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Mailbag: Roster implications following draft

Ian in Pennsylvania: Do you think the Giants should get a F/A WR that is very fast and strikes fear into a defensive unit?

John Schmeelk: Speed isn't something the Giants wide receiver corps lacks. Darius Slayton, the Giants fifth round pick last year, ran a 4.39 at the combine and should give defenses pause knowing he can get over the top. His 15.4 yards per reception led the team. He is a legitimate deep threat who makes contested catches down the field.

Golden Tate actually averaged more yards per route run than Slayton, according to Pro Football Focus. It is sometimes forgotten that Sterling Shepard ran an impressive 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine. Even though those players aren't your traditional "x" wide receivers, they can still run.

The Giants' team speed goes beyond the wide receivers. Evan Engram, the incumbent at tight end, ran a ridiculous 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine and can stretch the field down the seam. Saquon Barkley, meanwhile, ran a 4.4 and can challenge deep on wheel routes down the sideline. Daniel Jones has plenty of weapons with a lot of speed at his disposal for the Giants offense to be very explosive this season.

View photos of every roster addition made by the Giants this offseason.

Ken in New Jersey: Do you think the Giants helped their two most important players, Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, with who they selected in the draft?

John Schmeelk: Nothing impacts a team's running game more than an offensive line. There's a chance the Giants selected three future starters up front in the 2020 draft. Andrew Thomas will have a chance to compete and win one of the starting offensive tackle spots to begin the season. He has experience on both sides of the line. He started his freshman season at right tackle, before starting his final two years at left tackle.

Given the presence of both of last year's starting guards, Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler, it's less likely Shane Lemieux can beat one of those players out. He started every game of his college career at left guard, but there's a chance he could make the adjustment and compete at center to play this season.

Matt Peart, simply because of the depth chart, might have a tougher time of earning playing time this year. He would have to beat out three of following players -- Nate Solder, Andrew Thomas, Cameron Fleming and Nick Gates -- to start at tackle this year. As time goes by and players leave the team as contracts expire, Peart could find more extensive playing time on the field.

Quarterbacks, especially young ones, need time to process what is happening down the field without having to constantly worry about being put on their backs. If Jones is afforded better protection, it would not only help his play this year, but hasten his improvement.

Barkley, meanwhile, could be even more explosive if he doesn't have to dodge defenders in the backfield before getting to the line of scrimmage. There's been an abundance of research done that the conditions around the running back impact the run game more than the running back himself. The offensive line might be the most important factor in that equation.

If these offensive linemen develop into the type of players the Giants think they will, it will help the offense, and their two most important players in Jones and Barkley, immeasurably for years to come.


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