Are the New York Giants ready for a return to the Pro Bowl?
Sports Illustrated’s Patricia Traina released her “ridiculously bold” predictions on Wednesday, with one particularly intriguing one. Traina predicted the Giants would send two players to the Pro Bowl following a complete shutout from the game this past season. In two of the past three seasons, the team hasn’t sent a single player to the NFL’s all-star game. Former Giants James Bradberry and Evan Engram were the last to represent the team in the event two seasons ago. Traina’s predictions for the upcoming season were for one player on offense and one player on defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, she identified Andrew Thomas as a Pro Bowl candidate, naming Thomas’ ankle injury and the team’s coaching instability as the reasons for his early struggles. Following his disappointing rookie season, the former fourth overall pick was better in his sophomore campaign, recording the first three tackles of his career while playing in three fewer games than his first year. As Traina points out, he was arguably the best starting offensive lineman on the team last season. Her prediction calls for Thomas’ nagging ankle injury to be resolved and the new offensive scheme of first-year offensive coordinator Mike Kafka putting him in better positions to succeed. NFL.com contributor Adam Schein has already identified Thomas as one of nine rising stars heading into the new season.
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On the defensive end, Traina called the choice a “pretty obvious” one in safety Xavier McKinney. Like Thomas, she identifies McKinney’s early struggles as injury-related. The Alabama alumni suffered a fractured foot prior to the start of his rookie season, making his debut in week 11 that year. Last season, his second in the NFL, he was much more productive and reliable. Playing in all 17 regular-season games and starting in 16, McKinney recorded a team-leading 5 interceptions, a touchdown, and 93 total sacks. His touchdown came as part of a two-interception performance in a victory against the Las Vegas Raiders, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Traina goes on to predict McKinney to be the leader of the secondary following the departures of Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan.
Traina Predicts A Much Healthier Squad
Another one of Patricia Traina’s predictions dealt with player health, with the insider foreseeing a cutdown on team injuries. The Athletic’s Dan Duggan recently spotlighted head coach Brian Daboll’s dialing back of training camp intensity, with the final practice of New York’s three-day minicamp being called off. Duggan and Traina both point out the stark contrast this approach is to former head coach Joe Judge’s approach of high intensity and extra conditioning. While Duggan is unsure of this new approach’s outcome, Traina is predicting a payoff to the new approach.
Thibodeaux’s College Coach Has Major Expectations
Giants top pick Kayvon Thibodeaux’s former college coach is letting the world know his lofty expectations for the linebacker. Appearing on The Herd earlier this month, Mario Cristobal, the former head coach of Oregon and current head coach of Miami, didn’t mince words when speaking of Thibodeaux. Cristobal said of the 21-year-old, “his best football is ahead of him. He’s going to be a superstar.”
Under Cristobal, the fifth overall pick thrived, recording 126 total tackles and 19 sacks in three seasons.