Author Archives: Felix Davila

New York Giants final 53-man roster projection

The preseason is over for the NFL and the New York Giants are headed to the regular season. While the first meaningful game action is nearly two weeks away, these next two days are integral to the Giants’ season. Roster cut downs are important and often lead to surprise cuts, signings, and even trades.

Then there’s the question of how many players per position are retained. Do the Giants keep a large swath of receivers? Do they claim a pass rusher off waivers to bolster that group? It remains to be seen. But until then, I’m taking a crack at the final 53-man roster, which will be officially determined by Tuesday, August 29th at 4:00 PM.

Giants’ Joe Schoen & Brian Daboll // Photo via

Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: Offense

Quarterback (2): Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor

Our projection of the Giants’ final 53-man roster starts at the top: Quarterback. We all know Daniel Jones is a given, but the real question was how the Giants’ backup job would work out. Tyrod Taylor is a long-time veteran at the position in the league, but rookie Tommy DeVito from Illinois flashed this preseason with a solid arm and good athleticism. Taylor, on the other hand, looked gun shy and very panicky, oftentimes resorting to using his legs at the immediate sign of pressure.

My prediction is that the Giants will lean on the veteran to take the backup wheel, considering he played mostly with second-team players. What would Taylor do with the new starting offense? That’s a great question. DeVito, though, should easily make the practice squad given his gameplay.

Running back (4): Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Jashaun Corbin

This may be the easiest position to observe on roster cutdowns given the proven talent at the position. Barkley is a guarantee, Breida is a high-quality backup who flashes as a pass blocker, and rookie Eric Gray is a 2023 fifth round pick with return ability. Jashaun Corbin flashed on some reps and James Robinson was recently released. Gary Brightwell had injuries and hasn’t seen much playing time, despite his special teams ability.

Wide receiver (7): Darius Slayton, Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard, Cole Beasley, Wan’Dale Robinson

So far, this is the largest group of players to be retained. The first four are nearly guaranteed, but the uncertainty rests with those last three roster spots. I think Sterling Shepard makes it given his veteran leadership and excellent play — so long as he’s healthy. Cole Beasley boasts great play as a slot player and has familiarity with Brian Daboll. Wan’Dale Robinson was last year’s second round pick, so he’s also a near given to make it. I do believe Bryce Ford-Wheaton makes the practice squad.

Tight end (4): Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick

Darren Waller is a bonafide threat to be the Giants top target all season, with Bellinger serving as a solid second option on two tight end sets. Cager presents a similar profile to that of Waller, as a receiving threat more than a blocker. While Tommy Sweeney knows coach Daboll from their time in Buffalo, he recently had a “medical event”, plus Chris Myarick has an entire season of play and knowledge of the playbook that I think gives him an edge. Add in Myarick’s play as a fullback at times, and he presents some backfield versatility for running schemes.

This is the first position that could potentially earn a pickup off the waiver wire or via trade, so Myarick isn’t a guarantee to make it.

Offensive line (9): Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, John Michael Schmitz, Ben Bredeson, Mark Glowinski, Joshua Ezeudu, Tyre Phillips, Marcus McKethan, Shane Lemieux

I fully expect the first five players listed here to be the starting offensive line come Week 1, although Joshua Ezeudu is definitely competing for a guard spot given his run game prowess. Tyre Phillips presented promising swing tackle play and spot performances when Neal was injured last year. Marcus McKethan had a solid preseason. The last roster spot is a toss-up between Jack Anderson and Shame Lemiuex, especially given Wyatt Davis’s injury in the final preseason game.

This is a position that I fully expect the Giants to pursue off waivers or via trade. The tackle spots behind Thomas and Neal are frighteningly thin, and those who played performed horrifically all preseason.

Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: Defense

Defensive line (5): Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, A’Shawn Robinson, Jordan Riley

The Giants defensive line may be one of the easier to predict. Lawrence and Williams are absolutely on the roster, and Nunez-Roches and Robinson were free agent additions that helped to bolster a strong interior group that lacked depth last year. Jordan Riley is a late draft pick who flashed plenty this preseason.

EDGE/OLB (4): Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Tomon Fox

This is another position that I could see the New York Giants looking to pursue via waiver wire, free agency, or trade. Thibodeaux and Ojulari are no doubt the starters with Ward coming in as that rotational EDGE who provides solid run defense. Ximines and Fox battled for a spot but, for my money, Fox edged Ximines out. I could see the Giants keeping Habakkuk Baldonado, an undrafted free agent this year, on the practice squad.

Inside linebacker (5): Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden, Darrian Beavers, Isaiah Simmons, Carter Coughlin

Okereke and McFadden are the front-running starters to this point, but don’t be surprised if Simmons overtakes McFadden given his rare athletic ability. Based on their preseason outing against the Jets, I could also see Simmons playing some outside linebacker as a pass rusher, furthering his value to the team. Darrian Beavers also presents good depth and has competed with McFadden. Carter Coughlin will make it off his special teams talent, plus a few flashes against the Jets.

