Giant Projections: Predicting Big Blue’s 53-Man Roster For Week 1

Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley

Getty Images Who else will join Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley on the Giants' projected Week 1 roster?

The New York Giants are still months away from naming their 53-man opening day roster.

Who really wants to wait that long, though?

Key pillars of last year’s team, like quarterback Daniel Jones and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, have cemented their spots for years to come. They’ll be joined by returning veterans, new free agent acquisitions, and an incoming draft class deemed one of the league’s most valuable rookie hauls.

Even Saquon Barkley, the roster’s biggest question mark, feels likely to return at some point.

Surprises always pop up. New York’s next big contributor might be on another team’s roster or practice squad, like receiver Isaiah Hodgins showed last year. But as the league enters a period of relative calm before summer camps open, the Giants’ potential 2023 roster is a bit easier to outline. 

Here’s that outline — a 53-player prediction of what the Giants’ roster will look against Dallas in Week 1: 

Quarterback: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor (2)

Lets start simple — Daniel Jones will be New York’s QB1 after the team gave him a four-year commitment this offseason. 

The QB2 role is less certain; Taylor carries a $6.9 million cap (per OverTheCap) hit that some other veteran might be able to fill at a discount. There’s no replacement for the peace of mind Taylor adds with his years of experience in coach Brian Daboll’s offense, though.

A third QB seems like a long shot, despite some draft grumblings. Current contenders include undrafted rookie QB Tommy DeVito and former Rams reserve Bryce Perkins. 

Running back: Saquon Barkley, Matt Brieda, Eric Gray, Gary Brightwell (4)

Barkley’s holdout still looms large over the New York offense. A new contract for the 26-year-old back “doesn’t sound… particularly close,” according to FOX Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano.

Let’s assume gaps are bridged before September, though. Barkley would still spearhead the depth chart with returning veterans Brieda and Brightwell. Sources told Vacchiano that the newcomer on the list — fifth-round rookie Eric Gray — isn’t a Barkley replacement yet. 

“(That is) at least part of the reason why the 23-year-old Gray was selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the NFL Draft,” Vacchiano wrote. “With Barkley unsigned beyond this coming season, Giants general manager Joe Schoen has to keep at least one eye on what might happen next. And that means at least contemplating a backfield without Barkley in it.”

Wide receiver: Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Wan’Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Bryce Ford-Wheaton (6)

New York’s ever-changing receiver room is tough to figure out. Assume Hodgins, Slayton, and Robinson will be back from last year’s playoff run. Free-agent pickup Campbell and third-round rookie Jalin Hyatt should be favorites to make the cut, too. 

That leaves a logjam of pass catchers, including veteran Sterling Shepard, to duke it out for a sixth spot. And Shepard, fresh off another injury, might not have the juice Big Blue needs as it turns over its targets for Jones.

Big Blue’s braintrust had a reason to recruit Ford-Wheaton after the draft. As the UDFA figures out the offense, he’ll add special teams value — something Shepard hasn’t offered in some time. 

Tight end: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Tommy Sweeney (3)

Write Waller’s name down in pen. The former Raiders All-Pro should be the centerpiece of Big Blue’s passing attack.

Bellinger showed promise as a rookie last season, which gives him the edge at TE2. But behind that, Sweeney, Lawrence Cager, Chris Myarick, and UDFA Ryan Jones are battling for a job. 

Edge should go to Sweeney, a player Schoen helped select in Buffalo, for his blocking and special teams abilities. 

Offensive tackle: Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, Tyre Phillips, Matt Peart (4)

Thomas is the star here at left tackle. And Neal could join him with a Thomas-sized jump from an inconsistent rookie campaign.

Who plays behind those two bookends? Swing tackle Tyre Phillips showed grit when he filled in for Neal last season. Peart provides a little left tackle insurance should something happen to Thomas, too. They both get the nod over Devery Hamilton and Korey Cunningham.

Offensive guard: Ben Bredeson, Mark Glowinski, Josh Ezeudu, Shane Lemieux (4)

Schoen told’s Bob Brookover that Bredeson and Lemieux could play center in a pinch.

