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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for sophomore seasons


The staff debates Big Blue topics as OTA's continue:

Sterling Shepard will have more receiving yards than Paul Perkins will have on the ground.

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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -This one is honestly a no-brainer for me. Shepard's numbers are going to likely go down from last year with the addition of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram. Perkins, on the other hand, will likely get the great majority of the carries at running back. If he does not eclipse 1,000 yards rushing this year, I would be very surprised.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Over the previous four seasons, the Giants' leading rusher has averaged 667.3 yards. To put that into perspective, that's right around what Shepard had as a rookie last season (he had 683 receiving yards). So where does that leave us? Perkins has already been named the starting running back by Ben McAdoo, and if all goes right, Perkins should flirt with becoming the Giants' first 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012. But we just haven't seen the ground game be consistent enough in recent years, so I'm going to stick with the receivers – in this case Shepard – until the offense proves otherwise. Additionally, I don't see Shepard's yards decreasing in Year 2, even with the additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram. He's still going to get plenty of touches.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Last season, Paul Perkins collected 456 rushing yards, but keep in mind 309 of those yards came in the last five games when he emerged as the starter over Rashad Jennings. With Perkins in line to be the full-time starter in 2017, I expect him to surpass last season's totals and then some, especially since I believe he'll be the workhorse. Last season, Sterling Shepard finished second on the team with 683 receiving yards, but in the offseason the Giants added veteran wideout Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Evan Engram. With more weapons in the receiving corps, Shepard will have more competition for targets. I still think he can duplicate his stats from 2016, but with a bigger workload, I also think Perkins can top Shepard's total.

Jason Pierre-Paul will have more sacks than Brandon Marshall has touchdowns.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -Dan outdid himself with this statement. This is one of the toughest ones we've had. From 2012-2015, Brandon Marshall had 11, 12, 8 and 14 touchdowns. Jason Pierre-Paul has only had more than seven sacks twice in his career. Marshall's numbers might get depressed in the same way Sterling Shepard's will, but I still think he will be a common target for Eli Manning inside the red zone. If JPP stays healthy the whole year, he might get to double-digits, but I think that's where he maxes out. Marshall has a better shot at topping 10 than JPP.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -This is another tossup here. It's going to be very interesting to see how targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns will be split up among the plethora of weapons at Eli Manning's disposal. Logic says a 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver like Marshall will come up big in the red zone, but we'll see how it plays out. I'm going with "fact" here because I think JPP is primed for a big season, just like I think the same for the defense as a whole.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Over the course of their careers, Jason Pierre-Paul is averaging just over seven sacks per season and Brandon Marshall just over seven touchdowns per campaign, so the law of averages is about identical. Last season, JPP collected seven sacks in 12 games and he'll be playing alongside the same personnel in 2017. Marshall had just three touchdowns in 2016, but that total doesn't tell much considering he was with a different team and a different quarterback. Given the talent surrounding Marshall now and the fact Eli Manning is arguably the best signal caller he's played with, I think Marshall has the potential for double-digit touchdowns in 2017 and I think he'll just edge out JPP.

*Landon Collins will lead the team in tackles.   *

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -The only other players that will be in the mix here are the Giants linebackers: Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson and maybe B.J. Goodson, if he gets a ton of snaps. The fact of the matter is that while Landon Collins will be on the field every down, the linebackers will not be. Last year, Collins topped the second-place finisher in tackles (Casillas) by nearly 30 tackles. I expect something similar to happen this year.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Linebackers typically lead in tackles around the league, but that hasn't been the case with the Giants in recent history. That's because of how they are used. No Giants linebacker played more than 71.6 percent of the defensive snaps (Jonathan Casillas) last season, whereas Collins played 99.5 percent. It's a numbers game, and oh by the way, Collins is pretty good. He's a first-team All-Pro.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Landon Collins has led the team in tackles by comfortable margins in each of the last two seasons, and I don't see why 2017 will be any different. Collins played in all 16 games in each of his first two seasons in the league, so he's proven durable and his play drastically improved from 2015 to 2016. You figure he's only going to get better. A safety has led the Giants in tackles in three of the last four seasons with Antrel Rolle accomplishing that feat in 2013. Given that trend, Collins' consistency and the fact he rarely comes off the field, he's in a very good position to stay atop the team in tackles this coming season.

Janoris Jenkins will lead the team in interceptions.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -Give me Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie here, with Darian Thompson as a sleeper laying in the weeds. Jenkins plays great man defense, but that means he often has his back to the quarterback, which makes snagging interceptions tougher. Rodgers-Cromartie is an expert at baiting quarterbacks into mistakes, and he has good hands. I bet he will also return one for a touchdown this season.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -That's the thing about top corners. Sometimes their interception total doesn't pop out because quarterbacks won't throw their way because the receiver is covered. So it's not a knock on Jenkins at all when he doesn't lead the team in picks. I'm going to say Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for this one. His speed and savvy are elite.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Last season, Janoris Jenkins finished third on the team in interceptions with 3, behind Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6) and Landon Collins (5). Keep in mind, Jenkins has never had more than four interceptions in a given season and the last time he reached that total was 2012, his rookie season. Aside from his previous stats, another big reason why I don't think he'll lead the team in interceptions is after seeing how well Jenkins played last season, most quarterbacks will likely be throwing in the opposite direction in 2017.

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