Grading the New York Giants' 53-Man Roster

Steven GoldsteinContributor ISeptember 3, 2012

Grading the New York Giants' 53-Man Roster

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    Here we go.

    After months of ferverous anticipation, a sultry summer of training camp and four preseason tune-ups, the New York Giants have found a 53-man roster to defend the Lombardi Trophy with.

    On paper, Big Blue looks to be one of the league's top teams. Still, this roster will be tested from the get-go, opening the NFL season against the upstart Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday night.

    What's the G-Men's strongest unit? What's their weak spot? Which cuts made sense, and which ones will be second-guessed? Check out a full report card for New York's final 53-man roster.

Quarterbacks: A

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    David Carr

    One of the league's better backups, the 11th-year veteran won't figure to see many reps in 2012 behind Eli Manning. He posted a pedestrian 79.4 quarterback rating this preseason, but then again, Carr's nothing more than a proverbial panic button under center.

    Eli Manning

    Eli's 2011 effort catapulted him to the peak of NFL stardom. Last year, Manning tallied the league's seventh-highest QB rating, finishing fourth in overall passing yardage. His 130 consecutive starts is good for third in NFL history. New York is pretty set at quarterback with the reigning Super Bowl MVP on the roster.

    Consensus

    With Manning at the helm and a proven second-stringer, the Giants pass with flying colors at the QB position.

Running Backs: B+

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    Ahmad Bradshaw

    Despite posting a paltry 3.9 yards per carry average last year, Bradshaw notched nine rushing touchdowns. He has a dangerous first step and is deceptively strong. While not quite a top-tier back, Bradshaw has strung together an impressive career thus far. His success remains contingent on New York's dicey O-line.

    Andre Brown

    Considered a long shot for the final roster, Brown put in an impressive preseason. He'll be used primarily in the screen game, replacing 'back D.J. Ware.

    Henry Hynoski

    Hynoski's penchant for hurdling opposing defenders won fans over last year. As a second-year player, he's already a solid fullback who stays involved in the passing game.

    Da'Rel Scott

    A player who hasn't completely vindicated his roster spot here. Scott hasn't shown to be much of a runner, receiver, pass blocker or return man, but he'll still see some touches in New York's busy offense.

    David Wilson

    Big Blue's first-round selection from April's Draft, Wilson enjoyed a spectacular summer. With shifty cut moves and blinding agility, he has colossal upside for 2012 and beyond. Wilson looks to supplant Brandon Jacobs' role as Bradshaw's second-fiddle.

    Consensus

    The Giants have a talented core of 'backs, but will need to hope for better offensive line play this year. Wilson and Bradshaw are an enticing duo.

Wide Receivers: A+

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    Ramses Barden

    A third-rounder from '09, Barden's been a veritable bust thus far, with less than 200 receiving yards and no scores to his name. He's got a big body at 6'6" and will be used in spread formations.

    Victor Cruz

    Cruz had a breakthrough season last year catching 82 passes for over 1,500 yards. He'll be a huge asset in both vertical and mid-route passing, and barring a setback, he's one of the NFL's top wideouts.

    Domenik Hixon

    Hixon prepares a return to football after tearing his ACL last September. A standard slot receiver with talent in the return game.

    Jerrel Jernigan

    One of New York's most enticing options for a return specialist, Jernigan got good separation on opposing corners this preseason. Jernigan averaged 17 yards a grab this summer, but likely won't see much time away from special teams.

    Hakeem Nicks

    Nicks pairs with Cruz to form one of the league's most dangerous 1-2 punches on the outside. He's got the hands of a possession receiver and the explosiveness of a deep threat. Without a doubt the best route-runner on the team, Nicks is primed for another big season after topping 1,000 receiving yards in '10 and '11.

    Rueben Randle

    A rookie looking to fill Mario Manningham's shoes. Randle could be the No. 2 man when Cruz mans the slot.

    Consensus

    Perhaps the best set of receivers in the division, New York will be a pass-first offense in 2012.

