Giants ranked among top sleeper teams for 2021 season
Media outlets have been praising the Giants' offseason over the last few months, and it continued recently with Bleacher Report ranking Joe Judge's squad as the No. 2 sleeper team in the NFL heading into the 2021 season.
As BR's Maurice Morton writes, "Going into his third season, quarterback Daniel Jones has a ton of options in the passing game. The Giants took a couple of big swings for wide receivers, acquiring Kenny Golladay and rookie first-rounder Kadarius Toney. Jones will likely look to the former as a go-to target. The latter provides speed with the ability to line up out wide, in the slot and even in the backfield. Golladay and Toney will join Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram in the Giants' pass-catching group. On paper, that's arguably a top-five unit."
Morton went on to note how the return of Saquon Barkley and addition of Devontae Booker should help boost the run game. Additionally, Big Blue will return almost all of its "stingy defense" from 2020, with the likes of Jackson, Ojulari, Aaron Robinson, Reggie Ragland and several other new faces now in the fold.
Here are the teams to make Bleacher Report's top 5 top sleeper teams of 2021:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. New York Giants
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. Las Vegas Raiders
5. Chicago Bears
With training camp here, view photos of every move made by the Giants this offseason.
Mailbag: Giants secondary, linebacker rotation
Lou in New York: Is it safe to assume that the Giants' secondary is a force to be reckoned with, now that Adoree' Jackson and others have been added?
John Schmeelk: There are reasons to be very optimistic about the secondary. Safeties Logan Ryan, Julian Love, Xavier McKinney and Jabrill Peppers each have skillsets that allow them to play multiple positions, permitting defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to use a variety of formations on any given play. The Giants' corners are also capable of playing a variety of schemes. Last season, the defense heavily relied on pre-snap disguise to confuse opposing offenses. You could expect more of the same this year, except the addition of Jackson and others (along with an expected second-year improvement from Darnay Holmes) should allow them to utilize more man-to-man coverage, especially on third down. It is important to note that Ryan, Peppers and Bradberry have instilled a work ethic in this group that includes extra film study to enhance their preparation for every opponent.
Jeff in Connecticut: How will Patrick Graham deploy newcomers such as veteran LBs Ifeadi Odenigbo and Reggie Ragland during the season? How will Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith fit in to the equation and will their presence hinder the development of second-year pros Cam Brown, Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin?
John Schmeelk: Ragland will compete with Tae Crowder and others for playing time inside next to Blake Martinez in the base 3-4 defense. Ragland is more of a downhill player while Crowder flashed some coverage ability last year. Odenigbo will likely be an edge player on early downs who can move inside as an interior rusher on passing downs as he goes after the quarterback. Coughlin worked as an edge player more often than not last year, but got some practice work inside, so he could compete at both spots. Brown would continue his role on special teams as they find a best fit for him on the defense. There will be a lot of competition on the edge between Ojulari, Smith, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Ryan Anderson among others.
Pride Month: Giants remember Roy Simmons
During Pride Month, the Giants proudly support the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. The organization strives to unite, heal, and help eliminate systemic inequity and inequality that many people must endure.
June is Pride Month in honor of the uprising at Manhattan's Stonewall Inn in June of 1969. It sparked a liberation movement that continues to this day. Just this week in the NFL, Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib, brother of former Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib, made history as the NFL's first active player to come out as gay. In addition to the Monday announcement on his Instagram account, Nassib pledged $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25. The league announced it will match the donation.
"The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season."
Giants running back Saquon Barkley also voiced support for his former college teammate. While Barkley earned Freshman All-American honors at Penn State in 2015, Nassib put together one of the best defensive seasons in program history as a unanimous All-American and winner of the Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation's top lineman or linebacker. Nassib was then selected by the Browns in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
In his video, Nassib said in part, "I actually hope one day that videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary, but until then I'm going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting and compassionate."
Nearly 30 years prior, Roy Simmons went through his own process at a much different time.
Originally an eighth-round draft choice by the Giants in 1979, the offensive lineman came out as gay during a talk show appearance in 1992. He played in all 16 games for the Giants from 1979-1981 before his final NFL appearance came with Washington in Super Bowl XVIII following the 1983 season.
Simmons was the second former NFL player to declare that he was gay. Dave Kopay, a running back who played nine seasons for five different teams from 1964-1972, was the first to do so in 1975. Simmons wrote about his journey in "Out of Bounds: Coming Out of Sexual Abuse, Addiction, and My Life of Lies in the NFL Closet."
View photos of former Giants offensive lineman Roy Simmons, who was originally selected in the eighth round of the 1979 NFL Draft.