New York Giants: Way-Too-Early 53-Man Roster and Depth-Chart Predictions

Kevin BoilardCorrespondent IMay 1, 2016

New York Giants: Way-Too-Early 53-Man Roster and Depth-Chart Predictions

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The New York Giants' roster grew quite a bit over the weekend. They picked up six players in the draft and signed a bunch more who went undrafted.

    New York will have to cut down its swollen roster to just 53 men by the end of the summer. The easiest way to slice it up is 25 offensive players, 25 defensive players and three specialists.

    There will be some tough cuts to get down to 53. Right now, it looks like the fiercest camp battles will take place among the running backs, linebackers and safeties. These are the toughest position groups to forecast.

    This prediction is "way too early" because a lot can happen between now and the start of the season. There will be injuries. Some players will be busts at training camp, while others make the most of their opportunities. These developments are nearly impossible to predict.

    Regardless, we've done our best to project the Giants' eventual 53-man roster for the 2016 season. Click through the slideshow to read the position-by-position breakdown of the players who made it, and then check out our full projection at the end.

    Be sure to let us know which players you think will make the team in the comment section below.

Quarterback

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Eli Manning
    2Ryan Nassib

     

    No surprises here. Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback, and Ryan Nassib will be his backup. G.J. Kinne and undrafted free agent Josh Woodrum are just camp arms.

    This will be Nassib’s fourth season as Manning’s backup and may be his last. The former fourth-round pick (who the Giants traded up to get) will be a free agent this offseason. He is a talented passer who is probably craving an opportunity to compete for a starting job.

Running Back

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    Al Bello/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1 Rashad Jennings
    2Shane Vereen
    3Paul Perkins
    4Andre Williams
    5Will Johnson

     

    After leading the team with 863 rushing yards last season, Rashad Jennings will return as the starting running back in 2016. Shane Vereen will also see his fair share of the snaps; his pass-catching ability makes him an ideal third-down back.

    Fifth-round draft pick Paul Perkins is also likely to see some playing time. He was a workhorse at UCLA and may have a future as a three-down back with the Giants. Jennings is 31 years old and already has durability concerns.

    This may be Andre Williams’ last chance to make an impact. The former Heisman Trophy finalist has struggled to make an impact because of his lack of versatility. His duties could be limited to short-yardage and goal-line carries in 2016.

    Will Johnson, who was signed as a free agent this offseason, will make the team as a fullback/H-back. He saw a handful of touches and scored three touchdowns in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Wide Receiver

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    Elsa/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Odell Beckham Jr.
    2Victor Cruz
    3Sterling Shepard
    4Dwayne Harris
    5Myles White
    6 Geremy Davis

     

    Odell Beckham Jr. will headline the Giants’ wide receiver corps again in 2016. Victor Cruz will join him as the No. 2 wide receiver, if he is able to complete his comeback from knee and calf injuries that have plagued him since October 2014.

    Second-round draft pick Sterling Shepard will round out the “starting” lineup, as head coach Ben McAdoo is likely to utilize a lot of three-wide sets. Like Beckham and Cruz, Shepard is a smaller receiver who makes up for his lack of size with exceptional route running.

    Dwayne Harris, who doubles as a return specialist, will be the first receiver in off the bench. Myles White may also see some playing time after coming along late last season.

    Although he’s unlikely to make an impact on offense, Geremy Davis will claim the last roster spot at wide receiver because of his value on special teams.

Tight End

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    Elsa/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Larry Donnell
    2Will Tye
    3 Jerell Adams

     

    After suffering a serious neck injury and missing the second half of the 2015 season, Larry Donnell will have a chance to reclaim his starting job. He’ll have his work cut out for him, though, as he tries to fend off Will Tye, who led all rookie tight ends in receptions (42), yards (464) and touchdowns (three) last year.

    Sixth-round draft pick Jerell Adams could also push for playing time at tight end. He was the fastest tight end at the NFL Scouting Combine in February (4.64-second 40-yard dash), and general manager Jerry Reese praised his blocking ability after the draft. The rookie could end up being the most complete tight end on the team.

