Where Does Daniel Jones’ Supporting Cast Rank in the NFL?

Patricia Traina

The Giants are counting on Daniel Jones taking a significant leap in his second pro season, but obviously, Jones can only accomplish so much all by his lonesome.

To take that leap, he’s going to need consistency from his supporting cast of receivers, tight ends and running backs to move the chains and light up the scoreboard. 

But while there has been some question regarding whether Jones has enough at his skill position players, one NFL analyst believes the Giants’ supporting cast on offense is more than good enough to help Jones run a proficient offense.

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report puts the Giants’ supporting offensive skillset group of receivers Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton; tight ends Evan Engram and Kaden Smith; and running back Saquon Barkley as the 12th best in the NFL, a significant jump from their 26th ranking last year.

This is likely due to two players. The first is Barkley, a versatile running back who surprisingly last year, the first season after the Giants traded away Odell Beckham Jr, wasn’t used as much in space as he had been as a rookie. The second is Engram, a potential mismatch against any defender but who has struggled who stay healthy.

What’s interesting in this ranking is that Bleacher Report ranked the Giants skill players 26th last year. So why the big jump up in the rankings even though the skill position players are pretty much the same guys as last year's core group?

Here’s what Knox had to say:

The Giants could have a top-10 offense in 2020, though a lot will hinge on Jones and Slayton's development. The latter could emerge as the No. 1 wideout Jones lacked in 2019, as he caught 48 passes for a team-high 740 yards and eight touchdowns last season. 

If Slayton can make a big second-year jump, so will Jones and the New York offense as a whole.

Despite the encouraging ranking, Knox has given the Giants offensive skill players, two things weren’t mentioned in the analysis: The offensive line and the scheme.

We all know by now that the Giants took steps to upgrade the offensive line, adding rookies Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart to the lineup, and veteran swing tackle Cam Fleming.

But we also need to remember that the three rookies are just that, rookies. Despite their having performed at a high level in the college ranks, the absence of a traditional off-season program at the NFL level leaves some question as to how ready they’ll be to contribute to the offensive line.

Then there is the scheme. When asked about the scheme, head coach, Joe Judge, said that it would most likely resemble what offensive coordinator Jason Garrett ran in Dallas, which is all well and good.

Judge was also careful to note that the scheme would be tailored around the strengths of the players.

That means that what worked well in Dallas with, for example, Amari Cooper, might not necessarily be the best fit for Golden Tate.

There is undoubtedly room for encouragement about the Giants offense if it stays healthy. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who the skill position players are if the offensive line and the man orchestrating all the plays from center can’t get on the same page to give the offensive skill players opportunities for success.

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