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Cover 4: Breakdown of initial 53-man roster


The crew breaks down a busy week regarding the 53-man roster as the 2022 season looms just over a week away:

John Schmeelk: After the Giants released their initial 53-man roster on Tuesday, it was fairly obvious that at least one waiver claim was going to come at defensive back. Only eight defensive backs remained on the 53 after initial cuts with two of those players, cornerback Rodarius Williams and safety Dane Belton, having missed most of August with injuries.

Depth in the defensive backfield is extremely important for every NFL team and the only healthy cornerback after the initial 53 man roster behind the team's starters (Adoree' Jackson, Aaron Robinson and Darnay Holmes) was rookie Cor'Dale Flott. The Giants moved Rodarius WIllliams, who is still recovering from last year's ACL, to injured reserve. He will have to miss at least four games.

The Giants claimed Nick McCloud and Justin Layne off waivers to provide depth at cornerback. Layne, a former 2019 third-round pick of the Steelers, has the size profile of a press-man cornerback. At 6'2 and 192 pounds, he played 142 snaps outside for Pittsburgh the past three seasons.

McCloud was an undrafted free agent for the Bills in 2021 before joining the Bengals and playing 26 snaps for them last season. He is 6'1 and 192 pounds and attended Notre Dame. Both players will give the Giants some security behind their starters.

At safety, Dane Belton has impressed coaches since his arrival, and it was no surprise he made the final 53 and will play a significant role on the defense. Head Coach Brian Daboll indicated on Wednesday the team is hopeful he will be ready for Week 1. Like starter Xavier McKinney and Julian Love, he is a versatile player that can play in a lot of different roles.

New addition Jason Pinnock will be a versatile fourth safety for the roster. A fifth-round pick of the Jets in 2021, Pinnock played all the special teams in 311 snaps last season. He also played 38 snaps as a box safety, 41 in the slot, and 123 at free safety. He is 6'0 and 200 pounds.

Dan Salomone: There's naturally a lot of talk about the back end of the depth chart right now, but the Giants will only go as far as their core takes them. And that nucleus is changing. In the first year of the new era, the Giants have seven first-time captains out of 10 total: Andrew Thomas on offense, Xavier McKinney, Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence on defense, Casey Kreiter and Cam Brown on special teams, plus Julian Love, who received numerous votes as both a safety and special teams ace. 

"What you see first and foremost is it's a young group," Love said. "It's guys who are still establishing themselves as players in this league, but I think that's what we realize that we can't be passive anymore. … There's urgency to change this team and for the better, and I think that's kind of what you see with this group we have."

View photos of the New York Giants' 2022 roster as it currently stands.

Lance Medow: The position that proved to have the most depth during training camp was on full display when the Giants cut their roster down to 53 players as they kept seven wide receivers. There has been a strong case to be made to retain that many given the versatility of the group and more of a reliance on receivers within the offense compared to tight ends. On top of that, with Sterling Shepard recently coming off the PUP list, it doesn't hurt to have additional insurance.

There were not any major surprises. We knew Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and rookie Wan'Dale Robinson were in the mix. Although speculation has surrounded Darius Slayton's name all off-season, he brings a speed and vertical element to the table that the rest of the group doesn't necessarily provide. Richie James and David Sills had strong camps. James has proven to be a dangerous special teams return man throughout his tenure with the Niners and showed some flashes as a receiver. Sills has been with the Giants, in some capacity, since 2019 and has had productive preseasons but his size and catch radius has proven to be a valuable asset for this team. His chemistry with Daniel Jones also shouldn't be overlooked. Much like we saw in Buffalo and Kansas City, the Giants are going to rely on three and four receiver sets and utilize those players out of the backfield. That's more of a reason why seven players at the spot to start the season makes a lot of sense.

Matt Citak: The Giants currently have eight offensive linemen on the 53-man roster, most of whom were not on the field for the team last season. Andrew Thomas is the only incumbent starter on the offensive line after he started 13 games last season and took a big step forward in his development. Shane Lemieux played just one game in 2021, and earlier this week was placed on injured reserve to start the season. Ben Bredeson played in eight games last year with just one start, while Devery Hamilton spent most of the season on the practice squad.

Bredeson and Hamilton earned their spots on the 53-man roster this year with strong performances in the preseason. The former played 64 snaps in one game, earning elite PFF grades of 88.8 (overall) and 91.5 (run block), and was the highest graded member of the Giants' offense after he did not allow a single pressure. Meanwhile, Hamilton earned a strong 76.1 overall grade, aided by a stellar 91.8 run block grade, in three preseason games.

Jon Feliciano and Mark Glowinski were two of the team's veteran splashes in March, and both played well in two preseason games. Feliciano received a team-high 82.2 pass block grade (zero pressures allowed) and Glowinski was right behind him with an 82.1 grade (one pressure allowed). The Giants also claimed OL Jack Anderson off waivers from the Eagles on Wednesday.

The OL group is rounded out by two rookies, No. 7 overall pick Evan Neal and third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu. Neal is slotted in as the starting right tackle, while Ezeudu is competing for the starting left guard spot with Lemieux opening up the season on injured reserve. Lemieux will miss at least the first four weeks of the season before he can be activated.


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