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Fact or Fiction: Most impressive player at practice

Posted Jun 3, 2016

The Giants.com staff debates Big Blue topics as the team's offseason program continues: 

Sterling Shepard has impressed the most at OTAs.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Shepard has impressed the most from the rookie class, but even more impressive for me has been the play of new additions Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins.

Vernon’s burst off the line of scrimmage is special, and even without pads he has shown a variety of pass rushing moves to get to the quarterback. He’ll be a real disruptive presence this season. Jenkins, meanwhile, has played both inside and outside, and has shown the ability to stick with receivers all over the field. The Giants paid a premium for both players and it is easy to see why.

>> WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM PRACTICE

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - The draft picks have all made their share of plays at OTAs, but I’m going with a veteran newcomer: Janoris Jenkins. Honestly, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about the cornerback before this free agency cycle, but he’s looked as good as advertised. He’s been all over the ball at practice, and with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants now have two of the best pass defenders in the game. Jenkins has returned six turnovers (five interceptions and one fumble) for touchdowns, the most in the NFL since 2012. We’ve seen why at OTAs.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Sterling Shepard has been one of many who have stood out during OTAs, but the one who tops my list is linebacker Jasper Brinkley.  Following an impressive second half to last season when he took over as the starting middle linebacker, Brinkley is now looking to pick up where he left off in 2015 and you can see that with his energy and, specifically, vocal leadership in the huddle during OTAs.  With the team losing Antrel Rolle and Jon Beason over the last two seasons, the Giants are seeking a defensive leader and Brinkley fits that bill.

Shane Vereen will be second in receptions.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - I don’t think Vereen will get to 60 catches, and I think that will probably be necessary to be the team’s second-leading receiver. If I had to bet, either Victor Cruz or Sterling Sheppard should be able to eclipse that mark as the team’s second receiver. The sleeper is the tight end position where either Larry Donnell or Will Tye might get 50+ receptions and be in contention for the second-most catches on the team. That would only work where the team had 5-6 players with 40+ catches.

READ: 3 STANDOUT PLAYERS

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - Last season, Shane Vereen finished second with 59 but keep in mind that was a career-high in that category and Victor Cruz wasn’t on the field.  Since Eli Manning took over as the starting quarterback in 2004, the only other time a running back finished second on the team in receptions was his rookie year when Tiki Barber had 52 catches.  Since then a wide receiver or tight end has finished second in each season until 2015.  That track record shows Victor Cruz or Sterling Shepard will likely take second place this season.

>> READ: OTA STANDOUT PLAYERS

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Last season, Shane Vereen finished second with 59 but keep in mind that was a career-high in that category and Victor Cruz wasn’t on the field. Since Eli Manning took over as the starting quarterback in 2004, the only other time a running back finished second on the team in receptions was his rookie year when Tiki Barber had 52 catches. Since then a wide receiver or tight end has finished second in each season until 2015. That track record shows Victor Cruz or Sterling Shepard will likely take second place this season.

Odell Beckham Jr. is more exciting than Stephen Curry.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Beckham will make the more amazing once-in-a-lifetime play, but it will take a few weeks or even months of watching to get that play. Beckham only has the ball in his hands, at most, like 12 times a game. Stephen Curry has the ball in his hands on nearly every possession he is in the game. He might have 75 chances to make a special play in any given game, so you are more likely to see an amazing play from him than Beckham. But for that one over the top, “I can’t believe it" play, I’ll go with Beckham, even if it doesn’t happen as often.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - I’m bored of 3-pointers. I’ll take a one-handed touchdown grab in the heat of an NFL game over a 25-foot shot with no fear of contact any day of the week. Look, they both can do amazing things with the ball in their hands, from their pregame routines to game time. But if there’s one thing the NFL produces more than any other sport, it’s excitement.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - The player who has the ball in his hands more often than not gets the edge in this one and that’s clearly Steph Curry, given Odell’s dazzling plays depend in large part on his number of targets.  Over four quarters, Curry will provide more substance in the excitement department because of his consistent opportunities with the ball.  With that being said, Beckham certainly doesn’t put any of his opportunities to waste.

Cavs over Warriors would be a bigger upset than Broncos over Panthers in the Super Bowl.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I had a sinking feeling Denver’s defense would figure out a way to win them that Super Bowl. The Broncos had the best unit in that game: their defense. As great as LeBron James is, and I still think he is the best player in the sport, the Cavs just don’t have the team to match up with the 73-win Warriors. Golden State is better offensively, defensively, and have been tested more on their way to the Finals. I would be shocked if the Cavs beat the Warriors. I was not shocked the Broncos beat the Panthers.

>> READ: GIANTS PREDICT NBA FINALS

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - They have LeBron James. That’s more than enough for this response, but for the sake of filling a few more lines, I will say that I did have Denver over Carolina in Super Bowl 50. Aside from thinking that the football gods would give Peyton Manning one more ring, you always bet on the No. 1 defense in Super Bowls. So that wasn’t an upset to me, and neither would be the Cavs winning it all.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - There’s so much parity in the NFL that it’s hard to label many victories as upsets these days.  The Broncos and Panthers were two of the top teams in the league all season long in 2015 and Denver boasted the number one defense in the NFL.  Carolina only putting up ten points was a surprise, unlike the outcome. There’s not nearly as much parity in the NBA and usually over the course of a seven-game series, the better team wins.  Cleveland is healthy this year with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both suiting up but you can easily make the case Golden State is stronger now than it was at this time last season comong off the best single season record in league history.  If the Cavs win, it’s a much bigger upset.

Shepard has impressed the most from the rookie class, but even more impressive for me has been the play of new additions Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins. Vernon’s burst off the line of scrimmage is special, and even without pads he has shown a variety of pass rushing moves to get to the quarterback. He’ll be a real disruptive presence this season. Jenkins, meanwhile, has played both inside and outside, and has shown the ability to stick with receivers all over the field. The Giants paid a premium for both players and it is easy to see why.