Ranking New York Giants Position Units Before Training Camp – Sports Illustrated

The New York Giants came into the 2022 offseason with a new front office and coaching staff looking to turn the roster into a winner. 
Through a series of strategic moves that included bidding farewell to players such as safety Logan Ryan, cornerback James Bradberry, and tight end Evan Engram, the Giants are turning over a new leaf.
They brought in a mix of mostly low-cost veterans to supplement a very promising-looking rookie draft class, but it remains to be seen if the job done by general manager Joe Schoen and his staff has the team on the right track.  
The Giants completely revamped their tight ends group in the off-season to get better production.
The Giants' Week 7 meeting with the Jaguars will mark a first for New York in the regular-season series history.
We conclude our New York Giants' 2022 training camp roster previews with a look at Oshane Ximines, a young edge rusher who needs a bounce-back camp.
As the Giants get ready to report to training camp by the end of the month–the rookies come in on July 19 and the veterans a week later–let's rank each position group's strengths ahead of the start of the final shaping period.  
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The tight ends aren't last on the list because they’re bad; rather, this is a position that underwent a complete overhaul in the off-season, raising some questions about what the team truly has in this unit and how they will be deployed.
Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, and Kaden Smith went out the door and were replaced by Jordan Akins, Ricky Seals-Jones, and rookie Daniel Bellinger.
Bellinger, the team's fourth-round pick, is intriguing. He saw first-team reps during the OTAs, where he looked smooth catching passes from quarterback Daniel Jones.
Bellinger's blocking ability stands out as well from his college days, and he looks like an all-around tight end that this team has lacked for years.
While Bellinger didn’t exactly blow up the stat sheet at San Diego State–he wasn't deployed much in the passing game–he has the potential to be a force in this offense as the featured tight end.
At San Diego State, he caught 31 receptions for 357 yards and two touchdowns (zero drops) last season. The Aztecs ran a mostly run-heavy offense, which helped Bellinger develop as a run-blocker.
Akins has the most game experience in this group, having appeared in 58 career games and catching 114 passes for 1,260 yards and three scores since entering the league in 2018.
Seals-Jones, who is on his fifth team in the last six seasons, comes over from rival Washington, where he caught two touchdowns and racked up 271 yards last season. 
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After three seasons, a time when a team should have an idea of what they have regarding their franchise quarterback, the Giants still do not know if Daniel Jones is their man moving forward.
New York wisely declined Jones's option year, and the pressure is on Jones to perform well this year if he wants to continue as the Giants' starting quarterback. 
To be fair, the last two years are not completely Jones's fault. He was stuck in an outdated system that didn't capitalize on everything he did well, he had an inconsistent offensive line in front of him, and his skill position players were never on the field at the same time.
Jones had 22 passing touchdowns the last two seasons combined–two fewer than the 24 he threw as a rookie. He also hasn’t thrown for over 3,000 yards since his rookie year. 
The one area where he did improve was turnovers, consistently reducing his fumbles every year, from 19 in 2019 to just seven in 2021. He still has a ways to go to prove that he can be the guy this franchise needs, and he will get that opportunity this year.
The Giants signed Tyrod Taylor to a two-year deal and brought back a familiar face in Davis Webb, the Giants' third-round pick in 2017, to help the offense grasp the intricacies of Daboll's offensive philosophies. 
In 2017, Taylor helped Buffalo to an 8-6 record and a playoff berth, snapping their 17-year drought. Taylor has been a journeyman quarterback for most of his career, with stops in Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, and Houston. 
Taylor brings a winning record and is widely considered a major upgrade over Mike Glennon, last year's backup quarterback who threw four touchdowns to 10 interceptions in four starts.  
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The Giants parted ways with James Bradberry in May after failing to find a trade partner or redo his hefty cap number. Bradberry, who had been the Giants' top cornerback, is now in Philadelphia, which means that Adoree’ Jackson projects as the new CB1 for the Giants. 
The big question with this group is who will fill the CB2 role. Based on the spring practices, Aaron Robinson projects to fill that role. Robinson, who missed most of his rookie campaign while recovering from off-season surgery, ended the year with three pass breakups in two starts.
Beyond Jackson and Robinson, the Giants have a lot of young but untested talent. They drafted Cor’Dale Flott out of LSU in April, and he could project as a rotational corner in his first year. Rodarius Williams was a standout during camp and preseason last year until he tore his ACL in Week 5. 
