OTAs are over and the vibe around the Giants facility is the brightest it’s been in years. While there is a lot of hope for the future, I think it’s important to remember that this team still has a lot of holes. By cutting James Bradberry and Logan Ryan, Giants front office made it very clear that this is a rebuild focused on the future, not the present. While you should have hope for what’s to come, remember that it may not be so pretty this year.
With that warning – let’s take a look at the roster by position and then assign an overall weighted grade to the roster based on positional importance.
Starter: Daniel Jones
Reserves: Tyrod Taylor, Davis Webb
Daniel Jones has 50 total touchdowns (45 passing 5 rushing) and 49 total turnovers in 3 seasons. He has a record of 12-25. It’s been ugly. Until proven otherwise, I think it’s safe to say that Jones is a bottom tier QB. Moving onto Taylor, he’s a solid back up that can play in a pinch, but as a starter he would fall in that bottom tier with Jones. Davis Webb is nothing more than a coach with a helmet.
Grade: D+ (68)
In football, it’s all about the starting QB. Jones has given the Giants D+ results over the last 3 seasons and is really only getting one crack at being the starter because this QB class was so bad.
Starter: Saquon Barkley
Expected Reserve: Matt Breida
Battling for Roster Spot: Gary Brightwell, Jashaun Corbin, Antonio Williams, Sandro Platzgummer
The running back room is the Saquon Barkley show for as long as Barkley can stay healthy. Barkley has missed 21 games over the last three seasons and saw his yards per attempt dip to 3.7 yards last season. A better offense to utilize Saquon’s skillset and a healthier Saquon should help Saquon have a bounce back year. The depth behind Saquon Barkley is questionable at best AND THAT’S OKAY! This is the least important position on the field. Matt Breida has 75 carries over the last 2 seasons, Antionio Williams has been on the Bills practice squad for the last 2 seasons, Gary Brightwell could only muster a single carry last season, and Jashaun Corbin (who we think could make this team as a UDFA out of FSU) and Sandro Platzgummer haven’t taken NFL snaps. RB is such a scheme dependent position that the Giants will be just fine with this group of guys.
Grade: B (85)
Until Saquon can prove that he can stay on the field, you’re forced to hamper your expectations. It’s hard to predict injuries, so it’s quite possible Saquon plays a healthy 17 games and is heavily involved in the offense. It’s also possible he misses a big chunk of the season.
Expected Starters: Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard
Expected Reserve: Wan’Dale “Dale” Robinson
Battling for Roster Spot: Darius Slayton, Richie James, CJ Board, Robert Foster, David Sills, Collin Johnson, Alex Bachman, Khalil Dorsey, Travis Toivonen, Keelan Doss, Austin Proehl
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard can’t stay healthy. Dale Robinson is going to take some time to come on like a lot of rookie WRs do. Darius Slayton has been banished to the second team with Golladay, Toney, and Shepard all out. The rest of these guys are UDFAs, young practice squad players, and journeyman backups. The WR group is a work in process.
Grade: C (75)
On paper, the skill position group looks like it COULD have potential. But we’ve been saying that for 3 straight years now. I’m not falling for it again. I think fans should be excited to see Toney and Robinson this season and realize that the rest likely don’t have a significant future with this team.
Expected Starters: Dan Bellinger
Expected Reserve: Ricky Seals-Jones, Jordan Akins
Battling for Roster Spot: Chris Myarick, Austin Allen, Andre Miller
Is it mean to say LOL? This has to be the weakest position group on the team. Seals-Jones caught 30 passes last year in a mostly reserve role for Washington. Akins caught 24 in a similar role for Houston. Dan Bellinger will need some time to develop as a route runner. From OTAs, it looks like UDFA Austin Allen out of Nebraska has a shot to make the roster. This just isn’t a good group.
Grade: F (55)
The Giants basically ignored this position in free agency and used a day 3 pick on Bellinger. Looking at Brian Daboll’s offense, the tight end doesn’t come with significant usage. Dawson Knox only saw 71 targets last season. I actually liked Bellinger as a prospect but expecting a rookie TE to come in and make a significant impact just isn’t wise. This group is just bad.
Expected Starters: LT Andrew Thomas, LG Shane Lemieux, C Jon Feliciano, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Evan Neal
Expected Reserve: OT Matt Gono, OT Korey Cunningham, OG Joshua Ezeudu, OG Marcus McKethan, Nick Gates (likely heading to PUP then IR)
Battling for Roster Spot: OT Matt Peart (PUP – candidate), IOL Max Garcia, IOL Ben Bredeson, OG Jamil Douglas, OT Roy Mbaeteka, OG Josh Rivas
This is the best offensive line the Giants have had in years. Andrew Thomas is a starting LT in the NFL. Mark Glowinski is an average guard. Evan Neal has top RT potential and should immediately step in and be a huge upgrade over Nate Solder. Jon Feliciano is serviceable. Shane Lemieux was the worst offensive lineman in the league in 2020 and missed all last season. There isn’t a ton of depth, but this is a serviceable line with some great pieces to build on moving forward.
Grade: B– (80)
Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal are the stars of show, but the interior of the line still needs work. Feliciano is a placeholder and Lemieux is worrisome at the LG spot. This position is MUCH improved over the Dave Gettleman tenure and the future seems bright.
