The New York Giants will face some tough decisions in assembling a 53-man roster this season. How do I know? Well, because the post-offseason 53-man roster you’re about to read was agonizing to put together.
I wrote, then rewrote my choices in several positions. There are things about this projection I don’t like — like keeping only three tight ends and cutting two draft picks.
Still, it’s only June. Take it as intended – as food for thought long before training camp is held, injuries happen and decisions have to be made.
IN: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
Out: Tommy DeVito
Who is the third quarterback? It’s not likely to be DeVito, so the Giants will likely spend the rest of the summer and preseason looking for a quarterback to stash on the practice squad. There is, of course, a chance the Giants could keep a third quarterback on the 53-man roster to take advantage of the league’s recently reinstated emergency quarterback rule.
Running backs (4)
IN: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Gary Brightwell
Out: Jashaun Corbin
The question here is Brightwell. If the Giants only keep three backs, he’s almost certainly the odd man out. However, Brightwell is a core special teamer, the favorite to win the kickoff return job, and has been useful on offense in small sample sizes.
Tight ends (3)
IN: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager,
Out: Tommy Sweeney, Chris Myarick, Ryan Jones
I’d rather keep four tight ends. It kind of bothers me that Bellinger is the only inline-blocking tight end to make the list in this prediction. However, the Giants can always use an offensive lineman as a jumbo tight end if needed. I also think the Giants could get one or two of the ousted tight ends on the practice squad if they wanted to.
Wide receiver (7)
IN: Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, Sterling Shepard, Collin Johnson, Jamison Crowder
Out: Wan’Dale Robinson (PUP), Jeff Smith, Jaydon Mickens, Kalil Pimpleton, Makai Polk, Bryce Ford-Wheaton, David Sills
Right now I’m guessing Shepard is ready to start the season and Robinson isn’t. Both players are returning from ACL tears. Shepard ran routes and cut hard during minicamp. He said his goal is to be ready for the season opener, and judging by what we saw in minicamp, I think he can do that. Robinson worked exclusively in a backcourt with trainers. He is further behind.
The final three spots came down to Johnson, Crowder and Smith. There are valid reasons to keep all of them, and I could be wrong to leave Smith off the list. Johnson offers a body type and skill set that no other true Giants’ wide receiver has. He is also an experienced special teams player. Crowder is a capable receiver and, if he makes the roster, is the favorite to be the punt returner. Here, I picked him over Smith, who would bring value with his speed and ability on special teams coverage units.
Offensive Line (9)
IN: Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredeson, John Michael Schmitz, Mark Glowinski, Evan Neal, Josh Ezeudu, Tire Phillips, Shane Lemieux, Marcus McKethan
Out: Matt Peart, Korey Cunningham, Jack Anderson, JC Hassenauer, Devery Hamilton, Wyatt Davis
The starting center/left guard combo may be uncertain, but Thomas, Bredeson, Schmitz, Glowinski, Neal and Ezeudu are on the roster. I think Phillips is almost as certain to be part of the 53. I have Lemieux and McKethan getting the final two spots.
I know Lemieux has done virtually nothing the last two seasons, but it was clear a year ago that this coaching staff likes him. He’s also done enough work at center that he’s likely viewed as a legitimate backup option there. McKethan is a Joe Schoen draft pick and a potential long-term successor to Glowinski. I don’t see the Giants risking losing him to waivers while trying to push him to the practice squad.
That projection leaves only one true backup tackle, but Ezeudu can play out there in an emergency and one of Peart or Cunningham should come through waivers, giving the Giants an opportunity to stash an experienced tackle there.
Defense line (5)
IN: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson, DJ Davidson
Out: Vernon Butler, Kobe Smith, Ryder Anderson, Jordon Riley
The final place will come down to a competition between the three young players. Davidson was a 2022 fifth-round pick coming back from a torn ACL. Anderson is a second-year player who stuck around last season as an undrafted free agent. Riley is a seventh-round pick.
I’ll take Davidson, assuming he’s healthy. He worked only with trainers all spring. I think the Giants could get one or both of Anderson and Riley on their practice squad.
IN: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines, Tomon Fox
Out: Elerson Smith, Habakkuk Baldonado
Right now, the Giants seem to be running it back with the same group they had a season ago. However, it won’t be a shock if they add to this group before training camp or look to supplement it with a veteran player once roster cuts are made at the end of the preseason.
Inside Linebacker (5)
IN: Bobby Okereke, Darrian Beavers, Jarrad Davis, Micah McFadden, Cam Brown
Out: Carter Coughlin, Dyontae Johnson, Troy Brown
Coughlin, whose value is solely on special teams, loses his spot. Sophomore Darrian Beavers could start. If he doesn’t, Jarrad Davis probably will. If Davis doesn’t start, I think there’s a chance the Giants cut him and keep Coughlin. However, that is not the choice I am making here.
IN: Adoree’ Jackson, Deonte Banks, Cor’Dale Flott, Aaron Robinson, Tre Hawkins III
Out: Darnay Holmes, Rodarius Williams, Zyon Gilbert, Gemon Green, Leonard Johnson, Amani Oruwariye
We’ve talked a lot about Darnay Holmes in the offseason. If he loses the cornerback role to Flott, Robinson or even Zyon Gilbert, I’m not sure the Giants will keep him on the roster. I think you take the $2.7 million in cap savings (only $197,972 in dead money) and move on.
I think Holmes’ situation is similar to what Darius Slayton was last season. What will the Giants see as more valuable — keeping Holmes on the roster or gaining cap space by releasing him?
I almost kept Oruwariye. He wasn’t good at it Detroit Lions in 2022, but showed some ability in his first three seasons. In the end though, I kept an extra wide receiver. One of the reasons I’m comfortable with just five cornerbacks is Nick McCloud’s versatility to move back to that spot if needed.
IN: Xavier McKinney, Nick McCloud, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Bobby McCain
Out: Gervarrious Owens, Trenton Thompson, Alex Cook
I think it’s possible that Owens, the Giants’ seventh-round pick, takes a spot from the veteran McCain. Still, Pinnock, Belton and McCloud are all inexperienced safeties — with McCloud converting to the position this season. Not keeping an experienced player like McCain, at least for depth, would be a risk. Owens can likely walk through to the practice squad.
IN: PK Graham Gano, P Jamie Gillan, LS Casey Kreiter
Out: LS Cam Lyons
No surprises here.
Your thoughts, Giants fans? How far off is this premature projection?