1. The offensive rookie to watch at minicamp is quarterback Daniel Jones.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -- I look forward to seeing Lance try to be a contrarian and find his way around the obvious answer here, but I know that Daniel Jones is the guy I am most excited about. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, finding the Giants’ next quarterback after Eli Manning is the most important thing Dave Gettleman is going to have to do in his career as the team’s General Manager. I’ve watched every snap of Jones from his 2018 Duke season and watched him live at the Senior Bowl, but this is different. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Eli Manning from the sideline at practice for more than a decade, and now I can see what Daniel Jones looks like from the exact same perspective. I can’t wait to do it.
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction – I’m actually going to be the contrarian here, Schmeelk. I want to see the guy he will be airing it out to – wide receiver Darius Slayton. He’s a 4.3 guy and plays like it. These non-padded practices are a lot of pitch and catch. So let’s see how far Jones can sling it to the speedster.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact -- The minute the Giants selected Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick he was immediately put under the microscope, so with no disrespect to any of the other offensive players taking part in minicamp, how can you make a strong case for anyone else? Any quarterback taken as high as Jones knows high expectations and pressure come with the territory. Despite the fact that there’s only so much you can take away from a rookie minicamp, all eyes will be glued on Jones.
2. The defensive rookie to watch is defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.
SCHMEELK: Fact -- Dexter Lawrence is a really large man, and after seeing his movement skills at that size on tape, I am looking forward to seeing it in person. I’ve seen Damon Harrison, Shaun Rodgers and Linval Joseph, and I want to see how he compares to them. Someone who weighs in at 340 pounds shouldn’t be as sudden or shifty as Lawrence is, and I am looking forward to seeing it up close and personal.
SALOMONE: Fiction – This time of year is not for the big men, unfortunately. With no pads or contact until training camp at the end of July, you won’t see much in the trenches. Rather, this stage in the offseason program is for the quarterbacks, receivers, tight ends and defensive backs. So I’m looking at cornerback Deandre Baker, whom the Giants traded up to grab at the end of the first round. The Giants and many others believed he was the best cover corner in the draft. Let’s see him in action.
MEDOW: Fiction -- Minicamp practices are non-padded and there’s no contact, so how much do you really think you’re going to learn from watching a defensive tackle who stands 6-4 and weighs 342 pounds but can’t tackle anyone. Instead, it makes much more sense to focus on the corners who can at least make some plays on the ball. That’s why first round pick Deandre Baker and fourth rounder Julian Love are the two players worth watching.
3. Cornerback will be the most intriguing position to watch during spring football and into training camp.
SCHMEELK: Fact -- The Giants added three cornerbacks in 2019 NFL Draft, and Sam Beal in the 2018 supplemental draft. Those players, along with 2018 undrafted free agent Grant Haley, could be the backbone of the secondary for years to come. For now, they will be learning under veteran Janoris Jenkins. I am excited to see how their physical styles match up against NFL caliber wide receivers. They will be tested early against players like Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate.
SALOMONE: Fact – Amid all the quarterback and edge rusher hoopla, you knew the Giants still needed to address the cornerback position in the draft. And boy, did they. Seven of their 10 picks were defense, and three of them were cornerbacks. There is also the return of supplemental draft pick Sam Beal, who spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve. Janoris Jenkins has some young pups to train.
MEDOW: Fact -- This is right in line with my response to the previous statement, as well as part of my response to our most recent Cover 3 piece entitled: “Takeaways from Giants’ 2019 Draft.” Between last year’s supplemental draft and this year’s regular draft, the Giants are adding four new corners to the mix in Sam Beal, Deandre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine. There’s been so much turnover at that position and, as a result, multiple starting spots opposite Janoris Jenkins are up for grabs. Aside from Jenkins, who played 99% of the team’s defensive snaps last season, Grant Haley (39%) and Tony Lippett (2%) are the only other corners still on the roster that logged defensive snaps in 2018. With so many new, young faces battling for roles and roster spots, it will make for an interesting spring/summer season.
4. Aside from the first-round picks, outside linebacker Oshane Ximines (third round) is the most intriguing member of the class.
SCHMEELK: FACT SLAM -- I almost went with Julian Love here since I think he was such a steal in the fourth round, but Ximines has potential to be an effective player at a real position of need for the Giants: edge rusher. His tape at Old Dominion was excellent, and if he can figure out to be just as effective against NFL competition, he can be a difference-making player. With some time in an NFL weight room, he has a chance to do it in the NFL.
SALOMONE: Fiction – I’m sticking with what I said in my answer to No. 1. Darius Slayton, a fifth-round pick, is very intriguing to me. He is a take-the-top-off-the-coverage guy. “He's extremely fast,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “He can get behind the defense, and we all know the effect that can have for an offense.” He averaged over 20 yards per catch during his career at Auburn, which is incredible.
MEDOW: Fact -- Whenever a player from a smaller program is taken relatively high, that creates intrigue. In four full seasons at Old Dominion, Ximines collected 32.5 sacks and recorded 51 tackles for a loss (both program records). He clearly has a knack for getting after the quarterback and wreaking havoc in the backfield, but now it’s a matter of whether that production can be duplicated on the NFL level. That alone should generate plenty of interest, plus his skillset is an area the Giants are looking to improve upon.