Predicting the Final 53-man Roster
With the first round of roster cuts coming today at 4PM ET, it’s time for me to take my mid-preseason guess as to how the final 53-man roster will look come opening day.
In putting this together, there were clearly some difficult decisions that needed to be made. Indeed some of my projections will likely change if an unexpected injury strikes, but I’ve tried to give you as complete of a picture as I can based on what we’ve seen so far in the practices and in the games.
So without any further delay, here’s my guess at the Giants’ final 53 … feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section, below.
Who Stays: Eli Manning, David Carr
Who Goes: Sage Rosenfels, Ryan Perrilloux
Rosenfels’ $3M base salary and bad back (which has caused him to miss practice time) aren’t a promising combination. Just ask former OL Shawn Andrews about bad backs and big contracts. Meanwhile, Perrilloux will probably end up on the practice squad unless someone snaps him up.
Running Backs (4)
Who Stays: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Brandon Jacobs, RB André Brown, Henry Hynoski (FB)
Who Goes: RB DJ Ware, RB Charles Scott, RB Da’Rel Scot
The reason why I have Ware as not making the roster is because of the little things he doesn’t do that he should be doing. He’s a very talented runner but sometimes he has those brain wave blips and ends up doing something that just gets under your skin and makes you question whether he’s paying attention to the details necessary to be successful.
I like what I’ve seen out of Brown in games and in practices – he’s been running well and seems to have no lingering affects from his Achilles injury suffered as a rookie in 2009. I think as of right now he has the slight advantage for a roster spot as I don’t think he’s been committing nearly as many brain blips as Ware.
I struggled over whether to keep Da’Rel Scott because he’s worked very hard in camp. However coming in, I figured he’d be a long shot for the final 53, though I think he has a legitimate chance at ending up on the practice squad.
Hynoski is the only true fullback on the roster. He’s still a little rough around the edges, but once he puts in a full year with an NFL team learning the tricks of his craft , I think he has a chance to be very close to what the Giants had with Madison Hedgecock in 2007 and 2008. No, make that better since Hynoski actually has show that he can hang onto a pass out of the backfield whereas Hedgecock lacked in that department.
Tight Ends (2)
Who Stays: Bear Pascoe, Travis Beckum
Who Goes: Daniel Coats, Christian Hopkins, Jake Ballard
If there is one area that has me most concerned on offense, this would be it because so far no one has really jumped out to make the position his own. Beckum has the talent to be a receiver, but if you’re looking for him to be a full time blocker, forget it. As for Pascoe, yes, he’s had a rough summer, but I think his experience at fullback saves him this year.
I went with only two tight ends, by the way, because the Giants traditionally like to use an offensive lineman as the third tight end in the jumbo package. So I don’t see them carrying a third tight end; instead, I see that roster spot going to another unit where injuries have hit.
Who Stays: Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, Devin Thomas, Victor Cruz.
Who Goes: Darius Reynaud, Duke Calhoun, Todd Watkins, Michael Clayto
Depending on who you choose to believe, Barden is either getting close to returning from the PUP list, or he still has a ways to go (I, by the way, choose to believe the head coach as players tend to be more optimistic about their return from injuries.)
Regardless of how close Barden may or may not be to returning, he is on the verge of missing the entire pre-season — I seriously doubt he’d be ready to play against the Patriots even if he does come off PUP this week.
I did consider putting Barden on the PUP list, where he’d have to stay for 6 weeks. In the end, I went against that because he was able to do some running last week which would indicate he’s made some favorable progress. I do think he’ll be back sometime early in the season and before the requisite 6 weeks that he’d otherwise be out if he were placed on PUP. I just couldn’t take an educated guess as to when.
I think because of Barden, that will save Victor Cruz, who in my opinion has not been as impressive this year as he was last year. I hate to take anything away from a guy, but as I’ve said in the past, I can’t get excited about what he did last year against the Jets’ scrubs in preseason considering he really didn’t do much of anything after that when he had his chances.
Offensive Line (9)
Who Stays: David Diehl, Will Beatty, David Baas, Chris Snee, Kareem McKenzie, Mitch Petrus, Kevin Boothe, James Brewer, Jamon Meredith
Who Goes: Chris White, Jarriel King, Brant Clouser, Ikechuku Ndukwe, Jamon Meredith, Jim Cordle, Adam Koets (PUP), Stacy Andrews
The key to putting together the offensive line projections is to make sure you have sufficient depth at every position and can create different line combinations should injuries strike. So with my picks above, the Giants would have strong depth at tackle (Diehl, Beatty, McKenzie, Boothe, Meredith, and Brewer) and guard (Snee, Diehl, Petrus, and Boothe).
