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ESPN: Giants No. 2 in talent under 25 years old


The Giants sport one of the NFL's youngest rosters.

Only five players on the team's current 80-man roster are 30+ years old: quarterbacks Colt McCoy (33) and Alex Tanney (32), wide receiver Golden Tate (32), defensive back Nate Ebner (31) and guard Kevin Zeitler (30). On the other hand, 50 members of the Giants' roster are under 25, including many of the team's key starters.

ESPN took a look at each team's roster from around the league and ranked them by their Under 25 groupings.

As the article states, "These ratings consider not just talent under age 25, but also the value and length of those players' current contracts. This will push up the teams with productive players who have several years left on inexpensive rookie contracts and push down the teams that have already had to, or will soon have to, pay their experienced young talent."

The Baltimore Ravens, led by 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, took the top spot in ESPN's rankings. But coming in at No. 2, three slots higher than their 2019 ranking, are the Giants.

The article classifies guard Will Hernandez, running back Saquon Barkley, quarterback Daniel Jones, defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and tackle Andrew Thomas as the team's blue-chip players under 25 years old. Tight end Evan Engram and defensive lineman B.J. Hill are listed as notable players who just missed the age cutoff (both are 25). 

Hernandez has shown a lot of promise in his first two seasons. The guard out of UTEP has started all 32 games of his NFL career and was named to the Pro Football Writers Association's 2018 All-Rookie Team. Hernandez has a "standout 1.3 percent blown block rate in his two professional seasons," according to ESPN's Scott Spratt.

Barkley's first two seasons in the NFL have been nothing short of special.

Barkley took the league by storm as a rookie. After being selected with the second overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Bronx native went on to play all 16 games and accumulated 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. Barkley set NFL rookie records for receptions by a running back (91) and games with 100+ yards from scrimmage (12).

View photos from Monday's training camp session

Barkley also set Giants single-season rookie records for most rushing touchdowns, most rushing yards, and most total touchdowns.

The talented back took home several honors that year, including the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year award, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year award. He was named to the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Rookie Team and the AP All-Rookie Team, as well as the 2018 Pro Bowl. Barkley also rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2019 despite missing three games with a high ankle sprain, becoming the first player in franchise history to top the 1,000-yard rushing mark in each of his first two seasons.

Lawrence's promising campaign earned him the No. 9 slot in Pro Football Focus' Top 50 NFL rookie rankings following the conclusion of the 2019 season. The 22-year-old earned a 76.1 overall grade from PFF, but Lawrence really left his mark in the run game. The No. 17 overall pick in last year's draft earned a 76.3 run defense grade, which ranked 21st among the 117 qualifying interior defenders. Among the six interior defensive linemen selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, Lawrence was the only one to play 500 or more snaps and earn an overall grade above 70.0.

Lawrence was also named to PFF’s 2019 NFL All-Rookie Team. He racked up 38 tackles (24 solo), 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. He also recorded one forced fumble and one pass defended while playing in all 16 games.

As Spratt writes, "Barkley again broke a tackle on more than one-fifth of his touches in 2019 and looks like a generational running back at still just 23 years old. And with 18 hurries in his rookie season, Lawrence showed surprising versatility for a player who looks the part of an old-school run-stopper."

Of course, the success of the Giants' young roster will largely depend on the development of second-year quarterback Daniel Jones.

Jones put together a historic first season in the NFL. In 12 starts, last year's No. 6 overall pick completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 3,010 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while adding 44 carries for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Jones set numerous franchise rookie records, including most passing yards, most passing touchdowns, highest completion percentage, most completions (284), and highest passer rating (87.7).

Jones became the first rookie in NFL history to have three games with four touchdowns and no interceptions and tied the NFL rookie record for most passing touchdowns in a game with five against Washington in Week 16. He finished just three touchdown passes shy of Baker Mayfield's all-time rookie record, despite starting just 12 games.

"After a modestly productive college career, Jones was the biggest surprise of Gettleman's many surprising draft picks at sixth overall in 2019, nine spots ahead of Dwayne Haskins who many scouts preferred," writes Spratt. "But at least compared to the historically inefficient Haskins, Jones enjoyed a successful rookie season with middling 62% completion and 53.6 QBR rates." Spratt also notes that Jones' turnovers, specifically his fumbles, "do not erase the promise of his future years."

The article goes on to mention wide receiver Darius Slayton as another promising, young playmaker on the roster, noting his efficiency and ability to stretch the field. After missing the first two games of 2019, Slayton went on to grab 48 passes for 740 yards with eight touchdowns, the latter matching Tennessee's A.J. Brown for the NFL rookie lead.

His eight touchdowns are tied for the third-most by a rookie in franchise history, two behind Bill Swiacki (1948) and four off Odell Beckham Jr.'s record (2014). Slayton also ranks fifth in receiving yards and is tied for sixth in catches on the Giants' all-time rookie list.

Last year's 171st overall pick finished second among all rookies in touchdowns and fifth in receiving yards despite being the 18th wide receiver taken in the draft.

On defense, Pratt also lists Julian Love, Jabrill Peppers and Xavier McKinney as young assets with the potential to boost the Giants' budding unit.

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


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