New York Giants: What To Expect From Training Camp?

It looks like training camp may be coming soon for the New York Giants – it’s been months at this point that the sporting world, and the country at large, has been impacted by shutdowns and closures, but New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that teams based in New York can now hold their training camps.

This, of course, doesn’t affect the Giants. The team plays in New Jersey and has their training facilities there, also. But with the two states sitting in close proximity with one another, it seems that the decision made in New York may carry over soon enough to New Jersey.

When the Giants do get the go-ahead to return to the field, what should fans expect?

Competition in the secondary

There will be competition in multiple areas, as there are during most seasons for a rebuilding team, but the secondary is particularly interesting because there’s a new tossup at the cornerback position. Everyone knows by now that DeAndre Baker is in legal trouble and that no matter the end verdict of the case, it may impact his standing with the team. The Giants may decide that even if Baker isn’t punished by the law, it was irresponsible for him to end up in the situation in the first place.

The legal proceedings may also stretch into training camp, which raises doubts about whether or not Baker would participate while the case is still ongoing. If Baker is absent or in a reduced role because of this, it would leave the number two cornerback spot wide open.

There’s a number of names that would be in the running. Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, and perhaps Julian Love, though the latter is more of a safety than a corner and wouldn’t take the role full time most likely. And with Baker having some poor performances last season, especially in the first half, it’s not entirely out of the question for a replacement player to eclipse him for the starting role given his current problems.

A new offense

Unlike last season, the Giants largely know what they’re getting on offense. At this time last year, the assumption was that Daniel Jones was sitting behind Eli Manning and that Saquon Barkley would be a mainstay of the running game just like he was last season. Sterling Shepard was supposed to be the leading receiver now that Odell Beckham Jr. is in Cleveland, and Darius Slayton was just a promising draft pick.

Instead, Slayton ended up surpassing Shepard when the latter suffered from concussions, Barkley was injured early in the year and took many weeks to get back to his usual form, and Manning only lasted two games before being benched in favor of Jones.

It was a chaotic year last season for the offense, but this time, the Giants have the benefit of a training camp where they know a bit more about who their top personnel are. And this may also be the first season where Daniel Jones is able to play the entire year with a healthy Barkley. The Giants are also bringing in a new tackle in Andrew Thomas, who will have to be integrated into the offensive line quickly, starting with training camp.

Expect the Giants to change up their offensive tactics to suit the players that they expect to be top performers this year – we may just see things more tailored to the young trio of Barkley, Jones, and Slayton rather than the projected lineup of last season which quickly changed.

Should the New York Giants be worried about their wide receiver corps?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

A look at the New York Giants’ wide receiver corps and if we should be worried about them in 2020:

On paper, the New York Giants seem to have an adequate wide receiver corpse composed of veterans and new faces. They have a blend of slot receivers and boundary options that can make plays and extend drives.

However, none of them are categorized as elite, which reflects back to the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and how general manager Dave Gettleman supplemented his loss. Gettleman went out and signed Golden Tate, to a four-year, $37.5 million deal.

Following the 2020 season, Tate will be 32 years old and have a potential out in his contract. The Giants can cut him for a $5 million dead cap hit. Otherwise, they can retain him and pay him $11 million in 2021. Saving $6 million might be beneficial for the Giants who could look to add a better wide receiver in free agency or the NFL draft.

While Tate has been productive in some areas, he missed four games last season due to a PED suspension. He tallied 676 yards and six touchdowns, the most scores he has earned since 2015. However, his catch rate was the lowest it has been since his rookie season in 2010 (57.6%). He dropped three passes last season, notably against the New England Patriots in which he scored the first receiving touchdown against their defense through six weeks.

Aside from Tate, the Giants also have Sterling Shepard, who they signed to a four-year, $40 million deal in 2019. Shepard played in just ten games, suffering two concussions that have put his career at risk. He earned his lowest yards total through four seasons and scored three touchdowns on 83 targets. Shepard is a consistent receiver with solid hands, but if he sustains another concussion, he could be forced out of the game prematurely. One wrong move and the Giants could be without another talented pass catcher.

Looking to the outside, the Giants have second-year player Darius Slayton covering the position. Slayton had a stellar rookie campaign, earning 740 yards and a touchdown, leading the team in both areas. He only dropped 2.4% of his attempts, showing off solid hands after a problematic rookie minicamp. His 57.1% catch rate was a little low, and he could use an uptick in that category, but he showed the potential to be the Giants’ top wide-out for the foreseeable future. His chemistry with quarterback Daniel Jones will prove to be essential moving forward.

