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Cover 3

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Cover 3: Future team leaders & possible captains


In this week's edition of Cover 3, the crew discusses who will be the team leaders and possible captains.

John Schmeelk: This is a very difficult question to answer given we haven't seen the team on the field in the spring and how the players are interacting with one another. I don't know how many captains there will be with Joe Judge as head coach. I will assume a similar structure the team has see before with two offensive captains, two defensive captains, and one special teams captain.

Daniel Jones - It is always safe to go with the quarterback. Jones will step into a leadership role in his second year. His steady personality, excellent work ethic, will allow him to lead by example as he becomes someone players look to for leadership.

Nate Solder - Picking the second captain on offense was difficult but I went with Solder. He is a veteran that has done a lot to bring the offensive line together in past seasons. Like Jones, he is a steady presence and someone players in the locker room respect immensely. I would not be surprised to see Saquon Barkley be named a captain either. Golden Tate, as the veteran skill position player on the team is also a possibility.

Nate Ebner - Much like Matthew Slater was a special teams captain for the Patriots, I can see Nate Ebner taking over that role for the Giants as their special teams ace.

James Bradberry - There are not many veterans in the secondary besides Bradberry, who should be regularly assigned to cover the opposing team's best receiver. His personality should provide a stabilizing presence in the back half of the defense. Jabrill Peppers is the other option that wouldn't surprise me.

Blake Martinez - I realize that three of my captain choices are new additions to the team, but Martinez is going to be the player with the communicator in his helmet, and as the middle linebacker he has natural leadership responsibility. He also has the personality for it. I can't find anyone else in the front seven that is a more logical choice than he is.

View photos of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throughout his NFL career.

Dan Salomone: We'll wait to see what Joe Judge's philosophy is on captains – how many, who decides, etc. – but one thing is for sure. There is major void after the retirement of Eli Manning, one of the greatest leaders in New York sports history. The good news is that the successor had a year to learn from him, whether it was on the field, in the film room or up at the podium in front of all the lights, cameras and microphones. Of course, I'm talking about Daniel Jones.

Since he decided to hang up the cleats, Manning has admitted that last season was probably a little awkward for the rookie. How could it not be? But Jones never showed it, which is one of the reasons why this team looks to be in good hands at the most important position in all of sports. Jones, like Manning, never looked rattled from Day 1.

On defense, as I wrote last week in Fact or Fiction, something tells me this coaching staff is very high on defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson, both as a playmaker and leader. Tomlinson has started every game since he came into the league in 2017 and has been one of the most consistent presences in the locker room. He is a Joe Judge guy. He just puts his head down and goes to work every day. He also reunited with Patrick Graham, who was his position coach as a rookie.

On special teams, I think you have to look at Nate Ebner. The special teams ace played in New England from 2012-19, the same eight years Judge was either a Patriots special teams assistant or coordinator. Ebner had more than 10 special teams tackles in six of his eight seasons, and the Patriots won all three Super Bowls in which he played (Ebner was sidelined for New England's loss to Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII after tearing his ACL while running for 14 yards and a first down on a fake punt vs. Miami on Nov. 26, 2017).

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

Lance Medow: In 2019, the Giants elected seven captains so let's use that framework for this season as well. Eli Manning, Nate Solder and Saquon Barkley represented the offense, Alec Ogletree and Antoine Bethea the defense and the two special teams reps were Zak DeOssie and Michael Thomas. Five of those seven players are no longer on the team so there's a number of voids to fill.

I think Daniel Jones will take Eli Manning's place and Nate Solder and Saquon Barkley will retain their roles. Solder is the union player rep for the Giants so, by default, he's already an established leader and Barkley emerged as a vocal presence on and off the field in 2019.

As far as the defense goes, the unit overall is relatively young. That's why I think Jabrill Peppers will assume one of the captain spots given his experience and Blake Martinez the other. The latter spent his first four seasons in the league with the Packers and also has familiarity with Patrick Graham, who was his position coach in Green Bay in 2018. Martinez also served as a team captain when he played for Stanford. James Bradberry is also a strong candidate because he mentored a number of young corners throughout his career, including Donte Jackson in Carolina, and I can see him taking on a similar role with the Giants.

Much like on defense, the Giants need other leaders to emerge on special teams and I think they already have two great options. Long snapper Casey Kreiter served as a key team leader and captain at Iowa and I think he'd be the perfect replacement for Zak DeOssie. Michael Thomas leaves a huge void behind and I can't think of a better option to fill his shoes than free agent addition Nate Ebner, who has a long-established relationship with Joe Judge based on their days together in New England and has a great feel for what helped make the Patriots culture so successful. He'd be the most logical individual to emerge as a leader, both on and off the field, and someone other players can turn to because of his knowledge of the scheme as well as a handful of coaches on staff.


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