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Mailbag: Rookies who could play significant roles

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Vernon in Ohio: Can you give me three rookies or first year players on the team that will play a significant role for the team in 2020?

John Schmeelk: The Giants are a young team, and youth will be served…and play. Of the rookie class, the players with the best chance for large roles early are Andrew Thomas (at right or left tackle), Xavier McKinney (potential starting safety) and Darnay Holmes (potential starting nickel cornerback). Shane Lemieux will have a chance to compete for the starting center position.

Other young players who could see extended playing time are tight end Kaden Smith (2nd year), linebacker Ryan Connelly (2nd year), and defensive back Julian Love (2nd year). Nick Gates is entering his third season, and he is another young player who could play a prominent role on the team either as a starter on the offensive line, or a versatile backup.

Cory in South Carolina: Do you think Carter Coughlin can carve out a big role on defense in his rookie season?

John Schmeelk: There is a lot to like about Carter Coughlin out of Minnesota. He was a team captain, has an effervescent personality, and scored well in many of the workout metrics at the NFL Combine. His 9.8 RAS (relative athletic score) puts him into the 98th percentile of athletes at linebacker. His speed and jumping scores were impressive.

There are things he will have to overcome. He played as an edge rusher in college, but at 6-3 and 236 pounds, he does not fit the profile of someone who plays consistently on the line of scrimmage in the NFL. What will his role be? Can he serve as an effective situational pass rusher? Or can he hone his coverage and space skills to the point where he can play off-ball inside linebacker?

In an abbreviated offseason, making those kinds of big changes will be difficult for a rookie, but Coughlin seems to have the work ethic and attitude to make it happen.

View photos of the entire 10-member New York Giants 2020 Draft Class

Samuel in Vermont: With our improved (vastly, in my opinion) offensive line, and returning players for the offensive skill positions, do you see the Giants putting up 30+ points a game?

John Schmeelk: Even with a new offense and a second year starting quarterback, I expect the offense to be ranked in the top half of the league. How high will be determined by how quickly things come together. Their early season schedule features games against some strong defenses (Steelers, Bears, 49ers, Rams).

Daniel Jones has familiarity with the skill position players on offense, which should expedite a quick adjustment to the new offense. He should have more than enough talented playmakers to succeed.

The offensive line and how much it has improved will bear watching. There is a new coach in Marc Colombo. The organization hopes Nate Solder has a strong bounce-back season. Will Hernandez will improve in his third year. The desire is Andrew Thomas wins a starting offensive tackle spot and provides an upgrade over Mike Remmers, who was a solid right tackle last year. Perhaps someone can seize the center job and play better than Jon Halapio did last year before his injury? There are no guarantees of those things happening. Kevin Zeitler should continue his high level of play. We need to see the group play together before we know how improved they will be.

View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.

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