The New York Giants ultimate goal is to win Super Bowl 53, but three players may come away with individual awards at the end of the season.
Football is the ultimate team sport as it takes all 11 players on the field gelling together and becoming a cohesive unit as they try to compete for a championship.
The New York Giants know all about this as they’re the only franchise in the NFL to have won a Super Bowl in each of the last four decades.
While winning a Super Bowl takes precedence over any individual award, a few Giants are poised to win some individual awards in 2018. Here are three Giants set to win individual awards.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley
When the Cleveland Browns decided to take Baker Mayfield with the first pick in the draft, they did the Giants a huge favor as this allowed them to take Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. Barkley was highly regarded as the best offensive player in the draft, and he gives the Giants a dynamic every down back that they haven’t had since Tiki Barber.
The Giants will get the ball in Barkley’s hands early and often in the ground game as well as the passing game. With an improved offensive line, Barkley has the potential to have 1,500 all-purpose yards and should be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year.
Three out of the last five Offensive Rookie of the Year winners have been running backs (Eddie Lacy 2013, Todd Gurley 2015, and Alvin Kamara 2017). No rookie is expected to have a bigger impact on their team in 2018 than Barkley, so expect him to make it four times in the last six seasons.
Comeback Player of the Year: Odell Beckham Jr
Nobody sets a goal at the start of their careers to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year as it means they would have a setback at some point in their career. But that is the position Odell Beckham Jr is in after his 2017 season ended prematurely in Week 5 due to a fractured ankle.
Anytime Beckham has played at least 12 games in a season, he’s had at least 91 receptions, over 1,000 receiving yards, and double-digit touchdowns. He’ll be one of the favorites to win this award along with Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, and David Johnson.
Beckham wants a lucrative contract and the best way to do that is to show that he is still one of the best players in the game. With the addition of Barkley, opposing defenses will have to respect the Giants ground game. This will open things up in the passing game for Eli Manning and Beckham. He could be poised to set a career high in touchdown receptions which will help his case in becoming Comeback Player of the Year.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Eli Apple
It has been a rough two years in the NFL for Eli Apple. If you ask him, even he will admit that he has not lived up to being selected with the tenth overall pick in the 2016 draft.
In his two years with Big Blue, he has underperformed, been benched, suspended for the 2017 season finale, and was called a cancer by Landon Collins. Following the 2017 season, there was a cloud of uncertainty if he would be in the Giants plans for 2018.
But general manager Dave Gettleman, and head coach Pat Shurmur have given Apple a clean slate, and in OTAs and minicamp, Apple seemed more mature and confident in his abilities.
In defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s aggressive blitz scheme defense, Apple will often be in man to man coverage. With quarterbacks trying to throw away from the Giants top corner Janoris Jenkins, Apple will see many balls thrown his way which will create opportunities to defend passes and come up with interceptions.
Apple will turn 23 on Aug. 9 and if he can finally play up to his potential, he can join former Giants Osi Umenyiora (2005) and Victor Cruz (2011) in winning the Most Improved Player award.