10 Underappreciated Giants Veterans to Be Thankful For
The Giants season has been another disappointing one with not much to smile about. But while collectively the football has been bad, there have been a few players whose efforts inspire some degree of being thankful this season.
This list doesn't include the rookies, many of whom are extremely promising additions to the roster. Instead, we look at the veteran players who have quietly made positive contributions.
Edge Markus Golden
Go on and raise your hand if you thought that the signing of Golden, who at the time was coming back from a severe knee injury, was going to be another waste of cap space.
It's okay. A lot of people did, but Golden always believed himself capable of putting the past in the past, and he has delivered. Golden leads the Giants with 7.5 sacks, and between Weeks 2 and 6, he recorded at least a half-sack in each of those games.
There aren't many former Cardinals players worth bringing back after this year, but Golden is hands down the exception.
P Riley Dixon
After drawing some competition in training camp, punter Riley Dixon has been nothing short of reliable. He has a net average of 42.8, good for sixth in the league, and he's tied for 10th place in punts placed inside the 20 (20).
No, he can't do it without his coverage team, but after last season's inconsistent showing, Dixon turned it around.
And if that isn't good enough for him to make this list, then how about the job he's done holding for place-kicks despite some gnarly snaps? If there were a Giants special teams MVP award, Dixon would receive strong consideration.
WR Cody Core
Speaking of special teams MVP award candidates, Core has to be up there as well. He's the second-highest graded Giants special teams player according to Pro Football Focus, but Core, who is a gunner, leads the unit in tackles with seven, including five solo, and it's not even close.
Often the first man down there, Core has pinned at least three punts inside the 20 this year, further making the Giants' decision to claim him off waiver from the Bengals one of their more underrated and smartest moves.
CB Antonio Hamilton
Hamilton, who earlier in the year had a forgetful stint at cornerback, reminds people every week why he's still on an NFL roster with his gunner play.
He's recorded our special teams tackles (three solo), which is the second most behind fellow gunner Core, the team leader. In fact, on almost every Giants punt, either one of Hamilton or Core is usually the first man down the field, which is why the Giants punting unit has truly been a bright spot this season.
DL Dalvin Tomlinson
Tomlinson's 2019 season got off to a slow start, but in recent weeks, he's hit his stride, particularly against the run.
Per Pro Football Focus, Tomlinson leads the Giants interior defensive linemen with 19 stops for zero or negative yards and in tackles with 18. Tomlinson doesn't quite have as many pressures as does Lawrence, but they are both tied with 2.5 sacks this year, highest among Giants' interior defensive linemen.
OL Nick Gates
Nick Gates hasn't seen a lot of snaps--he did start for Mike Remmers against the Jets but was sent back to his "first-man-off-the-bench" role--but those he has played, he's been very solid.
Per Pro Football Focus, Gates, who has also lined up as the team's jumbo tight end, has thus far allowed two pressures in 60 pass-block snaps. That's not too shabby for a guy who lost his rookie year to a season-ending injury.
Gates is one that is trying to take advantage to convince the front office that maybe he can be one of the answers at offensive tackle if the team goes in a different direction after this year; so far, he's only helped himself.
WR Golden Tate
After serving his four-game suspension for a PED violation, Tate has taken a healthy lead among Giants receivers in the yards-after-catch category (232) and has just one drop (out of 54 pass targets) which ranks among the lowest drop rate on the team.
RG Kevin Zeitler
Acquired in an off-season trade for edge Olivier Vernon, Zeitler's pass blocking has been solid as usual.
Of the five starting offensive linemen, he's allowed the fewest overall pressures (18), and his run blocking has been mostly solid as well--all this despite a shoulder ailment that landed him on the injury report earlier in the year. Zeitler might not currently be PFF's top-ranked guard as he was last year, but he's still been good enough to hold steady in the top-20.
LG Will Hernandez
While some might argue that Hernandez hasn't taken the big step forward some anticipated he would this year, he still has delivred a solid season.
Hernandez is the only one of the Giants starting five offensive linemen not to allow a sack (he gave up five as a rookie), and he has just one more pressure allowed than Zeitler. He might not yet be playing at a Pro Bowl level--and how much of that has to do with the play around him is undoubtedly worth considering--but Hernandez's play hasn't been as big of a disappointment as others'.
QB Eli Manning
We haven't heard a peep out of Manning since head coach Pat Shurmur decided to flip the switch on the Daniel Jones era, and how nice has that been? Manning has kept himself off-limits during open locker room sessions so as not to create distractions or be put into a position where something he says creates a distraction.
Both Shurmur and Jones keep praising Manning for the work he's doing behind the scenes to continue expediting Jones' development. If Jones does indeed turn out to be as good as his potential is indicating he can be, Manning will deserve some of that credit for whatever lessons he's shared with the rookie.