The New York Giants offseason is coming to an end, and the start of the entire training camp is fast approaching.
While hopes are rising for the Giants, no one is quite sure what to do with the team for 2022. Part of that is due to the fact that we don’t yet know what the new coaching staff’s vision for the team will be, nor how the current roster will fit into their schemes. The other part is due to the fact that the Giants have a relatively small roster with relatively few stable positions.
Together, this creates a range of opportunities for under-the-radar players to advance and make their way to the final roster or seize bigger roles for themselves. There’s sure to be a lot of camp fights at just about every position this year, so who are the “sleepy” players who might surprise them over the next few weeks?
Coughlin has slipped off the radar for many Giants fans. Coughlin, a petite (6-foot-3, 236-pound) EDGE slithered out of Minnesota, all the way to the seventh round in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was productive in college and was a lot more athletic than he got.
However, the system he had crafted wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Coughlin played in 14 games (starting in two) as a starter, but the center shift from EDGE to off-ball linebacker and an ankle injury mid-season limited him to just seven games and each of 38 shots in defense.
The Giants are the deepest in the EDGE since 2017 with Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari and Quincy Roche as the top three players. However, the switch from Patrick Graham to Wink Martindale presents an opportunity for Coughlin. Martindale is known for plotting outlandish and aggressive pressure packs and putting unspoken bursts into production. The NFL is also in a moment when traditional “smaller” passing defenders are being produced in addition to typical edge defenses. Micah Parsons, Hasson Riddick, Harold Landry, Shaquille Barrett, and Yannick Njakwe all produced double-digit sacks despite being 6-foot-3 (or less) and 250 pounds (or less).
Coughlin’s experience as an EDGE and cross-training as an off-ball quarterback could give him some advantage in Blitz schemes that require defenders to drop in coverage as well as speed up the pass. It would certainly be a pleasant surprise to find the Giants have more depth of dash than they previously thought.
Outliers always interest me, and I think we should always take note of when teams bring in players who don’t fit in with the trends. And while Giants double down on certain skill sets, Hole is unlike any other player on the roster. At 6 feet 1, 240 pounds, he definitely looks like a defender—yet he’s listed as a narrow end.
The Giants made sure to get Hole into free agency unformatted, so why is he on the list?
It could have something to do with how it was used in the Oklahoma crime over the past three years. He earned a total of 66 passes for 721 yards (10.9 per catch) and 12 touchdowns. 32 of those receptions (and 4 touchdowns) came last year as senior. By contrast, he carried the ball only 13 times throughout his college career. Oklahoma often required Hall to run roads out of the back field and was surprisingly efficient in space. While he lacks the sport to be a dynamic threat, his size, strength and natural influence make him a tough player to bring down in the open field.
Its versatility to line up in multiple locations as an “H-Back” and produce it as a receiver can make it a weapon that catches defenses by surprise.
Ed has told me several times that he’s going back and forth on whether or not Williams will make the list. Personally, I think he could surprise this summer and make it onto the list, even if Jerome Henderson isn’t already pounding the table for him.
Williams is the cornerback who has moved to safety, which could make him a direct backup for Julian Love. Love followed a similar career path, playing a knockout role in college before moving to safety in the NFL. Love’s versatility and diverse background made it a valuable deep piece, supporting multiple locations around high school. Williams could do a similar job, supporting both safety modes as well as the angle and hole position.
If he is able to earn the confidence of coaches, Williams can be a valuable piece to sub-packs, as his versatility can help with concealment and blitz packs.
It’s a little less likely that we’d expect Williams to light up camp and become a sensation like Stevie Brown on the safe side. However, if he can become a reliable depth piece and a consistent contributor whenever he’s out in the field, that’s a clear win for an unformed free agent.
It was such a nasty surprise to see Daniel Bellinger come down on the PUP list to start training camp. He’s been impressed over the course of the Offseason program and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start on opening day. Bellinger is the tighter end of the giants, with the upside as a receiver and a preventer. However, his injury creates an opportunity for the other tight ends to shine in practice.
Austin Allen sure brings an uncommon size at 6ft 8 and 255lbs. Like Bellinger, the Indiana product is capable of blocking Good enoughIts size gives it a definite advantage as a receiver.
For now, it’s as if Bellinger and Ricky Seals-Jones are the only “sure things” of the Giants in the final tight spot, and the Seals-Jones are much more of a TE/WR hybrid than the traditional tight end. The Giants have a bunch of unoccupied veterans and free agents in their cramped end room, and the door can be open to any of them. Allen’s size and skills at least make him an interesting choice.
We know who will be the top four defensive players in the Giants team. Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence II, Justin Ellis and rookie DJ Davidson will almost certainly be on the list in September. But what about the rest of the depth chart?
Martindale spends very little time in the “core” defensive packages and used a relative amount of alignment with only two or even one factor while in Baltimore. This indicates that the Giants may carry less than expected of their defensive line. And if the Giants weren’t carrying a lot of defensive linemen, depth cuts would need to be versatile enough to support multiple positions. Rider Anderson is small but fast in the line and can be devastating. Although he can play 3 or 5 techniques, he doesn’t have the bulk to hold up inside in short-term situations if necessary.
Hinton has a more versatile framework that should allow him to support multiple positions along the defensive line, potentially improving his chances of surprising and building the roster.
Giants have Many Of the vast receivers on their 90-man roster – 14 as of this writing – they will nonetheless carry less than half of them on their final roster.
We can safely assume that the Giants are planning to include Sterling Shepherd, Toni Cadarius, Kenny Guldai and Wan Dale Robinson all in the final list. Each of them could play a similar role in the crime, but what about the role that Golladay plays? Darius Slayton’s place on the list isn’t secure, and the $2.5 million cap space gained through his release could be more valuable than his playing on the field.
The Attack of the Giants may not pass through their big X future this year, but his size will come in handy even when he doesn’t get the ball. Golladay is a sufficient threat that crimes should respect him, while its sheer size is useful in creating a separation for other receivers.
The Giants have other tall receivers on their list, but Johnson’s 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame stands out. He has appeared in a limited number of actors over the past year and could be a direct support for Golladay. Not only does Johnson offer a similar size and contested picking ability, but he can also allow the Giants’ coaching team to keep their playing designs intact even if Guldai misses time through injury.
The Giants have a noticeably crowded reception room, and there are probably two open spots on the list for receivers. One story to follow over the course of the camp is whether the coaching staff prefers the size, speed, pace, or acumen of the particular teams for those locations.