We are still about four months away from Opening Night, but it's never too soon to predict what the 2012 New York Giants will look like at the end of the preseason. The draft is over and so is the better part of free agency, so rosters around the league are beginning to take shape.
Here is a position-by-position breakdown of who has a good chance to make the Giants, and who will be cut. I've split the likelihoods of making the roster into three categories: most likely, on the bubble players and unlikely. We can never say never, as an undrafted receiver named Victor Cruz recently reminded us.
Note: With injuries and more free agent additions always looming, I plan to release an updated slideshow once a month, reflecting the front office's recent moves.
Most likely: Eli Manning, David Carr
No surprises here. The Giants opted not to draft a quarterback in the late rounds, and only brought in Merrimack College quarterback J.R. Suozzo and free agent Dan LeFevour during rookie mini-camp, signing neither. Carr is entrenched as Eli's backup.
On the bubble: None
Unlikely: Ryan Perrilloux
The Giants made 22 roster moves last season involving Perrilloux, as he went back and forth between free agency and the practice squad. But he seems like the desired number three quarterback behind Manning and Carr.
The only problem is that the Giants rarely carry more than two quarterbacks due to Manning's durability (Carr didn't even attempt a pass last season).
Perrilloux won't make the 53-man, but is a likely candidate for the practice squad.
Most likely: Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, D.J. Ware
Following a season in which the Giants ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game, the G-Men will take all the help they can get at this position.
Bradshaw has a shiny new backup in Wilson, who could be pushing for the starting job in a couple seasons.
Ware has a good chance at making the team as a third-down back, a role he has done well in.
On the bubble: Da'rel Scott
I think Scott will probably make the team, but he's going to have to earn his spot. He needs some seasoning, but he could be a solid third-down back in the near future, and has potential to be an exciting kick returner.
In short, expect this year's running back corps to look like last year's, except replacing Brandon Jacobs with Wilson.
Unlikely: Andre Brown
Brown will be suspended for the first four games of the season following a positive PED test. Even without the suspension, he was a bit of a longshot.
Most likely: Henry Hynoski
Hynoski was quietly one of the Giants' most effective rookies last season, and all indications say he will keep the starting fullback job in 2012.
On the bubble: None
Unlikely: Joe Martinek
The Rutgers fullback is very interesting, as OC Kevin Gilbride has praised Martinek for his versatility.
Still, there's not much of a point carrying another fullback on the roster, especially with TE Bear Pascoe able to play the position.
Martinek could resurface on the practice squad.
Most likely: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Domenik Hixon
How the depth chart will look is more of a question than who will be on it. Nicks and Cruz are the obvious starters. Randle, Jernigan and Hixon will compete for the third spot, with Randle having the early edge. He has received major praise early in mini-camp, and the term "NFL-ready" has been floated his way.
Jernigan didn't notch a reception in his rookie year, but with the departures of Mario Manningham and Devin Thomas, he could be in line for more targets in his second year. Hixon is a major injury concern, but is very reliable when healthy.
All of these guys should make the team.
On the bubble: Ramses Barden
Barden is just about out of time. The 2009 third round pick has an unbelievably futile 174 receiving yards in his first three NFL seasons, having played in just 17 out of a possible 52 games. After missing the early portion of last season with an injury, he was a healthy scratch for the regular season finale against Dallas and the Giants' entire Super Bowl run.
It's not impossible for him to make the team, but my guess is he'd have to dazzle. An injury to another receiver could also help him, which is a very real possibility considering Hixon's back-to-back seasons with ACL tears.
Despite my little rant about his shortcomings, I think he'll make the team. His salary isn't prohibitive ($565,000), and there's so much to like about his size. He'll be at the bottom of the depth chart, however, if he makes it.
Unlikely: Julian Talley, Dan DePalma, Isaiah Stanback, David Douglas, Brandon Collins
DePalma and Stanback spent the 2011 season on the practice squad. Talley was Cruz's college teammate at UMass, so the Giants will look to catch lightning in a bottle again, but don't hold your breath.
