New York Giants: Barkley and Rudolph out, others will be game time decision

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are dealing with a number of injuries right now, and it’s unclear which players are in a position to return for the final preseason game. We do know, however, that two anticipated returns won’t happen in this game after Joe Judge ruled out the possibility already.

Those players are Saquon Barkley and tight end Kyle Rudolph, both of whom have mounting pressure to play in week 1. Judge confirmed on Friday that neither player will take the field against New England.

“He will not play in this game, no. We’ll dress him out. He’ll go through warm up. We’ll continue him on through ramping up. He won’t play. Him or Rudolph won’t play in this game,” Judge told reporters when asked about Barkley.

But more encouragingly, Judge also claimed that the Giants are still making decisions on some players.

Some decisions are still being made

“The other players – there’s a lot of guys where there’s still decisions being made. We’ll see how they come out today and even some tomorrow. We’ll see how they’re going to look for the game. So, I can’t give any final answers on a lot of guys,” Judge said.

The list of injuries includes three wide receivers – John Ross, Kadarius Toney, and Kenny Golladay.

With Toney being the team’s first round draft pick and Golladay being their biggest free agent signing, this has caused some reasonable concern that Daniel Jones won’t get a chance to build chemistry with his most important targets in a game situation before week 1.

But as the Giants generally rested their starters for the first couple of preseason games, it’s clear the staff aren’t prioritizing preseason experience for their key players.

We know Jones will play one half in the final game, but as of now, it remains to be seen if his new weapons will be there on the field with him.

Giants’ wide receiver core shaping up to be an all-out battle for roster spots

david sills, new york giants

Last season, New York Giants receiver John Ross might’ve been starting Week 1, but now he’s simply fighting for a roster spot at the back-end of the unit. A lot has happened over the past few months. The Giants bolstered the offense, adding Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney to the WR corps.

With only two spots left for the taking, several receivers are gunning for a chance to land on the 53 man active roster. It’s coming down to Ross, Dante Pettis, David Sills, Austin Mack, and CJ Board.

Ross, Sills, and Board have looked the best thus far during camp, but with only two of the three having real NFL experience, the Giants have a tough decision to make with Sills, who is a traditional wideout dominating in the red zone during specific drills.

The former West Virginia standout has five touchdowns during training camp, the most of any receiver up to this point. He has looked great with his route running and creating separation, including solid vertical hops to leap over defenders.

Head coach Joe Judge raved about Sills, who’s making a strong case for a roster spot:

“Sills is a guy who does everything you ask and he does it 100 percent,” head coach Joe Judge told reporters on Friday. “He’s definitely a guy you’ve got to tell, ‘Hey, slow it down a little bit.’ This guy’s commitment off the field in terms of what he’s done in the offseason, basically this guy followed Daniel around the country. Wherever Daniel was, he was going to be there to catch passes. That’s someone who you can tell has really invested in himself to give every shot he has.

The issue here is that both Ross and Board are capable of featuring on special teams. Board is a starting punt gunner and average receiver. That is enough for him to land a roster spot. With only one remaining, Ross is also capable of being a kick returner but has plenty of competition in the category, with Jabrill Peppers and Kadarius Toney taking reps.

Ross has two avenues to securing a roster spot: either he can flash talent as a punt returner during preseason or he can make an impact as a gadget player with jet motions and pre-snap movement.

If the Giants feel as though they can deploy him in unique ways, different than a traditional receiver like Sills, he could provide more value. The team would likely place Sills on the practice squad anyway, but that would enable an alternative team to snag him.

Based on Board’s ability as a gunner, I believe he has a spot locked down, but with Pettis missing time the past few days due to an injury, he has fallen behind in the race. It is quite intriguing to see so much talent fighting for backend positions. Pettis not making the roster should attest to how strong the wide receiver unit looks this season.

Why the New York Giants made a stellar move signing WR John Ross

New York Giants, John Ross

Why John Ross was a GREAT signing for the New York Giants:

When the Cincinnati Bengals selected speedy receiver John Ross with the ninth overall pick in 2017, they imagine they’d be getting someone like Tyreek Hill.

However, Ross has been a major disappointment since his inception into the NFL, playing just 11 games over the last two years. The Bengals let him walk without hesitation, and another premium draft pick wasted. The New York Giants might benefit the most from Ross and his inadequacy in Cincinnati.

