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Pressing questions facing the Giants in 2021

DANIEL-JONES-KENNY-GOLLADAY

Activities at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center are about to get underway as training camp is right around the corner.

Before the full roster reports for the start of camp on Tuesday, let's check out some of the most pressing questions facing the Giants heading into the 2021 season.

Will the offense be more explosive?

The Giants went into the offseason with a clear goal - to add pieces in order to make the offense more explosive. Well, we can now look back and say they certainly brought more firepower to Jason Garrett's side of the ball with their moves over the last few months.

Kenny Golladay was the team's first big splash in free agency, providing the offense with a 6-foot-4 receiver who thrives on the deep ball. Despite missing most of the 2020 season, Golladay still ranks fourth among all receivers in deep receiving yards over the past three years. He also has the second-highest contested catch rate (63 percent) of any WR in the league (min. 50 targets) since 2018.

In addition to Golladay, the Giants signed veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph and speedy receiver John Ross in free agency. Rudolph did not miss a game from 2015-2019, and over the last four seasons has dropped only two of 233 targets. Meanwhile, Ross is a former first-round pick who registered a 4.22 in the 40 at the 2017 NFL Combine. This still stands as the fastest official 40-yard dash at the Combine.

Following free agency, the Giants then went and spent their first-round pick on WR Kadarius Toney. The former Florida Gator performed well on the collegiate level, especially on the deep ball, where 10.7 percent of his targets were on passes 20+ yards downfield. On those plays, Toney graded an incredible 99.6 with a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeted.

These four pickups, along with the return of star running back Saquon Barkley, should provide a big boost to the offense in 2021.

View photos of the Giants' roster as it currently stands.

How does Daniel Jones progress in Year 3?

Daniel Jones' performance will play a crucial role in the success of the offense and, despite some of his numbers taking a dip from his first to second NFL season, the young QB showed signs of real progress in his sophomore campaign.

Jones saw his completion percentage improve slightly in 2020, and he was also able to help lead the Giants to two more wins than in his rookie campaign. But more importantly, Jones showed significant improvement when it came to turnovers. As a rookie in 2019, he fumbled the ball 18 times (11 lost) and threw 12 interceptions. While starting two more games in 2020, Jones' fumbles dropped to 11 (six lost) while only tossing 10 interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus, his overall grade jumped from 65.9 as a rookie to 78.4 last year, while his number of turnover-worthy plays dropped from 31 to 17.

Jones also showed tremendous potential as a big-play threat. Next Gen Stats ranked the top deep passers in the NFL last season and the Giants' young quarterback landed at the top of the list. Jones registered 39 deep passes, completing 19 of them for 636 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions, good for a 134.3 passer rating.

This will be the first time in several years that Jones will play for the same offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons. This consistency in the offensive system, his performance on passes downfield, and the arrival of Golladay and the other new weapons should help Jones find greater success in 2021.

Will the young O-line take next step in its development?

It was clear following free agency and the draft that the Giants are confident in their current group of offensive linemen. Let's not forget, it was only a year ago that the team spent three of its first five picks on what GM Dave Gettleman refers to as "hog mollies."

The Giants used the No. 4 overall pick on Andrew Thomas, a third-round pick on Matt Peart and a fifth-round selection on Shane Lemieux, and swing lineman Nick Gates transitioned to center for the first time in his career. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL was unable to have offseason workouts, OTAs or even a usual training camp. The change led to a lot of early-season struggles for a young line that did not have veteran tackle Nate Solder (opted out) to learn from.

Things are different this year, as the team was able to go through a more typical offseason program leading up to the start of training camp. In addition, Solder has returned to the team, while the Giants have also added veteran free agents Zach Fulton and Jonotthan Harrison.

Playing in their second season in Jason Garrett's offense should help bring some comfort to this young line, which will work under new OL coach Rob Sale.

How dominant can the secondary be?

The Giants defense performed well in 2020, finishing the year ranked ninth in points and 12th in yards allowed, while tying for the fifth-fewest passing touchdowns surrendered. The numbers got even better once opponents got in the red zone. The Big Blue D allowed a touchdown on just 50.8 percent of opponents' trips inside the 20, good for the second-best mark in the NFL, and the secondary played a large role in that success.

These numbers become even more impressive when you consider the circumstances in which the defense played under. It was Patrick Graham's first season as the team's defensive coordinator, forced to get his unit ready despite the unusual conditions surrounding the 2020 season. It was also James Bradberry's first season with the team, one which ended with his first Pro Bowl selection, while others took turn manning the other corner. Versatile safety Logan Ryan joined the team a mere days before the start of the season, while a foot injury caused Xavier McKinney to miss the first 10 games of the year.

Although he received some interest for head coaching jobs this off-season, Graham is back. And his unit added free agent Adoree' Jackson to start opposite Bradberry on the outside and drafted CB Aaron Robinson in the third round. Jabrill Peppers, Darnay Holmes, Julian Love, Isaac Yiadom and others round out this deep and talented secondary.

Can the Giants get more pressure on the QB?

The Big Blue defense tied for the 12th-most sacks in the league last season with 40, and look to build on that number this season with several new players in the fold.

The team's first big move was securing Leonard Williams to a multi-year deal. Williams is coming off his best NFL season in which he racked up a career-high 11.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback hits. His 62 combined sacks, hits and hurries were seven more than his previous career-best. Over the last few months, ESPN and PFF have placed Williams on their respective lists of the top 10 defensive tackles in the league.

DT Dalvin Tomlinson left via free agency, but Dexter Lawrence is returning for his third season. Lawrence saw his sack total jump from 2.5 as a rookie to 4.0 last season, but more importantly, his pass-rush grade from PFF increased from 64.5 to 73.2. Williams and Lawrence should help bring a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks on the inside.

On the outside, the Giants selected Azeez Ojulari in the second round of this year's draft. Ojulari's 91.7 pass-rush grade was the best in the entire draft class, while his 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss were tops in the SEC last season. Joining Ojulari in the rookie class is fourth-round pick Elerson Smith from Northern Iowa. Smith registered 22.0 sacks, 32.5 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and 16 quarterback hits in 38 games over three NCAA seasons.

These two rookies are added to a group of edge rushers that also includes free agent signings Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson. Both had their strongest seasons in 2019, when Odenigbo picked up seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits while Anderson had four sacks, nine quarterback hits and five forced fumbles. In addition, Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are set to return this season after missing most of last season with injuries.

With training camp here, view photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.

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