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2018 Team Report: New York Giants

Offensive Philosophy

For most of his career, quarterback Eli Manning has performed best in a vertical passing offense paired with a power running game. The last half-decade, however, has seen the Giants transition to a more traditional West Coast offense, and by 2018 the team is fully saturated with talented skill position players who dominate in the short-to-intermediate range. Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s best route is the slant, and the most exciting new additions are tight end Evan Engram and running back Saquon Barkley, who naturally operate closer to the line of scrimmage.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Eli Manning
Backup(s): Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta [R]

Starting QB: Eli Manning enters his 15th NFL season in familiar territory - as the Giants starting quarterback. Had you been on a year-long mission in space, Manning's position atop the depth chart might seem like a foregone conclusion. Why wouldn't the 2-time Super Bowl champion be in the lineup? Yet, most NFL fans know Manning's position looked far from certain a few months ago. After a 2-9 start, head coach Ben McAdoo shocked the world by benching Manning in favor of Geno Smith. That decision was the nail in McAdoo's coffin, and Manning was returned to the huddle for the final four games. With a new general manager - Dave Gettleman - and a new coaching staff led by head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula, Manning's future was yet again in question. However, Gettleman passed on the top quarterback prospects with the 2nd overall pick in favor of Saquon Barkley and effectively promised Manning his starting role for at least the 2018 season. The passing game suffered mightily last year, as the Giants ranked first in attempts but 31st in yards per attempt. Inefficiency abounded as the offensive line struggled and the run game was non-existent. Manning has been an above average quarterback for most of his career, and the hope is a rebuilt offensive line, and more innovative coaching will return the veteran passer to respectability.

Backup QB: The Giants drafted Kyle Lauletta in the fourth round. The 6'3", 216-pound passer played at Richmond and is considered a developmental prospect. Lauletta is a sound decision-maker and has a pro-level ability to read defenses. Arm strength is a question, but not enough of a concern to condemn Lauletta to backup duties forever. His level of competition will be a question until he gets into training camp and starts competing regularly against elite defenders. The rookie is set to compete against Davis Webb, who was in Lauletta's position a year ago. Webb was a 3rd round pick in 2016 and talked about as the possible heir apparent in a few seasons. Webb hasn't done anything to lose his shot at replacing Manning down the line, except he was drafted by the former general manager. Lauletta is Gettleman's guy, which gives him the edge for the #2 duties sooner rather than later.

Running Backs

Starter: Saquon Barkley [R]
Backup(s): Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman, Terrell Watson, Jalen Simmons
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: Saquon Barkley is the centerpiece of new general manager Dave Gettleman's rebuilding project. While the Giants eventually need to address the quarterback situation, the running game was in sorrier shape. The former Penn State Nittany Lion dominated high-level competition and is considered the best overall running back prospect in years. Barkley will step into the starting lineup immediately, and offensive coordinator Mike Shula will build a ball-control, play-action offense around the powerhouse rookie. Barkley is 5'11", 223-pounds and has blazing speed and vision. He has the patience and leg drive to thrive on inside runs, and the breakaway speed and lateral agility to embarrass opposing linebackers outside the hash marks. As if his rushing skills weren't enough, he's a natural receiver. Ideally, Barkley will play a multi-faceted role similar to the way the Rams utilized Marshall Faulk in his prime.

Backup RBs: 11-year veteran Jonathan Stewart signed with the Giants this offseason after a decade in Carolina. In doing so, Stewart reunites with Mike Shula, his coordinator with the Panthers from 2013-2017. Stewart won't have to carry the load anymore and will instead serve as a mentor and occasional fill in for Saquon Barkley. Wayne Gallman acquitted himself well in a difficult situation last year and has a lock on the #3 spot.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard
Backups: Cody Latimer, Roger Lewis, Keeon Johnson, Kalif Raymond, Travis Rudolph, Canaan Severin, Hunter Sharp, Marquis Bundy, Amba Etta-Tawo

Starting WRs: Odell Beckham is unquestionably one of the best receivers in the league, yet somehow Giants fans and NFL pundits fail to embrace him because of a mix of maturity concerns and diva-like behavior. Rumors of his being on the trading block persisted in the spring, but nothing came of the chatter. Through three seasons, Beckham trailed only Randy Moss with 4,122 receiving yards and also ranks #2 behind Jarvis Landry with 288 receptions. His 35 receiving touchdowns in his first three seasons rank him 5th. Last year things didn't go as planned; Beckham suffered a gruesome ankle injury against the Chargers and missed the majority of the season. The silver lining is Beckham sustained the injury in early October, giving him more time to recover before the 2018 preseason gets underway. With arguably the best cast of supporting options in his career, Beckham may take a slight step back statistically, but should still vie with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones for top honors at the position. Sterling Shepard is entrenched opposite Beckham and must also shake off injury concerns. Shepard had an uneven 2017, but improved in most areas, including yards per catch (from 10.5 to 12.4), receptions per game (4.1 to 5.4), yards per game (42.7 to 66.5), and catch rate (61.9% to 70.2%).

Backup WRs: Cody Latimer lost confidence early in his career because he couldn't handle Peyton Manning's criticism. It would be ironic if Latimer resurrects his career playing with Eli Manning, but his role is far from secure. Roger Lewis returns and is a suitable role player but ill-equipped to play major snaps if Beckham or Shepard get hurt. The rest of the receiving corps is a collection of unheralded journeyman and unproven youngsters.

