Predicting New York Giants' Stat Leaders in 2017
The New York Giants' 2017 roster is starting to take shape now that the NFL draft has come and gone.
There's still a lot of work ahead for head coach Ben McAdoo and his coaching staff in terms of putting the team through the rest of the spring workouts and then training camp.
In the meantime, though, fans have already begun to daydream about statistics and who will be among the Giants' leaders in the various categories.
While accurately predicting a player's year-end stats is challenging given the variables that go into each week such as the game plan, injuries and weather to name a few, we can use some history to determine who the statistical leaders might be.
In the following slides I will do just that while also providing a rough guess as to what the numbers might be.
Is my crystal ball accurate? We'll find out in late December, but until then feel free to agree/disagree with any of my forecasts by posting a comment below.
1. Eli Manning (4,245)
2. Josh Johnson (80)
1. Eli Manning (31)
2. Josh Johnson (1)
1. Eli Manning (12)
2. Josh Johnson (1)
For better or worse, Eli Manning is going to be under center for the Giants this season for every planned snap.
While there might be an occasion or two such as in a lopsided game, where McAdoo decides to pull Manning in favor of his backup, it's probably safe to assume the 36-year-old is going to lead this team in all the passing statistical categories.
As for who the backup will be, McAdoo has indicated that third-round draft pick Davis Webb will start out as the third-string quarterback.
It would be surprising if the Giants put Webb in a regular-season game, especially after both he and the coaches have acknowledged that he has a lot of work to do as he converts from the Air Raid system to the West Coast offense.
That means the winner of the Geno Smith-Josh Johnson quarterback battle will probably be the recipient of some of those "garbage time" snaps in the aforementioned lopsided games. Right now, Johnson appears to have the advantage over Smith, who is recovering from an ACL tear.
Smith is not expected to be cleared to go full speed until the start of training camp at the soonest, so based on that and the fact Johnson is about to enter his second year in the Giants' offense, right now he has the edge for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Manning.
1. Paul Perkins (190)
2. Wayne Gallman (115)
3. Shane Vereen (60)
1. Paul Perkins (890)
2. Wayne Gallman (445)
3. Shane Vereen (255)
1. Wayne Gallman (6)
2. Paul Perkins (3)
3. Shane Vereen (1)
In a move that comes as zero surprise, McAdoo named second-year man Paul Perkins the team's starting running back for 2017.
It's a well-deserved promotion for Perkins, who last year finished averaging 4.0 yards per carry. If McAdoo retains the play-calling duties and follows the pattern of the past regarding his running backs, i.e. he gives the starter the first two series before spelling him with whoever is No. 2 on the depth chart, then it probably stands to reason that Perkins will see the lion's share of the snaps.
If Perkins can be as productive as he was toward the end of last year—he averaged 66.6 yard per game in the team's final three matches (including the postseason)—and if he can stay on the field for all 16 games, he should be the Giants' rushing-yardage leader and it shouldn't even be close.
Shane Vereen projects to be the No. 2 running back behind Perkins on the depth chart, at least until rookie Wayne Gallman is up to speed on being able to pass protect.
In the past, Vereen was used as the team's third-down back and more of a receiver out of the backfield, his touches being nearly split between receptions and rushes. Expect that to continue, as Vereen has never carried the rock more than 96 times in his career, that being in 2014 as a member of the New England Patriots.
Unlike Perkins, who had to miss most of last spring because his classes were still in session, Gallman is expected to be with the Giants for the rest of the spring.
A power running back who could find himself as the team's short-yardage and goal-line back, it would not be surprising if he passes Vereen in carries by the end of the year, nor would it be a surprise if he has more than just a couple of rushing touchdowns.
1. Odell Beckham Jr. (105)
2. Brandon Marshall (80)
3. Evan Engram (65)
1. Odell Beckham Jr. (1,275)
2. Brandon Marshall (925)
3. Evan Engram (685)
1. Odell Beckham Jr. (12)
2. Brandon Marshall (6)
3. Evan Engram (4)
The Giants should have another "gimme" in each of the receiving statistical categories so long as Odell Beckham Jr. plays a full 16-game slate.
As the play-caller, McAdoo has learned that good things happen when the ball ends up in the hands of the temperamental receiver, so there is little reason to doubt that Beckham won't continue to see more than his far share of snaps.
The addition of tight end Evan Engram poses an interesting dilemma for McAdoo in that the 22-year-old, at 6'3", 234 pounds, is a much bigger presence in the slot than Sterling Shepard, who is 5'10", 194 pounds.