Tight Ends: B-

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    Martellus Bennett

    The figured starter, Bennett was one of five Giants to record a receiving TD this preseason. He had minimal impact in Dallas, but at 6'6" and 260-plus pounds, he's a big target for Manning. Bennett wasn't much of a run-blocker this summer, and ostensibly struggled with catching the ball a bit.

    Bear Pascoe

    A better blocker than receiver, Pascoe doesn't do too much to "wow" Giants fans.

    Adrien Robinson

    A rookie from Cincinnati, Robinson touts the biggest upside in this unit. He likely won't see too much time behind Bennett and Pascoe, but could be the team's starting tight end down the road. Robinson could prevent Travis Beckum from earning a number when he returns from the PUP list.

    Consensus

    There's nothing special here, but Bennett and Robinson are both talented athletes with upside.

Offensive Line: D+

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    David Baas

    The team's starting center who struggled to stay healthy last year. He doesn't make a huge impact in either run or pass blocking, especially now without Brandon Jacobs, the team's primary interior runner.

    Will Beatty

    Beatty continues to struggle with back issues that could be troublesome come regular-season time. He had a disappointing 2011, and is particularly weak in run blocking.

    Kevin Boothe

    The presumed starting left guard who's struggled to find a true position along the line.

    James Brewer

    A 330 pounder from Indiana, many fans have been calling for Brewer to start over David Diehl. He's got plenty of upside, but for now, he stands as inexperienced.

    Jim Cordle

    A flex player listed as a center, Cordle's one of the biggest bodies on the team at 320 pounds. He spent time on the practice squad last season.

    David Diehl

    After a turbulent offseason highlighted by a DWI conviction, Diehl will look to settle in as the team's new right tackle. He's played both guard and both tackle positions for the Giants, but has been prone to penalties in past years.

    Sean Locklear

    A veteran tackle who could start in place of Beatty this week. Locklear's one of the more proven players in this unit, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has been impressed with what he's seen this summer.

    Mitch Petrus

    A guard who endured a nightmarish preseason. Petrus played all 60 minutes against the Patriots last week, and was dominated on the inside. He was originally cut, but was re-signed after waiver claim D.J. Jones failed his physical.

    Chris Snee

    Big Blue's top lineman, Snee's a former Pro Bowler and a great pass blocker. He'll look to anchor an unproven line in 2012.

    Consensus

    The clear-cut question mark for the Giants. This was the unit that paved the way for the league's worst-ranked rushing attack last year, and it hasn't made any real improvements heading into Week 1. It was a rough preseason, and fans will have to hope that things turn around fast.

Defensive Line: A+

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    Marvin Austin

    A tackle who dropped to the second round of last year's draft due to alleged character issues, Austin hasn't had a chance to take the field for Big Blue. After spending all of 2011 on IR, Austin hopes to return soon from a back injury.

    Rocky Bernard

    A wily veteran who was huge in stuffing the run this preseason. He was in on 30 tackles last year.

    Linval Joseph

    A rising star in the middle who also enjoyed a huge preseason. Joseph had 49 stops and four pass deflections in 2011.

    Markus Kuhn

    A rookie tackle and German native who recorded six tackles this preseason. The jury's out on whether he can make an impact at the pro level after four years at N.C. State.

    Adewale Ojomo

    The star of the summer for Big Blue, Ojomo's an undrafted free agent from Miami who clawed his way onto the roster with four sacks and a forced fumble in four preseason games.

    Jason Pierre-Paul

    "J.P.P." garnered Defensive Player of the Year consideration in 2011, finishing the year with 16.5 sacks and over 85 tackles. He's one of the league's best ends, no question.

    Adrian Tracy

    A second-year end who beat out Matt Broha for a spot on the team.

    Justin Tuck

    One of three Pro Bowl-caliber sack-machines for the Giants. Tuck's the leader of this unit, earning defensive captain honors for the past few years. He could see some time in the middle with the team's bevy of injuries at tackle.

