With the Giants set to report on Thursday, we asked our writers to give us one bold prediction for training camp.
These bold predictions are always very tricky. They have to be plausible enough to happen, yet still be "out there" enough to be bold. I'm not sure this will qualify as bold, but I will run with it anyway: I believe the Giants are going to keep four tight ends on the roster this year. Everyone knows Evan Engram is on the roster and will be part of the passing game. Rhett Ellison was a key free-agent addition and will not only be able to play tight end but fullback as well. It's that versatility that will allow the Giants to carry four tight ends. Engram's ability to split out wide as a virtual wide receiver adds to the position group's versatility as well.
The other two tight ends on the roster will be the result of a competition between Will Tye, Jerell Adams and Matt LaCosse. Adams, a former draft pick, has the leg up because of superior physical tools with his size and speed. Tye has the experience. LaCosse has flashed whenever he has been healthy enough to practice, but staying healthy enough to play has been a problem.
Safety Andrew Adams won't go anywhere, and neither will cornerback Michael Hunter. While the Giants return the core of their elite secondary, there are still some key competitions for depth -- and they are important. At safety, Darian Thompson, if healthy, is the guy right now to start opposite All-Pro Landon Collins. But don't sleep on Adams, who started on the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL as an undrafted rookie. The second safety has been an elusive position for the Giants in recent years, and it never seems to play out the way you think. I think it will be closer than people think.
I also threw Hunter into this response because of something Steve Spagnuolo said last month at minicamp. The defensive coordinator, out of all the names on the roster, had Hunter's on the top of his mind when asked about players who jumped out in the offseason. Hunter appeared in two games as an undrafted rookie last season, and he'll be competing for the job as the fourth cornerback. It might not sound like a "bold" position on the roster, but this defense was just not the same last year when one of the cornerbacks went down. You need four to get the job done.
I've hinted at this in previous columns, and given it's now the topic of this feature, I'll continue to emphasize that I think Robert Thomas is going to have an impressive camp and win the starting defensive tackle job alongside Damon "Snacks" Harrison. Thomas joined the Giants right before the start of the 2016 season after he was claimed off waivers, and he wasn't eligible to play until Week 6 due to an illness. Once he suited up, Thomas flashed at times during his eight appearances, especially with his ability to get to the quarterback. The Giants re-signed Thomas earlier this year, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said Thomas has made some great strides during the offseason program.
While the Giants selected Dalvin Tomlinson in the second round -- and most expect him to be the frontrunner for the starting job -- I think it's easy to overlook Thomas given he's not a household name. But the undrafted veteran has familiarity with Spags' defense and experience playing next to Snacks. The Giants have a track record of turning unknown commodities into productive players, and I think Thomas will be the next one as he looks to fill the void left behind by Johnathan Hankins.