Overall, the Giants have a decent wide receive a corps going into 2020, but Shepard is on the verge of a career-ending injury, and Tate is not the same player he once was. A lot of expectation is riding on Slaton to produce and see a big jump in his second year, but I believe the unit in 2021 will be a bit different.

New York Giants: 3 offensive breakout candidates for the 2020 season

The New York Giants‘ offense is primed for a breakout season in 2020. After two years with head coach Pat Shurmur running the offense, New York is taking a different approach in 2020. The Gmen hired Joe Judge as their next head coach and he assembled a phenomenal coaching staff. Judge made a splash on offense, hiring former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as the team’s next offensive coordinator. With a new scheme in place, who on the Giants’ roster is primed for a breakout season in 2020?

Darius Slayton

Some might argue that Darius Slayton already broke out in his rookie 2019 season. But I will argue that Slayton has an opportunity to take his game to the next level in 2020. Darius saw his role increase week by week in the 2019 offensive game plan. In 2020, with a more reliable coordinator in Jason Garrett, Slayton will be featured in a prominent role.

Darius Slayton finished his rookie season with 48 receptions on 84 targets, totaling 740 yards and an impressive 8 touchdowns. Slayton’s knack for finding the end zone makes him a playmaking threat in the Giants’ new offense. Jason Garrett’s offense typically relies on an outside receiving threat, such as Dez Bryant and Michael Gallup. At 6-1, 190 pounds, Slayton can effectively fill that role.

Evan Engram

Evan Engram is another player that fans could argue has already had a breakout season. But has he really? Sure, Engram was dominant in his rookie season, totaling 722 yards and 6 touchdowns. But, in that season, Engram received 155 targets because, believe it or not, he was the only player on offense that could stay healthy. This was during that dreaded 3-13 2017 season that saw Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard all miss significant time with injuries.

Since then, Engram has not looked the same. He is now known amongst the Giants fan base as the super talented player that cannot stay healthy. He has yet to play 16 games in a season and has seen his total games played decrease each year. Evan Engram hit a real low point in 2019, playing in 8 games and starting only 6 of them.

But once again, the arrival of Jason Garrett bodes well for Evan’s future. Garrett loves utilizing the tight end position. Giants fans should know this better than anyone, after watching Jason Witten tear our defense apart for over a decade. Hopefully, Garrett can utilize Engram in a similar fashion and make him a staple in the Giants’ offense. Witten once received 147 targets in a season, so maybe an increased number of targets will lead to increased efficiency and production from Evan Engram in his fourth season.

Kaden Smith

So what if I am wrong and 2020 is not the year that Evan Engram finally plays 16 games and breaks out? Well, then, expect to see backup tight end Kaden Smith have a breakout season.

Kaden Smith was one of Daniel Jones’s favorite targets towards the end of the 2019 season. He was given the opportunity to start in the final 6 weeks of the 2019 season and was impressive, hauling in 30 receptions for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns to end the year.

One could argue that Smith is actually a better fit in Jason Garrett’s offense. Kaden is known as a solid blocker from the tight end position and has a playing style more similar to Jason Witten than Evan Engram does. Engram will be used in a more versatile role, but Smith could end up being a mini-Witten of sorts. He has that big strong body, he is durable, and he can block as well as he can catch. Even if Evan Engram stays healthy this season, there is a good chance that Kaden Smith’s compatibility in Garrett’s offense leads him into a breakout 2020 season.

New York Giants: 3 breakout candidates for the 2020 season

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

Taking a look at three New York Giants players that can break out in 2020:

The New York Giants made it a priority to boost both sides of the ball this off-season through the NFL draft and free agency. However, the success of the team moving forward heavily relies on the 2019 draft class and their development.

The Giants added quarterback Daniel Jones, interior defender Dexter Lawrence, and cornerback DeAndre baker all in the first round. While Jones and Lawrence had successful rookie campaigns, Baker struggled significantly and failed to leave his mark on the field.

In 2020, the defense, which is the youngest of the units, must step up in a big way and show progress from last season.