The depth at center (Baas, Boothe, Snee, and Petrus) could use a boost, but I think once Koets comes off PUP — and I would be absolutely stunned if he doesn’t start the season on PUP — the depth issue will be rectified.
Defensive Line (7)
Who Stays: Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Dave Tollefson, Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph, Chris Canty, Jimmy Kennedy
Who Goes: Gabe Watson, Craig Marshall, Ibraham Abdulai, Justin Trattou, Alex Hall, Ayanga Okpokowuruk, Marvin Austin (IR), Rocky Bernard, Alex Hall
Normally I’d keep an extra defensive end because of the injury situation with Umenyiora, who despite the optimism that he could be back by opening day, probably won’t be ready. That means the team will need to protect itself if Umenyiora isn’t ready. Rather than add an extra defensive end, I believe the Giants will move Mathias Kiwanuka to end in an emergency.
If you’ve noticed nothing else about Tom Coughlin’s teams, notice that a lot of the players are versatile enough to play multiple positions. This is one such instance where having versatility will allow flexibility in assembling the roster, especially in other areas such as the skilled positions.
Who Stays: Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff, Mathias Kiwanuka, Greg Jones, Clint Sintim, Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich
Who Goes: Phillip Dillard, Adrian Tracy
I know many people want to see Clint Sintim gone, but he’s a second-round draft pick who is coming back from knee surgery. The Giants, under Jerry Reese, have NEVER, at least as I recall, given up on a second round draft pick and certainly not one whose season was cut short the year before. I don’t see that starting now.
Paysinger? I think he’s going to be that guy that no one expected to make the final 53 but who comes out of nowhere to surprise a few people. He’s done well when taking snaps with the first team, which means he’s faced a higher level of competition in games, and that can only help his case.
As for the cuts, I think this year’s crop of rookies is one of the strongest they’ve had in recent memory – so strong that I think Dillard and Tracy, both draft picks last year, are in grave danger of losing their respective roster spots, especially considering neither has really jumped out this summer.
Defensive Backs (10)
Who Stays: Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, Prince Amukamara, Brian Williams, Michael Coe, Joe Burnett, Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Deon Grant, Tyler Sash
Who Goes: Brian Jackson (IR/Back), Derrick Martin, Jarrad Tarrant, Darnell Burks
Note: Terrell Thomas has already been placed on IR. Brian Witherspoon (knee) and Bruce Johnson (Achilles) were both waived, but will likely be added to IR when the dust settles.
Typically, the Giants like to carry five corners; I’ve added a sixth because this is another situation where the Giants have a player (Amukamara) who is not going to be ready to start the season due to injury, but is still someone they think will contribute at some point this year. So I’ve chosen Joe Burnett as my sixth corner, though that selection comes with an asterisk because I think another cornerback will be added once the final roster cuts are announced and the Giants see who’s out there.
Who Stays: Zak DeOssie (LS), Matt Dodge (P), Lawrence Tynes (K), Rhys Lloyd (K)
Who Goes: Steve Weatherford (P)
Yes, I know all about Matt Dodge’s not-so excellent punting adventures last season. Although he did have his share of clunkers, he was also often victimized by poor coverage, which is why those of you who were calling for the guy’s head won’t get your wish any time soon.
So why do I have Dodge sticking over Weatherford? I think last year Dodge had a lot thrown at him in terms of the coaches changing his punting mechanics around. I often got the impression that Dodge wasn’t really comfortable last year; I don’t get that impression now.
I also think the kid has more upside. He has a strong leg and I think with some additional experience, he could develop into a more than serviceable punter who could also double as the kickoff specialist (there’s that ‘versatility’ word again!)
Lastly, I have the Giants carrying two kickers because – you guessed it – injuries. Tynes apparently will not kick the rest of the preseason and while he has made some progress, there is a big question mark hanging over whether he’ll be ready for the start of the season.
I think the Giants will initially protect themselves until they know for sure that Tynes is ready by hanging onto Lloyd. One Tynes is ready, then I can potentially see the Giants replacing Lloyd with either another tight end (if one is available) or perhaps another defensive end.
Have a thought on my Final 53? Post a comment below!