NFL experts make bold predictions for the Giants' 2017 season:
Rejoice football fans. Your favorite sport is on its way back.
The New York Giants returned to the practice field this week for the start of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Big Blue will have a total of 10 OTA workouts at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center before the start of mandatory minicamp. Contact is still prohibited, but OTAs are the first opportunity for this year's rookie class to mix it up with the veterans and offer a glimpse of what the team might look like in 2017.
Looking ahead to this season, NFL experts remain bullish on the Giants' chances to build off last year's success. Big Blue finished the regular season 11-5 and earned a trip to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 Super Bowl season.
Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King has the Giants ranked 10th in his latest NFL power rankings, citing the acquisition of Brandon Marshall and selection of Evan Engram in the draft as two big reasons why.
"Even though he's 33, I love the acquisition of Brandon Marshall for this offense," King writes. "Simple reason: He's averaged 155.5 targets in his 10 starting seasons, and even in the quarterback-limited Jets offense the last two years, he put up 2,290 yards and 17 touchdowns; Manning will love his production."
King expects Engram, whom the Giants drafted with the 23rd pick out of Ole Miss, to see close to 80 targets in his rookie season. Marshall, meanwhile, set a league record in 2015 when he recorded his sixth 100-reception season and became the first player with a 100-reception season for three different teams.
"Brandon Marshall to me seems extremely self-aware at this point," *Good Morning Football *co-host Kyle Brandt said on Tuesday. "I feel like he knows what he is, what he's bringing and what he has left to do. He's never played in a playoff game. This is probably the best team he's ever been on right now."
Brandt is especially optimistic about what the pairing of Marshall with Odell Beckham Jr. will bring to the Giants' offense.
"I am so excited for the show that they are going to put on in New York City; the two of them," Brandt said. "It's awesome. I love them as a tandem."
With so many offensive weapons at Eli Manning's disposal, experts say it may cause defenses to overlook the Giants' ground game. The rushing attack is expected to be led by second-year back Paul Perkins. Head coach Ben McAdoo named the UCLA product the starter earlier this month.
In coming up with a list of three second-year players primed for a breakout season, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks both have Perkins in the mix.
"When you look at the depth chart there, it is wide open for him to get the majority of the touches," Jeremiah said. "I think he's going to get to that 1,000 yard mark. He's going to be more involved in the passing game. With all the weapons the Giants have, people are going to forget about Paul Perkins. Eli Manning will take those check downs all day."
Perkins appeared in 14 games for the Giants last season, rushing for 456 yards on 112 carries. His best game came in the Giants' regular-season finale against the Redskins, when he eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career.
"I expect the Giants to do a lot with him because this may be the most explosive offense in all of football when you look back at the end of the season," Brooks said. "Someone is going to be forgotten, and it might be Paul Perkins. I think he's going to have a ton of production."