Dark-Horse Candidates to Make the New York Giants' Final 53-Man Roster
Last week I took a stab at a few Giants who could find themselves on the practice squad this season. Among them were rookies and undrafted free agents—players who perhaps have just as good of a chance at cracking New York's final roster in September. We're still a world away from opening night in Dallas, but if rookie camp and OTAs are any indication, plenty of guys will be on the fringe of the last cuts.
Will the Giants take three QBs and roll with Ryan Nassib? What about Michael Cox? Does Marvin Austin get one more opportunity? There are a few long shots who have a fighting chance at suiting up this fall.
QB Ryan Nassib
Nassib's a dark horse only because he has practice squad eligibility and because Big Blue rarely uses a roster spot on a third quarterback. Eli Manning's as reliable as they come under center, and if he does fall, David Carr's likely the better option as a backup. Nassib has plenty of promise, but Jerry Reese has told reporters he hopes he never plays.
Hyperbole aside, Nassib's not extremely likely to make the 53-man roster, but a strong summer could help him force his way on, especially if Carr gets injured or struggles mightily in the preseason.
RB Michael Cox
Same deal for Cox. The dude's impressed everyone thus far, and Giants' staffers apparently love his combination of speed and cuts. Still, Cox would have to surpass either Ryan Torain or Da'Rel Scott to be the fourth running back.
It's not that crazy, though. Neither Torain nor Scott have done anything in New York, and though he has practice squad eligibility, who's to say the Giants don't give Cox a shot? Using a rookie back last year worked wonders, and it's not like the team loses significantly by cutting one of the veterans.
OL Matt McCants
McCants looked absolutely dreadful in preseason action last year before being relegated to the practice squad all fall. Originally drafted as a tackle, the Giants are now training him to play guard and center, too, perhaps to develop flexible personnel, but it's also a hint at McCants' struggles on the outside.
New York is set two-deep at both tackles, with Will Beatty, Justin Pugh, David Diehl and James Brewer guaranteed roster spots. McCants would have to have a standout summer in the interior, beating out Brandon Mosley, Eric Herman and Selvish Capers at guard or Jim Cordle at center. He has another year of practice squad eligibility, but depth is scarce in the middle, and an injury could bring him into the mix. The flexibility really helps here.
DE Adewale Ojomo
Ojomo garnered some impressive—albeit generous—comparisons to Osi Umenyiora last summer. His massive preseason was certainly reason for excitement, but finding a spot for him on the roster this fall is tougher than expected. Losing Ojomo would be a stinger, but is it inevitable?
The Giants won't take more than four or five defensive ends. Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck are locks, and it looks like Damontre Moore will be a backup and get a locker as a rookie. That's four already, and everyone seems to love Adrian Tracy (who also gets an Osi shout) as the fifth end.
Tough love, but Ojomo's not eligible for the practice squad. Let's see what happens this summer.
DT Marvin Austin
Personally, I can't see it happening. But the Giants always seem to give Marvin Austin another shot. The injury-plagued defensive tackle is in a sticky situation this year with Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Johnathan Hankins in the way.
There's no possible reason Austin merits a spot, and this means Shaun Rogers and Markus Kuhn would be gone, too. Yet some think the Giants will stick to their guns and give the second-round pick one more go. Ramses Barden was treated in a similar situation last summer.
Dark horse indeed. We'll see how this plays out.
LB Jake Muasau
Dan Connor's arrest and Muasau's shooting stock give the second-year player a chance to survive the last cut. The Giants loved him last preseason before he was relegated to the practice squad, and with the middle linebacker situation far from resolved, perhaps Muasau gets a chance.
The G-Men desperately need a middle linebacker to step up (well, a strong-side, too...and a weak-side). Muasau needs another big summer. He is eligible for the practice squad again.
CB Laron Scott
Remember his pick against the Pats last summer? Scott has a ton of corners to get past, but people seem to love the guy. Terrell Thomas is far from a sure thing, while Terrence Frederick has yet to earn a job either. Scott's speed could get him onto the roster.
Suddenly, the Giants have a lot of depth at corner, although none of those corners really jump out at you. Another big interception or two would help.
S Cooper Taylor
An inspiring back-story and a blazing 4.4-second 40-yard dash make Taylor an enticing fit for the 53-man roster. The fifth-round rookie is of course practice-squad eligible, but he could make a convincing case for a jersey.
The problem, like in almost every other case, is the depth ahead of him. Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Ryan Mundy and Will Hill are set as four safeties, and Taylor would currently be third on the strong safety depth chart. No way the G-Men take three strong safeties. He'll have to work past someone this summer.