Darnay Holmes, who allowed 21 catches on 30 targets last season with one interception before his injury, is entering his third year and will compete to be the slot corner.
Even their veterans, Maurice Canady and Khali Dorsey, have limited game experience. 
The bottom line is that the Giants are one injury away from their projected starters to possibly having to plug in relatively inexperienced depth.
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Blake Martinez, the tackling machine, is coming off a torn ACL and agreed to a re-worked deal back in March to help create cap space. The defensive co-captain, who since 2016 is fourth in the league in tackles 428, is looking to pick up where he left off before his injury in a new system that could put more on his plate.
Tae Crowder, who started alongside Martinez in the base defense before taking on his role after Martinez was injured, finished the season with 130 tackles. According to NFL Savant, 90 of his tackles came three or more yards down the field.
After passing on re-signing veterans Jaylon Smith, Benardrick McKinney, and Reggie Ragland, the Giants brought in some young talent like draft picks Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers.
McFadden brings intensity to this linebacker corps. The Indiana captain had 6.5 sacks and 15.5 TFL in 2021. He was also graded as the highest pass-rushing linebacker in the Big Ten by Pro Football Focus and projects as an ideal fit into the blitz-happy scheme defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is said to be planning to run.
Beavers was one of the nation’s top linebackers last season and was a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award. Beavers has done well in coverage, particularly in zone coverage, allowing a 72.2 passer rating when targeted in 2021.
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The Giants cut ties with Logan Ryan earlier this offseason and lost Jabrill Peppers in free agency to the New England Patriots. That left them with star Xavier McKinney and the longest-tenured secondary member, Julian Love.
McKinney was the only player in the league last season with over 90 tackles, 10+ pass breakups, and at least interceptions, and he hasn't come close to hitting his ceiling.
Love's versatility was a key yet underrated component of the Giants' defense last year, and there's n reason to think that won't continue this year.
The Giants also added a safety in the draft, Dane Belton out of Iowa. Belton is a ballhawk who recorded five interceptions last year for Iowa and is expected to have a big role in the defense this fall.
Beyond that, the Giants are a little thin at the position. Jarren Williams, an undrafted free agent who signed with the team in 2020, showed flashes as a cornerback but will convert full-time to safety.
New York also has a couple of undrafted free agents worth keeping an eye on this summer, Yusuf Corker of Kentucky and Trenton Thompson of San Diego State.
Thompson has special teams experience— he ranked fourth in SDS school history with two blocked punts and recorded 13 tackles on special teams. If he can keep that going with the Giants, Thompson could find himself on the 53-man roster after camp.
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After another lackluster performance by the offensive line as a whole, Schoen took his turn at trying to fix a unit that has been an Achilles heel for several seasons. While it's early, some believe the Giants' offensive line is the best it's ever been, at least on paper.
Schoen added veterans Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, Max Garcia, and Jamil Douglas. He also drafted Evan Neal with the seventh-overall pick to book-end Andrew Thomas at offensive tackle.
Rookies Joshua Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan give the Giants some promising young talent that will be developed this year. Add to that the return of a (hopefully) healthy Thomas from his ankle issue, and it's hard not to be encouraged by this group.
Thomas, the Giants' first-round selection back in 2020, got off to a rough start as a rookie but quickly improved later in the year and carried that same momentum into 2021. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed just two sacks in 800 snaps last season, a big improvement from his rookie season, where he allowed ten sacks.
In Neal, the Alabama standout who will immediately start at right tackle, the Giants might finally see an end to their days of having a different starting right tackle every season. Neal is a giant, standing at 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds. He never allowed more than three pressures in a game during his college career and only allowed two sacks last season.
Time will tell if the offensive line is improved, but the earliest impressions give one hope that the unit is finally on its way to seeing its days of being the Achilles heel end. 
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Saquon Barkley highlights a Giants running game that last year averaged 99.3 rushing yards per game, 24th in the league, and also tied for last in the league in rushing touchdowns (8) with the Dolphins.
We all know what Barkley can do when healthy, and he finally has a solid offensive line to run behind. The Giants are hoping that will be the case this year and that the new offense should get Barkley out into space much more where he was so dynamic in his rookie campaign when he racked up over 2,000 all-purpose yards, will do the trick.
The Giants signed former 49ers and Bills running back Matt Breida to share some of the workload with Barkley. The third running back spot on the team is up for grabs from a group that includes former Bills runner Antonio Williams, Giants holdovers Gary Brightwell and Sandro Paltgummer, and undrafted rookie free agent Jashaun Corbin.