Douglas is another UDFA and remains a longshot, but last season at Arizona he did have over 100 yards against Oregon and Utah. The Giants might look to stash him on the practice squad.
Collins has character concerns following his dismissal from Texas, and finished his college career at Southeastern Louisiana.
Most likely: Martellus Bennett, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson
All of these guys are locks. Bennett will take over as the starter, getting a chance to shine after playing behind the Cowboys' Jason Witten for the first four years of his career.
Pascoe will function as a blocking specialist and occasional red-zone target.
Robinson is a project, who GM Jerry Reese describes as "the JPP of tight ends."
On the bubble: Travis Beckum, Christian Hopkins
Chances are one of these two will make the team. After Beckum tore his ACL in Super Bowl XLVI, it was doubtful he'd even play this season. But he says he's making a quick recovery and expects to be ready for Week 1. And the Zen Master said, "We'll see."
If he has to start the season on the PUP list, Hopkins could make the team. The Giants usually don't carry four tight ends on a roster, but might need to this year, especially with the hit-or-miss signing of Bennett.
Unlikely: Larry Donnell, Ryan Purvis, Jake Ballard
Ballard is fully expected to be placed on the PUP list after also tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl. Some even question if he'll play at all in 2012.
Purvis actually has more NFL experience than Hopkins, having played in 10 games for the Bucs in 2010, but remains a longshot.
Donnell is a camp body.
Most likely: Mitch Petrus, David Baas, Will Beatty, David Diehl, Brandon Mosley, James Brewer, Chris Snee, Kevin Boothe
Baas (C) and Snee (RG) will be starting at their usual positions.
Boothe will be in the running for the LG job, and Petrus will be a guard off the bench.
Diehl will be starting, but it's not clear at which position.
Diehl and Beatty will compete for the LT job, while Diehl, Brewer and Mosley will compete for RT.
On the bubble: Matt McCants, Sean Locklear
McCants was the Giants' sixth-round pick, and could see time at tackle. He'll have every opportunity to make the team, but could be an option for the practice squad if he doesn't show enough in camp.
Locklear is a veteran addition, having spent last season with the Redskins. The former Seahawk has a good shot at making the team, filling the role that Stacy Andrews occupied last season.
Still, it wouldn't be a total shock for him to be cut if the Giants want more youth on the line.
Unlikely: Selvish Capers, Chris White, Jim Cordle, Joel Reinders, Stephen Goodin
Capers spent 2011 on the practice squad.
Reinders and White are more camp bodies.
Cordle could be a dark horse candidate to make the team with Baas and Boothe being the only accomplished centers on the roster.
Goodin is a UDFA.
Most likely: Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, Marvin Austin, Shaun Rogers
To be clear, Osi will be make the team if he's still on the team. As was the case last offseason, trade rumors are swirling around him as he seeks a new contract. However, the Giants don't seem to be inclined to trade him unless they receive a second-round pick or better, and seem more likely to let him play out the final year on his contract and hope an extension can be struck before he hits free agency.
Tuck and JPP are locked in as starters.
Canty and Joseph will once again be the starting defensive tackles.
Austin will be returning from a missed rookie season, but after spending a second round pick on him in 2011, Big Blue won't be giving up on him yet.
Rogers, a former Pro Bowler, will likely make the team as veteran insurance.
On the bubble: Justin Trattou, Markus Kuhn
Trattou spent a considerable amount of time on the active roster last season, but didn't get much playing time. The former UDFA out of Florida could be in line for more game action following the departure of Dave Tollefson, in addition to Umenyiora's contract situation and recent injury history.
Kuhn was this year's seventh-round pick, and the Giants really like him, but he'll have a hard time making it onto the team with arguably the most defensive line depth in the NFL.
Unlikely: Matt Broha, Craig Marshall, Adewale Ojomo, Dwayne Hendricks, Martin Parker
All of these guys are UDFAs from 2011 or 2012, and are longshots to make the team.