Here are three breakout candidates for the Giants in 2020:

1. DeAndre Baker

Baker played in 16 games last season, and at just 22 years old, he still has plenty of time to reach his potential. Compiling 61 tackles, two for a loss, and eight passes offended, he was a bit all over the place in terms of production. He didn’t record an interception and was quite poor in the tackling department. He missed 9% of his tackles and allowed a 61.4% completion rate. The most troublesome statistic is the number of touchdowns he allowed, which was six. He allowed it 116.2 passer rating against opposing quarterbacks.

His struggles primarily landed on James Bettcher, who inefficiently utilized him. Baker was known to be a more refined man/press cover corner coming out of Georgia, but Bettcher employed him as an off-ball player in a heavy zone scheme. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will utilize him in mostly man coverage, which he used 50% of the time in 2019. That should benefit Baker significantly.

2. Oshane Ximines

Ximines is one of my favorite breakout candidates for 2020. On 45% of defense of snaps in 2019, the 23-year-old posted 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits. He didn’t miss a single tackle and earned five tackles for loss on top of it all. He was quite efficient for a rookie third-round selection, and he has the potential to be a staple for the Giants at outside linebacker. Patrick Graham will likely utilize him as a starter alongside Markus Golden if he ends up staying with the Giants.

If the Giants can extract the most out of Ximines in 2020, he can resurrect a pass rush that has been quite inadequate the past few seasons. An improved secondary should also allow him more time to get after the quarterback.

3. Darius Slayton

Jumping over to the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Darius Slayton is the third breakout candidate. Having posted 740 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie season, leading the team in both categories, he is set to make a sizable developmental jump next season.

While he had shaky hands at some points, posting a 57.1% catch rate, he developed nicely after starting rookie minicamp, dropping everything in sight. He played on just 66% of offensive snaps, and seeing an uptick in that category and remaining healthy should allow him to cement himself as Daniel Jones’s top option. As a fifth-round pick, most expected him to be more of a project, but he has defied all odds and established himself as a starter moving forward.

The offensive player the New York Giants should be most excited about

The most talented offensive player for the New York Giants is undoubtedly Saquon Barkley. In 2019, he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that significantly limited his production. Compared to 2018, Barkley enjoyed about 300 fewer yards, and cut his touchdown totals in half. His receiving numbers were nearly cut in half as well, indicating a major decrease in efficiency, which was directly correlated to his injury.

Nonetheless, everybody realizes Barkley’s talent and how quickly he can influence any given contest. However, the offensive player we should all be thinking about is wide receiver, Darius Slayton.

The New York Giants might have something special in Darius Slayton:

Slayton was fantastic during his rookie season in 2019, posting 740 yards and eight touchdowns. He led the team in both categories and was tied for first in touchdown catches among rookie past catchers. The most exciting aspect of Slayton was how quickly he developed from rookie minicamp to the regular season. He started off his career, dropping everything in sight but promptly turned that around became one of Daniel Jones’s most sure-fire targets. His 57.1% catch rate was not exactly where you might want it to be, but as a fifth-round pick, you can’t expect him to have it all figured out in year one.

While his production doesn’t resemble Odell Beckham Jr.’s in his rookie campaign, Slayton is already leaving a mark as a late-round pick. The development he saw in his route tree was impressive, utilizing his speed and lateral quickness to improve his slant routes and vertical abilities.

The influence of a top wideout can be significant, referring back to both Philadelphia Eagles matchups from the 2019 season. In their first contest, Darius posted 154 yards and two touchdowns, catching 62.5% of his targets. This production ultimately forced the Eagles to game-plan around him in their second game of the season in week 17.

In Slayton’s second game against Philadelphia, he only totaled 50 yards and didn’t manage to get into the end zone. This attests to how the Eagles valued him on the Giants’ offense and what they were willing to do to ensure he didn’t thrash them for a second consecutive time. When you have defensive coordinators focusing on specific players, you know they are serious threats and can change the game at any moment. The fact teams are beginning to realize the former Auburn wide receiver’s abilities and planning to stop him is a big sign that his development was a major success.

If he can continue to develop his route tree and improve his hands, Slayton can easily become the top receiver for the New York Giants.

Projecting The New York Giants’ Top Roster Weaknesses In 2020

The New York Giants have rebuilt their roster over the past couple of seasons. They found their future franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones, in 2019 and revamped their offensive line in 2020. The future is bright for the New York Giants, but the rebuild is not complete. There are some legitimate strengths on their roster but also some glaring weaknesses. Today, I will break down those weaknesses heading into 2020.

