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Mailbag: Depth at CB, potential of defense

mailbag

Ryan in New York: If James Bradberry or Adoree' Jackson miss significant time with an injury, who would be in line to start in their place?

John Schmeelk: Perhaps rookie Aaron Robinson or second-year pro Darnay Holmes would be in consideration for the next one on the outside. Isaac Yiadom played a lot of snaps outside last year. Madre Harper is another returning corner, along with Jarren Williams, Montre Hartage and Sam Beal (who had opted out). This will be one of the interesting training camp battles to watch.

Chris in New York: With the additions of Azzez Ojulari and Elerson Smith, will the Giants' defense be the best in the NFC East in 2021?

John Schmeelk: If the defense emerges as the best defense in the division, it will not be because of the rookie class. It will be because Adoree' Jackson plays excellent across from corner James Bradberry, linebacker Lorenzo Carter returns from his injury and plays like a high-level edge rusher, and Danny Shelton and Austin Johnson make up for the loss of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Getting improved pass rush from the edge rusher group will be important, but it is never wise to rely upon rookies for a high-level of play in their first season.

It will likely come down to the Giants and Washington for which team will hold the best defense in the NFC East. The talent on Washington's defensive line will be nearly impossible to match, with first-round talents like Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Da'ron Payne and Jonathan Allen. The Giants have the advantage in the secondary, but Washington still has talent with William Jackson, Kendall Fuller and Jimmy Moreland.

Phil in Virginia/Danny in Connecticut: Why didn't the Giants sign free agent Morgan Moses, who would have anchored the right tackle position? And with the Steelers signing free agent Trai Turner, was that the Giants' last chance to get a good offensive lineman? Are they hoping that someone good might be cut from another team?

John Schmeelk: The Giants used a third-round pick on Matt Peart in the 2020 NFL Draft. They believe he has starting-caliber talent and has earned the right to compete at that spot this season. Nate Solder is also back and may be a good veteran stopgap at both tackle positions if an injury occurs or he is called upon to start.

The Giants used a second-round pick on Will Hernandez and a fifth-round pick on Shane Lemieux, who they also believe can be starters at guard. The front office and coaching staff are relying on the development of the young offensive linemen on the roster. They believe this group is going to be able to come together and form a solid unit.

Irving in New York: The Giants have Saquan Barkley, but can't make any rushing yardage and haven't for the past decade. Why not spend a huge chunk of money on the absolute best premier offensive lineman available?

John Schmeelk: The Giants have run the ball better than you think and have invested a lot of assets into the line over the past decade. They used three first-round picks on offensive linemen: Justin Pugh, Ereck Flowers, and Andrew Thomas. They also used two second-round picks on offensive linemen: Weston Richburg and Will Hernandez. They used a third-round pick on Matt Peart. During Dave Gettleman's tenure the team has drafted an offensive lineman in the first, second, third and fifth rounds. In 2018, they spent money on the top offensive lineman on the market that off-season in tackle Nate Solder.

All of those moves might not have worked out as well as others, but the team has put resources into the position. Elite offensive linemen, especially tackles, don't normally reach free agency because they are often re-signed by their original teams. The Giants have drafted guys who they think will become those type of players for them if given a chance to play.

Barkley missed 14 games due to injury last year. In 2019,, he missed three games and played several others while still dealing with a severe high ankle sprain. When he was healthy in his rookie season, Barkley averaged five yards per carry and finished with 1,300 yards. Even without Barkley last year, the Giants ran the ball well after the first few weeks of the season. During a stretch of games from Week 4-13, the Giants averaged 140 rushing yards per game.

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