Offensive Line

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPositionPlayer
    1OT Ereck Flowers
    1OTBobby Hart
    1OGJustin Pugh
    1OGJohn Jerry
    1CWeston Richburg
    2OTMarshall Newhouse
    3OTByron Stingily
    2OGAdam Gettis
    2CBrett Jones

     

    The Giants did not draft a single offensive lineman, so this year’s starting lineup will look similar to last year’s.

    Weston Richburg, New York’s most outstanding lineman, will be the starter at center. Everything to his left is set. Justin Pugh will start at left guard; Ereck Flowers will line up at left tackle.

    The lineup to Richburg’s right is a little hairy. John Jerry, who has started 24 games at right guard the past two seasons, is prepared to play there again in 2016. Bobby Hart may be called up to start at right tackle after starting just one game there as a rookie.

    After starting 14 games at right tackle last season, Marshall Newhouse should be relegated to a reserve role this year. He and free-agency acquisition Byron Stingily are best serving as swing tackles.

    Brett Jones, a former CFL star whose natural position is center, will give the Giants some interior depth. Adam Gettis will do the same.

Defensive End

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Jason Pierre-Paul
    2Olivier Vernon
    3 Owa Odighizuwa
    4Kerry Wynn
    5Romeo Okwara

     

    The Giants have two high-caliber pass-rushers ready to go at defensive end. A year removed from his fireworks accident, Jason Pierre-Paul will bump over to the left side. Pricey free agent Olivier Vernon will be the team’s new speed-rusher from the blind side.

    These two will need a rest every now and then, so the Giants are counting on Owa Odighizuwa to play more than four games in his second professional season. They’ll also lean on a high-motor reserve in Kerry Wynn, even though his athletic limitations keep him from being much of a threat as a pass-rusher.

    The dark horse to earn a roster spot at defensive end is Romeo Okwara. He’s an undrafted free agent from Notre Dame who recorded nine sacks last season. There’s plenty of untapped potential in his 6’5”, 265-pound frame.

Defensive Tackle

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    Al Bello/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Johnathan Hankins
    2Damon Harrison
    3Jay Bromley
    4Louis Nix
    5Nikita Whitlock

     

    The Giants have two big bodies ready to plug up the middle. Free-agency acquisition Damon “Snacks” Harrison (6’4”, 350 lbs) should be an absolute menace at nose tackle. Johnathan Hankins (6’2”, 320 lbs) will make room by bumping over to play the 3-technique.

    Jay Bromley, a slimmer defensive tackle at 6’3” and 306 pounds, will be a change-of-pace coming off the bench. Louis Nix, whose 6’2”, 331-pound frame resembles that of the two projected starters, could see playing time when the Giants are in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

    Nikita Whitlock, whose primary function was fullback last year, may contribute more as an interior pass-rusher in 2016. On April 5, Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reported that Whitlock is putting on weight to prepare for a bigger role on defense in reaction to the Will Johnson signing. His versatility and sick spin move will earn him a roster spot.

Linebacker

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    Al Bello/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Devon Kennard
    2Keenan Robinson
    3J.T. Thomas
    4Jasper Brinkley
    5B.J. Goodson
    6Jonathan Casillas

     

    It’s going to be a battle at linebacker. Devon Kennard, who’s expected to start on the strong side, is the unit’s biggest playmaker. He has missed 11 games in his first two seasons, though, so the Giants need the other players at this position to step up, too.

    Free-agency acquisition Keenan Robinson might be the favorite to start at middle linebacker, but he also has a troublesome injury history (28 games missed in four years, including the entire 2013 season). Jasper Brinkley is the other veteran with a good chance to win the job, after starting nine games there last year.

    Fourth-round draft pick B.J. Goodson is also in the mix for the starting middle linebacker job. He was a team captain who led Clemson to the national championship game last season. That leadership experience could help him take command of the wide-open competition.

    J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas will likely split snaps on the weak side, just as they did last year. Neither of them is all that impressive, but they are at least serviceable at the position.

    The toughest cut will be Mark Herzlich, who originally made the team as an undrafted free agent after beating cancer. New York won Super Bowl XLVI during his rookie year.