The Pass Rushers

It is no secret that the Giants lack a premier pass-rusher. They have a chance at retaining Markus Golden before the season starts, but even still, the pass-rush with Golden was not fantastic last year. The Giants did sign Kyler Fackrell this offseason, though, and he should make an impact. But there still is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the group of pass-rushers on the Giants’ roster.

Lorenzo Carter did not take the leap forward that we expected him to last season. Oshane Ximinez flashed potential, and hopefully, he can build on that in 2020. But the pass-rush on the Giants’ defense is going to have to derive mostly from Patrick Graham’s scheme. Graham loves to blitz in creative ways to get after the quarterback. That is how the Giants are going to have to do it this year.

The Lack Of A Primary Receiver

The Giants have a core of talented receivers on their roster. Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton form a reliable group of receivers for Daniel Jones to throw to. But there is no X-Factor amongst the group.

That dominant, reliable, number one receiver can be so crucial for an offense. Don’t believe me? Let me refresh your memory of the Giants’ 2008 season. How bad was that offense after the Plaxico Burress incident occurred? They could not move the ball without that legitimate receiving threat. And it’s not like there were no other capable receivers on the roster. Amani Toomer, Steve Smith, and Dominick Hixon were all solid contributors. But they were not primary targets. They could not draw double teams and open up the offense the way that Burres could.

That is what we are looking at with the Giants’ offense in 2020. There is a lot of talent in that receiving corps, and there is a chance that Slayton could progress and become that primary threat. But, at this moment in time, that dominant number one receiver does not exist on the Giants’ roster.

Darius Slayton and Golden Tate both averaged only 2.2 yards of separation per catch. This number ranked near the bottom of the NFL. Sterling Shepard did manage to average a respectable 3.1 yards of separation, though. But still, Daniel Jones had a lot of tight windows to throw into last season and there is no sign that that will change in 2020.

Question Mark At Center

The Giants have options at the center position. There will be a three-way competition for the starting role. But there is no definitive answer at this point as to who will start at that key position.

Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, and Shane Lemieux are all options at center. But there are cons with each of them. Pulley has never been an impressive starter, albeit he is a solid backup. Gates and Lemieux are both offensive guards that will look to make the position switch this season. Even if the switch is made successfully, there are bound to be growing pains along the way.

The Giants finally solidified their tackle positions, drafting Andrew Thomas at fourth overall and Matt Peart later in the third round. This gives the Giants the flexibility to move Solder to the other side of the line or have Thomas play his rookie season at right tackle. The options at that position make it a strength compared to the center position, where the options are slim and unreliable.

New York Giants: Can Darius Slayton be a WR1 for the Giants?

The New York Giants could elect to invest in a wide receiver in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, however, they have plenty of talent at the position they should be confident in.

Second-year player Darius Slayton is one of the pass-catchers who I believe can develop into a WR1 for the Giants, who are looking to make up the lost production ever since Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Slayton’s inception into the NFL was rocky coming out of Auburn. He started rookie camp dropping everything in sight, instantly starting off on a bad note with the coaching staff. However, he picked up his performance and went on to establish himself as one of the best rookie pass-catchers in the league, as a fifth-round pick.

NFL.com initially graded him as a good backup or chance to become a starter, noting his speed and potential to dominate the route tree. His biggest knock was his inability to create separation in man coverage, but he showed that he can make plays against NFL-level corners and produce on offense.

The question now is:

Can the New York Giants find a WR1 in Darius Slayont?

Let’s start off with a simple play that generalizes Slayton’s ability as a wideout.

Slayton runs this slot vertical route perfectly, beating both the cornerback and deep safety with his blazing speed. This is why the Giants drafted Slayton in the first place — note Daniel Jones’ absolute dime of a throw.

In this clip, Slayton runs a comeback route in the middle of the field after directing Sterling Shepard at the line of scrimmage. This is a route Slayton rarely experienced at Auburn, so we can already see his development in the firs quarter of the season.

Next up is a quality deep IN route that finds Slayton with ample space on the sideline to make the grab. Just from the three clips mentioned, we can see that Slayton pieces together an extremely diverse route tree combination in week three of the regular season. We can already justify that his potential is far greater than previously anticipated, based on his progress from vertical and bubble screens.

I anticipate the Giants continuing to test and challenging him in the passing game in 2020. Having pieced together 740 yards and eight scores last year, he has the capabilities to become a WR1, however his floor so far is a quality WR2.

