Mike Addvensky's 53-man Roster Prediction

Mike Addvensky

Although nothing about the 2020 NFL season seems like it will be normal, training camp is finally upon us.

With the start of the regular season just over a month away, here is my very early 53-man Giants roster projection.

Quarterbacks: Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Cooper Rush

The Giants’ situation at quarterback is relatively straightforward. Daniel Jones is the starter, while veteran Colt McCoy has a good chance to be his backup.

Former Dallas Cowboy Cooper Rush has an outside shot at winning the backup job, as he is very familiar with new Giants’ offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

Even if he does not win the job, expect Rush to have a spot on the roster. There is no reason why the Giants need to carry four quarterbacks on their roster, so Alex Tanney is the odd man out.

Running Backs: Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Eli Penny (FB)

With Saquon Barkley fully healthy again, he is in line to get a majority of the Giants' carries this season. Veteran Dion Lewis will be his backup and should see some action in the passing game.

Wayne Gallman is probably not going to be getting a lot of carries this season, but Garrett will probably still find ways to work him into the offense. Eli Penny will again be the Giants’ fullback.

Jonathan Hillman saw some action last year when Barkley was hurt, but it does not look like there will be a spot on the roster for him this season.

Wide Receivers: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman, Cody Core, Da’Mari Scott

General manager Dave Gettleman did not add a receiver in the draft or free agency this offseason, so this position group is very similar to what it was in 2019.

Darius Slayton will look to build off a strong rookie season in which he led the Giants in receiving yards and touchdowns. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard should also be heavily involved in the offense again this year.

What is unclear right now is what the Giants’ depth at receiver will look like beyond these three players. After missing all of last season, Corey Coleman has an excellent chance to be the Giants’ fourth receiver.

Cody Core and Da’Mari Scott are probably not going to be significant factors in the passing game, but they could be valuable on special teams. With Coleman hurt, Scott had a few opportunities to return kicks and punts in 2019.

Tight Ends: Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo

The main unknown in this position group is how many tight ends the Giants decide to carry this season. With Evan Engram fully healthy again, he is the Giants’ No. 1 tight end. Expect him to be one of the focal points of Garrett’s offense.

When Engram was hurt last year, Kaden Smith did a decent job of stepping into a starting role. He proved that he could be useful as a blocker and as a patch-catcher. The acquisition of Levine Toilolo was a solid move by Gettleman in the offseason. He will mainly be used as a blocking tight end, but can still be a receiving threat in the red zone.

Considering that the Giants have these three options, Garrett Dickerson and Eric Tomlinson are probably not going to make the 53-man roster.

Offensive Linemen: Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, Cameron Fleming, Eric Smith Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, Shane Lemieux, Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates

Nate Solder announced on Wednesday that he is opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the novel coronavirus pandemic. This means that the Giants’ offensive line situation suddenly looks very different.

Gettleman used two of his first three draft picks on offensive tackles this year. Andrew Thomas is going to start right away at offensive tackle, probably on the left side now that Solder isn't going to be a factor.

The original plan was to have Matt Peart develop and be a backup during the 2020 season. With Solder no longer in the picture, however, he could compete for the starting right tackle job.

Former Cowboy Cameron Fleming is a substantial addition to this unit, as he gives the Giants some depth at tackle. He’s another player who could start because of Solder’s absence.

Because he’s a swing tackle, it makes sense for Eric Smith to take Solder’s spot on the 53-man roster. Smith is not going to start but will add to the Giants’ depth at tackle.

Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler will again be the Giants’ starting guards. Center is the one position that remains somewhat unclear right now. Veteran Spencer Pulley is the favorite to win this job, but Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux are intriguing options.

Gates and Lemieux should both have a spot on the 53-man roster, even if neither of them wins the center job in training camp. Gates also now has an opportunity to compete for the starting right tackle job.

Defensive Linemen: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, Austin Johnson, Chris Slayton, R.J. McIntosh

The Giants are relatively solid up the middle on the defensive line, but they do not have much depth at EDGE rusher. How these players are positioned on the defensive line will be up to new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

One thing we know for sure is that Dalvin Tomlinson will be starting at nose tackle. Expect Leonard Williams to play a mix of defensive tackle and defensive end, depending on which scheme Graham decides to utilize.

Undrafted rookie Niko Lalos is going to have a hard time making the 53-man roster, as the Giants have enough overall depth on the defensive line. He should be a practice squad player this season.

Linebackers: Blake Martinez, Ryan Connelly, David Mayo, Lorenzo Carter, Kyler Fackrell, Markus Golden, Oshane Ximines, Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin

Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are the most notable additions to this position group. Gettleman also used four of his ten draft picks on linebackers. Of those four, Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin have the best chance to make the team and impact the Giants in 2020.

The deadline has now passed for Markus Golden to sign with another team, so he is anticipated back this season. David Mayo, Lorenzo Carter, Ryan Connelly, and Oshane Ximines are all returning members of this unit.

Connelly had a decent start to his rookie season, but then got hurt in Week 4 and missed the rest of the year. He has a fair chance to start at inside linebacker alongside Martinez.

With the depth the Giants suddenly have at linebacker, there are not many spots on the 53-man roster for rookies Tae Crowder and T.J. Brunson.

Safeties: Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Nate Ebner

Safety was a position Gettleman knew that he had to address this offseason, and he did so by drafting Alabama’s Xavier McKinney in the second round. The versatile McKinney will start at free safety for the Giants and could significantly impact their secondary.

An injury forced Jabrill Peppers to miss the last five games of the 2019 season, but he is now fully healthy and ready to go for this year. McKinney and Peppers have the potential to be one of the most dynamic safety duos in the NFL. Julian Love got five starts at safety toward the end of last season, but he will be utilized as a backup in 2020.

Nate Ebner is more known for being a special teams ace, but he can also play free safety. Sean Chandler and Mark McLaurin are the notable roster snubs in this position group. Either of these players could be promoted to the 53-man roster during the season if the Giants suffer an injury at safety.

Cornerbacks: James Bradberry, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes, Grant Haley

The DeAndre Baker situation has altered the Giants’ plans at cornerback. Earlier this week, Baker was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. We will have to wait and see how his legal situation plays out, but things do not look very promising.

Assuming that Baker will not be able to play, Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine are most likely to compete for a starting job. Injuries have prevented Beal from playing in a regular-season game during the two years he’s been with the Giants.

Ballentine did not get a lot of playing time during his rookie year but should take on a more significant role in 2020. Speedy rookie Darnay Holmes has an outside shot at securing a starting cornerback spot, but he has a better chance of being the Giants’ slot corner this year.

Grant Haley has not seen a lot of the filed during his first two seasons with the Giants, but he should make the roster as the fifth corner.

Special Teams: Chandler Catanzaro (K), Riley Dixon (P), Casey Kreiter (LS)

The Giants’ special teams unit is very straightforward. However, there are two notable changes from last season. Pro Bowler Casey Kreiter is the team’s new long snapper. He takes over for veteran Zak DeOssie, who had been with the Giants since 2007.

Riley Dixon will again be the punter for the Giants, but they will have a new kicker. With Aldrick Rosas dealing with legal issues following an alleged hit-and-run incident in California in June, Gettleman decided to release him earlier this week.

Chandler Catanzaro has been reported as the new kicker. There’s a chance that they will sign another kicker before the start of the regular season.

Final Thoughts

We still have plenty of time before the 53-man roster is finalized. Things can change quickly, especially with concerns over the Coronavirus. It will be interesting to see how accurate these predictions are in the end. 

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