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Fact or Fiction: Top performers at OTA's


The staff debates Big Blue topics as OTAs continue:

Brandon Marshall stood out the most in the first week of OTAs.

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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -It's probably just because he's new (or the bright red tights), but my eyes were automatically going to Marshall during drills. His stature alone draws attention. The Giants haven't had a receiver of his dimensions since Plaxico Burress. He runs every route in practice with a purpose at full speed, even simulating getting off the line of scrimmage when there isn't a defender there. Eli has thrown to him a bunch in these practice sessions and the two seem to be getting more and more comfortable with each other.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - Marshall is as big and dominant as advertised, so it's hard for him not to stand out. But I'll go a different route. Jason Pierre-Paul has made some noise early in OTAs. It can be easy for veterans with long-term contracts to go through the motions this time of year, but that doesn't appear to be the case for JPP. On Tuesday, he swatted down a pair of passes, one of which led to an interception by Damon Harrison. JPP missed the final month of last season because of injury, but he looks like he's picking up where he left off before he was sidelined.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -There's been so much chatter this offseason as to how Brandon Marshall will help the offense, and the first week of OTAs provided a glance, especially with Marshall running routes against Janoris Jenkins. The veteran wideout made a number of impressive catches throughout the week thanks to his ability to stretch the field, and his presence seems to be bringing out the best in the rest of the receiving corps, as well as the cornerback group.

Evan Engram will have more targets than Sterling Shepard this year.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -The slot receiver is important in this offense and that isn't going to change. The tight end is important, too, but Engram is far more likely to split his time with other players than Shepard, who is locked into his position with a good skill set coming off a very strong rookie season. He is going to get more snaps than Engram, has a better chemistry with Eli Manning due to their year together, and will get more targets.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -Not only does seniority rule in this case, but what was most impressive about Shepard last season was his ability to come through in pressure situations. Eli Manning could rely on him not just on third down, but fourth down as well. He doesn't have to think twice when throwing to No. 87 in tight spots. I think Shepard is in for a big sophomore year with a focus on improving his yards after the catch.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -In 2016, Sterling Shepard finished second on the team with 105 targets and Will Tye led all tight ends with 70 targets. This season, Brandon Marshall will likely eat into Shepard's targets, but I still think Shepard will finish with more targets than Evan Engram. In the three years the Giants have run Ben McAdoo's system, the targets for the third wide receiver and number one tight end have fluctuated, but the fact that Shepard runs most of his routes out of the slot and is a favorite target of Eli Manning on third down gives him an edge to finish ahead of Engram in that department.

Free safety is the competition to watch on defense.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - I'm watching the linebackers. B.J. Goodson is going to have a chance to earn starting snaps at middle linebacker in running situations. He will battle Keenan Robinson for those snaps, along with some of the other veterans on the roster. Steve Spagnuolo likes to use his linebackers situationally, and I'm excited to see what he sees as the strengths and weaknesses of the current group.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -First-team All-Pro safety Landon Collins needs a partner, and we don't know who it will be. Andrew Adams deserved more credit than he got for coming in as an undrafted free agent and starting on one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL. He was replacing Darian Thompson, another promising rookie who was in line to start before injuries limited him to two games. Now that Thompson is back, the competition is on.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Following last year's training camp, Darian Thompson was in line to be the starting free safety alongside Landon Collins, but unfortunately due to injuries, his stint only lasted two games and he was sidelined the rest of his rookie season. That opened the door for undrafted free agent rookie Andrew Adams to step in, and he took full advantage of the opportunity as he started 13 of the final 14 games. With those two players returning, along with the addition of veteran Duke Ihenacho, that's clearly the position battle to watch on defense. Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson are also in the mix, but both players need to prove they can stay on the field after dealing with various injuries over the last few seasons. With last year's unit essentially still intact, there are only a few jobs up for grabs and the free safety spot tops the list.

The rookie you're most interested to see develop is offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -He's at the bottom of the list for me, honestly. You don't expect a sixth round offensive tackle to contribute in his rookie season or battle for a starting spot. Even though Davis Webb is in a similar situation as third string quarterback, watching him learn will be fun. Engram, Gallman, Tomlinson and Moss could all contribute this season if they make the adjustment to the NFL quickly, which all have the skill to do. I'll be watching them very closely.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -The player I find most intriguing is defensive end Avery Moss out of Youngstown State. I've used this stat a lot of times this offseason, but it bears repeating: Olivier Vernon played the most snaps of any defensive lineman in the league, and Jason Pierre-Paul was on pace to join him until he went down with an injury. The Giants have been looking for a third defensive end to step up, and I'll be curious to see if Moss can be that guy, whether it's in the short term or long run.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -I'm anxious to see how the entire rookie class develops, but I'm much more interested to observe how Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson come along because I think those two rookies have the opportunity to make the biggest impact on the team this season. Both Engram and Tomlinson have realistic shots at claiming starting jobs as rookies, so it's not so much how they develop from one season to another, it'll be more interesting to see how they develop over the course of the year.

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