Cornerback (6): Adoree Jackson, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins III, Cordale Flott, Darnay Holmes, Nick McCloud

While carrying only five defensive backs may be tricky, the Giants have already let go of two defensive backs and those remaining outside of the above names weren’t playing well enough to earn a roster spot. The trio of Jackson, Banks, and Hawkins will likely see plenty of time on the field, with Flott boasting versatility for inside and outside play. McCloud will definitely make it given his versatility as well, stepping up last season on the boundary and flashing some safety play too.

Safety (4): Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Gervarrius Owens

There’s a chance that Bobby McCain doesn’t make the roster in favor of a different defensive back, especially given his injury this past weekend. McKinney and Pinnock are definitely the starters and Dane Belton provides solid depth at both positions, with some hints of ball hawking ability. Gervarrius Owens, a 2023 draft pick, should make it especially with the injury to McCain.

Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: Special Teams

Kicker Graham Gano, Long snapper Casey Kreiter, Punter Jamie Gillan

Ultimately, plenty of these positions could see changes in the players retained, but what matters is that the Giants keep on the best 53 players they possibly can to pursue their wins week in and week out. There may be some tough decisions to make at the end of the roster, but I think much of the team is clear from position-to-position. Let’s see what head coach Brian Daboll decides on.

Four dark horse impact players for Giants in 2023

The 2022 NFL season saw the New York Giants achieve something they had not done since 2016: Make the playoffs. It also included their first playoff victory since 2011, a year in which they won the Super Bowl. General manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have made a flurry of moves in an attempt to recapture that glory, including the signing of new and familiar faces that could be impact players for the Giants in 2023. 

Between new linebacker Bobby Okereke and the return of quarterback Daniel Jones, there’s a lot of expectation as for who could play a major role for the Giants in a 2023 playoff run. But which players aren’t exactly jumping off the page to be impact players? Who are dark horse impact players to succeed for Big Blue?

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll with whistle.
Photo credit: Corey Sipkin – NY Post

Giants Potential Impact Players: OFFENSE

Running back Eric Gray

The running back position has slowly become a committee approached position in the NFL and the Giants have talent to do that. Although Saquon Barkley just re-signed, the Giants added veteran James Robinson and have several others that can contribute to the ground game from Week 1. One stands out as a potential Giants impact player: 2023 fifth round pick Eric Gray. 

The former standout from Oklahoma never averaged fewer than 4.9 yards per carry in his collegiate career, along with nothing less than 5.5 yards from scrimmage. He amassed over 3000 rushing yards, as well. Gray possesses fine speed, good one-cut burst, and the natural hands to present a threat in the passing game. Additionally, he presents good pass blocking skills. That versatility as a back can allow the Giants offense to be productive even while giving starter Saquon Barkley a break. And being a rookie won’t necessarily hold Gray back. 

Since 2012, there have been 21 players who aren’t first round picks that have produced 800+ yard seasons. Of those 21 players, 12 were Day 3 picks or later, much like Gray. What constitutes a “good” season is subjective, of course, but it’s possible he can become a productive part of the offense without having to be the lead back. 

Wide receiver Darius Slayton

Much to the potential surprise of some Giants fans, Darius Slayton should be considered a dark horse to be a key cog impact player for the team. Why? Simply put, Slayton has been a consistent threat on the perimeter for Daniel Jones since his rookie season. Slayton has accrued 700+ yards in three of his four seasons in the NFL, and has two years with a 96.0 or higher passer rating. This includes a career year in 2022, where he notched career highs in yards per catch and yards per target.

While some may point to his lack of seasons with 50+ catches or 1000+ receiving yards, those same detractors should understand the lack of offensive efficiency over the course of Slayton’s career. From Pat Shurmur in Daniel Jones rookie year, to the Joe Judge era featuring an incredibly simplified offense that didn’t take advantage of his speed, Slayton produced despite such poor schemes. He’s easily been the Giants’ most valuable target on offense.

Now in his second year with Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, along with additions like tight end Darren Waller and rookie Jaylin Hyatt, Slayton will again be just another weapon fans may not pay attention to, but will produce when it’s necessary. He’s absolutely on track to be an impact player again.

Giants Potential Impact Players: DEFENSE

DL Leonard Williams

Defensively speaking, there are plenty of candidates who can contribute and become important pieces to the Giants. Young players like EDGE defender Kayvon Thibodeaux and defensive back Cordale Flott, who are both entering their second season, are prime examples. However, there are veterans who may become X-factors to the roster, even though they’re considered more established.

Enter Leonard Williams as a potential impact player for the Giants.