    Osi Umenyiora

    A league-wide star who was miraculously skirted from the starting lineup with Pierre-Paul and Tuck in place. Osi will still see plenty of reps, and has enjoyed seven or more sacks a season since 2007.

    Consensus

    One of the deepest and most imposing units in the NFL, the Giants' defense will live and die by the pass rush. Matt Broha and Craig Marshall are two talented ends who wait on the practice squad, and the Giants will only bolster their D-line with the eventual return of shelved tackle Chris Canty.

Linebackers: B

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    Chase Blackburn

    Blackburn's ascent to NFL prominence is inspiring; he began 2011 on his couch, and ended it with a Super Bowl interception. Still, he's better against the run than the pass, and isn't overly-impressive with his speed or strength.

    Michael Boley

    A vital player for this defense, Boley participated in a full practice Sunday despite lingering hamstring issues. He's strong off the edge and is great in pass defense, but has struggled against the run at times.

    Mark Herzlich

    Like fellow middle linebacker Chase Blackburn, Herzlich touts an inspiring story: he made a full recovery from Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. He could push Blackburn for his starting spot this year.

    Mathias Kiwanuka

    Kiwanuka works the jam in pass coverage, and excels off the edge as a former DE.

    Spencer Paysinger

    A second-year 'backer from Oregon, Paysinger lead the team with 22 preseason tackles.

    Keith Rivers

    A former top 10 draftee who hasn't seen the gridiron since 2010. While injuries have kept him out, Rivers could be a huge steal for the Giants this year.

    Jacquian Williams

    The hero of last year's NFC Championship Game, Williams is one of the team's fastest linebackers.

    Consensus

    Aside from "Kiwi" and Boley, this is a pretty average unit. The Giants' run defense really stepped it up in the playoffs, and momentum could carry over for the start of 2012.

Cornerbacks: C

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    Prince Amukamara

    The Giants' eventual No. 2 corner when he returns from a sprained ankle, Amukamara struggled at the nickel spot last year.

    Michael Coe

    A six-year corner who's now played on three teams, Coe's yet to tally an NFL interception.

    Jayron Hosley

    A rookie from Virginia Tech, Hosley busted a memorable 77-yard "pick-six" against the Jets in the preseason's second week. He battles turf toe for now, but boasts impressive speed.

    Justin Tryon

    Nothing special here, Tryon spent time with the Redskins and Colts before hitting the Big Apple.

    Corey Webster

    A physical corner who's slowly become one of the league's most underrated talents. Webster had a career-high six picks last year.

    Consensus

    Without Terrell Thomas, this unit is a little shaky. Aside from Webster, there's no established talent. The Giants will rely on their front lines, hoping that their corners don't have to cover for long. Big Blue ranked 29th in total pass defense last year.

Safeties: A-

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    Stevie Brown

    Brown was aggressive this summer, and finished the preseason with nine tackles. He'll be a serviceable backup.

    Will Hill

    An undrafted free agent that really impressed this preseason. Hill was third on the team in tackles and recorded a sack.

    Kenny Phillips

    The team's starting strong safety, Phillips excels in coverage and came away with four interceptions in 2011. He's a standout playmaker who's often overshadowed in New York's star-studded D.

    Antrel Rolle

    Rolle's pass coverage woes are compensated by his natural athleticism and nose for the ball.

    Consensus

    Rolle and Phillips are two of the league's better safeties, and the return of suspended backup Tyler Sash will boost this rating even further. With questionable linebackers and corners, the Giants' safeties need to have a big year.

Special Teams: A

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    Zak DeOssie

    A reliable, consistent long-snapper. Not much else you can ask for here.

    Lawrence Tynes

    Tynes finished the preseason a perfect 8-for-8 on field goal attempts, and booted deep kickoffs. With two NFC Championship game-winners in his career, Tynes is a great option at kicker.

    Steve Weatherford

    Weatherford drilled two 55-plus yard punts against New England last week. He's got a top-tier leg.

    Consensus

    While the return game is weak, New York's kicking and punting teams are top notch.