Giants' Position Battles to Watch Ahead of 2022 NFL Season
The New York Giants are set to embark on a rebuilding season of sorts in 2022. New head coach Brian Daboll and new general manager Joe Schoen are tasked with reigniting a franchise that hasn't gone over .500 in the last five years.
At the same time, Daboll faces the challenge of evolving Daniel Jones into a legitimate franchise signal-caller—or beginning preparation for finding a successor.
New York had a fantastic early draft, landing pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal in the first round. Both should become prized building blocks for the future and immediate starters. Much of this season will be about discovering which other players can be long-term pieces of the Giants' puzzle.
First, though, New York has to settle on which players are going to start in Week 1. Presumably, Jones will get the opportunity to prove himself under Daboll, but other positions are far less settled.
Below, you'll find a look at three key position battles to watch during the remainder of organized team activities (OTAs), minicamp and training camp.
Which positions and roles are up for grabs? Which players are involved? Let's dig in.
If Daboll is going to get the most out of Jones in 2022, the Giants are going to have to find the right supporting cast.
If both are healthy, Saquon Barkley should hold down the running back spot, while Kenny Golladay serves as New York's No. 1 receiver. However, there will be competition for the other primary receiving roles.
Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are back for another run, and 2021 first-round pick Kadarius Toney will look to rebound from an inconsistent and largely disappointing campaign. The Florida product appeared in 10 games and finished with only 420 receiving yards. He is also recovering from microscopic knee surgery.
Also joining the receiver competition is rookie second-round pick Wan'Dale Robinson. The former Kentucky standout appears to be a bit of a project, but he has the potential to be New York's long-term slot specialist.
"Overall, Robinson can step in and contribute as a No. 3 WR early in his career who can be a nice weapon to add for a team with options already in place on the outside," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.
How quickly can Robinson earn playing time? Who will complement Golladay on the perimeter? How will New York's receiver depth look by Week 1? These are all questions the Giants will look to answer through competition.
While the Giants have a few familiar faces at wide receiver, they're starting over at tight end. Kyle Rudolph and Evan Engram both departed in free agency, while New York signed veterans Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins.
In 13 games with the Washington Commanders last season, Seals-Jones caught 30 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. In 13 games with the Houston Texans, Akins caught 24 passes for 214 yards. Neither is a premier pass-catching tight end, but one will likely have to emerge as the top target at the position.
Rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger will be in the mix as well, though he's unpolished and may initially be used as a blocker primarily.
"As a pass-catcher, Bellinger did not prove to be anything dynamic in college," Derrik Klassen of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. "His best plays were often short out-breaking routes that allowed him to use his acceleration to the perimeter and his change-of-direction fluidity to turn up the field."
New York may not have a star at tight end this season, but it will need to find a starter or an effective committee. The position was a key piece of Daboll's Buffalo Bills offense last season—Dawson Knox finished with 587 yards and nine touchdowns. It will likely factor into his offense in New York this season as well.
The offensive line was a liability for New York last season. Jones was under pressure on 23.3 percent of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Reference, while the Giants ranked 24th in yards per rush. Fortunately, the line was an area of focus this offseason.
Neal should solidify the right tackle spot opposite Andrew Thomas, while right guard Mark Glowinski and center Jon Feliciano were signed in free agency. This leaves the left guard position as the remaining question mark along the line.
Shane Lemieux should be the favorite after starting nine games in 2020, but he is coming off of patella tendon surgery in his left knee and missed all but one game in 2021. Free-agent addition Max Garcia and rookie third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu will have chances to earn the job.
Glowinski has some experience on the left side as well, while Neal played both tackle positions and left guard during his college career with Alabama.
New York has options along the line if a battle between Feliciano, Ezeudu and Lemieux doesn't yield a reliable starter. Ideally, though, it will and will help the Giants turn a previous liability into one of their strengths.