Talent at this position paired with a solid line and a new system could help this Giants rushing attack, which finished 17th in the league during Barkley's rookie season, get back on track.
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The Giants' receivers were among the most disappointing units on the team. When not dealing with injuries, the lack of production bordered on alarming.
Their top three receivers–Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard–combined for one receiving touchdown, that by Shepard. While not helped much by the offensive scheme, it was an abysmal performance.
Golladay, the top free agent signing by the Giants, and Toney, their first-round draft pick, combined for 941 yards on 76 receptions and no touchdowns. Shepard got off to a hot start in Week 1, scoring once and accumulating 113 yards on the day.
And Darius Slayton, who led the team with eight touchdown receptions as a rookie, managed to add just 339 yards on 26 catches and two scores.
But it's a brand new year, and the Giants hope the new offensive scheme, which has emphasized getting the ball into their hands, quickly rejuvenates the receivers.
The Giants also added rookie Wan'Dale Robinson in the draft's second round. At the time, the selection of Robinson was a head-scratcher but based on his showing in college and during the spring practices, he might end up being the steal of the draft.
Robinson was a former all-state running back in high school before he switched to wide receiver in college. He was used as a hybrid running back/receiver at Nebraska before transferring to Kentucky, where he logged an impressive 1,334 receiving yards on 104 receptions and seven touchdowns.
Robinson was also deployed in the rushing game seven times for 111 yards. His versatility and skill set seems to fit that Isaiah McKenzie role that Daboll is likely looking to replicate with the Giants.
Although it's somewhat risky to base such a high level of optimism on potential, the fact remains that if this Giants receivers group stays healthy and on the field–a big if given its collective history — this group is about as talented as any of its contemporaries. 
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This position would have been near the bottom of the list a year ago. However, with the addition of rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Giants now have a solid young corps of edge rushers capable of putting consistent pressure on the quarterback.
Thibodeaux will team up with Azeez Ojulari, the Giants’ 2021 second-round pick, who led the team in sacks last year with eight. Ojulari alone wasn't enough to create consistent pressure on the edge despite his production.
With Thibodeaux opposite of him, Ojulari, who added muscle to his frame this off-season, should be much more productive.
Quincy Roche, a waiver-wire pickup at the start of last season, also showed flashes, including a game-winning strip-sack of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Roche isn't necessarily an every-down pass rusher, but as a situational rusher, he was as physical as they came and did a good job setting the edge.
Then there is Elerson Smith, the Giants' fourth-round pick out of Northern Iowa last year. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound Smith, who mostly lined up as a defensive end in college, missed a lot of time his rookie year due to injury, but his raw athletic ability could help him see reps as a rotational pass rusher.
Oshane Ximines, who was somewhat forgotten last year after being banished to inactive status by the previous coaching staff for the second half of the season, has also dealt with injuries that have kept him from building on an otherwise encouraging rookie season in which he recorded 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits. He would appear to be a longshot to make this roster, but he can certainly help himself with a productive and healthy summer camp.
The Giants defensive line is still a solid unit despite some key losses over the last two offseasons. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson departed for Minnesota in 2021, and his successor, Austin Johnson, left earlier this year to sign with the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Giants have a history of developing solid defensive tackles only to let them walk out the door. However, the defensive line currently possesses strong talent across the board. Highlighted by Leonard Williams, who led the team with 11.5 sacks in 2020 but dipped to 6.5 last year, and Dexter Lawrence II, who has flashed thus far with nine sacks and 14 TFL, new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has a solid core on that unit.
That said, this group needs to improve in stopping the run. Last year, the run defense ranked 25th in the league, allowing 129.0 rushing yards per game, a steep drop off from the prior season when they finished 11th (111.4 yards/game).
New additions like veteran nose guard Justin Ellis and rookie draft pick D.J. Davidson are being looked at to add more depth to the unit.
Ellis reunites with Martindale, as they both were in Baltimore before joining New York. He knows what to expect in Martindale’s defense and provides a veteran presence.
Davidson, the fifth-round pick in this year’s draft, recorded 31 run stops last year at Arizona State as a senior. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Davidson has the potential to be a solid defensive interior player in this league as he continues to refine his technique and learn the nuances of the pro game.
Andrew Parsaud is currently attending Penn State, where he is studying digital journalism and media. He is an avid follower of the major New York sports teams. 

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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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