With the draft, preseason and cutdowns taking place since my last article, I think it’s time we take stock of the Giants prior to the beginning of the season later this week. Here are five things that have happened since then:
With Daniel Jones signing his mega contract back on March 10th, the focus then turned to Saquon Barkley, who had just been tagged. Not a problem; they’ll figure out something long-term and it’ll all be fine, except it wasn’t.
As the offseason progressed, it was clear that the Giants and Barkley were still quite far apart in their negotiations, leading to Barkley’s decision to skip OTAs until a deal was reached. Unfortunately, as the deadline approached, there were murmurs that negotiations hadn’t progressed to an acceptable level, and despite the two parties only being “a couple of million apart” a long-term deal was not reached.
With no longer-term deal now achievable until next offseason, the risk of Barkley sitting out games became a real possibility before Joe Schoen and Barkley’s representatives were able to agree on a new one-year, $11 million deal. With the deal done, Saquon reported to training camp and was a full participant in all camp activities, apart from the preseason games.
Rookie Classes Preseason
Joe Schoen had a stellar second draft as Giants general manager, as all seven of his 2023 picks have made the 53-man roster. Here is how they each fared:
Round 1: Deonte Banks, Cornerback
Banks may have had a rough start in training camp, but he’s become more comfortable with the schemes and system. He’s also been impressive in his two preseason outings, not allowing a single reception on four targets, solidifying himself as a starting corner this season.
Round 2: John Michael Schmitz Jr., Center
After quickly building rapport with Giants quarterback Jones, Schmitz has been one of the better players on the interior of the offensive line. Like Banks, he only played in two games, but unfortunately, there were mixed results. Again, he will be the starter at his position.
Round 3: Jalin Hyatt, Wide Receiver
After flashing some highlight plays in training camp, the preseason games have been a bit different. Game one saw him finish with -4 yards on one reception, whereas in game two, he had four receptions on five targets for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Round 5: Eric Gray, Running Back
Gray has pushed hard to carve out a spot on the Giants roster. He briefly appeared at his natural position, finishing the preseason with seven rushes for 11 yards and a touchdown while adding four receptions for 48 yards. He’s predominantly been on returning duties, which is where his role will likely be this season.
Round 6: Tre Hawkins III, Cornerback
One of the surprise standouts in camp, Hawkins, may have surpassed even his own lofty ambitions. He’s even been given first-team reps, pushing veteran Adoree Jackson out to the slot corner position. Other than one missed tackle, he’s been very impressive throughout the preseason games.
Round 7: Jordon Riley, Defensive Tackle
Another rookie who grasped his opportunity with both hands Riley has taken starter reps during the preseason and has been a monster, disrupting the opponent’s offensive line and earning four stops.
Round 7: Gervarrius Owens, Safety
In a crowded room, Owens was able to outplay veteran Bobby McCain and earn his spot. He’s appeared in all three preseason games, recording nine tackles, three pressures, and only one reception on four targets.
Another Couple of Trades
Another couple of areas that needed some depth, or, in the context of linebacker, potentially starter help, were also addressed. On the 24th of August, the Giants acquired linebacker Isaiah Simmons from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a 7th round draft selection in 2024, and then on the 29th, the Giants sent a 2025 6th round selection to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for defensive end Carlos ‘Boogie’ Basham and a 2025 7th rounder.
Simmons, who was a 2020 first-round pick, started his career in outstanding form, resulting in his selection to the All-Rookie team. Since then, he has struggled to nail down a position, and in 2022 alone, he split snaps between slot corner and inside linebacker but also had snaps at outside linebacker, wide cornerback, and both safety positions. With the Cardinals covering $5.4 million of his $6.5 million cap hit this year, this is another one of those low-risk, high-reward moves that Joe Schoen is becoming known for.
Basham was a sixth-round selection by the Bills in 2021, a move that Basham attributes to current Giants GM Schoen. In his introductory presser, Boogie said, “Schoen was one of the first scouts that contacted me, talked to me in the process, and he was like, ‘I really want you in Buffalo.’ I knew it was going to happen eventually; I just had that bond with him before he left Buffalo”. In 23 career games, he has recorded 37 tackles (20 solo, five for a loss), one fumble recovery, eight QB hits, 4.5 sacks, and one interception.
Another year and another offseason where we are talking about the offensive line. This year, the worries stem from the rotating guard position, where it seems that no one wants to take control of the starting spots, and the horrific depth behind tackles Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal.
During the preseason, the Giants give opportunities to Mark Glowinski (2 games), Ben Bredeson (3), Josh Ezudu (3), Shane Lemieux (3), Sean Harlow (3), and Marcus McKethan (1), with all but Bredeson scoring below a 62 PFF grade. While some have performed well in pass blocking, interior run blocking is almost nonexistent, stifling the efforts of the running backs.
Right, onto the backup tackles… With the Giants needing a solid swing tackle option, Wyatt Davis, Matt Peart, Korey Cunningham, and Julién Davenport all saw ample time to show their credentials, but none of them were even acceptable. Seven of the nine sacks and 25 of the 44 pressures the Giants gave up came from these four players, meaning we’ll likely have to pray that neither Thomas nor Neal have issues unless we can pick up a cut player on waivers since Peart and McKethan stuck around.
With the rules on cutdowns changing this season, many players have had longer to make an impression; however, the Giants still had to trim the roster down to the final 53 players. Here are the unfortunate players that are no longer with the Giants:
LB Darrian Beavers, DE Ryder Anderson, DE Kobe Smith, S Alex Cook, CB Gemon Green, TE Ryan Jones, OLB Tomon Fox, LB Ray Wilborn, LB Dyonte Johnson, OL Tyre Phillips, QB Tommy DeVito, LS Cam Lyons, WR Kalil Pimpleton, OLB Habakkuk Baldonado, RB Jasaun Corbin, WR Collin Johnson, RB James Robinson, DL Kevin Atkins, DL Donovan Jeter and CB Darren Evans.
Terminated (Vested Veteran)
CB Amani Oruwariye, WR Cole Beasley, WR David Sills, OC Sean Harlow, OLB Oshane Ximines, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Jaydon Mickens, DL Brandin Bryant, OL Julien Davenport, OT Korey Cunningham and OLB Tashawn Bower
The Giants have however re-signed the following to their practice squad: Ryder Anderson, Alex Cook, Tomon Fox, Oshane Ximines, Cole Beasley, Dyontae Johnson, Amani Oruwariye, Ryan Jones, Darrian Beavers, and Tommy DeVito.
They’ve also added running back Taiwan Jones, cornerback Kaleb Hayes, wide receiver Dennis Houston, tight end Tyree Jackson, guard Jalen Mayfield, and tackle Jaylon Thomas.