Most likely: Michael Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka, Chase Blackburn, Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich
Kiwanuka will start on the outside, and Boley will start, but his position is likely tied to the camp battle between Blackburn and Rivers, the latter of whom was acquired in a trade with the Bengals last month.
DC Perry Fewell has said that Blackburn will open camp as the starting MLB, but the Giants probably didn't trade for Rivers to immediately put him on the bench. If Blackburn wins the job, the linebackers will look the way they did at the end of last season: Blackburn in the middle, Boley and Kiwanuka on the outside. If Rivers wins, the belief is that Boley will shift inside with Kiwanuka and Rivers on the outside.
It's the G-Men's biggest camp battle to watch.
Williams was a force on special teams last year and looked good in limited snaps on defense, too. Herzlich didn't make much of an impact in his rookie year, but the Giants knew when they signed him that he is a project with a lot of potential. He has even said he plans on competing for the starting MLB job. He'll be back.
On the bubble: Clint Sintim, Greg Jones
Following Jonathan Goff's torn ACL last preseason, Sintim was expected to be the new starting MLB, but promptly tore his own ACL. Now in a contract year, he'll have to fight just to make the team. He was the 45th overall pick in 2009, so the Giants see potential in him, but he'll have to show he can play at a high level in 2012 following a disappointing first two seasons (33 tackles in 24 games) and a lost third season.
With a nice camp, he can crack the roster as insurance.
The same can be said about Greg Jones, who started 11 games at MLB for the Giants last year as a rookie. He wasn't great, though, and lost his starting job once the Giants re-signed Blackburn late last season.
He'll really have to push if he wants to make a team that has three players (four if you count Sintim) that could play in the middle.
Unlikely: Spencer Paysinger, Adrian Tracy, Jake Muasau
Paysinger played almost exclusively on special teams last year, and is expendable. Tracy spent last season on the practice squad. Muasau is an UDFA out of Georgia State.
Most likely: Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Tyler Sash
Webster will look to follow up last year's dominance with some more in 2012.
Thomas signed a new contract and has said he feels 100% following his torn ACL last August. He'll start opposite Webster.
Rolle and Phillips are locked in as the starting safeties.
Amukamara will likely be the nickelback after finally getting a full offseason and training camp under his belt.
Hosley was the Giants' 2012 third round pick out of Virginia Tech, and figures to be used sparingly on defense as a rookie. He could contribute more in the return game.
Sash, as of right now, is the team's third safety, but it wouldn't be shocking if veteran safety and clubhouse leader Deon Grant re-signed at some point this summer and threw a wrench in that plan if Sash struggles.
On the bubble: Antwaun Molden, Bruce Johnson, Michael Coe, Justin Tryon
The Giants' have a lot of cornerbacks right now (ten to be exact), and chances are only one or two of these guys will make the team.
Molden, the former Patriot, looked good last season, intercepting two passes and playing in all 16 games for the injury-riddled Pats' defense. He seems like a good bet to make the 53-man.
Johnson was a solid nickel corner off the bench for the Giants in his first two seasons, but after missing last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, he has a lot of catching up to do.
Coe played in ten games last season, but that's about all he has going for him after struggling in coverage in 2011.
Tryon looked very strong in a very, very small cameo for the Giants last year before breaking his arm on a special teams tackle. For the record, he continued playing and finished that game with his broken arm. He's very tough, and someone worth rooting for.
But he plays a position that New York has more than enough of right now.
Unlikely: Stevie Brown, Brian Witherspoon, Chris Horton, Brandon Bing, Jojo Nicolas, Janzen Jackson, Will Hill
Brown could be a surprise addition as a special teams safety, kind of like Derrick Martin last year. Don't hold your breath, though.
Witherspoon would have made last year's team, but, like so many others, tore his ACL before the season began.
Horton had an effective rookie year with the Redskins in 2008, but has disappeared since then. He was out football in 2011.