What's the likely plan for Engram, a tight end in name only who is more of a big-bodied receiver in his own right?
A best guess is he'll spell Marshall, who was banged up last year and whom the Giants might want to pace if possible, on some plays as the outside receiver.
Doing so would allow for Shepard to be involved in the mix, though it would be surprising if he ends up with as many pass targets in 2017 as he did in 2016 (112, per Pro Football Focus), just as it would be surprising if he tops last year's total of 65 receptions.
1. Landon Collins (120)
2. Jonathan Casillas (90)
3. Damon Harrison (70)
Safety Landon Collins has led the Giants in total tackles in each of his first two seasons, topping the century mark in the process.
Last year, he had a huge breakout season that led to his first Pro Bowl berth after recording career highs in total tackles (125), sacks (4.0), passes defensed (13) and interceptions (five).
It's helped the defense immensely that they have been able to keep Collins closer to the box, where his physical, downhill style of play is a sight to behold. If he can get another 16-game season under his belt in 2017, there's no reason why he won't be the team leader in tackles yet again.
Jonathan Casillas has twice finished as the runner-up to Collins for the team lead in tackles. Voted a defensive captain last year, he rarely left the field, playing in 850 of the 1,182 defensive snaps.
It helped that he didn't have to deal with nagging injuries as he did in 2015; as a result, he was able to play in his first 16-game season and record a career-high 96 total tackles.
In his first year as a Giant, Damon Harrison more than lived up to his billing, proving just what a dominating run-stopper he is even though he made the switch from a 3-4 defensive from a 4-3.
The switch was actually a plus for Harrison, who recorded a career-high 86 tackles in 2017, or one tackle for every 3.9 run-defense snaps played.
That's even more impressive if you consider Harrison has never played more than 60.9 percent of the defensive snaps in his career.
1. Jason Pierre-Paul (9.5)
2. Olivier Vernon (8.5)
3. Landon Collins (3.0)
Per figures obtained from Spotrac, the Giants have invested $151 million in total contract dollars for defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, the latter of whom signed a one-year deal last year and a multi-year deal this offseason.
Together, they accounted for 15.5 sacks in 2016, their first season as teammates. But there is, of course, an asterisk.
First, Vernon suffered an injury to his left wrist early in the season which clearly had an effect on him, even though he refused to use it as an excuse.
While he never revealed just how bad his wrist was, the NFL Network reported he played most of last year with "a shattered hand."
Pierre-Paul had his own injury issues to deal with, most notably what turned out to be a season-ending core muscle injury for which he had surgery.
He missed the final four games of the regular season and the Wild Card Round while recovering, his absence clearly affecting how opponents defended against Vernon, who suddenly saw an increase in double teams down the stretch.
Assuming both men make it through a 16-game season in 2017, they should be among the top two in sacks, though expecting both to record double-digit sacks might be stretching expectations.
Meanwhile safety Landon Collins, who at the start of the year led the Giants in sacks before Pierre-Paul and Vernon found their respective grooves, will likely continue being used as the occasional blitzer, a role that fit him well last season.
Collins had a career-high 4.0 sacks last year, so there's no reason to think he won't at least match that total in 2017.
1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (5)
2. Janoris Jenkins (3)
3. Darian Thompson (3)
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's decision to play Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot paid off for both the player and the team. His six interceptions led the Giants last season and matched his career-high set in 2009, his second season in the league, then with the Arizona Cardinals.
Rodgers-Cromartie stands 6'2", his height often giving him an advantage over smaller slot receivers. But it's his quickness, closing speed and ability to jump routes that should put him back on top of the leaderboards in this statistical category for 2017.
Jenkins finished with three interceptions in his first season as a Giant, tying his 2015 figure with the Rams and falling one short of his career high set in 2012.
Teams wisely decided to not test Jenkins much in 2016, his targets dropping from 99 in 2015 to 86 in 2016, his percentage of pass completions allowed dropped from 67.7 percent in 2015 to 50 percent in 2016.
Jenkins will get some opportunities to pick off some passes, but it would be surprising if teams suddenly decide to test him more than Eli Apple on the other side. Although Apple will be much improved in his second season, he hasn't been known throughout his career as a turnover machine when it comes to picks.
Landon Collins surprised many with his coverage ability in 2016, his NFL rating dropping from 125.7 as a rookie to 70.1 last year. Although he finished second last season, he probably won't do so again this year, not if Darian Thompson—who was supposed to be the free safety to handle most the coverage assignments—returns to form from a season-ending foot injury.
Look for Thompson to tie with Jenkins in this category.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.