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Fact or Fiction: Standouts from minicamp

Posted Jun 16, 2017

Three Giants writers debate the key impact players from minicamp: 

TE Evan Engram was the biggest standout on offense this offseason.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Engram certainly came on late, but I can’t forget about how quiet he was the first couple weeks of OTAs. He might be the guy I’m most excited about due to the progress I saw throughout the program, but Brandon Marshall caught my attention more over the last two months. He is here every day, is extremely professional on the practice field and takes every single rep seriously. You can already see Eli Manning loves throwing to such a big target. I also want to throw out an honorable mention to Sterling Shepard who looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off with an extremely consistent spring.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - While Schmeelk climbed aboard the Paul Perkins hype train, I hopped on the Sterling Shepard bandwagon. And it’s been a smooth ride this spring. Last year, Shepard cracked the top five in all of the major receiving categories for a rookie in Giants history, but he knows he can do better with a focus on yards after the catch. However, he made a name for himself by making the tough catches. He did so again this spring, and Eli Manning’s confidence in him only continues to grow.

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LANCE MEDOW: Fact - I think the tight end group as a whole stood out this offseason given what we’ve seen from multiple players but if I had to pick one Evan Engram certainly tops the list.  This year’s first round pick has already provided the Giants with a glimpse of his speed and versatility while also showing a desire to continue to improve his blocking, an important facet of any tight end’s game.  Most important, he’s already building chemistry with Eli Manning which will help both players, immensely, in the long run. 

LB B.J. Goodson was the biggest standout on defense this offseason.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Like Engram, Goodson was one of the players I was watching most closely due to his chance to grab the starting job, but if you want a defensive standout I think you have to look at the secondary. With no pads, B.J. Goodson can’t hit, which should be his bread and butter as a middle linebacker. Janoris Jenkins looked like the same player he was during the season last year. Even in practice, he did not like seeing players catch passes on his side of the field. Even though he had trouble hanging on to a couple of interceptions, he knocked away plenty of footballs. Last year at this time, I was unimpressed with Jenkins’ performance at practice, but he performed great by the time the season came along. This year, he has been just as phenomenal on the practice field.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - You can listen to us knuckleheads talk about standouts all you want, but when the defensive coordinator singles a player out, you should take his word. In speaking to the media this week, Steve Spagnuolo said he was impressed by cornerback Michael Hunter. The undrafted Oklahoma State product, who appeared in two games last season and spent time on the Giants’ practice squad, saw plenty of snaps this spring with Eli Apple sidelined. Secondaries these days could use four strong cornerbacks, and Hunter is in the mix. “If you have watched enough practice … Mike has really stood out,” Spagnuolo said. “I give him a lot of credit.”

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LANCE MEDOW: Fact - With the starting middle linebacker job open, this has been a critical offseason for B.J. Goodson, especially given he only played 13 defensive snaps as a rookie.  The biggest thing that stood out about Goodson is his desire to improve as a player and learn from several veterans around him, even a former Giant in Antonio Pierce, who knows a thing or two about what it takes to play middle linebacker in Steve Spagnuolo’s system.  When Jonathan Casillas addressed the media during OTAs, he mentioned Goodson has been doing a nice job in the huddle communicating the play to the rest of the defense and making sure everyone is set.  The mental game is so important to playing linebacker in the NFL and it seems as if Goodson is thriving in that department.

Wide receiver is the most undecided competition heading into training camp.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - The back end of the wide receiver depth chart is interesting, but I think we can safely narrow it down to the four veterans already on the team (Beckham, Marshall, Shepard, Harris) and a three way competition for one or two spots between Roger Lewis Jr., Tavarres King, and Travis Rudolph. Cornerback is far more fascinating to me. We know who the top three guys are with Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple but who is up next? Valetino Blake’s special teams ability gives him the edge but I don’t think there is a guarantee he is the next corner up on defense right now. Michael Hunter flashed a bit. Donte Deayon had his usual energy in the slot. Undrafted rookie free agent DaShaun Amos made a bunch of plays in camp as well. Having a really good fourth cornerback in the league is important now and the Giants need to figure out who that is.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - Finding a running mate for All-Pro safety Landon Collins isn’t a done deal. The Giants used a third-round draft choice last year on Darian Thompson to be that man, but injuries derailed a promising rookie season for him. First of all, he needs to be healthy. Secondly, you can’t take anything away from Andrew Adams, who started on the No. 2 scoring defense as an undrafted rookie and was part of one of the best secondaries in the league.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - You can certainly argue the fifth and sixth wide receivers on the roster but I think it’s pretty clear who the top four wideouts will be given a number of last year’s top weapons are back in the mix.  That’s why I don’t think wide receiver is such a big question mark.  I’d lean more toward running back where behind Paul Perkins it’s unclear who will assume what role and at tight end where, like running back, there’s a great deal of depth but it remains to be seen how the various players will be used.

DE Avery Moss is the biggest sleeper to watch this summer. 

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I feel like Moss, even more so than sixth-round pick Adam Bisnowaty, has gone largely forgotten by fans when they think about this draft class. I think there’s a real chance he battles his way into the rotation at some point. He was used at defensive end and three-technique during practice, giving him a versatility Steve Spagnuolo cherishes. I really want to see what he can do with the pads on after he showed some real ability with limited contact in the spring.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - I thought he was the most intriguing pick in this year’s draft class. The Giants have been looking for a third defensive end in the rotation to give Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul a breather. It’s tough to evaluate linemen without pads on, but he seemed to hold his own throughout OTAs and minicamp. He also has a knack for batting down balls at the line of scrimmage. “I think on the field he’s definitely shown why we wanted to get him,” defensive line coach Patrick Graham said. “And I think we’ll see how it plays out in the competition in training camp.”

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction I think Avery Moss is an intriguing player and many are anxious to see what he can do in pads but I would argue tight Matt LaCosse is a bigger sleeper.  LaCosse has had multiple stints with the Giants but no one’s really been able to see his true potential because he’s been plagued by injuries during his young career.  LaCosse has flashed during OTAs and I think, assuming he stays healthy, we can see much more consistency out of him moving forward.