New York Giants: Roster bubble players to watch closely in preseason

david sills, new york giants

The New York Giants play their first preseason game of the season tonight at 7:30 pm against the New York Jets. Joe Judge and the Giants plan on treating this preseason game as a traditional fourth preseason game. This means that the starters will barely play (if they even play at all) and the backups will receive the majority share of snaps.

Tonight’s game gives the Giants fans and front office a chance to analyze the players fighting for a spot on the roster. Some of these players are on the bubble and pushing for a spot on the final roster this year. But these players, like David Sills, Rodarius Williams, and Gary Brightwell, will need to perform well in the preseason to earn their spots.

David Sills V

Third-year wide receiver David Sills V has turned heads this summer with numerous impressive practice performances. Sills was a tremendous wide receiver in college at WVU. He totaled 33 receiving touchdowns in his final two collegiate seasons before going undrafted in 2019. David Sills has been with the Giants since September of 2019 after he was waived by the Buffalo Bills that August.

In 2020, David Sills was having an impressive summer practicing with the Giants. Unfortunately, he was not able to play in the regular season, as he suffered a foot fracture that landed him on IR and out for the year. One year later, David is once again having a phenomenal training camp.

David Sills spent the entire 2021 offseason following quarterback Daniel Jones across the country to train for this season. His hard work seems to have paid off as David has looked like a true receiving threat, making plays against the first-team in practice with the Giants. Still, there are a lot of talented wide receivers on the Giants’ roster, some that can contribute on special teams. If David Sills V wants to win a spot on the roster, he is going to have to put together some strong performances in the preseason.

Rodarius Williams

Like David Sills, Rodarius Williams has been popping off at training camp practices. The Giants drafted Rodarius Williams in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Rodarius is the older brother of Cleveland Browns’ cornerback, Greedy Williams. Williams is a press-man corner who exudes confidence. He has the physicality to counteract big-body pass-catchers outside the numbers. He also finished his college career with 150 tackles (35 stops) and allowed just 54.2% of the pass targets against him to be completed for 1,636 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Giants have plenty of talented defensive backs on their roster. But Rodarius Williams has been a pleasant surprise through camp and looks like he could sneak his way onto the back-end of the roster. With a couple of solid performances in the preseason, Rodarius Williams could secure a spot on the final roster.

Gary Brightwell

Running back Gary Brightwell is another player that the Giants drafted in the sixth round of this year’s NFL Draft. The Giants added a lot of depth at running back this offseason as Saquon Barkley prepares to return from his knee injury. Gary Brightwell, however, now seems to be buried pretty deep on the team’s depth chart.

The former Arizona Wildcat has an uphill battle to make the final roster. He has not played much in practice due to some nagging injury problems. But with an impressive string of preseason performances, Gary Brightwell could make his presence felt and give himself a chance at the fifty-three-man roster. The backups are expected to see plenty of playing time on Saturday against the Jets. This is the game for Gary Brightwell to show out and put his name back in the running.

New York Giants: The running backs behind Saquon Barkley in 2021

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

The New York Giants will have a different rotation of backup running backs in 2021. The team moved on from Wayne Gallman after his best season by letting him walk in free agency, and most of the other names that manned the running back spot last season have been replaced. This should, hopefully, be a change for the better.

The team’s rushing performance left much to be desired last year, without Barkley. The Giants’ top weapon is expected to return for the start of the season, but if Barkley isn’t healthy for week one, this year’s lineup of backups may have more potential. The Giants have a number of names signed to the position, but three stand out in specific.

Devontae Booker

The number one name that the Giants signed to serve a backup role. Essentially, Booker is the player that the front office is betting will outperform Gallman. Gallman had his best season last year and the Giants still let him walk away to San Francisco, instead preferring this signing.

Statistically, Booker was a worse player last season compared to the one he’s replacing. However, he was only able to start in one game with the Raiders and also had less carries. It looks like his performance would have been on par with or exceeded Gallman if he’d had more time on the field.

Notably, Booker had 612 yards and 4 touchdowns as a rookie with the Denver Broncos. Just like the Giants signed John Ross at receiver, it seems like they’re betting on the player’s previous potential with this addition.

Whether that’s a good idea or not when the Giants had a chance to bring back a more proven player that had experience in their organization already remains to be seen.

Corey Clement

Corey Clement is the other new veteran addition and previously played within the division for the Eagles. This season, he’ll be making the swap to their rivals and comes off a season where he didn’t get to do much. He had 75 yards on only 21 attempts over 15 games, and his longest rush was only 7 yards.

However, he posted 321 and 259 yards during his first two seasons in the league before ending up on the injured reserve in 2019. This injury would be part of the reason why he had a limited number of rushes in 2020.

That’s not to say Clement doesn’t add anything. He may very well get on the field more in 2021 and had more special teams snaps than offensive ones. As Joe Judge comes from a special teams background, it’s very possible that Judge himself pushed for this signing due to Clement’s ability to help out both in the offense and in that area.

As part of a larger rotation, it looks like Clement is a promising new addition.

Gary Brightwell

Gary Brightwell is the rookie of the bunch, and could be another late round success story after the Giants selected him in the sixth round. He was a one year starter in three seasons with the Arizona Wildcats, and he has a reputation as a physical player who works well in zone running schemes.

Despite this skill in tight areas, though, one shouldn’t expect Brightwell to take the backup job by storm this season. Based on his college performances and the combine, most scouts only give him an average rating when it comes to his physical skills such as raw speed and agility.

You can expect Brightwell to have to spend some time getting used to the faster pace of the NFL and the more physical opposition, but we may see him get into the rotation more on special teams which would still be a successful season for a late round draft pick such as him.

New York Giants draft RB Gary Brightwell out of Arizona with 196th pick

gary brightwell, new york giants

With 196 the overall pick, the New York Giants selected Arizona running back Gary Brightwell, who offers a bit of downhill burst in the running game. Of course, most of these late-round selections are Joe Judge special teams players, who will take advantage of an opportunity to help in any way.

The Giants have had a successful 2021 NFL draft so far, and once you get into the later rounds, you’re going for immediate value on special teams and upside. Brightwell has some solid speed when running downhill and makes players miss at first contact. As Dave Gettleman stated, “speed kills,” and he has a nice burst to pair with solid one-cut quickness.

While I don’t think Brightwell will end up starting anytime soon, he can be a contributor on special teams in some way and be a developmental player behind Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker. Best case scenario, the Giants work with him and he can supplement any injuries or fatigue down the line.

Of course, some might’ve likened the Giants to an offensive lineman like Tre Smith, who has been plummeting down draft boards. However, they clearly feel confident with a group of players they have on the roster.