Bing could return to the practice squad. Nicolas and Jackson are UDFAs. Hill spent last year in the AFL, and is looking to crack his first NFL roster.
Most likely: Lawrence Tynes, Steve Weatherford, Zak DeOssie
All three are locks. Tynes will return for his sixth season as the Giants' kicker.
Weatherford impressed the G-Men so much in his first year that they franchise tagged him and signed him to a 5-year, $12.75 million extension. All signs point to him being Big Blue's punter for the long haul.
DeOssie signed an extension of his own, getting three years and about $3.5 million to remain the team's long snapper through the 2015 season.
On the bubble: None
Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants' decision-makers have some tough choices to make this summer. The current 90-man roster will have to be cut down to 53 by preseason's end.
Here's my best guess on who will make the team, and who will miss it.
The numbers are simply for keeping track of how many players are on the roster, not likelihood of making it. Injuries, trades and additional free agent signings can change this projection drastically, so check back next month for my updated article and projection.
Sound off in the comments below to let me know how wrong you think I am (maybe some of you will even agree, that'd be nice), and follow me on Twitter, @IAmScottLogan.
1. Eli Manning (QB)
2. David Carr (QB)
3. Ahmad Bradshaw (RB)
4. David Wilson (RB)
5. D.J. Ware (RB)
6. Da'rel Scott (RB)
7. Henry Hynoski (FB)
8. Hakeem Nicks (WR)
9. Victor Cruz (WR)
10. Rueben Randle (WR)
11. Jerrel Jernigan (WR)
12. Domenik Hixon (WR)
13. Ramses Barden (WR)
14. Martellus Bennett (TE)
15. Christian Hopkins (TE)
16. Bear Pascoe (TE)
17. Adrien Robinson (TE)
18. David Baas (C)
19. Chris Snee (G)
20. Kevin Boothe (G/C)
21. David Diehl (OT/G)
22. James Brewer (OT)
23. Will Beatty (OT)
24. Mitch Petrus (G)
25. Sean Locklear (OT)
26. Brandon Mosley (OT)
27. Matt McCants (OT)
28. Justin Tuck (DE)
29. Jason Pierre-Paul (DE)
30. Chris Canty (DT)
31. Linval Joseph (DT)
32. Osi Umenyiora (DE)
33. Shaun Rogers (DT)
34. Marvin Austin (DT)
35. Justin Trattou (DE)
36. Michael Boley (OLB/ILB)
37. Mathias Kiwanuka (OLB)
38. Chase Blackburn (ILB)
39. Keith Rivers (OLB)
40. Jacquian Williams (OLB)
41. Mark Herzlich (ILB/OLB)
42. Clint Sintim (OLB)
43. Corey Webster (CB)
44. Terrell Thomas (CB)
45. Antrel Rolle (S)
46. Kenny Phillips (S)
47. Prince Amukamara (CB)
48. Tyler Sash (S)
49. Jayron Hosley (CB)
50. Antwaun Molden (CB)
51. Lawrence Tynes (K)
52. Steve Weatherford (P)
53. Zak DeOssie (LS)
The Ones Who Didn't Make It:
QB: Ryan Perrilloux
RB: Andre Brown
FB: Joe Martinek
WR: Dan DePalma, David Douglas, Isaiah Stanback, Julian Talley, Brandon Collins
TE: Travis Beckum, Ryan Purvis, Larry Donnell, Jake Ballard
OL: Jim Cordle, Selvish Capers, Chris White, Joel Reinders, Stephen Goodin
DL: Markus Kuhn, Dwayne Hendricks, Craig Marshall, Adewale Ojomo, Matt Broha, Martin Parker
LB: Greg Jones, Spencer Paysinger, Adrian Tracy, Jake Muasau
DB: Bruce Johnson, Michael Coe, Justin Tryon, Stevie Brown, Brian Witherspoon, Chris Horton, Brandon Bing, Janzen Jackson, Jojo Nicolas, Will Hill