Williams has been a key cog in the defense since he was traded for by former general manager Dave Gettleman. Considering he hasn’t been asked to take a pay cut nor has been dealt again by the new Giants regime, it’s safe to say he has their confidence. With that being said, the Giants saw Dexter Lawrence take a massive jump to become one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. With Lawrence as a Giants impact player, that attention will no doubt become advantageous for Williams when blocking schemes develop on plays and open up one-on-one matchups for him. 

Additionally, the team added veterans Rakeem Nuñez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson, along with drafting former Oregon lineman Jordan Riley in the sixth-round. This depth provides a rotation of guys to keep bodies fresh, especially on run downs with that size, and allow someone like Williams to stay energized all game. 

The most important fact, however, is that Williams is a versatile player that presents not just run-stopping prowess but pass-rush ability. With the added bulk at the position, he’ll definitely be looked to as a pass rusher more heavily. I wouldn’t be surprised, barring health, if Williams has a good year and sees more snaps on passing downs than run downs, increasing his sack total from last season.

Whomever replaces Julian Love

While Julian Love’s departure, and even contract with the Seattle Seahawks, may suggest otherwise, the defensive back’s absence is a hole needing to be filled. Who will fill it is the question, but also the possible answer to another dark horse, key cog. 

Newly acquired defensive back Bobby McCain seems to be in prime position to be the replacement, given his versatility and veteran experience. But could someone like Dane Belton, a former 5th round draft pick, step up in place of Love, especially since he did so for Xavier McKinney already? How about Jason Pinnock, who has seen his share of starts in the league as well? 

My pick to be that Giants impact player is Nick McCloud. Acquired from the Bills last year, McCloud stepped in when Adoree Jackson was hurt, and played admirably. But more recently, he started at safety during OTAs this offseason, suggesting his small edge in the competition department.

Jackson referred to McCloud in an interview as a “Swiss Army Knife”, capable of doing whatever is asked of him. That value, along with his frame and athleticism, could make him an ideal Love replacement at safety full-time. 

Giants extend left tackle Andrew Thomas

The news continues to roll in East Rutherford for the New York Giants. Just a day after signing Saquon Barkley to a one-year contract, the Giants have announced that they’ve officially signed starting left tackle Andrew Thomas to a massive extension.

The contract is a five year, $117.5 million deal with an astounding $67 million fully guaranteed. That gives Thomas the highest guarantees of any offensive tackle in the NFL, and the highest in history at the position. It also makes him the second-highest paid tackle on an average per year salary, at $23.5 million. 

Signing Andrew Thomas gives the Giants their third major contract signing to retain players of their own this offseason. New York first signed quarterback Daniel Jones to a 4 year, $160 million extension. They then followed that up with signing Jones’ 2019 NFL Draft partner Dexter Lawrence to a 4 year, $90 million deal. 

Locking in Thomas on this deal extends him beyond the two years that were remaining on his contract prior to signing. This new deal locks Thomas into Giants blue for the next seven years, meaning he’s a Giant at least through the 2029 season, barring any changes to his play. 

What does Andrew Thomas’s signing mean for the New York Giants?

Overall, the signing of Thomas means that the Giants seriously wanted to secure their own talented players for the long-haul, unafraid of providing large money deals to those deserving. While Thomas’s career did start rough his rookie year, his play has seen improvement year-after-year until last season, when he was a stalwart blocker, allowing only 3 sacks total on a shaky offensive line. Additionally, Thomas is a disciplined player, only notching 10 penalties in his three seasons at the pro level. 

It also means the Giants are fully confident they’ve found their long-term left tackle in Thomas, which is a rarity that Giants fans are familiar with. The Giants have not had a consistent, reliable, stalwart-level left tackle since Will Beatty back in the early 2010s, and even then, Beatty wasn’t on par with Thomas.

Thomas’s signing is a signal the Giants are wanting to build their offense and protect their starting quarterback in Daniel Jones. However, even if Jones doesn’t pan out, the Giants have a two-year out on his contract and could replace him with a new passer who would still have Thomas as his blindside protector. 

All-in-all, it’s good business by Joe Schoen and the front office to navigate the salary cap to make such deals happen. Giants fans should be happy that the best offensive lineman on the team is staying for quite a while. 

Saquon Barkley officially returns to Giants

Photo Credit: Reaves – Getty Images

Breaking news came down from East Rutherford, New Jersey yesterday, as New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley has agreed to a one-year deal with the team. The news came early Tuesday morning after what was months of negotiations, a failure to extend at the franchise tag deadline, and rumors that he’d hold out. Barkley’s signing comes on the heels of training camp and after the team secured veteran insurance in free agent James Robinson.

Saquon Barkley’s contract is a one-year deal (his franchise tag), worth $10.1 million, but the Giants added $909,000 incentives and provided a $2 million signing bonus. The upfront bonus and incentives were no doubt enticing, considering it was better than the initial tag offer that had neither provision. 

