirt freshman off the streets. Since then, he has made strides in his development, and his name is starting to surface in the No. 3 wide receiver battle.

Slayton will have to fend off Corey Coleman and Cody Latimer, but his progress so far has been exciting. One of the faster pass catchers in the most recent draft, the Auburn product has shown he can play at a high level. He will have to continue working on his hands and catching without using his body, but he could sneakily earn the final starting receiver spot with a bit more work.

Shurmur thinks WR Darius Slayton has made huge strides. “He’s the first guy that comes to mind” when asked about standouts from the rookie class.

4.) CJ Conrad – tight end

Some might not even know who CJ Conrad is out of Kentucky, but he has the potential to be a steal of an undrafted free agent. Conrad has the ability to catch passes and block on the line of scrimmage – he was the Wildcats’ only weapon and defenses game planned around stopping him.

So far, he’s looked solid alongside Daniel Jones in red-zone drills, hauling in two consecutive touchdown passes, one of which was an impressive sliding grab. At 6-4, 248-pounds, the big tight end will look to develop even further and hopefully earn some playing time in his first season with the Giants.

5.) Oshane Ximines – pass rusher

General manager Dave Gettleman really skimped on the pass rusher position this offseason, drafting only Ximines to fill a glaring hole Olivier Vernon left in his wake after being traded. However, the Old Dominion product has developed attributes for a small-school athlete.

Gettleman found his counter-punch very appealing and has great speed around the edge. Oshane will have to adapt to a 3-4 outside linebacker role, but if he can adjust well, he will earn significant reps in 2019.