Last season, Ross played in just three games before being placed on the COVID-19 list and opting to be with his son, who contracted the virus. Ross ended up on injured reserve with a foot injury, just another speed bump in the road full of construction. However, the Giants are offering him an opportunity to revitalize his career with a fresh bill of health and an opportunity to gain a starting receiver spot on offense.

The Giants might very well be in the market for a WR1 in FA, which could ultimately be Kenny Golladay or even Curtis Samuel. I wouldn’t rule out the 2021 NFL draft as a potential option for them either, as they hold the 11th overall pick and could likely land a premium receiver at their selection.

How will John Ross incorporate himself into the New York Giants’ plans?

Management signed Ross to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with $1 million guaranteed. This is a solid contract for a player with unlimited upside. Having run a sub 4.30 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL combine, he was never able to maximize on his speed. In addition, Ross has dealt with dropped ball issues the past few years, featuring a 36.2% catch rate in 2018 and 50% in 2019.

At just 25 years old, he has plenty of untapped potential, and the Giants could use his downfield abilities as they try to expand their offense and push the football away from the line of scrimmage. Daniel Jones ranked one of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL last year, so getting him a receiver who can burn the secondary on go-routes is beneficial.

I imagine he will battle it out with Darius Slayton and Dante Pettis for a spot on the starting team, especially if the Giants find another receiver in FA or the draft. This is a low-risk, high reward signing, which is exactly what the Giants should be doing more frequently on cost-efficient deals.

New York Giants: Steve Smith harsh on Dave Gettleman’s free agency

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have started making moves in free agency and there will be varying takes about just how good or bad those moves are – and one of the harsher takes is coming from a veteran of the NFL, Steve Smith. Smith, of course, has a shared history with Giants GM Dave Gettleman due to their time in Carolina. And because of how Smith’s time there ended, it isn’t a friendly relationship.

Smith has some harsh words for how Gettleman has made choices so far in free agency, specifically when it comes to his own position of wide receiver. You can be the judge of whether there’s merit here or if Smith is just still worked up over a past grudge.

Steve Smith’s harsh take

“They don’t want an alpha… So what they want are robots who aren’t going to make a stink, who are gonna fall in place, which will end up stunting the growth of your franchise quarterback because you either want a robot or 6-foot-2, 215 or above wide receiver. You don’t want a playmaker. You want cheap. You want people that aren’t gonna make a stink in the locker room,” Smith said on NFL Network, where he works as an analyst now.

This comes after the Giants made the decision to bring in Bengals receiver John Ross, who was considered a draft bust by many but will have a one year deal to prove himself. Ross does have potential due to his fast physical attributes but the signing will of course leave fans wanting for more at the playmaking positions due to the sluggish offense last season.

Some might say that Smith is just continuing his grudge with Gettleman, and that might be true, but the Giants do need to continue adding to their list of playmakers if they want to step forward next season – relying on John Ross proving himself isn’t going to be enough.

And whether or not they can do that might be the defining factor in whether or not this take from a former Gettleman player about this year’s free agent class is actually correct.

New York Giants land speedy receiver John Ross on one-year deal, what to know

New York Giants, John Ross

The New York Giants signed wide receiver John Ross to a one-year, $2.5 million deal just minutes after finalizing a massive extension with interior defender Leonard Williams.

Williams and the Giants compromised on a three-year deal, $63 million and $45 million guaranteed. With the defense solidified on the interior, the Giants can finally begin spending a bit of money on the wide receiver position.

What does John Ross bring to the New York Giants?

Ross is an intriguing player, as a former first-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals four years ago. The problem, he only played in three games last year, hauling in two catches for 17 yards. In 2019, Ross had his most productive season, recording 506 yards and three scores over eight games. There’s no doubt he can be an effective receiver at the NFL level, but he simply hasn’t been able to remain healthy.

Hopefully, with a fresh start, Ross can revitalize his career with the Giants. It is a low-risk, high reward move for Big Blue, which was likely waiting on the finalizing of Williams’ contract extension.

Should the New York Giants trade for Bengals WR John Ross?

New York Giants, John Ross

It is no secret that the New York Giants severely lack talent at the wide receiver position. With Sterling Shepard missing the past four games with turf toe, quarterback Daniel Jones has been doomed to a life of running the football.

