By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Pat Shurmur will now embark on finalizing the Giants 53 man roster and evaluated the players they assembled thus far. Based on their current personnel, I project six positions that should be of interest to see how it all plays out and which players will eventually be a part of the final roster. Here’s a look at my top 5 positions in training camp that should garner the most competition and could come down to the final day to decide who makes the cut:
Jon Halapio: Halapio won the starting job at center to start the 2018 until he fractured his ankle and leg in the second game of the season. Both GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Pat Shurmur have given Halapio high praises for his hard work and improvement and believe the best is still to come. It’s still unclear if Halapio is the front runner at this point.
Spencer Pulley: GM Dave Gettleman re-signed Pulley to a three year deal, so he must feel confident of Pulley’s ability and his performance in the second half of the season last year was no fluke. Pulley is fully expecting to be the starter for the Giants in 2019 as does Halapio, this is a win-win situation for the Giants as the loser will add much needed depth at the center and guard position.
Evan Brown: Brown was a UDFA signee in 2018 and impressed the coaching staff enough to be placed on the practice squad. Brown’s technique is sound, but still needs to improve his strength level to handle the grind in the trenches. Brown’s a long shot to make the roster, but the Giants should and most likely will place him back on the practice squad.
James O’Hagan: O’Hagan is a bit undersized at 6’1/300, but he possesses great footwork and technique. O’Hagan relies on quickness off the snap and maintains proper separation between him and his opponent by uses his hands well. O’Hagan could out- perform Evan Brown and make some noise in training camp.
Sam Beal: Beal missed the entire 2018 season with a shoulder injury after being selected in the supplemental draft. GM Dave Gettleman surrendered a 2019 3rd rounder to get him; which would have been the 71st pick in this year’s draft. Beal has a reputation of being a solid corner that can play man to man cover well and also defend the run.
DeAndre Baker: GM Dave Gettleman traded back into the 1st round (seven spots) to select Baker, so there must be something that he really likes in Baker. Baker was a rock for the Georgia Bulldogs and was nearly flawless in coverage. Baker is a pure playmaker and has a nose for the ball. Baker has an edge over the other corners to start alongside Jenkins.
Julian Love: Beal and Baker are not the only corners to keep an eye on when training camp begins. Keep an eye on the Notre Dame product Julian Love as he will garner some attention throughout training camp. The Giants are hoping these three corners play well and develop this year; which would most likely lead to the release of Janoris Jenkins in the off season.
Corey Ballentine: Ballentine excelled at Washburn and the Giants are banking on his superior athletic ability to transition smoothly at the Pro level. Ballentine would be a welcome addition to a group of young cornerbacks that the Giants have brought in this off season.
Wide Receiver Depth:
Bennie Fowler: Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are cemented as the top two receivers on the depth chart, however; both players are very similar in both size and style of play. Fowler has good size at 6’1/217 and gave the Giants solid production off the bench.
Cody Latimer: Latimer was the Giants 3rd receiver last season before his injury, so many expect him to be the front runner entering training camp this season.
Corey Coleman: Coleman signed with the Giants midway through the 2018 and gave the team some life and energy; especially on special teams. The former 1st round pick will be in contention for that 3rd wide receiver spot from day one.
Darius Slayton: Slayton was taken in the 5th round in this year’s draft and is arguably the fastest receiver (4.39) coming into camp. At 6’2/190, Slayton offers some length and could give the Giants that deep threat to help stretch the field.
Russell Shepard: Shepard is a long shot to win the 3rd spot for the Giants, but offers solid value off the bench to provide depth in case of injuries.
Lorenzo Carter: Carter is penciled in to replace Olivier Vernon for 2019 and showed tremendous promise in his rookie campaign. Look for him to take it up a notch in 2019.
Kareem Martin: Martin underachieved in 2018 and could be on the outside looking in by opening day. Martin needs to improve in all areas if he expects to start or even make the final cuts.
Markus Golden: Golden a one year deal and basically playing for his football life in 2019. Giants are hoping he can regain his Mojo from 2016 when he recorded 12.5 sacks.
Oshane Ximines: Ximines will get plenty of opportunity to un-seed Martin in training camp. Gettleman thought very highly of Ximines with his selection in the 3rd round over other prospects such as OT Bobby Evans and Yodny Cajuste. Hopefully; his decision pays off.
Avery Moss: Remember him! Moss spent the 2018 season on the practice squad and dress for a few games for the Giants after showing a little promise in 2017. The Giants haven’t given up on him and Moss needs to stand out and shine in pre-season to gain a roster spot. It’s a long shot, but stranger things have happen.
Chad Wheeler: Wheeler is currently still listed as the starting Right Tackle in 2019, despite having a PFF rating of 49.5. Gettleman’s decision to wait until the 7th round to draft an OT could backfire, but many expect the Giants to sign a free agent tackle soon.
Brian Mihalik: Milhalik looks the part at 6’9/290, but he lacks experience and his overall technique and is still a work in progress. At best, Milhalik goes back to the practice squad.
Nick Gates: Gates played the entire 2018 season on the Giants practice squad and would need to impress the coaching staff in order to earn a roster spot. Bets are Gates does not.
George Asafo-Adjei: Asafo-Adjei was Gettleman’s second to last pick in the 2019 draft and many projected Asafo-Adjei as a guard at the Pro level. Asafo-Adjei benefitted more in his development during practices than in games as he battled 1st round pick Josh Allen. Asafo-Adjei could make the 53-man roster due to his versatility to play multiple positions on the line.
Final Thoughts: These five positions should provide the most bang for your buck in terms of who will emerge to win a spot and who will not in training camp. Like every year, expect someone to emerge and take the spot light and earn a roster spot unexpectingly. Who that will be is currently unknown, but it will be fun to watch it all unfold.