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Cover 4: Reaction to initial 53-man roster


The crew breaks down the 53-man roster, which was announced on Tuesday:

John Schmeelk: My initial reaction to the initial 53-man roster is that special teams played a big role in how they decided on how they would fill out some of the position groups and the roster overall. Gary Brightwell has not played in a preseason game nor practice since the beginning of August, but he still found a spot on the roster. His ability to impact all of the coverage and return teams undoubtedly played a big role in the that decision making process. Jashaun Corbin showed juice as a runner, but he is less experienced on special teams.

At linebacker, Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown were on the initial 53 man roster, kept instead of a young second-year player such as Darrian Beavers. Coughlin and Brown are both "plus" athletes and have been core members of all the special teams units since joining the Giants. There's no doubt their dependability on teams played a huge role on their inclusion. Coughlin also flashed on defense in extensive playing time at inside linebacker in preseason games.

The team has been transparent that they know they coverage teams must be better this season, and there's no doubt that trying to achieve that goal played a large role in how this roster was constructed.

Dan Salomone: Something that Dexter Lawrence said at the start of training camp seems apt for this week's roster news: "I don't want to talk about building. It's more about doing at this point." The Pro Bowl defensive lineman probably spoke for a lot of Giants fans. While it is only Year 2 of the new regime, Lawrence is part of a core group on the roster that has the scars of some lean times. Along with players like Daniel Jones, Andrew Thomas, Saquon Barkley, and Darius Slayton, all of whom were retained this off-season, they were rewarded with a taste of team success a year ago. They will look to take the team to the next level alongside key newcomers as Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll continue to build the roster.

"Going into my fifth season, I hate losing," Lawrence continued. "I don't really want to talk about building. I want to talk about what we are doing today to get better for tomorrow, and then that day leads into the season. You all can talk about building, but our mindset is winning."

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.

Lance Medow: In the salary cap era, the most effective way to build a strong, deep roster is by selecting and developing players through the draft. In the last two years, the Giants have added 18 players (11 in 2022, 7 in 2023) through that facet and 17 of those 18 draft picks made the initial 53-man roster. The only exception is linebacker Darrian Beavers and every member of the 2023 draft class earned a spot. The volume of recent picks shouldn't be overlooked as it's an indication those players have shown promise and potential and how much they produce and execute consistently in the regular season will absolutely determine the outlook of the team.

Based on what we've seen during training camp practices and the preseason, all seven members of this year's draft class will likely see plenty of action and have a chance to put their stamps all over the season. Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins are in line to start at corner, John Michael Schmitz will be the man in the middle of the offensive line, Jalin Hyatt, Eric Gray and Jordon Riley will have opportunities to carve out specific roles on each end of the ball and Gervarrius Owens could be a key special teams player.

Aside from Beavers failing to make the cut, the other noticeable player was defensive lineman Ryder Anderson, who bulked up this off-season but had been sidelined due to injury for much of camp. You'd think he'd make the initial 53 and then be a strong candidate to be placed on injured reserve, keeping the door open for his return later in the season. From a volume standpoint, they kept 11 defensive backs. Part of that is a reflection of injuries and a bit of a youth movement but something suggests that number will change sooner rather than later following other tweaks. Remember, until Week 1 kicks off and even after, everything pertaining to the roster is fluid.

Matt Citak: There weren't too many surprises on the Giants' 53-man roster announcement. However, the linebacker group is intriguing in the sense that the group looks pretty different than what most people would have predicted just a week ago.

For starters, the Giants traded with the Arizona Cardinals for Isaiah Simmons at the end of last week. The linebacker/safety/hybrid defender was the eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft, and provides the defense with some elite athleticism. Simmons, listed at 6-foot-4 and 238 pounds, ran in incredible 4.39 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine. Just to put it into comparison, Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson, this year's eighth overall pick and one of the most highly touted running back prospects in years, ran a 4.46. Although Simmons' stats weren't amazing in Arizona, he did had solid production over his first three seasons. More importantly, he fits perfectly into Wink Martindale's positionless defense, and will line up all over the defense this season, likely including next to Bobby Okereke at the WILL linebacker spot. In his first game action with the Giants, albeit a preseason contest, Simmons recorded a pressure on Jets QB Aaron Rodgers, forcing him out of the pocket where the veteran eventually threw away the ball. In addition to Simmons, the Giants also traded with the Buffalo Bills for Boogie Basham, a second-round pick from 2021. Basham has recorded 6.5 sacks across 27 games (23 regular season, four postseason) the last two seasons for the Bills. He adds some depth to the outside linebacker group, joining Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari and Jihad Ward to form a promising bunch.

The other observation as it pertains to the linebackers is the inclusion of both Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin on the 53-man roster. Both players have been strong contributors on special teams in recent years, but neither one has seen much playing time on defense. In fact, they combined for just nine defensive snaps total last year. However, they were both included on the 53-man roster, while Darrian Beavers, who looked like a candidate to start at inside linebacker before tearing his ACL last preseason, was waived. This decision makes me believe that at least one of them could push for more snaps on defense this upcoming season. Keep in mind that in the preseason finale, Coughlin was on the field for 15 defensive snaps and played well, recording two tackles for loss.

View photos of the New York Giants' 2023 roster as it currently stands.


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