The Giants.com crew reacts to the announcement of the team's 53-man roster.
John Schmeelk: The Giants' 53-man roster is out, and the first thing that jumped out was that the number of defensive players outnumbered the offensive players 27-23. After thinking about it, the reasoning became clear.
The Giants have more established players on offense. The Giants kept nine offensive linemen, which is fairly standard, but they only kept 14 players (including two quarterbacks) who will have the football in their hands after the snap.
Daniel Jones was a top-10 pick and is their starting quarterback. Saquon Barkley is going to eat up the majority of running back snaps. Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate are established wide receivers, while Darius Slayton showed he deserved consistent snaps as a rookie. At tight end, Evan Engram is the unquestioned starter. When a team is confident in their front-line players at certain positions, it is easier not to stack so many numbers behind them. It is also possible another wide receiver is added to the roster over the next couple of days, which would put the total at six.
In general, the defense has fewer established players and more youngsters that are still developing and trying to prove themselves as NFL players. It makes sense to stack that part of the roster with a greater volume of players to give the coaching staff more choices when they decide who is going to get more snaps on a weekly basis. When you think about it that way, the 27-23 makeup makes a lot of sense.
On defense, the decision to keep 11 linebackers, which includes the team's edge rushers, is what stuck out the most. When the Giants drafted linebackers with four of their final five draft picks in 2020, it was reasonable to wonder whether all of them would be able to make the final roster. They did. The only 2020 draft pick not to make it was seventh rounder Chris Williamson.
It is clear now that drafting Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, TJ Brunson and Tae Crowder late in the draft was done with purpose. Linebackers often serve as core special teams players and it will be no different with those four players for the Giants in 2020. Coughlin's athleticism and Brown's length give them a lot of potential on special teams.
There could be opportunities for Crowder and Brunson to get on the field as inside linebackers. The Giants kept three other players at the position: Blake Martinez, Devante Downs and David Mayo. Mayo is likely to hit injured reserve after undergoing knee surgery earlier in training camp. Will the Giants add another linebacker to the roster to replace him, or will they go with only four?
Keeping 10 defensive backs on defense is standard, but one is Xavier McKinney (destined for IR) and another is Nate Ebner (primarily a special teams player). One more defensive back could be added to the roster as the team gets its way through waiver claims and replacing their players put on injured reserve.
Keeping six interior defensive linemen was also a decision I found interesting. It will be difficult to find snaps for all of them on gameday, which means one or two will likely be on the inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff. They likely kept six because the players at the position were too talented to let leave the organization.
View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.
Dan Salomone: I keep going back to something Joe Judge said in late February at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis: "I love that they're a young team and that we can develop this team. That's a strength. That's a much bigger strength than people understand because it gives you time to work with guys and time to mold guys. All these guys come out in the draft, their best advantages, they're young. They have young legs and are impressionable. That's critical. That's critical. You want to have a team that you can coach and mold to be a team. Right now, we have a young team. I think that's important."
Usually when you talk about young players, it's in the context that they have a lot left in the tank. But it's more than that. It means they can be molded. That philosophy was backed up in the draft, where the Giants used all 10 of their picks instead of trading a few to move up or acquire a veteran. They wanted young, impressionable players.
The circumstances with the virtual offseason threw a wrench in the process as the full team didn't get on the field together until last month. But you saw the commitment to teaching and developing throughout the offseason. The Giants did acquire a few veterans at key positions, but this is still a young team ready to grow along with their first-year head coach. What gives team president John Mara confidence is that Judge brought in the right coaches to develop them.
Lance Medow: One of the first things that jumps out when reviewing the initial 53-man roster is the fact that the team kept only five wide receivers. If there was any position where the depth chart was on full display throughout camp, it was the guys who haul in the passes. The Giants had a nice mix of veterans and young players with a great deal of upside. The top four players were fairly well-known in Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton and Corey Coleman, but C.J. Board was the only player outside of that group to make the cut. It's important to note that Board has been in the NFL since 2017, so this isn't his first rodeo. He also didn't join the Giants until August 13th when he was claimed off waivers from the Jaguars. New York went with the proven commodities and that's not surprising given the nature of this offseason and no preseason games. To take it a step further, no undrafted rookies made the initial 53 across the board.
Assuming several of the wide receivers pass through waivers unclaimed, the Giants will have a chance to put a few on the extended 16-man practice squad. That will be key to maintain continuity on the roster and have players who are familiar with the system and will be available to be called up to the active group throughout the season.
Speaking of the number five, that's also how many inside linebackers made the roster. Interestingly, last year's fourth-round pick Ryan Connelly, who tore his ACL in Week 4 and was limited to just four games in 2019, was waived. If you want to see how much the roster has turned over, look no further than this position group. Last year, none of the five players were on the initial 53-man roster and David Mayo, who is likely headed to injured reserve, is the only player that was with the team for all 16 games.
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