Julian Love, De'Andre Baker
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman added depth to the roster this offseason which will create some interesting position battles.

Jason Leach

The New York Giants were back on the practice field on Tuesday and although we’re months away from the preseason, on paper, this team is deeper than last year’s version.

With a deeper roster and several key positions up for grabs, we will see several key position battles throughout the spring and summer. Here are the most important position battles to watch for in the lead up to the 2019 season:

Who will be the primary backup to Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman or Rod Smith?

Saquon Barkley will, of course, get the bulk of the carries this season. But Pat Shurmur won’t run Barkley into the ground because he’ll want him to be fresh for fourth quarters. That leaves Wayne Gallman and Rod Smith vying for the bulk of the backup carries next season.

Gallman had a solid rookie season in 2017, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. However, last season that averaged dipped to 3.5 per carry. This is one of the reasons why the Giants brought in free agent Rod Smith, who spent his last three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.

Both the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Smith and the and the 6-foot, 210-pound Gallman are hard runners that can catch passes coming out of the backfield. It will be interesting to see who shines the most this summer.

Who will be the starting corner on the other side of Janoris Jenkins?

Outside of Janoris Jenkins, there’s not much veteran experience at the cornerback position for the Giants. In fact, on draft night, after the Giants traded back into the first round to take Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker, Dave Gettleman said Jenkins has a bunch of puppies to train.

The puppies Gettleman was referring to are, of course, Baker along with fellow rookies Julian Love and Corey Ballentine. Not to mention, the Giants are bringing back two second-year cornerbacks, Sam Beal and Grant Haley. Beal missed all of last season after the Giants acquired him in the supplemental draft.

Baker has the leg up to play opposite of Jenkins. After all, he was a first-round pick and the Giants traded three picks to acquire him. They’ve invested in him already and would love to see him start from day one.

However, it will be interesting to see if any of the other corners can push Baker for the starting position.

Who will be the starting free safety, Antoine Bethea or Julian Love?

Antoine Bethea was one of the Giants’ key free agent acquisitions, especially since he’s familiar with defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s system from their time together with the Arizona Cardinals.

Bethea is entering his 14th season in the league and will be the starter entering training camp, but he’ll be pushed by Julian Love who saw action in rookie camp at free safety. Bethea has the leg up because of his experience and familiarity with Bettcher’s system.

That being said, Love has drawn similarities to Tyrann Mathieu—a former player of Bettcher’s —because of his ability to line up in different positions.

Who will be the starting center, Jon Halapio or Spencer Pulley?

The only starting position on the offensive line up for grabs is center. The other four positions are firmly solidified (Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers).

Jon Halapio was the starting center going into last season, but a broken leg in Week 2 ended his season early.

Pulley would step in and appear in 13 games and started nine of them. The Giants re-signed both Halapio and Pulley in March which means the Giants like both of them and aren’t 100% sure on who would be the best fit as the starter.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.