Three Giants writers debate which player has the most to gain as the team opens minicamp:
This New York Giants hold their mandatory minicamp this week, and the three days of practices will set the table for the next time players are on the field for training camp in late July. In this week's "Cover 3" on Giants.com, we asked our staffers which player has to most to gain this offseason.
Here is what they said:
Pick any member of the rookie class. This is a very important time for all rookies to learn the playbook and what it is like to function in the NFL. The more they pick up now, the easier training camp will be and the better chance they have of earning significant playing time. A coach's decision to play a rookie is in many ways about trust. You earn trust this time of year by showing coach's you can process information and bring it onto the practice field. If guys like Dalvin Tomlinson, Evan Engram, Wayne Gallman and Avery Moss want to play significant snaps right away, then their learning process needs to start now.
Specifically for Evan Engram, and I would put him on top of my list, other than learning the playbook he also needs to show the willingness and strength to block. If he proves to the coaches that be can be at least adequate in that part of the game, it will open up more opportunities for him to get on the field.
The second safety has been elusive for the Giants. First it was Nat Berhe who was going to step up and start opposite Landon Collins. Then it was Darian Thompson last year. However, both suffered early injuries that put them on the backburner. In the meantime, Andrew Adams, an undrafted rookie from UConn, filled in admirably and started on the No. 2 scoring defense in 2016 while Collins broke out with a first-team All-Pro campaign.
But now, if he stays healthy, Thompson looks to reclaim the spot that he was holding down at this time last year. As he said in an interview with Giants.com, Thompson thinks he and Collins would be a "perfect duo." But safeties coach David Merritt said it will be a competition this summer because you can't take anything away from what Adams did last year. "Hopefully we will find that solid piece this year," he said.
When you look at the roster overall there aren't many starting jobs up for grabs given the majority of the 2016 offensive and defensive units are set to return. With that being said, to me, there's one position, in particular, that is wide open and that's middle linebacker. Last season, Kelvin Sheppard assumed that role on most early downs but he's currently a free agent so that means last year's fourth round pick, B.J. Goodson, has a great opportunity to prove to the coaching staff he can take over that position.
Goodson was used mainly as a special teams player during his rookie campaign. He actually logged the second most special teams snaps on the team with 315 just behind fellow linebacker, Mark Herzlich (397). On the other hand, Goodson was limited to just 13 defensive snaps. Based on those stats, this offseason is critical to his development and becoming more and more comfortable with his role in the scheme. Goodson has said he's been leaning on former Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, who thrived in Steve Spagnuolo's system during Spags' first stint as defensive coordinator with the team, to further learn the role of the middle linebacker and the responsibilities that come with that position. Given the opportunity in front of him, the other personnel at his position and his skillset, Goodson, clearly, has the most to gain this offseason.