The New York Giants social media team announces it official.

What was the drama over Saquon Barkley?

Initially, the Giants were in negotiations to re-sign Saquon Barkley to a long-term extension that would keep him in Giants blue for several years. After several roster moves and the retainment of quarterback Daniel Jones, however, it seemed like Barkley’s value took a backseat. The team failed to come to an agreement and, instead, designated Barkley with the franchise tag. Thus began the current saga to determine what Barkley’s future in New York would be. 

Things between the Giants and Barkley remained at a standstill for quite some time. The Giants wouldn’t budge off their initial offers and brought those numbers down once the tag deadline passed. Barkley held firm as well, fighting for his value, but the deadline’s passing meant he’d have to play on the tag. This led Barkley to attend a “running backs-only” Zoom call in which other athletes at the position around the NFL discussed the state of their financial prospects moving forward as a whole. 

However, Barkley promptly came to an agreement on his deal with the Giants Tuesday. His agreement puts him in position to be the third highest grossing running back in the league for potentially the next two seasons if he maxes out this current deal and is tagged next year.

What does Barkley’s return mean for the Giants?

What it primarily means is that the Giants just retained a major weapon in their offensive arsenal. They’re in prime position to now head into camp developing the team chemistry and opening the playbook further under offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. And they’ll be doing so with their best running back on the field. It means that Barkley actually values his teammates and the organization, given his decision to sign even though it was for only slightly more money. 

It also means that Saquon Barkley now has an opportunity to prove his worth as a running back, unquestioned. Regardless of if he was worth a massive extension now or not, he’ll have a shot to show that in the second year of what is a modern, dynamic offense. This is something the Giants hadn’t had in years until head coach Brian Daboll and Kafka arrived. It’s something that he’ll need in order to hit his incentives too, which encourage a well-rounded season for the dynamic running back: 

All in all, Barkley’s return is huge. And while it could be his last season with the team, given his desire to a long-term, higher money deal, it will be interesting to see how this offseason drama and his incentive-laden contract will motivate the young phenom to perform. 

Without a doubt, Barkley has the passion and care for the game and fans. Here’s hoping Barkley remains healthy and can show the world his worth.

Giants add insurance for Barkley; sign James Robinson

Photo Credit: by Rob Carr – Getty Images

Amidst the recent signing of another offensive player in Cole Beasley, the New York Giants soon after added young running back James Robinson. Formerly known for his time in Jacksonville as the once lead back for the Jaguars, injuries and a head coaching change led to his departure.

The addition of Robinson comes on the heels of the news that Saquon Barkley, the Giants star running back, could not come to a long-term agreement on a contract. As such, indications point to Barkley missing camp and not reporting to the team until just before Week 1. This leaves the Giants with a need to add another back to the position room.

Robinson is another option given Barkley’s possible absence.

The brief career of Robinson 

A former star high school running back in the state of Illinois, James Robinson attended Illinois State University, where he rushed for over 4000 yards and 40+ touchdowns. Eventually hitting the NFL, Robinson was added to the Jaguars roster as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. He was announced as the team’s starter after making the team in camp.  

Taking advantage of the spotlight, the then 22-year-old Robinson rushed for 1070 yards and seven touchdowns, adding 344 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. He was only the fourth undrafted player in NFL history to rush for 1000 yards in his rookie year. Overall, it was one of the more prolific starts to a Jaguars career, especially an undrafted one.

Unfortunately, things did not remain uplifting, as Robinson ran into clashes with former head coach Urban Meyer and then tore his Achilles tendon in Week 16 of the 2021 season. His injury slowed his ability to recreate his rookie year magic.  

Meyer and staff were eventually replaced with Doug Pederson’s coaching staff. Soon into the 2022 season, Robinson was dealt to the New York Jets in a trade since the Jags had first rounder Travis Etienne now taking the reins as starter. Ever since, Robinson has been more of a backup player, with only 425 rushing yards with the Jets and a brief stint with the New England Patriots that ended due to health concerns.

What does James Robinson bring to the Giants? 

Overall, Robinson is still just 24 years old, providing the Giants a young back to join the rotation of players behind Barkley, given the latter player’s expected holdout. Standing at 5-9 and 219 pounds, Robinson is a low-to-the-ground back with solid contact balance and surprising ability in the receiving game. He can be a liability as a pass blocker, but has shown much promise as a playmaker who could warrant a roster spot if he’s healthy and proves it in camp.  

That won’t be easy. Robinson joins a room including veteran Matt Breida, former sixth-round draft pick Gary Brightwell Jr, and recent 2023 NFL Draft fifth-round selection Eric Gray. There are plenty of snaps to be taken by each player in the absence of Barkley. If anything, Robinson provides a great low-risk, potential high-reward player with youth on his side.