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Fact or Fiction: Questions heading into spring football

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The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

Interior offensive line is the biggest question mark on offense heading into Spring football.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Left guard and center are two positions on the interior offensive line where no one knows with any confidence who will line up as the starter and many of the same players will be competing for both positions. At center, Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen have mentioned Ben Bredeson, Jack Anderson, and Shane Lemieux as potential options. At left guard, Bredeson, Lemieux and second-year player Josh Ezedu each got time there at some point last season. Marcus McKethan was a 2022 fifth-round pick and after missing all of the season with a knee injury, will also compete there. No other position has as much uncertainty, and perhaps another player may be added there in the draft.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – That question could be answered by the time we get to Spring practices depending on what the Giants do – or don't do – in the draft. Meanwhile, going on behind the scenes is the status of Saquon Barkley, who was tagged the same day the Giants reached a multi-year deal with quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants don't want to part with Barkley even for potentially significant assets.

"I don't want to trade him," team president John Mara said at the NFL Annual Meeting. "We're not looking to trade him. We're not shopping him. I'd be very surprised if we made that decision."

Whether they reach a deal or Barkley plays on the one-year tag, the Giants' opinion will not waver.

"I told Saquon this, too, we want him to be a Giant for his entire career if that's possible," Mara said. "The running back market is what it is right now. I'm still hopeful that at some point, we'll be able to come to an agreement with him."

Lance Medow: Fact – As of right now, the biggest question mark is who will assume the center position given last year's starter, Jon Feliciano, left in free agency to sign with the Niners and Nick Gates, who also has experience at that spot, joined the Commanders. Although the Giants have some internal options such as Ben Bredeson, Jack Anderson and Shane Lemieux, none of these players have any starts at center; so it's fair to say there's a bit of unknown surrounding the position. Mark Glowinski will return at right guard and Josh Ezeudu is an option at left guard, but you could make the argument even the latter is open to competition. In comparison to the rest of the offense, while other roles are still up for grabs, you won't find another area that tops the looming questions on the interior of the line, especially at center.

Matt Citak: Fact – As of now, Mark Glowinski is the only incumbent inside. The other starting guard position appears headed toward an open competition during training camp between guys such as Joshua Ezeudu, Shane Lemieux, Ben Bredeson and Jack Anderson, along with a few others. Additionally, the roster does not currently sport a true center. The interior offensive line, especially center, seems like one of the position groups the front office is likely to address somewhat early in this month's draft. Although some people might argue that wide receiver is a bigger question mark, the Giants' receiver room currently boasts an intriguing group of players. Another receiver or two might be added in the draft, but it is not as big of a need as the interior O-line following the team's moves in free agency.

Cornerback is the biggest question mark on defense heading into Spring football.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Who is the second outside cornerback opposite Adoree' Jackson? Did second-year player Cor'Dale Flott show enough last season? Will Nick McCloud continue to hold off competitors? Can third-year player Aaron Robinson finally shake the injury bug and earn the spot? Maybe newcomer Amani Oruwariye, who has the traits to play press coverage, steps up. Or maybe an undrafted player from last year, such as Zyon Gilbert, makes the most of his opportunity? Or perhaps that spot becomes a target in the draft? A case can be made for any of those options, leaving cornerback the biggest question mark.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Like the interior offensive line, we could get some answers before players take the field. Experts seem to agree that cornerback is one of the deepest positions in this year's class. Let's see if that leads to the Giants going in that direction.

Lance Medow: Fact – The questions at cornerback center around the roles individuals will assume and how the depth chart will play out, especially with Aaron Robinson coming off a season-ending knee injury and Rodarius Williams dealing with injuries in each of his first two years in the league. Adoree Jackson is clearly the team's top corner; but outside of Jackson, where do Cor'Dale Flott, Darnay Holmes and Nick McCloud all fit in? Will they bring in more options through the draft? The position group is extremely fluid at this point and the way the depth chart looks at the beginning of the season could be quite different from how it appears now.

