Now that the 2012 NFL draft is over, it is time for my way-too-early projections for the New York Giants' final 53-man roster. Some of this was easy, and other parts were extremely difficult. The Giants have a ton of players who could end up finding spots on other teams if they get cut.
The Super Bowl champs are stacked at multiple positions—some talented players are going to end up getting cut. The younger players are going to have to make their mark on special teams to stand out above the rest.
With that said, here is my projection of the final roster prior to opening day.
Starter: Eli Manning
Reserves: David Carr
Like this should come as a surprise to anyone? Eli Manning has cemented his legacy as an elite quarterback and should be a Hall of Fame inductee if he continues to put up these numbers for the next half a decade. David Carr surprised me by coming back; he appears content playing backup for a winner.
Notable players cut: Ryan Perrilloux (and the signing/cutting from the practice squad fun continues).
Starter: Ahmad Bradshaw
Reserves: David Wilson, Da'Rel Scott, Joe Martinek
This is the end of the D.J. Ware era in New York, not that is was a very long or exciting one. I do not see room for Ware on the Giants' roster. He was the backup to Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs last season, but with the new additions, I believe the Giants will show him the door.
David Wilson will assume the backup role Jacobs occupied last season. He may be 50 pounds lighter, but Wilson will be a change of pace back similar to Tiki Barber early in his career.
Notable players cut: D.J. Ware, Andre Brown
Starter: Henry Hynoski
The Giants need only one starter listed here, but backup running back Joe Martinek is an intriguing undrafted free-agent prospect who can play both full back and running back. Bear Pascoe is also an option as a backup.
Notable players cut: None
Starters: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz
Reserves: Rueben Randle, Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden
No surprises here. Randle and Hixon will battle it out for the third wide receiver spot in training camp, with Randle winning it outright. Jernigan will contribute on special teams and compete for playing time with Barden.
Notable players cut: None
Starter: Martellus Bennett
Reserves: Adrien Robinson, Bear Pascoe
The Giants were depleted at the tight end position after the Super Bowl, and now it looks like they could rival the days of Jeremy Shockey and Visanthe Shiancoe. All three tight ends are excellent blockers, which should immensely help the Giants' rushing attack. Robinson is an athletic specimen who could be a weapon in the red zone along with 6'7'' Bennett. I really love what Jerry Reese did to upgrade this position.
They could also potentially get Jake Ballard back by midseason.
Notable players cut: Ryan Purvis, Christian Hopkins, Travis Beckum (cut or put on PUP)
Starters (From LT to RT): Will Beatty, Mitch Petrus, David Baas, Chris Snee, James Brewer
Reserves (no order): David Diehl, Brandon Mosley, Kevin Boothe, Matt McCants
The Giants like to typically keep between nine to 11 offensive lineman on tap. They finished the season with nine last year, which is a good number. If you read my stuff regularly, you'll notice I made a change from the pre-draft edition of this article.
I replaced Kevin Boothe with Mitch Petrus at the left guard spot—partly because you all convinced me to, and in part because I have always wanted this to be the case. My previous prediction was based on how they took Petrus out when Baas came back late in the year. The Giants were clearly a much better unit with Petrus at left guard.
The Giants must have not wanted to trust such a young player in the playoffs. Now that we're in a new season, they better make the right call and put Petrus in.
I also do not like the idea of Diehl playing anywhere on the line at all. Moving him over to right tackle is not going to all of a sudden turn back the clock. He's a solid backup, but I would rather the Giants give 2011 fourth-rounder Brewer a shot.
Notable players cut: Sean Locklear
Starters: Chris Canty, Linval Joseph
Reserves: Marvin Austin, Shaun Rogers
The Giants are losing Rocky Bernard and Jimmy Kennedy but are replacing them with better players. Rogers is entering the twilight of his career, but the former All-Pro can be a good rotational player for the Giants. Kuhn, the Giants' seventh-round pick, is an athletic big man but likely won't see much action; he'll be a practice squad player.
Marvin Austin will finally get to play football after a three-year stretch off the field. He has not played a meaningful down of football since December of 2009. The Giants called him a top-15 talent when they drafted him in the second round last year. Hopefully they were right.
Notable players cut: Markus Kuhn (practice squad, hopefully)
Starters: Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck
Reserves: Osi Umenyiora, Justin Trattou, Craig Marshall
The Giants and Osi Umenyiora are going through a very public contract dispute. At this point I can only assume that he plays out the final year of his contract or the Giants extend him. The time to trade him was during last weekend's draft.
Marshall and Trattou are young players the Giants liked enough to sign and keep on the practice squad last season. They'll get an opportunity to replace Dave Tollefson in the rotation.
Notable players cut: none
Starters (From Weak to Strong): Keith Rivers, Michael Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka
Reserves (no order): Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich, Chase Blackburn, Spencer Paysinger
It was tough cutting Greg Jones, but with Keith Rivers being traded for and Chase Blackburn re-signing, there was no room for him. The Giants will likely slide Boley to middle linebacker. He played the "middle" of their 4-2-5 defense last season, so he's already used to making all the calls on the field.
Williams and Herzlich will push for the starting middle and strong spots, but ultimately the Giants will go with that starting group for one more year.
Blackburn was a hero in the Super Bowl, forcing the game's only turnover. He deserves a spot on this team for how he saved the Giants last year.
Notable players cut: Clint Sintim, Greg Jones, Adrian Tracy
Starters: Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas
Reserves: Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Antwaun Molden
The Giants should fair much better on defense next season. They clearly missed Terrell Thomas last season, who was arguably their best defender in 2010.
Amukamara and Hosley each have loads of potential, and Molden filled in admirably for the Patriots last season. You could argue the Giants have five starter-worthy corners on their roster.
Notable players cut: Michael Coe, Justin Tryon, Bruce Johnson, Brian Witherspoon
Starters: Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips
Reserves: Tyler Sash, Janzen Jackson
As much as I wanted to put Chad Jones as one of the reserves, I doubt he will be ready by the season opener. He'll begin the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Janzen Jackson is one of the undrafted free agents the Giants signed this year. He had a troubled college career with multiple off-the-field incidents, but he's a big time hitter and smart on the field.
The Giants will have to cut multiple safeties as there is not room for all of them on the roster. Chris Horton and Steve Brown were signed this offseason, but I do not think the Giants imagined Jackson being available at such a low risk.
Given that Deon Grant has not been signed yet, I have to assume the worst. He was an asset for the Giants the previous two years. The 13-year veteran will be sorely missed in the locker room.
Notable players cut: Chad Jones (or PUP), Chris Horton, Stevie Brown
(If the Giants want to hold on to the insane amount of defensive backs they've got, they will have to suffer at other positions. I do not see this happening)
Kicker: Lawrence Tynes
Punter: Steve Weatherford
Long Snapper: Zak DeOssie
None of these names should come as a surprise. Lawrence Tynes may not have the biggest leg, but he is accurate enough and the Giants do not like attempting long field goals anyways. Steve Weatherford was a huge weapon in the playoffs, and the Giants quickly re-signed him this offseason.
DeOssie has made a Pro Bowl as a long snapper (is that not the easiest way to get a free trip to Hawaii and at least $22,500).
Notable players cut: None