If the New York Giants were to lose any of these 10 players to injury, 2017 would suddenly become a very long season for Big Blue.
After finishing last season 11-5 and earning a wild card berth, the New York Giants come into this season with huge expectations. Many are predicting the New York Giants will not only win the NFC East but that they will represent the NFC in Super Bowl LII.
To win a championship, it takes all 53 players coming together and making big plays when it matters most. But some players are more vital to the team’s success than others.
Here are the 10 most important Giants, the players that need to have a solid season for the team to have success this season.
1. Eli Manning
If Eli Manning has a down year or gets hurt and we have to see Geno Smith or Davis Webb under center, the Giants season is over. Finished. Out of all 53 players on the roster, nobody is as irreplaceable as their two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback.
With the weapons he has around him, Manning is poised to have one of the finest seasons of his career. If that happens, look for the Giants to go on a long, deep playoff run.
2. Ereck Flowers
Flowers is number two on this list because he’s responsible for protecting Manning’s blind side. Flowers’ struggles since the Giants drafted him in 2015 have been well documented, and most of the Giants offensive woes were put on him. He needs to improve considerably in this third season so that the Giants can be better running the ball and protecting Manning.
3. Landon Collins
Collins is as important to the defense as Manning is to the offense.
He was arguably the best defensive player in the league last season. His five interceptions in a four-game span last year were one of the main reasons the Giants went on a six- game winning streak and reached the postseason at all.
4. Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ is one of the few players that can score from anywhere on the field. If you don’t believe me, just watch what he did to the Cowboys in Week 14 last year.
Yes, he turned a short slant into a 61-yard touchdown.
No receiver in NFL history has caught more passes than OBJ in their first three seasons. Giants will continue to rely on him whenever a big play is needed.
5. Jason Pierre-Paul
He showed everyone last season that he’s still a top-tier defensive end in this league. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after the Giants 27-13 victory over Cleveland in Week 12. But his season was cut short by a core injury in Week 13 against Pittsburgh.
How much of a difference-maker was he?
Before his injury, the Giants had won six straight. Including the Steelers game and the playoffs, the Giants went 3-3 without him. The Giants need a healthy JPP if their defense is going to remain one of the NFL’s best.
6. Damon Harrison
The main reason why the Giants had the second-best run defense in 2016 was the addition of the 6-foot-3, 341-pound beast known as Damon Harrison. “Snacks” was named a first-team All-Pro in his first season with Big Blue, and the Giants will need him to continue to play at that level and be a mentor to rookie defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.
7. Brandon Marshall
Signing the six-time Pro Bowl receiver as a free agent was, by far, the Giants’ biggest offseason acquisition. At 6-foot-3, Marshall is the tall, physical outside receiver the Giants haven’t had since Plaxico Burress.
After years of struggling in the red zone, Marshall gives Manning a big target on fade routes into the corner of the end zone. That should lead to a more efficient offense inside the 20.
8. B.J. Goodson
One of the new faces to the starting lineup for the Giants defense is second-year middle linebacker B.J. Goodson. The coaches like Goodson’s aggressiveness, attention to detail, and high motor. Many feel the defense will be better this year than last year, and Goodson is one of the reasons why.
9. Paul Perkins
The Giants cut Rashad Jennings in the offseason because they believe Perkins is ready to be their No. 1 back. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 112 carries last season, but now he must show that he can maintain or improve on that average with a heavier workload.
10. Eli Apple
The Giants are hopeful that their second-year cornerback has a huge leap this season. Their top two cornerbacks, Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, are elite. If Apple can play near their level, the Giants will have the best defense in the league.