Cornerback

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
    2 Janoris Jenkins
    3Eli Apple
    4 Trevin Wade
    5Leon McFadden

     

    The cornerback position is stacked at the top. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and free-agency acquisition Janoris Jenkins will be the starters on the outside. With their aggressive style of play, they have the potential to become the NFL’s most feared cornerback tandem.

    The Giants added a different kind of cornerback to the mix with the selection of Eli Apple in the first round. He is big (6’1”, 200 lbs) and physical in coverage. With many teams fielding three wide receivers at a time, his services as a slot corner in the nickel defense are as valuable as a starter’s.

    After these three cornerbacks, however, there is a considerable drop-off. Trevin Wade, who has three career starts, is the next best player at this position. Leon McFadden, a failed third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, will probably claim the last roster spot.

Safety

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images
    Depth ChartPlayer
    1Landon Collins
    2Nat Berhe
    3 Darian Thompson
    4 Mykkele Thompson

     

    Landon Collins is going to be one of New York’s starting safeties. The other one is a complete toss-up.

    Nat Berhe might be the leading candidate to start opposite Collins. He showed real promise while playing special teams in 2014, but he missed all of last season due to a hardened blood clot in his calf.

    The Giants just spent a third-round pick on Darian Thompson, though, and the rookie is prepared to put up a serious fight for the job. He seems like a perfect mirror for a downhill safety like Collins, since he recorded 19 interceptions as a “center fielder” for Boise State.

    The underdog in this race is Mykkele Thompson. He missed his entire rookie season with a torn Achilles tendon but could return with a vengeance in 2016.

Special Teams

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
    Depth ChartPlayer
    KickerJosh Brown
    PunterBrad Wing
    Long SnapperZak DeOssie

     

    There will be little drama when it comes to New York’s specialists.

    Although Josh Brown is 37 years old, he was one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL last year with a 93.8 field-goal percentage (3-of-32). The Giants just re-signed him to a two-year deal worth $4 million.

    Brad Wing will be the punter after the team gave up a seventh-round pick to acquire him last year. He’s an Aussie-style punter who pinned 33 of his 76 punts (43.4 percent) inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in 2015.

    Aside from Eli Manning, Zak DeOssie is the only player who remains from the Giants team that won Super Bowl XLII. He will be New York’s long snapper for as long as he’s able to perform the task.

53-Man Roster Projection

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Here is the projected roster:

    53-Man Roster Projection
      Player Position
    1 Eli Manning QB
    2 Ryan Nassib  QB
    3 Rashad Jennings RB
    4 Shane Vereen  RB
    5 Paul Perkins RB
    6 Andre Williams RB
    7 Will Johnson FB
    8 Odell Beckham Jr. WR
    9 Victor Cruz WR
    10 Sterling Shepard WR
    11 Dwayne Harris WR
    12 Myles White WR
    13 Geremy Davis WR
    14 Larry Donnell TE
    15 Will Tye TE
    16 Jerell Adams TE
    17 Ereck Flowers OT
    18 Bobby Hart OT
    19 Justin Pugh G
    20 John Jerry G
    21 Weston Richburg  C
    22 Marshall Newhouse  OT
    23 Byron Stingily OT
    24 Adam Gettis  G
    25 Brett Jones C
    26 Jason Pierre-Paul DE
    27 Olivier Vernon DE
    28 Owa Odighizuwa  DE
    29 Kerry Wynn DE
    30 Romeo Okwara  DE
    31 Johnathan Hankins  DT
    32 Damon Harrison DT
    33 Jay Bromley  DT
    34 Louis Nix DT
    35 Nikita Whitlock  DT
    36 Devon Kennard  LB
    37 Keenan Robinson LB
    38 J.T. Thomas LB
    39 Jasper Brinkley LB
    40 B.J. Goodson  LB
    41 Jonathan Casillas  LB
    42 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB
    43 Janoris Jenkins CB
    44 Eli Apple CB
    45 Trevin Wade CB
    46 Leon McFadden CB
    47 Landon Collins S
    48 Nat Berhe  S
    49 Darian Thompson S
    50 Mykkele Thompson S
    51 Josh Brown K
    52 Brad Wing P
    53 Zak DeOssie  LS