Tight Ends

Starters: Evan Engram
Backups: Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams, Kyle Carter, Ryan O'Malley

Evan Engram burst onto the scene as a rookie, and was arguably the lone bright spot in an otherwise disappointing year for the Giants. His 64 receptions are the third best in NFL history for a rookie tight end, as Engram's smooth route running and aggressive nature afforded him a fast start at a position that usually takes two or three years of seasoning. Engram benefited from Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham missing time, and the lack of a ground game, but what he'll lose in targets this year he'll make up for with better coaching and his own maturation. Rhett Ellison is a hybrid contributor who plays an H-back role, and his role is in question given the new coaching staff's offensive philosophy. Jerell Adams is the likely #2 thanks to his blocking ability, but Kyle Carter and Ryan O'Malley could unseat him with strong preseasons.

Place Kicker

Aldrick Rosas, Marshall Koehn: Aldrick Rosas was a failure in his first year as the Giants kicker, making only 18 or 25 field goal attempts and 20 of 23 extra point attempts, but the Giants didn't make any big moves to upgrade from Rosas in 2018. If you're looking for a silver lining, Rosas was 3-3 from 50+, but the Giants would still be remiss if the best competition they bring in for Rosas is Marshall Koehn.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Kalif Raymond

The Giants have historically preferred to give all of their return duties to a single specialist. Kalif Raymond at times filled that role in 2017, averaging 6 combined returns per game. The problem is that he only spent six games on the active roster as he bounced on and off the practice squad. He should continue in his role in 2018, provided he's able to secure a spot on the 53-man roster in the first place.

Punt Returners: Kalif Raymond, Odell Beckham

The Giants have historically preferred to give all of their return duties to a single specialist. Kalif Raymond at times filled that role in 2017, averaging 6 combined returns per game. The problem is that he only spent six games on the active roster as he bounced on and off the practice squad. He should continue in his role in 2018, provided he's able to secure a spot on the 53-man roster in the first place. While Odell Beckham is too important to handle returns full-time, the Giants have loved giving him punt return opportunities in high-leverage situations, or using him to bridge the gap between return specialists.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Brett Jones, John Jerry, Ereck Flowers
Key Backups: Chad Wheeler, John Greco, Patrick Omameh, Adam Bisnowaty, Jon Halapio

The Giants rebuilt the left side of their line this offseason, bringing in Nate Solder from the New England Patriots to play tackle and drafting Will Hernandez in the second round of the NFL draft to play guard. Both should be instant upgrades over last year's starters. Center Brett Jones is being given the chance to start full time after the team let Weston Richburg hit free agency. Right guard John Jerry could be pushed by Patrick Omameh, who arrived from the Jacksonville Jaguars via free agency. Ereck Flowers will get a chance at right tackle but will have an extremely short leash. Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty are other tackle options. Overall the Giants' offensive line ranks as a low-tier option headed into the season.

Team Defense

New defensive coordinator James Bettcher is rebuilding the defense from the ground up, including switching to a 3-4 defensive front. Bettcher's defenses in Arizona were known for aggressive blitzing, and he's promised a similar approach with the Giants. The team is also expected to play in the nickel 60-70% of the time, according to the coaches. The team is counting on a handful of new faces to improve a defense that ranked at or near the bottom of all the key defensive categories last year, including points allowed (27th), yards allowed (31st), penalties (27th), sacks (29th), and fumble recoveries (23rd). Kareem Martin replaces Jason Pierre-Paul at left end, and Alec Ogletree (acquired via trade) will anchor the strong-side. Rookies B.J. Hill (defensive end) and Lorenzo Carter (outside linebacker) will get the chance to play right away. Watch Landon Collins' recovery from a second arm surgery this offseason and how Eli Apple fits in with a new regime after the old one seemed done with him. The Giants will still be great at stopping the run, but to come out of the fantasy defense cellar, they'll need to take to Bettcher's coaching on defense, with a possible assist from a revived offense under Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Kareem Martin, NT Damon Harrison, DT Dalvin Tomlinson
Backups: DE Kerry Wynn, DE Josh Mauro, NT Robert Thomas, DE B.J. Hill [R], DT Josh Banks, DT Jordan Williams

Starting DL:

Backup DL:

Linebackers

Starters: OLB Vernon Olivier, OLB Derrick Matthews, ILB B.J. Goodson, ILB Alec Ogletree
Backups: OLB Avery Moss, ILB Ray Ray Armstrong, ILB Mark Herzlich, OLB Lorenzo Carter [R], ILB Calvin Munson, ILB Curtis Grant, ILB Thurston Armbrister, OLB Avery Moss, OLB Romeo Okwara

Starting LBs:

Backup LBs:

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Eli Apple, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Curtis Riley, SS Landon Collins, FS Darian Thompson
Backups: CB Teddy Williams, CB B.W. Webb, CB Brandon Dixon, CB William Gay, CB Jeremiah McKinnon, CB Donte Deayon, S Michael Thomas, S Andrew Adams, S Ryan Murphy, S Tim Scott

Starting DBs:

Backup DBs:

Last modified: 2018-06-16 12:30:32