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Mailbag: Eyeing potential rookie starters

Chris in New York: Which of the Giants draft picks for 2020 do you think that will be starting beginning on Monday September 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers?

John Schmeelk: There's a lot that can and will change between now and September 14, but if I had to guess, the only two draft picks who will be starting on opening day will be Xavier McKinney and Andrew Thomas. It is important to remember that in a virtual offseason, these rookies will likely not set foot on an NFL practice field at least until the end of the July. It is difficult enough to adjust to life in the NFL, let alone when you can't practice with the team in the spring. It might make the acclimation period longer for some players.

Despite those issues, McKinney doesn't have many challengers on the roster who have a lot of snaps at deep safety in the NFL. Julian Love is a converted cornerback and Rashaan Gaulden has never started an NFL game. McKinney should have a real opportunity to win that starting job next to Jabrill Peppers.

Thomas played for multiple offensive coordinators and in pro-like systems at Georgia. I expect him to win the competition with Cam Fleming and Nick Gates to start at tackle. It will be interesting to track how quickly the offensive line gains continuity heading into the start of the season.

There's a chance Shane Lemieux can win the center job, but I think it will be too tough for him to learn a new spot with limited practice time. The wild card will be Darnay Holmes, who has a real chance to win the nickel cornerback spot. If the Steelers put the Giants into a sub-package on their first play of the season, he could technically be a starter, too.

Glenn in Georgia: The Giants used the UFA Tender on Markus Golden. From what I read they get a compensatory pick if another team signs him. I don't see a downside to doing this, so, why is it seldom used?

John Schmeelk: The rule is more complicated than that. The Giants do not automatically get a comp pick if Golden signs elsewhere. Losing him would be put into the compensatory pick formula, which would probably not result in a pick this year since the Giants signed so many unrestricted free agents. The only potential "downside" for using a tag like this is the team is committing to pay the player with a 10% raise of his previous year's salary if he does not sign with another team by July 22. If the player's previous salary is much higher than what a team wants to pay, it would not make sense to use the tag. Since Golden was on a one year "prove-it" deal last year, the tag was prudent to use.

Bobby in New York: It has been announced that NFL teams can start training in their respective facilities, contingent on each team's states covid-19 protocols. Why can't the Giants rent a training facility in another state that is open and allowing teams to train that is empty?

John Schmeelk: The only people being allowed back into NFL buildings right now are business side and front office staff. No coaches or players from any NFL team are allowed back into the facilities at the current time. The league wants a level playing field when it comes to players and coaches. It is also important to note that players have to travel to whatever location workouts take place in, and it has to be determined that travel is safe for them before it can take place.

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