Quantcast

Giants 2021 season preview, roster breakdown

Daniel Jones Giants preview
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Consider this a year of having to prove people wrong for the New York Giants. 

The 2021 season, which kicks off Sunday at MetLife Stadium (4:25 p.m. ET) against the Denver Broncos, will be seen as the campaign that will reveal everything about two of the organization’s most important people.

The first is quarterback Daniel Jones, entering his third professional season with his most robust arsenal of offensive weapons to work with.

Star running back Saquon Barkley is healthy and is expected to go right from the start after recovering from a torn ACL. 

Sterling Shepard is healthy, Kenny Golladay was signed, Kadarius Toney was drafted, and Darius Slayton — once Jones’ favorite target — is now a third or even fourth option. Quite a way to reload the receiving corps.

Then there is also the mercurial yet inconsistent Evan Engram; a Pro Bowler plagued by bouts of butterfingers. Needless to say, he’ll want to cement his place near the top of the list of dangerous NFL tight ends.

But a major question mark — which brings us to the second member of the Giants that has the most to prove and lose — is whether or not the offensive line is good enough to protect Jones. And that falls on general manager Dave Gettleman.

The veteran executive is trying to erase his first three seasons as Giants GM, which were filled with empty promises that were supposed to be laid upon the foundation of a solid offensive line. That hasn’t been the case as the Giants are 15-33 under Gettleman’s watch.

Looking at the Giants roster, that offensive line is still the largest question mark. 

Second-year left tackle Andrew Thomas, who was taken fourth overall in the 2020 draft, struggled during the preseason and hasn’t indicated that he’s ready to take that next step just yet. 

Nate Solder, who was largely written off last season as a bust not living up to his exorbitant contract, looks as though he’s won the starting job at right tackle from Matt Peart.

In fact, noted analytics site Pro Football Focus has ranked the Giants’ offensive line dead-last in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. So it might not matter how many weapons Jones has — he still might be running for his life in 2021. 

A saving grace for the offense is that a defense that took a major step forward last year under coordinator Patrick Graham is perceived to be one of the best units in the NFL.

An improving pass rush is headlined by the re-surging Leonard Williams, who had a career-best 11.5 sacks last season.

A deep linebacking core will provide versatility with Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder, and Oshane Zimines getting some notable depth additions in Reggie Ragland and highly-touted rookie, Azeez Ojulari.

But the Giants made their most noise this offseason in the secondary, bringing on Adoree’ Jackson as a legitimate No. 2 cornerback behind Pro Bowler James Bradberry, strengthening a pass defense that is trending in the right direction.

Here is how the Giants’ depth chart stacks up heading into the 2021 season:

OFFENSE

QB

  1. Daniel Jones
  2. Mike Glennon

RB

  1. Saquon Barkley
  2. Devontae Booker
  3. Gary Brightwell

FB

  1. Elijhaa Penny
  2. Cullen Gillaspia

WR1

  1. Kenny Golladay
  2. Darius Slayton
  3. C.J. Board

WR2

  1. Sterling Shepard
  2. Kadarius Toney
  3. Collin Johnson

TE1

  1. Evan Engram
  2. Kaden Smith

TE2

  1. Kyle Rudolph
  2. Kaden Smith

RT

  1. Nate Solder
  2. Matt Peart

RG

  1. Will Hernandez
  2. Ben Bredeson

C

  1. Nick Gates
  2. Billy Price

LG

  1. Shane Lemieux
  2. Ben Bredeson

LT

  1. Andrew Thomas
  2. Matt Peart

DEFENSE

DE

  1. Dexter Lawrence

NT

  1. Austin Johnson
  2. Danny Shelton

DT

  1. Leonard Williams
  2. Raymond Johnson III

Strong Side LB

  1. Lorenzo Carter
  2. Quincy Roche
  3. Cam Brown

Middle LB

  1. Blake Martinez
  2. Reggie Ragland
  3. Justin Hilliard

WIL

  1. Tae Crowder
  2. Carter Coughlin

Outside LB

  1. Oshane Ximines
  2. Azeez Ojulari

LCB

  1. James Bradberry
  2. Rodarius Williams
  3. Josh Jackson
  4. Sam Beal

RCB

  1. Adoree’ Jackson
  2. Darnay Holmes
  3. Keion Crossen

SS

  1. Jabrill Peppers
  2. Julian Love

FS

  1. Logan Ryan
  2. Xavier McKinney

More from around NYC