Do the Giants Have Enough Assets for Their Passing Game?
The Giants have vastly improved their roster this off-season after addressing several holes on the team throughout free agency and the draft.
However, one area they did not address was the wide receiver position. Instead of devoting premium free agency money and/or a draft pick, they instead signed three undrafted free agents to compete with some returning players who were on the practice squad last year.
That decision to not add premium resources to the position apparently is a concern for former Giants receiver Amani Toomer, who told the New York Post this week he believes the position "is lacking."
But is it? Sure, when you look at the Giants depth chart, you can make the argument that they have three guys--Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton--locked in for spots while Corey Coleman, a potential fourth candidate for the group, works his way back from a torn ACL.
But when you're talking about the Giants passing game, you have to include tight ends Evan Engram and Kaden Smith and running backs Saquon Barkley and Dion Lewis into the mix, which, if you do, suddenly doesn't make the options that quarterback Daniel Jones has to throw to as scary looking.
Sticking with those listed as a receiver, Shepard is the longest-tenured member of the group. But he suffered two concussions within a month last season, which is a major concern going into 2020.
The Giants invested a lot in Shepard after signing him to a 4-year $41 million extension, which was guaranteed to be $21.3 million before the 2019 season.
As productive as he is on the field, he has already refuted the possibility of changing his reckless style of play to stay off the injured list. While it arguably has made him a successful NFL receiver, it's not out of the question to wonder if he suffers another concussion, will that end his career?
Tate had a productive first season with the Giants despite missing five games, four because of a league-imposed suspension and one due to a concussion.
He scored six touchdowns last year and caught 49 balls for 676 yards in 11 games. He was also the leader among the receivers in yards after the catch.
Like Shepard, Tate has excelled in the slot thorough his career, and was the Giants' most productive receiver in that role last year, catching 41 of 67 targets for 552 yards and five touchdowns.
Then there is Slayton, a fifth-round draft pick last year who, after missing two games due to a hamstring strain, had a breakout season. Slayton caught 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns, the touchdowns the second-best total among rookie receivers.
Along the way, the former Auburn wideout improved his route running ability and hands, which led to a successful first year as a pro.
As a bonus, the chemistry Slayton and Jones had was a thing of beauty and one born of the fact that both were rookies and hence did a lot of early year work together after being drafted by the Giants.
Looking ahead, the 6-foot-1 Slayton is a legitimate vertical option for Jones and is a receiver who can take the top off a defense with his speed.
In short, the Giants top three probably won't be confused for the 2007 terrific trio of Toomer, Plaxico Burress, and Steve Smith. But the talent and production history doesn't exactly lack if--and this is a big if--the three receivers stay healthy.
And speaking of staying healthy, Engram, as previously mentioned, is going to be a big part of that passing game. When he is healthy, Engram, who is like a big receiver, has been, at times, dominant.
He is a mismatch nightmare with big-play ability and speed, but in the past, he's been mostly used as an inline blocker, which isn't his strength.
The emergence of Kaden Smith and the signing of Levine Toilolo should free Engram from inline blocking duties and offer new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett more of a chance to be creative with drawing mismatches in the Giants' favor.
The problem with Engram has been his struggles to stay on the field. Since the start of 2018, Engram has missed 14 games with various injuries. Last season Engram only played in eight games, missing the final seven weeks with a foot sprain for which he had surgery.
So do the Giants have enough firepower for their passing game?
The answer is yes, but it comes with an asterisk given the injury histories of some of the key players.
But the Giants passing game won't have to go at it alone. Garrett’s offense will likely be centered around Barkley, who contributed 143 receptions in his first two seasons.
And the team is hoping for one or more of Ohio State’s Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor, LSU's Derrick Dillon, Da’Mari Scott, and David Sills V, to grab one of the projected three spots on the depth chart at receiver.
Training camp and the preseason will answer a lot of questions about what the Giants have, and if their decision not to draft a receiver will come back to haunt them.
But for right now, hope springs eternal as there are some intriguing options that, if they pay off, could catch the Giants' opponents by surprise.