Once again, it appears Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has drafted a solid class. The question is: how many will be starters in 2019?
Some people may question some of the decisions that New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has made since he was hired in December of 2017. But one thing you can’t question, other than perhaps reaching to take Daniel Jones with the No. 6 pick in the draft, is his ability to draft players who’ll have an immediate impact.
Last season, the first four players Gettleman drafted (Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill) made huge contributions to the team last season, and all were starters by the final game of the year.
On paper, this year’s draft class appears to be solid and will play a huge role in determining the team’s success in 2019. The question remains, “How many of them will turn into NFL starters?”
Here’s our prediction on which rookies will be starters for Week 1 when the Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys:
Dexter Lawrence (No. 17 overall)
Barring injury, Dexter Lawrence will be on the defensive line with the rest of the first-team defense for Week 1. The 6-foot-4, 342-pound lineman provides the physical presence that you need if you want to dominate the line of scrimmage and stop running backs such as Ezekiel Elliott.
Dexter Lawrence was consistently dominant for Clemson over the last three seasons
2016: 90.3 pic.twitter.com/3oezAMbYtP
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) July 16, 2019
Throughout his three-year collegiate career with the Clemson Tigers, Pro Football Focus graded Lawrence as one of the most dominant linemen in the nation.
We’ll have to wait and see in training camp and in the preseason if he plays at the nose tackle spot or at one of the defensive end positions. Either way, he’ll definitely be a starter.
DeAndre Baker (No. 30 overall)
DeAndre Baker was seen as one of the best cornerbacks in this year’s draft, which is why the Giants traded three picks to move back into the first round to take him.
Baker started at left cornerback spot at OTAs and the Giants coaching staff was highly impressed with his footwork and instinct. Baker has the potential to be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, as the tandem of him and Janoris Jenkins could be one of the best corner tandems in the NFL.
There’s a slim possibility that Sam Beal could beat him out for the starting job. However, based on his play and the investment the Giants made to acquire him, Baker’s positioned to be the starter.
In a tight position battle
Julian Love (No. 108 overall)
Having the opportunity to draft a talented and versatile player such as Julian Love in the fourth round was an absolute steal. Love can play nickel corner as well as the free safety position. He could also perform in a similar role to the one that Tyrann Mathieu played in James Bettcher’s defense in Arizona.
In all likelihood, Love will be competing with last year’s starter Grant Haley to be the number one nickel corner on the roster. The starting nickel will be up for a huge test in Week 1, as whoever it is will have to go up against Randall Cobb, who’ll be making his Cowboys debut.
Won’t start but will be in on certain packages
Oshane Ximines (No. 95 overall)
Fans wanted the Giants to select an edge rusher earlier in the draft, but Gettleman was able to find a talented pass rusher in the third round in Oshane Ximines.
Last season at Old Dominion, Ximines had 11.5 sacks. Gettleman believes that he can help revitalize the once-proud Big Blue pass rush. Ximines won’t start, but he’ll be on the field in obvious passing downs such as third-and-long.
Darius Slayton (No. 171 overall) as a returner
The Giants receiving corps is too talented with Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Corey Coleman to think Darius Slayton can be a starter unless the unit suffers a rash of injuries. However, the Giants like Slayton’s speed and will try to utilize his speed in certain offensive packages. They may also use him as a returner on special teams.
The Giants return game hasn’t made much of an impact over the last few seasons, but Slayton can change that in 2019.
Won’t start barring injury
Daniel Jones (No. 6 overall)
Despite Pat Shurmur somehow creating an atmosphere the Daniel Jones could possibly beat out Eli Manning and be the Week 1 starter, there’s no way Jones will be the starter. This, unless the unforeseen happens and Manning gets hurt. If Manning remains healthy and the Giants remain in contention throughout the season, Jones may not see any playing time at all in 2019.
Ryan Connelly (No. 143 overall)
Ryan Connelly had an impressive spring at rookie camp and OTAs especially when he was able to showcase his pass coverage ability. But on a team that has Alec Ogletree and BJ Goodson, it’ll be hard for Connelly to see playing time with the first-team defense. Connelly’s main contribution in 2019 will likely be on special teams.