EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As the regular season approaches and the Giants prepare for their final preseason game against the Patriots on Thursday night, ESPN.com recently released their projected top 100 players for the 2018 season. The Giants landed three players on the list: wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., safety Landon Collins and running back Saquon Barkley.
The methodology in composing the list: a panel of ESPN NFL experts was asked to rate players based on how good they will be in 2018, using a scale from 0-100. The panel was asked not to emphasize past performance or positional value, but to only use projected greatness for this season. The ratings were then averaged out to create the list.
Beckham came in at 11. In 2017, he was ranked ninth. Here's what ESPN's Jordan Raanan said about OBJ:
"He's still just 25, and his rate of 0.8 touchdowns per game is tops since entering the league in 2014. The ankle injury that ruined his 2017 season isn't expected to have any long-term effects, as he already looks like his old explosive self."
Beckham was the first player in NFL history to record at least 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons. He was the only player in history with at least 80 receptions and 10 touchdown catches in each of his first three seasons.
Throughout training camp, OBJ has looked like he was never hurt. He's exploding off the line, he's making great catches, and he looks just as fast, maybe faster, than he did prior to his injury. With a new contract in hand, Year Five of Beckham's career looks very promising.
View photos of the top Odell Beckham Jr. touchdowns
Next on the list is Collins, who landed at 60. Last year, he was ranked at 29.
"The Alabama product is a playmaker," said Raanan. "No safety has more tackles than Collins' 332 since 2015. He's also fifth at the position with eight interceptions. Collins should excel while being used as a defensive weapon in James Bettcher's attacking scheme in 2018."
Collins is a two-time Pro-Bowler and a 2016 first-team All-Pro. Not only did he lead the team in tackles in each of his first three three seasons, he is the only safety in Giants history with three seasons of 95+ tackles.
Collins finished last season with an injury, but has looked as good as new throughout training camp. A defensive leader, he has been flying around and making plays. Another big season is in the making for Collins.
The final Giant on the list is rookie running back Saquon Barkley at 87.
"The rookie No. 2 overall pick is immediately going to be a big part of the Giants' offense," Raanan said. "He has 4.4 speed at 230 pounds, and he averaged 1.90 yards per route at Penn State, which ranked fourth among running backs in the 2018 class."
Barkley finished his career at Penn State with 671 rushing attempts for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns. He also had 102 receptions for 1,195 yards and eight scores. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Barkley finished as Penn State's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (43), total touchdowns (53) and all-purpose yards (5,538).
Although he missed time with a strained hamstring, Barkley has been impressive in his first training camp. He went 39 yards on his first NFL carry against the Browns. Not only is he a threat running the ball, he will create problems for defenses in the passing game, as well.