That versatility helps both veterans stick on this year’s depth chart. Glowinski joins them for his second season as a Giant. Those three will give Ezeudu, last year’s third-round pick, more time to recover from injury and develop into a long-term solution.

Center: John Michael Schmitz, J.C. Hassenauer (2)

Bredeson and Lemieux could make their way to the center line of New York’s depth chart.

Neither would unseat Schmitz, New York’s second-round pick with star potential. New York’s front office isn’t the only entity raving about Schmitz’s fit with Big Blue. 

Hassenauer is another story. He’s a career reserve joining New York after a stint with the Steelers. Bredeson and Lemieux could challenge for his spot behind Schmitz, but Hassenauer has depth value for Schoen and Co. 

Edge rusher: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Oshane Ximines, Jihad Ward, Elerson Smith (5)

Thibodeaux and Ojulari are back as Big Blue’s primary pass rushers. 

So is Ximines, whom the Giants re-signed after exiting the 2023 draft with no edge rushing help. Expect the ex-third rounder back in the rotation with Ward, a favorite of defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and a great locker room guy. 

Giants fans haven’t seen much from Elerson Smith. He’ll be pushed this summer by Tomon Fox and Pitt UDFA Habakkuk Baldonado, but retains his spot for now.

Defensive tackle: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jordon Riley (5)

Lawrence is the center of New York’s defense. He’ll have some help this year, though.

Williams is back as an impactful tackle/edge specialist. And Robinson and Nunez-Rochez were imported this offseason by Schoen to help plug up New York’s leaky run defense. That’s a solid rotation that didn’t exist last year up front. 

Riley, D.J. Davidson, and Ryder Anderson will duke it out for depth behind that group. Riley’s size (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) means he can step in for Lawrence if need be, so he gets the early nod. 

Linebacker: Bobby Okereke, Jarrad Davis, Darrian Beavers, Micah McFadden, Carter Coughlin (5)

Okereke will see the field first out of this group. He’s the star defender from Schoen’s free agent class.

Davis is behind him for now. New York started Davis out of necessity during its playoff run, but Okereke’s in the fold now. The former first-round pick is on his third team in six years, which means his job is ripe for the picking. 

Beavers could be the dark horse to take it. The former Cincinnati Bearcat tweeted that he has a chip on his shoulder after an injury ended his promising 2023 training camp. 

Cornerback: Adoree Jackson, Deonte Banks, Cor’Dale Flott, Darnay Holmes, Tre Hawkins (5)

Banks’ first-round selection probably means the rookie will play right away. And New York hopes he’ll add the kind of stability opposite Jackson that New York had once had in James Bradberry. 

Flott and Holmes will fight for nickel snaps behind those two. Flott showed enough flashes from the slot and out wide to get the early nod. If that happens, Big Blue might move on from Holmes, who counts nearly $3 million against their 2023 cap, per OverTheCap.

New York’s last corner spot goes to Hawkins, a real sleeper out of Old Dominion. He’s slated to beat out names like Rodarius Williams, Aaron Robinson, Nick McCloud, and Leonard Johnson because of his toughness. 

“I’m physical. I’m versatile,” Hawkins told reporters on May 6. “I can play anywhere in the back end (using) my speed, length and strength. I was kind of born with (the physicality), growing up with older cousins and you’re kind of getting picked on. You’ve got to be kind of the tough dog out of the little family.”

Safety: Xavier McKinney, Bobby McCain, Dane Belton, Jason Pinnock, Gervarrius Owens (5)

Is five rostered safeties too many? Not when you consider that some of them bring added cornerback ability, a spot severely depleted during last year’s playoff run. 

McCain is one such versatile player. The converted corner is “looking to be the guy” next to McKinney at safety, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. But he’ll play some corner too, especially if Belton wins that gig.

Same goes for Pinnock, who played some corner last year. Both he and Owens can get special teams reps right away. 

Specialists: Graham Gano, Jamie Gillan, Casey Kreiter

Same group of specialists as last year, with Gano starring at kicker. Gillan is back punting despite a few crucial mishandles. Kreiter has no competition as the team’s long snapper. 

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