Interior Defensive Line
Expected Starters: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Justin Ellis
Expected Reserve: DJ Davidson
Battling for Roster Spot: David Moa, Jalyn Holmes, Jabari Ellis, Christopher Hinton, Ryder Anderson
Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence are respectable starters on the defensive line. Williams has had at least 47 pressures in each of the last 3 seasons and while Dexter Lawrence wasn’t first round pick worthy in 2019, he is a very good run plugger that can mix into the passing game. Justin Ellis is a 7-year veteran that can be a plug and play kind of guy for the season. The depth behind this unit is a work in progress made up of entirely rookies (except for David Moa and Jayln Holmes)
Grade: B (85)
Leonard Williams has 18 sacks over the last 2 seasons and finally has some EDGE rushers next to him. You could argue that Williams is currently the best player on the roster. Combine that with the fact that Lawrence is a quality starter, and you have a really solid starting unit (REMINDER – you’re playing nickel majority of the time so you’re only going to have 2 IDLs on the field).
Expected Starters: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari
Expected Reserve: Jihad Ward, Elerson Smith
Battling for Roster Spot: Oshane Ximines, Quincy Roche, Niko Lalos, Tomon Fox
Kayvon Thibodeaux is the new face of the franchise. Dan and I have been shouting this from the mountaintops since draft night. He has all the potential to be a true alpha pass rusher. Azeez Ojulari was exactly what we expected last year – a super raw talent that showed bursts of excellence. I expect him to take the next step this year. Is there a whole lotta depth behind these guys? No, not really. But you have two building blocks at edge rusher for the first time in years. Elerson Smith and Quincey Roche are interesting guys to watch during training camp this year. They have an opportunity to carve out a role as the third EDGE rusher.
Grade: B– (80)
This is a young group that lacks depth. The talent at the top (Kayvon and Ojulari) have all the potential in the world. We just need to give them time to continue to develop. The Giants front office still needs to build up the depth behind these guys, but I think we have the right to feel excited about where this position group could be headed.
Off Ball Linebacker
Expected Starters: Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder
Expected Reserve: Micah McFadden, Darrian Beavers
Battling for Roster Spot: Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, Justin Hilliard
Joe Schoen worked his magic and got Blake Martinez to restructure his contract, saving this position group from the gutter. Tae Crowder just isn’t a starting NFL player and expecting day 3 picks like McFadden and Beavers to make a consistent impact on the defense as rookies just isn’t fair. It also seems like after OTAs that Beavers is a little bit ahead of McFadden on the pecking order. Expect the Giants to deploy a lot of 3 safety looks in an effort to hide a glaring weakness.
Grade: C- (70)
The best player in the position group is coming off an ACL tear. The Giants are going to need someone from this group to player better than you’d expect them to in order for LB to not be a glaring hole on the field. I expect to see McFadden or Beavers slowly replace Crowder as the season goes along but there’s only so much you can expect from a rookie, day 3 pick.
Expected Starters: Adoree Jackson, Aaron Robinson, Darney Holmes (slot)
Expected Reserve: Cordale Flott
Battling for Roster Spot: Jarren Williams, Maurice Canady, Rodarius Williams, Michael Jacquet, Zyon Gilbert, Darren Evans
This position group took a big hit with the loss of James Bradberry. Bradberry was just too expensive to not fit the scheme of Martindale’s defense. Jackson, Robinson, Holmes, and Flott are the guys likely to see a majority of the snaps if everyone can stay healthy. Maurice Canady has been around Martindale during his career and played solid football in 2019, which was the last time he saw significant NFL action. Jarren Williams also played well in the last 5 games of 2021 and has some versatility playing some safety during OTAs.
Grade: B- (80)
A large part of this group will depend on how well Adoree Jackson plays and if he can stay healthy. If Jackson can take on the Marlon Humphrey role of the defense, then the Giants should be able to help out youngsters like Robinson and Holmes in coverage. I think fans will be pleasantly surprised with this group. Robinson and Jackson fit the scheme like a glove and the regime seems to really like Flott as their future nickel corner.
Expected Starters: Xaiver McKinney, Julian Love
Expected Reserve: Dane Belton,
Battling for Roster Spot: Yusuf Corker, Henry Black, Trenton Thompson
I’m gonna go ahead and piss some of you off – the Giants really don’t lose much by cutting Logan Ryan. Xaiver McKinney is already an above average starter, and I think a year 3 jump is coming. Julian Love is a serviceable starter at safety with the versatility to play in the box and at nickel CB. The Giants are going to miss Jabrill Peppers – no question about it, but he barely played last season anyway. Expect Dane Belton to get a lot of playing time as the Giants play 3 safeties to hide their weakness at the ILB . Yusuf Corker, a UDFA from Kentucky, is a dark horse to see some quality snaps this season as well.
Grade: C (75)
This unit will be good enough next season. Xaiver McKinney is one of the few guys from the last regime that has the potential to stick around for a while. Love is a quality player. Not a great unit but it’ll get the job done.
OVERALL ROSTER GRADE
Here’s the deal – Mike Clay of ESPN has a GREAT breakdown on how to score a roster. He assigns a weight to each position to come up with a score by unit. It does exclude special teams so we’ll be doing that here as well. I made some slight tweaks but most of his grading scale is still intact.
So, there you have it. The Giants roster this season is a 74. It’s not a great football team. We don’t expect it to be a great football team. However, Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll are going to need time to turn the ship around. They had a very nice-looking offseason in 2022. We’re excited for the future – you should be too.