After reviewing the game tape of Thursday night’s preseason opener against Cleveland, here are my thoughts on how the Giants’ draft class fared in its first NFL action:
Running Back Saquon Barkley: There aren’t many better ways to start an NFL career than Barkley did with his first carry for 39 yards. The run was designed to follow Will Hernandez to the left but the Browns defended it well. Barkley cut back, patiently bounced outside of Emmanuel Ogbah, who was being pushed inside by Evan Engram, and then quickly burst upfield. Most impressive is the quick cut he put on Damarious Randall, who had Barkley squared up for the tackle. Barkley cut right and was off to the races. The special quickness is evident.
Otherwise, Barkley showed he could break arm tackles around his legs, and finished a couple of runs. He did have to bounce a few runs outside, and next game I would like to see the line create more space so he can take a couple more runs exactly where they were supposed to go. Barkley finished with five carries for 43 yards.
Guard Will Hernandez: Hernandez was strong in the run game. When he gets his hands on you, it is hard to separate from him. We even saw him get up to the second level and block a couple of linebackers. Overall, it was a strong start for Hernandez, who only played in the first quarter.
There were two plays with small issues in pass protection. Myles Garrett beat him with a rip move on the second play of the game, but quarterback Eli Manning got the ball off in time for a completion. Then on a third and three, the Browns blitzed up the middle and Hernandez was a step slow getting in front of Mychal Kendricks. Manning read the blitz and had the ball out before Kendricks could get to him.
Defensive Lineman B.J. Hill: It was a quiet start for B.J. Hill, who didn’t get a ton of snaps in the first quarter. The Browns personnel had the Giants in sub-packages for most of the quarter, so Hill saw most of his snaps as a three-technique in a four-man defensive line. Hill’s best play came on a Nick Chubb run when he shed a double team and combined with B.J. Goodson for a tackle for no gain. Hill was credited with one tackle.
The best images from the Giants' preseason opener against the Browns
Linebacker Lorenzo Carter: For most of the second quarter, Carter lined up over left tackle Greg Robinson and struggled to get a pass rush. The tide turned in the third quarter when Carter had the opportunity to go one-on-one with tight end Devon Cajuste for a few plays. Carter got the edge twice, including once for a quarterback hit. He also pushed Cajuste into the backfield on a run play, combining with Andrew Adams to force a five-yard loss. Carter was credited with one solo tackle and two more assists.
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta: Lauletta played from midway through the third quarter until halfway into the fourth, taking 18 snaps. He showed nice touch with decent accuracy. His best pass is one that fell incomplete, a deep ball to Amba Etta-Tawo that forced Jeremiah McKinnon to commit a pass interference penalty that resulted in a 20-yard gain. Lauletta also connected with Roger Lewis Jr. in a hole in the Browns zone defense near the sideline for 23 yards in the fourth quarter.
The most important thing for Lauletta is that the game didn’t look too big or fast for him. He was fairly poised and seemed to avoid bad decisions. You can’t ask for much more than that in a rookie’s first game.