Although training camp is still months away, there are a number of Giants players who could be fighting for roster spots.
The Giants roster ahead of the 2021 season looks a whole lot different than it did for the 2019 campaign.
Translation: Joe Judge is now in town and has likely influenced a number of moves made both this year and last.
A receiving unit that once included Golden Tate now encompasses Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and John Ross (along with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton who, of course, have been around for quite some time).
A defensive backfield that once included Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker, and Antoine Bethea now employs James Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson, Logan Ryan, and Xavier McKinney.
And an inside linebacking corps that was once led by the inconsistent Alec Ogletree is now led by the tackling machine that is Blake Martinez.
Many guys have been phased out of the Giants’ plans for the future — that trend may continue this summer with a number of individuals potentially departing East Rutherford.
Which Giants could be fighting for their jobs once the training camp and preseason periods arrive?
Cornerbacks Sam Beal/Isaac Yiadom
Remember Sam Beal? The 2018 supplemental draft pick who was supposed to potentially be a productive asset of the Giants defensive backfield?
Beal underwent a multitude of injury-related issues during his first two years in the league, only playing in six games out of a possible 32 during that span.
The 2020 season then resulted in him opting out due to COVID-19 concerns. I’ll never fault anyone for opting out due to the pandemic, but you must admit the moves made to improve the roster amid his absence could definitely dictate his future with the team.
Right now, there just doesn’t seem to be a concrete role for Beal and he hasn’t proven he can remain consistently healthy in order to receive one.
As for Isaac Yiadom, he became the primary starting cornerback opposite 2020 Pro Bowler James Bradberry last year. He wasn’t the worst option for his role, but he wasn’t wildly consistent either, and now, there might be too many guys for him to surpass on the depth chart to find legitimate playing time.
There’s a chance Yiadom remains with the team in order to provide depth while Beal is a roster cut prior to the regular season — this is due to the fact the former has experience working with coordinator Patrick Graham while the latter doesn’t.
However, don’t be surprised if both part ways with Big Blue ahead of the 2021 regular season.
Defensive Linemen B.J. Hill/R.J. McIntosh
The defensive line unit will certainly encompass Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence at the forefront given either’s significant talent.
That third spot in a 3-4 scheme remains a mystery, but it seems the coaching staff likes Austin Johnson considering the organization re-signed him to a one-year deal this offseason.
With that said, B.J. Hill may not possess a consistent role moving forward and actually didn’t last year. After seeing time on 59% of the defensive reps during his 2018 rookie campaign, Hill earned time on 44% and 35% of the defensive snaps in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
It seems Hill and Johnson could be going head-to-head for a roster spot, which may lead to the former saying goodbye to the team that drafted him just a few years ago.
R.J. McIntosh, on the other hand, may need to greatly impress during the training camp and preseason periods. He’s yet to really prove himself since the organization selected him in 2018’s fifth round, having played in just 18 out of a possible 48 matchups thus far. McIntosh also didn’t play a single snap last year.
If one of Hill and McIntosh departs, it could be the latter, but there’s definitely a chance both are gone.
OLB Oshane Ximines
The Giants have continued to bolster the pass-rushing unit this offseason, which may lead to Oshane Ximines swiftly falling down the depth chart and eventually being released entering the regular season.
Big Blue’s star within this unit is Leonard Williams — that’s obvious. After undergoing a career year in 2020 and leading the team in both sacks (11.5) and quarterback hits (30), Williams will likely be an every-down player in 2021.
Of course, Williams is more of a down lineman while Ximines is an outside linebacker in a 3-4, but the Giants added Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari in this year’s second round and Northern Iowa’s Elerson Smith in this year’s fourth — the staff should be making a legitimate investment in both individuals.
New York additionally signed former Washington Football Team edge rusher Ryan Anderson in free agency.
Ximines and Lorenzo Carter may thus be competing against each other for a job, and when either is healthy, it’s clear the latter is capable of producing at a higher level.
S Julian Love
Any time there seems to be an actual role for Julian Love, the Giants fill it with someone else.
He could’ve been one of the two starting safeties alongside Jabrill Peppers in 2020 until the Giants drafted Xavier McKinney that year.
He could’ve also been a starting nickel corner until the Giants took Darnay Holmes in the same draft as McKinney.
Love then could’ve stepped up in McKinney’s place when Xavier fractured his foot prior to the 2020 regular season until the organization signed Logan Ryan.
And finally, for the 2021 season, he could’ve started at the outside corner spot opposite James Bradberry until the team brought in Adoree’ Jackson on a three-year deal.
Every time the Giants add to the secondary, it seems Love’s future in East Rutherford is more and more uncertain. That’s what’s currently occurring, so expect Love to potentially find himself on his way out this summer.
TE Kaden Smith
The Giants seemingly believe in Evan Engram, although many fans do not. The Giants also signed two-time Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph and decided to bring back Levine Toilolo this offseason.
All of a sudden, Kaden Smith could be the fourth tight end on the depth chart and may not possess a legitimate role even in two-tight end sets under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
Despite the fact Smith found time on 45% of the offensive snaps in 2020, Rudolph is a more reliable asset in numerous areas of the game and will be prioritized given the financial investment the organization has made in him (two years, $12 million).