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Mailbag: Matt Peart's progress, Kaden Smith's role

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Nolan in New York: I keep hearing the term, "developmental prospect", as if Matt Peart requires a lot of work before he hits the field. From his tape, I saw excellent footwork and hand placement in both pass pro and in working to the 2nd level in the run game. Besides the speed of the pro game, where would you say he needs this development?

John Schmeelk: He needs to get stronger. When he was drafted, the Giants decision makers described him as a "skinny 6-foot-7, 315-pounder". Like all offensive linemen coming out of college, he also needs to work on his technique. With his length and athleticism, he had a natural advantage over most of his opponents in a non-power 5 conference like the AAC. There will be an exponential jump in quality of the competition he will face in the NFL. Where players are stronger, faster, smarter and more refined. If Peart can get stronger and improve his technique, he projects as a quality NFL starter. 

Ramon in Georgia: What players do you see contributing as off-ball linebackers on the second level?

John Schmeelk: Blake Martinez, David Mayo, Ryan Connelly, Devante Downs, TJ Brunson and Tae Crowder are the players that will likely be competing for snaps at off-ball linebacker. 

Derek in North Carolina: Do you think that the Giants' secondary will be able to bend and not break this season?

John Schmeelk: The defense may allow a lot of yards, but a team can remain competitive if it is able to keep opponents out of the end zone. Red zone defense is essential to preventing touchdowns, but preventing big plays is also a big part of it. Can the defense do these things? With no preseason games, we'll have to wait until the regular season to find out. It will be essential to having a good season. 

Victor in Ohio: Do you think BJ Hill and Oshane Ximines can have breakout seasons?

John Schmeelk: Joe Judge believes in competition. Those players will have the opportunity to earn playing time if they are good enough in their practice reps. With playing time, they will have a chance to make substantial jumps. Hill had 5.5 sacks as rookie, but only one last year. He has other good players at his position, such as Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and newcomers like Austin Johnson. Ximines will have to outplay Lorenzo Carter, Kyler Fackrell, and Markus Golden to earn more playing time. Ximines came from a smaller college football program in Old Dominion. With the experience and improvements gained from his first NFL season, it will be interesting to see how much better he will he in his second year.

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

Ken in Connecticut: I hear a lot of talk about Evan Engram and rightfully so, as he is a mismatch problem for defenses. But I don't hear anyone talking about Kaden Smith who should be a good all-around tight end. Why is that?

John Schmeelk: People like to talk about players whp will catch a bunch of passes and make impactful plays down the field. Blue-collar, two-way players like Smith who earn their keep blocking as much as receiving, generally don't get as much attention. He will be an important player for the Giants this season in two tight end sets, and a ready backup for Engram, if needed to fill that role. 

Michael in South Carolina: Which UDFA do you see on the Giants making the most out of their opportunities? Please provide one for offense and one for defense.

John Schmeelk: Offensively, Binjimen Victor has shown the ability to leverage his height in red zone drills in practice. Defensively, cornerback Christian Angulo has an intriguing combination of size and speed. But there hasn't been nearly enough practice yet to have a good feeling about which rookies are catching on the fastest and have the best chance of making the team or practice squad. 

Mike in Florida: Who is your dark horse on the team this year?

John Schmeelk: I'll give you the deepest of sleepers: First-year player Alex Bachman. It is very early in camp, and he has done nothing but get open. 

Ed in New Jersey: With expanded practice squads, do you think teams may hide a backup kicker in case their specialist tests positive for COVID just prior to game day?

John Schmeelk: With practice squads expanded to 16 players this season, it would not surprise me if teams used one of the spots for a kicker in case of a positive test being revealed the morning of a game.

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