On Thursday morning, I published on Bleacher Report a position-by-position breakdown of who I thought the New York Giants 53-man roster might shake out.
The reason why, for those wondering, I published that article Thursday morning was simply a matter of meeting an editor imposed deadline.
All the while, I had planned to do a final roster projection following the Giants’ fourth and final preseason game. While I don’t have a lot of changes to that initial projection, there are a few.
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning, Geno Smith, Davis Webb
Josh Johnson might have had his best showing of the preseason, going 11 of 14 for 135 yards and a touchdown, but if you’re looking at the complete body of work, Geno Smith was more consistent in moving the offense down the field. Smith finished 36 of 54 for the preseason (66.7%), throwing for 355 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Johnson, thanks to his strong showing Thursday, finished 22 of 34 (64.7%) for 239 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. While the numbers between both are compatible, Johnson didn’t have quite the success on passes of more than 15 yards that Smith had.
Running Backs: Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Wayne Gallman, Orleans Darkwa
I originally had Shaun Draughn going to IR based on the neck injury he was said to have suffered against the Jets, but Draughn not only showed up for the preseason finale, he finished with a team-leading 54 yards on 14 carries (3.8 avg.).
Still, unless the Giants don’t carry a fullback, I don’t see how there is room for Draughn, who is a very good special teams player, by the way, on this roster. Orleans Darkwa, his competition, averaged 6.6 yards per carry in this same game (40 yards on six rushes). Darkwa’s 90 yards were second on the team, behind rookie Wayne Gallman’s 103.
Fullback: Shane Smith
I’m sticking with the Giants carrying a fullback. However, if the Giants want a fullback that can blow guys out of the hole, I wonder if they try to upgrade at that spot because thus far, the Giants deployment of the fullback has mostly been to block the edge, a job that a tight end could handle. If they’re going to carry a fullback, I would think they’ll want someone who can ram it up the middle on a consistent basis.
Tight Ends: Rhett Ellison, Evan Engram, Jerell Adams
While Matt LaCosse had a huge game against the Patriots, I wonder if it might be a case of too little too late. Again, I look at the production in the receiving game, and while neither LaCosse or Adams has eye-popping stats in the preseason—LaCosse raised his average reception total to 8.3 yards per catch, Adams to 9.0—I wonder if the Giants would give up on Adams, a draft pick who’s only in his second season, this quickly.
I also wonder if maybe they try to swing a trade for LaCosse to a tight end needy team—maybe the Baltimore Ravens, for example. (I’ll explore this possibility in another article.)
If I were going with four tight ends, LaCosse would be my fourth and there wouldn’t be any doubts. If the Giants are going to have whoever is blocking from the fullback spot only attack the edge, it makes sense to keep a fourth tight end. If, however, they keep a pure fullback, I think they stick with three tight ends, and I think LaCosse, for as strong as a summer as he’s had, along with Will Tye are the odd men out.
Receivers: Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, Roger Lewis, Dwayne Harris, Travis Rudolph
No changes to my receiver predictions. I think Travis Rudolph sealed the deal for himself.
I’ve been very intrigued by Ed Eagan, who for some reason reminds me of Phil McConkey. Eagan is a little spark plug out there, and while he openly managed to haul in one of three pass targets for 19 yards, he did manage a 9.0 average on punt returns which might be practice squad worthy if he clears waivers.
And yes, I think Tavarres King (ankle) goes to season-ending injured reserve.
Offensive Line: Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Bobby Hart, Brett Jones, D.J. Fluker, Adam Bisnowaty
If I’m being honest, I think Chad Wheeler has played better of late than Adam Bisnowaty. The question is would the Giants drop Bisnowaty after trading up to get him in the sixth round this year?
What I think is going to happen is the Giants will roll the dice in trying to slip Wheeler through to the practice squad. I also am convinced they will scour the waiver wire for veteran help at tackle as right now, they really don’t have anyone who can step in for either Ereck Flowers or Bobby Hart.
If they do pick up a veteran offensive tackle, I think it makes sense to drop Bisnowaty and try to get him through to the practice squad, which is where I think he would benefit most.
The other spot I struggle with is D.J. Fluker. Fluker has certainly upped his game the last two weeks, but if you’re looking a t the complete body of work, then on Halapio should have the edge if he’s competing with Fluker for a roster spot.
Halapio has size (6-3, 315 pounds), he has shown he can move defenders out of the hole, he can function in space and he plays a disciplined game. If Fluker ends up being a surprise cut, Halapio could be the surprise who, as Jerry Reese likes to say, “steps out of the shadows” for a spot on the roster.
Defensive Ends: Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Avery Moss, Kerry Wynn, Romeo Okwara
I originally had Jordan Williams making the team, but I think they might try to slide him through to the practice squad and use the roster spot on another defensive position.
Williams has played well this summer and brings the backup long snapper aspect to the team, but on second glance, they have too much at this spot to where I think they can probably get away with carrying five to start the season.
Defensive Tackles: Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jay Bromley, Robert Thomas
No change here, but it was interesting that Tomlinson, a rookie didn’t play Thursday night with the rest of the starters. Reading between the lines, it sure does look as though he’s won the starting job vacated by Johnathan Hankins.
Given the knee injury suffered by Jay Bromley, I think that helped Robert Thomas’ case.
Linebackers: Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, B.J. Goodson, J.T. Thomas, Calvin Munson, Keenan Robinson
I’m taking the extra spot previously devoted to the defensive ends and using it at linebacker because I still think Keenan Robinson (concussion) might be a candidate for Injured Reserve.
However, if they want to bring him back as one of their two short-term designees, Robinson has to be on the initial 53-man roster; he cannot be placed on IR during the initial cut down date as that would mean season-ending.
I would be shocked if Mark Herzlich (stinger) doesn’t end on season-ending injured reserve. The Giants know what they have in Herzlich, who’s been on the roster since 2011. But I think Calvin Munson is about to take that spot.
I think J.T. Thomas reinforced what I initially said in my projections: That he still has quite a bit of value as a potential backup in the middle and on the weak-side, plus in the nickel package.
Thomas played well in the presaeson finale after looking solid in the first handful of snaps he received last week. Combine that with his willingness to take a pay cut, and his place on the roster is a low-cost, low risk proposition.
Safeties: Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe, Eric Pinkins
I’ve added Pinkins back to the list because of his special teams play. I almost dropped Berhe from this list because over the preseason, it seems he’s missed a few tackles that he used to make, which is quite uncharacteristic of him.
Cornerbacks: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Michael Hunter, Donte Deayon
For those who wondered why I had Nigel Tribune making my initial 53, it was because I figured that if they started tweaking the roster, Tribune would be among the first to go before even setting foot on the field to take a regular-season practice rep.
Well, I’m still concerned about the injuries to Michael Hunter and Eli Apple, but I’m even more concerned about Donte Deayon and the prospect of him ever having to play outside.
We saw Thursday how a 6-4 receiver beat the 5-9 Deayon in the end zone. Deayon might play with a lot of heart, but with teams generally having at least one big receiver, you can bet they’ll try to match that receiver against Deayon every time he’s on the field, just as you can probably safely bet the Giants might try to add at this spot as well.
Specialists: LS Zak DeOssie, P Brad Wing, K Aldrick Rosas
No change here as Rosas has passed every single pressure test that came his way.