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Fact or Fiction: Stats & schedule predictions


Kadarius Toney will lead the Giants in receiving yards and Kenny Golladay will be first in touchdown catches this season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Kenny Golladay should be the answer to both of these questions. Toney is going to be an impactful player as a rookie because of his ability operate and make plays in space. I do not think he will be an ultra-high volume receiving target this early in his career. He is still a raw route runner and it will take him some time for him to learn that craft on the NFL level and for Daniel Jones to grow comfortable enough with him to constantly feed him the ball. Instead, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will scheme up way to get the ball to Toney, whether it is as a runner on jet sweeps, end-arounds or traditional running plays, or as a receiver on bubble screens, quick hitters, 1-on-1 opportunities in the slot and on deep routes. He will also likely be a factor on punt and kick returns.

Dan Salomone: Fact - It's not out of the question. Just look what rookie receivers have done recently around the league. Justin Jefferson set the NFL rookie record with 1,400 receiving yards last year, and he was the 22nd overall pick. Toney is roughly the same size and played in the same conference in college. Just saying.

Lance Medow: Fiction - In the two seasons that Kenny Golladay played at least 15 games with Detroit, he led the Lions in receiving yards with 1,063 yards in 2018 and 1,190 in 2019. If he can once again reach that volume of games, I think Golladay will lead the Giants in receiving yards and touchdowns. In each of the last two seasons, Darius Slayton has topped the team in receiving yards but given the presence of Golladay and the return of Saquon Barkley, I don't think Slayton will accomplish that feat three years in a row. With respect to Kadarius Toney, I think a lot depends on how many snaps he receives, where he lines up and his number of targets.

View photos of the New York Giants 2021 NFL Draft Class.

The New York Giants should open the season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - This is where I remark with an abundance of snark that I would be happy with anyone but the Dallas Cowboys, but I will also add that I don't like a division matchup being the first game on the season for any team. I want to see teams hitting their stride and playing their best football before they have to play division opponents. If it was up to me, I wouldn't have any divisional matchups on the schedule until Week 3, at the earliest. There's no shortage of fun non-division games on the schedule, but I would also like to have the Giants a favorite in the game so they could get off to good start. Week 1 also has enough hype on its own, so I don't see a need to put in an ultra-marquee matchup. How about a home opener against the Carolina Panthers? They have a young quarterback in Sam Darnold who would still be adjusting to Joe Brady's system. It would also provide some symmetry with Darnold playing his first game with the Panthers at MetLife stadium, not to mention the connections the media made for Matt Rhule to the New York teams the last few seasons.

Dan Salomone: Fiction - This rivalry is going to be delicious again, but you don't want to take it off the grill too early and eat it raw. Let it get to a tasty medium-rare and enjoy this one soon after the midway point of the season. For the opener, how about a trip to the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers? Eli Manning isn't here anymore, but it's still Tom Brady against the Giants.

Lance Medow: Fiction - If history has taught us anything, if the Giants open the season against a divisional rival, it's clearly going to be the Dallas Cowboys. That's only happened four of the last six years. I think way too much has been made about how the 2020 season ended between the Eagles and Washington and that reason alone doesn't justify the Giants playing them to open the season. A lot has changed since then - with the Eagles bringing in a completely new coaching staff and several new players. On top of that, in general, I'm not a fan of division rivals meeting that early in the season. Those games are extremely important and hold a great deal of weight when it comes to influencing who will win the division that I think they should happen at least a quarter into the season, once the teams have a few games under their belts.

Edge rusher is the most crowded competition heading into the summer.

John Schmeelk: Fact - The Giants building staff might have to knock down a few walls to fit the entire edge rusher class into the same meeting room: 2021 second-round pick Azeez Ojulari; 2021 fourth-round pick Elerson Smith; 2020 sixth-round pick Cam Brown; 2020 seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin; 2019 third-round pick Oshane Ximinez; 2018 third-round pick Lorenzo Carter; Free agent additions Ryan Anderson, Ifeadi Odenigbo.

That's not even mentioning returning players like Trent Harris, DeVante Downs and Niko Lalos who are scheme versatile, much like Brown and Coughlin. No other position group has this kind of depth. May the best man win!

Dan Salomone: Fiction - Even before free agency, the cornerbacks room was stacked. Then, the Giants went out and signed Adoree' Jackson before drafting Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams. The defensive backfield has depth and versatility, which will only help the other levels, too.

Lance Medow: Fact - The group of pass rushers just continues to grow. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are both returning from season-ending injuries, they added Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson in free agency, Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin are entering their second years in the league and the team just drafted Azeez Ojulari in the second round and Elerson Smith in the fourth. It's fair to say there will plenty of competition for snaps at edge rusher and I wouldn't be surprised if Patrick Graham mixes and matches. based on the opponent throughout the season. Corner comes a in close second with the likes of James Bradberry, Adoree Jackson, Darnay Holmes, Isaac Yiadom, rookies Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams and Logan Ryan, Julian Love and Xavier McKinney, who can play multiple positions. However, unlike edge rusher, I think roles are a bit more defined in the secondary and we have a better idea of the main starters.

Linebacker Elerson Smith was the most intriguing pick of the team's 2021 draft class.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Smith ranked in the 97th percentile of athletes testes that played edge rusher, according to the Relative Athletic Score database. He has great length and explosive traits given his jumping drills and 10-yard split on his 40-yard dash. His 3-cone drill was strong, too. Combine that with his dominant play at the FCS level, and there is potential for him to be an impactful pass rusher in the NFL. The talent and ability is there for him to be molded into a very good NFL player.

Dan Salomone: Fact - By now, fans know about his physical transformation, but do they know he was coached by four-time Pro Bowl linebacker and 1995 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Bryce Paup? He helped him put it all together and point his arrow up, which is what attracted the Giants.

Lance Medow: Fact - Elerson Smith was a 190 pound tight end/defensive end when he first entered Northern Iowa only to transform his body into a 250+ pound pass rusher. Unfortunately, he didn't have a chance to play in 2020 because the Missouri Valley Conference did not have a Fall season. Although he was very productive in 2018-19, he's still a developing player given he redshirted in 2016 and didn't start in 2017. Smith led his conference in sacks (14), tackles for loss (21.5) and forced fumbles (5) in 2019 and his length and wingspan creates headaches for the opposition. When you combine his measurements with his production and ability to contribute on special teams, Smith is absolutely the most intriguing member of the 2021 draft class.


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