Kenny Golladay
Syndication: The Record

The Giants are not going to contend for the Super Bowl in 2022. That’s unrealistic after former general manager Dave Gettleman left new GM Joe Schoen and new coach Brian Daboll with a lackluster roster and disastrous cap situation.

But an impatient fanbase expects improvement after last year’s atrocious 4-13 finish. Four critical position groups will have a big say in whether the Giants make strides this fall.

Quarterback. All eyes will be on Daniel Jones this season. Schoen put the young quarterback in a do-or-die situation when he passed on his fifth-year option. It was the obvious move to make. There was no need to guarantee Jones over $22 million for 2023 when he hasn’t proven to be the franchise’s future.

Jones’ production in this make-or-break year will play a role in how many games this team wins. The Giants’ record could then determine if it’s worth franchise tagging or extending Jones next offseason. The 2019 first-rounder’s 2022 production will be a major factor in how Schoen shapes this roster for the future.

Wide receiver. There is optimism regarding the receivers room — the Giants will have numerous options at their disposal. But many of the wideouts might be fighting for their Big Blue tenures this season.

Kenny Golladay has had a knack for the end zone throughout his career but has played just 19 of a possible 33 games the last two years. Kadarius Toney, on the other hand, can be a shifty weapon but has been an enigma so far. Sterling Shepard has his fair share of health problems (he’s played just two full seasons since entering the league in 2016), Wan’Dale Robinson is an unproven rookie, and Darius Slayton figures to be trade bait or a preseason cut.

Each of these guys has a whole lot to prove in 2022. Robinson is likely safe for 2023 unless disaster ensues. But there’s no guaranteeing the same for Golladay, Toney, Shepard, and Slayton. The production level of this unit will also be a huge determinant of Jones’ development, which the organization must closely evaluate.

Offensive line. In order for Jones to improve in 2022, he needs a competent line to provide him time to operate. For the first time in a decade, the Giants may actually have that.

They signed center Jon Feliciano (one-year deal) and guard Mark Glowinski (three-year deal) in March before drafting tackle Evan Neal (No. 7 overall) in April. Now, the starting unit could include Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Feliciano, Glowinski, and Neal from left to right.

But fans will not make the same mistake for the umpteenth year in a row — they will not believe the line is improved until actually seeing it in action. The unit looks better on paper, sure. But the starters still must pave the way for the entire offense to thrive in the Fall, or else the organization might be back to square one with this group (again).

Cornerback. The Giants improved their pass rush this offseason with the drafting of outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 5 overall. Combining Thibodeaux with second-year outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari and veteran defensive lineman Leonard Williams could work wonders for coordinator Wink Martindale’s blitz-heavy scheme.

But before you get too giddy, it’s crucial to understand Martindale’s defense is also based on strong cornerback play in a man-heavy system. And right now, the Giants don’t employ great experience in the deep part of the field.

In a cost-cutting move, Schoen released Pro Bowl corner James Bradberry this offseason after failing to find a trade partner. That leaves the Giants with Adoree’ Jackson (an injury-prone veteran) and a whole bunch of youngsters, such as Aaron Robinson (second year), Darnay Holmes (third year), and Cordale Flott (rookie third-rounder). The Giants also signed Maurice Canady and Khalil Dorsey this offseason, but the two combined have just four career starts.

This novice group has a massive task on its hands. If it doesn’t answer the bell, the bulked-up pass rush could be a moot point and the Giants defense could be an unmitigated disaster.

Listen to ESNY’s Wide Right Podcast on Apple here or on Spotify here.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.