Giants' Position Battles to Watch Ahead of 2021 NFL Season

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2021

Giants' Position Battles to Watch Ahead of 2021 NFL Season

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The New York Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2020, but they showed a lot of promise for a team missing its best offensive weapon and getting subpar play from its quarterback.

    Thanks to its ninth-ranked scoring defense, New York was able to win six games with Saquon Barkley on the sideline and Daniel Jones tossing an 11-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

    With Barkley expected to be healthy and new weapons like Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney on the roster, the Giants offense should take a step forward in 2021. Whether that's enough to make New York a playoff team will depend largely on how some of the offseason position battles shake out.

    New additions like Toney and rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson will be part of key battles, as they will look to improve upon what the Giants featured last season.

    Here we'll examine three of the biggest position battles to watch during organized team activities, training camp and the preseason.

Offensive Tackle

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    This could be the most important position battle of the offseason. If the Giants cannot come up with the right combination of starting tackles, the offense could be sunk. One of Jones' biggest issues in 2020 was his inability to avoid pressure.

    Jones was sacked an alarming 45 times and fumbled 11 times in 14 games.

    Then-rookie Andrew Thomas was thrust into the starting role at left tackle after Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season. Thomas showed some growth over the course of the season but appeared in over his head for much of it. According to Pro Football Focus, he was responsible for three penalties and 10 sacks allowed.

    Solder is back, though, and could force Thomas to compete with Matt Peart on the right side. 2020 starter Cameron Fleming left for the Denver Broncos in the offseason.

Slot Receiver

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    The Giants inked former Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay to a four-year, $72 million deal this offseason. He can essentially be penciled in as New York's new No. 1 receiver, playing opposite Darius Slayton and/or Sterling Shepard.

    The real battle will likely be between Toney and free-agent acquisition John Ross III at slot receiver. Both players possess game-breaking speed to go with plenty of questions.

    Ross never flourished with the Cincinnati Bengals, catching 51 passes for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns in four seasons. Toney, meanwhile, is a raw prospect who may be little more than a gadget player early.

    "Essentially, you're betting on the flash with Toney and hoping he develops into a consistent superweapon creating yards from across the formation for a creative play-caller," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    The Giants could get many explosive plays from the slot position this season, though consistency may be a concern. Whichever player is the most reliable in camp will likely emerge with the larger role.

Cornerback

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    New York has one solid starter at cornerback in James Bradberry. The rest of the position group is a bit more questionable, however, as rookie third-round pick Robinson will compete with Darnay Holmes and Adoree Jackson for the other starting spot and/or time at nickel.

    Holmes appeared in 12 games last season and allowed an opposing passer rating of just 87.2, but he only made five starts. Jackson only appeared in three games for the Tennessee Titans because of injury. Robinson, meanwhile, is an untested rookie out of Central Florida—though he does possess an intriguing amount of upside.

    Cornerbacks like Quincy Wilson and Isaac Yiadom should also be in the mix here.

    This is another vital battle for the Giants because while the defense overall was great last season, the pass defense was more average. New York ranked 16th in passing yards allowed and 11th in yards per attempt surrendered. If the right players emerge from this competition, the Giants defense could take another step toward being elite.

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