He is currently the Giants’ leading rusher, throwing for just 112 yards against the Washington Football Team in week six. The Giants haven’t given him much help in the receiving game, aside from Darius Slayton who has finally been activated downfield after weeks of malpractice usage from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

Garrett has made some interesting decisions with the wide receiver unit through six weeks, failing to maximize Slayton and completely factoring out Evan Engram at the tight end position. He’s trying to utilize Engram as he once did with Jason Witten, a big body target who predominantly runs short curl routes. Engram is best used in the seam and stretching the defense, which is something we have rarely seen through six weeks.

However, the Giants could make a move before the trade deadline to acquire some talent. The Cincinnati Bengals were recently approached by former first-round pick John Ross, who requested a trade. Knowing general manager Dave Gettleman and his lack of refrain from spending draft capital, it is not out of the question of the Giants could communicate with the Bengals and negotiate a deal.

Should the New York Giants take a flier on John Ross?

In short, no. Gettleman has already spent too much 2020 draft capital to be sending more for a player who has only played in 19% of offensive snaps this season. He has started just one game, hauling in two receptions for 17 yards. Ross had his best season in 2019 since his inception into the NFL in 2017. He posted 506 yards and three scores but made it into the end zone seven times in 2018.

While his action has been consistently degraded, the Giants could get him on a friendly deal, possibly for a late-round pick. While that‘s not the worst allocation of assets for a speedy wide receiver looking for a change of scenery, allocating the pick on a rookie WR next year might be more beneficial.

NFL Draft Top 5 Wide Reciever Rankings

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, over the next few days I plan on breaking down the best and brightest talents in this years class. This Wide Receiver class is INCREDIBLE. This top 5 could’ve been a top 15. There are 15 guys in this class who are game changers in any draft. I’m very excited to see where they all land, here are my top guys and who I compare them too.

1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

Pro Comparison: Amari Cooper

Jeudy is the most complete receiver in this draft class in my opinion. Jeudy has really good speed and is one of the best route runners I’ve seen in recent memory. Jeudy is an ideal #1 receiver for the future. Jeudy has the potential to be a game changing receiver and he can open up the field for other players. Jeudy is very similar to Cooper in the backgrounds both men have and the way they give other players opportunities.

2. CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

Pro Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins

Lamb is the 1B of this class. Jeudy is a better route runner, but Lamb is better at running deep routes and snagging the 50/50 balls. Lamb is the kind of guy that can kill you over the top or be a short threat and get some yards after the catch. Lamb has high potential and if he develops further as a route runner, he has All Pro level potential. Lamb has the potential to be as good as Hopkins.

3. Henry Ruggs, Alabama

Pro Comparison: John Ross

I’ve heard a lot of comps for Ruggs to Tyreek Hill or Sammy Watkins. Quite frankly, I think Ruggs is tougher than Ross and more durable, but he’s not much better. Ruggs has game breaking ability and an undeniable play making potential. Ruggs just doesn’t strike me as a #1 guy. Ruggs is such a good played, but he seems to be slightly over projected in where he really SHOULD be picked. I like Ruggs, a lot, but the potential to be a bust is prominent, but the potential to be what John Ross could’ve been is there.

4. Justin Jefferson, LSU

Pro Comparison: Greg Jennings

I saw Lance Zierlien make the comp to Jennings here and I love it. Jennings was a very good, high IQ player. He was better in the slot and talented in the red zone. He also excelled when his QB excelled, not the other way around. Jefferson needs to prove he isn’t just a flash in the pan because of Burrow’s incredible play. If Jefferson can do what he did at LSU and put up video game numbers, he’ll be the next great wide out. If he falls somewhere in between Jennings and elite wideout territory, that’d be a great pick for any team and the fulfillment of Jefferson’s peak potential.

5. Denzel Mims, Baylor

Pro Comparison: Brandon Marshall

At the Senior Bowl, Mims caught a lot of people’s eyes. He was unbeatable in one on one match ups. Mims is a unique blend of size and speed. Mims has a really good catch range and is very lengthy. Mims has some risk, but I think he could be a very good outside receiver at the next level. The catch radius he has and his size is similar to Marshall.

Honorable Mention: Laviska Shenault Jr.

I was tempted to stick Shenault over some of the other guys on this list. Early on I would’ve had him as the third best wideout in this class. He’s a game breaker. He’s dynamic, and he’s an absolute beast. Durability concerns have plagued Shenault and dropped his stock. If Shenault impressed in interviews and in medical testing, he could be a surprise high day 2 pick. Shenault is a really good talent and if he stays healthy, could be an incredible steal.

Other talented players who’ve caught my eye include Michael Pittman Jr., Jalen Reagor, Chase Claypool and Brandon Aiyuk.