The New York Giants open training camp on July 27 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:
QUARTERBACKS (3): Eli Manning, Josh Johnson, Davis Webb
The plan is to carry three quarterbacks after selecting Webb in the third round. He’ll likely serve as the third-string QB this season. The question is whether Johnson or Geno Smith wins the backup job behind Manning. It could hinge on how quickly Smith picks up the offense.
RUNNING BACKS (5): Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Wayne Gallman, Orleans Darkwa, Shaun Draughn
Perkins has already been pegged the starter and Vereen remains the passing-down back after missing most of last year with a torn triceps. Darkwa and Draughn stick because of their all-around skill set, including their ability to play special teams.
FULLBACK (1): Shane Smith
The Giants want to have a fullback, despite not carrying one last season. It’s between Smith, a rookie out of San Jose State, and converted running back Jacob Huesman. The more experienced blocker and natural fullback, Smith earns the job.
WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris
This is going to be among the fiercest competitions. Roger Lewis and Darius Powe can contribute as receivers, but they miss out because the Giants see Harris as their special-teams ace. King, meanwhile, proved late last season that he was underutilized and deserves more opportunities to make plays. He looked good again this spring.
TIGHT ENDS (4): Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Matt LaCosse, Jerell Adams
The Giants have depth at tight end with Engram being selected in the first round, Ellison signed as a free agent and LaCosse returning from injury. Something tells me Will Tye becomes expendable (via trade) late this summer, as long as this group can remain healthy. His pass-catching skills aren’t needed with Engram on the roster.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart, Adam Bisnowaty, Chad Wheeler, John Jerry, D.J. Fluker, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Adam Gettis
Not a lot of change in this group from last year. Only a sixth-round pick (Bisnowaty) and undrafted free agent (Wheeler) are added to the mix. It’s a risky approach considering the line’s struggles in 2016. Pressure is on Flowers and Hart, especially with mostly inexperienced options in reserves. Guard/center Brett Jones is the odd man out in this group. Gettis’ ability to play center allows him to serve as Richburg’s backup.
DEFENSIVE ENDS (5): Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Devin Taylor, Avery Moss, Romeo Okwara
The Giants’ roster is heavy on defensive ends. As a result, Kerry Wynn and Owa Odighizuwa, who spent the spring handling personal issues, aren’t on the list. The Giants are especially high on Okwara and Moss, and if Taylor proves to be a quality rusher from the interior on passing downs, he’ll have a spot. Pierre-Paul and Vernon are the unequivocal starters and rarely come off the field.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4): Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Corbin Bryant, Jay Bromley
It comes down to Bromley or Robert Thomas for the final spot. This is a make-or-break season for Bromley, a third-round pick in the 2014 draft. Thomas was claimed off waivers last year and was active for eight games. Bryant’s ability as a run-stuffer makes him more likely to stick after Johnathan Hankins left as a free agent this offseason.
LINEBACKERS (5): Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, B.J. Goodson, Keenan Robinson, Mark Herzlich
Herzlich will face competition from rookie Calvin Munson and Deontae Skinner for a special-teams role. But it’s hard to bet against the veteran at this point. Herzlich seemingly finds a way to stick every season, and this year is no different. The rest of the Giants’ linebacking corps is set. Casillas, Kennard, Goodson and Robinson are locks.
CORNERBACKS (5): Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, Valentino Blake, Michael Hunter
The top three are set. Jenkins and Apple start on the outside and Rodgers-Cromartie has settled into a nickel role. Behind them it’s a free-for-all. Hunter looked solid this spring and should make a jump in his second season, and the Giants seem to like Blake. Donte Deayon could earn a backup nickel role, but his lack of size (5-foot-9, 158 pounds) hurts on special teams. It is possible the Giants will add another veteran corner this summer.
SAFETIES (4): Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe
Safety, like tight end, has suddenly become a deep position for the Giants. The fourth spot will have Mykkele Thompson — because of his ability to play nickel corner — Berhe and Eric Pinkins in the mix. Watch out for Pinkins. His special-teams ability makes him a threat. Berhe sticks as long as he’s healthy, because he’s still the best contingency plan in case anything happens to Collins. But Berhe has missed 25 games the past two seasons with injuries and was sidelined for more than half of last season with a concussion.
SPECIALISTS (3): Kicker Aldrick Rosas, punter Brad Wing, long-snapper Zak DeOssie
No surprises here. The Giants don’t even have another kicker on the roster. It’s Rosas’ job to lose. And if he does lose it, his replacement is coming from the scrap heap. DeOssie and Wing are set in their roles.