New York Giants: One player primed for a breakout 2020 season

You could make the argument that New York Giants‘ fifth-round pick Darius Slayton broke out in 2019, but the reality is, he has a long way to go before he reaches his overall potential.

Leading the team with 740 yards and eight touchdown catches is a fantastic way to start his young career, but it also sets the stage for the future. Now that Slayton has established a bench-mark for his sophomore campaign, we should expect him to break out in an even bigger way than he did in year one.

With fellow rookie, Daniel Jones, enduring his first season as a professional in 2019, now has a year of experience under his belt, which should increase his production and efficiency in year two.

How did Darius Slayton manage to explode onto the scene for the New York Giants?

When Slayton initially joined the team for rookie mini-camp, he couldn’t catch a ball to save his life. The young pass-catcher quickly developed his hands and earned a 57.1% catch rate, which was 1.5% better than Odell Beckham Jr.’s. In fact, he doubled Beckham’s touchdown totals last season, proving he can be a red-zone threat and deep-ball receiver.

Slayton’s 6-1 frame gives him the height to contest jump balls and reach the point of attack over smaller corners. This physcial advantage gave him leverage over defenders, and that statement proved true as he snagged three jump balls for touchdowns in his rookie year.

Peter Schrager of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, stated:

“I think Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton quietly in a lost season for the Giants gave a lot of promise. I’m going to say both these guys make the leap in 2020.”

Schrager hit it on the head with this one, both Jones and Slayton were overshadowed by another failure of a season and should be held in high regard moving forward. It’s exciting to see such promise in young players, especially on a team that has worked its way through three different head coaches in five years.

Daniel Jones Working Out With Giants Receivers at Duke

Just like Eli Manning before him, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is working out offsite with several teammates at his alma mater, Duke University.

Manning, who attended college at Ole Miss, used to hold offseason workouts with receivers at Duke because his old college coach, David Cutcliffe, was the head coach there.

Cutcliffe is still the head coach at Duke, where Jones starred from 2015-2018. Current Giants wideouts Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard were two of the players reported to be in attendance in Durham.

It’s a positive step when you see these exercises of offseason cohesiveness for a football team. The Giants won’t be able to get back on the field together until OTAs later this spring.

New York Giants: Darius Slayton On Catching Eli Manning’s Last Touchdown

There’s been a lot of iconic touchdown passes from New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, but only one has the title of being Manning’s last touchdown. That’s the one that he threw against the Miami Dolphins, and the name of the receiver that caught it isn’t anyone that would have been predicted to do so at the start of the year – not Sterling Shepard, or Golden Tate, or even Cody Latimer, but the rookie Darius Slayton.

Slayton, of course, came to the Giants in the fifth round when the team took a risk on him after he slid in the draft despite analysts saying he had some promise – the 171st pick was where he was drafted, in fact. That’s not the most prestigious spot to be drafted. But Slayton’s proved a lot of people wrong this year and his 8 receiving touchdowns were one of the bright spots during a dark year for the Giants.

It culminated in the play that will go down as Manning’s last touchdown, against Miami in a game that the Giants won. The result also prevents Manning from going out with a losing record – a bright spot in a result that, at the end of the day, helped cost the Giants their good draft position and their shot at Chase Young.

“It’s huge. He’s a legend of the game. A New York legend, somebody I have a tremendous amount of respect for,” Slayton said to the Daily Gazette. “I’m young right now and just a rookie. Right now, it’s just another [touchdown] ball. I’m sure, when I look back on my career, it will be something that is really special to me, because not everybody has the opportunity to play with someone of that caliber. It’s an honor.”

Slayton also spoke on the quarterback that’s replacing Eli Manning and started most of the year following Manning’s benching: Daniel Jones. According to Slayton, there’s a bright future ahead of Jones. His assessment makes sense. After all, he found himself becoming one of Jones’ biggest targets this year.

“I think he did really well as a rookie. The hard part is you come to find out that every single week, you’re learning something new with each new opponent. He’s got a year under his belt. I think he’s going to take off next year.”

There will definitely be big expectations on Slayton based on the Giants’ need for a consistent star at receiver, someone to fill the role that Odell Beckham Jr. once did. That player could be Slayton, potentially, or it could be a healthy Sterling Shepard. If Shepard doesn’t end up struggling with concussions again this year, the position battles at receiver should be quite interesting going forward.