Matt Citak: Fact – Cornerback might be the most important position in Wink Martindale's defense, as the blitz-heavy scheme often leaves the corners in 1-on-1 situations with opposing receivers. We know that Adoree' Jackson will cover the other team's No. 1 wide receiver this year, but who lines up on the other side of the field still remains a mystery. There's a chance someone like Cor'Dale Flott, Aaron Robinson or Amani Oruwariye steps up and takes control of the No. 2 corner spot. But it wouldn't come as a surprise to see the Giants address the CB position early in the draft, as many experts are predicting in recent mock drafts.

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

Wide receiver Parris Campbell has the most to gain this season.

John Schmeelk: Fact – You can immediately start with the players who only have one year left on their contracts. Players such as Dexter Lawrence and Saquon Barkley have already shown what they can do, but obviously production and health will be important for them. Same for Adoree' Jackson and Leonard Williams, who are on the back-end of their contracts. But all four of those players have banked a lot of money so far in their NFL career. Two guys who haven't? Xavier McKInney and Parris Campbell. Lean to Campbell for a couple of reasons. McKinney has already shown he is an excellent NFL player and the safety market, generally speaking, is not a lucrative one. Campbell plays a premium position at WR and he has had only one season of decent production in the NFL. If he earns a big role and has a 1,000-yard season, Campbell could be in line for a monster payday next off-season. He has the most to gain.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The only thing tougher than finding success in the NFL is sustaining it. After playing in just nine games over his first three seasons due to injuries, Campbell played a full schedule last season and consequently posted career numbers. He'll look to build on that in an offense that excited him from a distance last year.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Parris Campbell is coming off a career-year in the final season of his rookie deal after dealing with his fair share of injuries over his first three campaigns so he's definitely in another prove-it type of situation. But you can put Azeez Ojulari ahead of him in terms of the most to gain on the roster. Like Campbell, Ojulari was struck by the injury bug in 2022 and was limited to just seven games. He's now entering a key third year in the NFL, which takes on even more significance given he was a second-round pick and doesn't have a fifth-year option on his contract. Ojulari burst onto the scene with eight sacks as a rookie but the Giants are hoping he and Kayvon Thibodeaux can form a consistent 1-2 punch moving forward. The upcoming season can go a long way in helping that cause while proving Ojulari's durability.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Campbell certainly has a lot to gain this season, but let's go with new Giants tight end Darren Waller. Waller had back-to-back seasons with 1,100+ receiving yards in 2019-20, totaling 197 receptions for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns during that span. In the two seasons since, the 6-foot-6 tight end has registered a total of 83 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns while missing 14 games. If Waller can remain healthy and return to his 2020 form, he not only has the chance to emerge as Daniel Jones' No. 1 option in the passing game, but he also could once again be mentioned among the best tight ends in the NFL. The connection between Jones and Waller might be the key to the offense's success this season.

Outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux will have more sacks than tight end Darren Waller has touchdowns this season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Let's count on Waller's health because if he misses a lot of games all bets are off. The nature of Wink Martindale's blitz-happy defense is that sacks get spread out across the defense. It is extremely difficult to get to double-digit sacks … or even eight. For that reason and that reason alone, go with fiction. Figure that Waller gets to six and Thibodeaux gets to five.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Wink Martindale called him the can opener last season, but with some additions aimed at stopping the run, Thibodeaux might be the one feasting more on quarterbacks in his second season.

Lance Medow: Fact – Darren Waller is averaging just under three touchdowns per season in his seven years in the league and he's only had more than three in one of those campaigns. Kayvon Thibodeaux's sample size is much smaller because he's played just one season in the league, but let's lean toward him getting more sacks than Waller has touchdowns. The sacks and receiving scores will be spread across the board, but given Thibodeaux's motor and relentlessness, he has a bit more control over his fate than Waller does.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Let's take the optimistic route and say that Waller will be able to stay on the field for the most part this season. This could lead to a bevy of red zone looks that will feature the talented tight end. This answer has nothing to do with Thibodeaux, himself, as the second-year outside linebacker could be one of the team's biggest breakout players in 2023. However, Martindale's defensive scheme has a history of spreading sacks across the unit. In Martindale's five seasons as a coordinator (one with Giants, four with Ravens), the most amount of sacks any player has gotten was 9.5 (Matt Judon in 2019). If both Waller and Thibodeaux stay healthy this season, it could be a situation where Waller maybe grabs eight touchdown passes and Thibodeaux finishes with seven sacks.

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