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.