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New York Giants Defensive Backs (June 12, 2014)

Which of the Giants’ cornerbacks will fail to make the roster? Find out below – Photo by Connor Hughes

BigBlueInteractive.com puts the finishing touches on our training camp preparation today. Throughout the last few weeks, we’ve broken down each positional group heading into camp and yesterday took our guess at the offense’s final depth chart.

Now, we turn our attention to the defense and special teams.

There is no sure way to tell what is going to happen in training camp, what injuries will occur and what undrafted rookie jumps out to surprise a veteran, but we’re taking our shot anyway. Below you will find the final depth chart prediction from both Connor Hughes and Eric Kennedy.

CONNOR HUGHES’ FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (October 6, 2013)

Will Johnathan Hankins start opening week? – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE LINE
LDE: Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers
LDT: Cullen Jenkins, Jay Bromley
RDT: Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson
RDE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore
Notable Cuts: Adam Kendrick, Emmanuel Dieke, Jordan Stanton, Kerry Wynn, Everett Dawkins, Markus Kuhn, Kelcy Quarles
Why?: While Mike Patterson has taken every rep with the No. 1’s this offseason, I just don’t see him fending off Johnathan Hankins for all of training camp. First week or so? Sure. 1-2 games of preseason play? Absolutely, but I see no scenario where it isn’t Hankins lining up with the starters come the regular season. With that being said, I see Mike Patterson getting a lot of playing time this year. It’ll be tough for any running back to find a hole in the middle of the Giants’ defense with those two at tackle.

Most of the cuts I have being made shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise with a slight exception for Markus Kuhn. I could very well see Kuhn winding up on the team’s practice squad, or making the team barring an injury, but he’s competing with Jay Bromley and Mike Patterson for this position. Will New York cut this year’s third-round pick? Will it cut the player that has taken every first-team rep? I don’t see it. Kuhn is a victim of the numbers game.

LINEBACKERS
WILL: Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger
MIKE: Jon Beason, Mark Herzlich
SAM: Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard
Notable Cuts: Spencer Adkins, Justin Anderson, Dan Fox, Terrell Manning
Why?: While I don’t believe Jon Beason will be ready to play the first 1-2 games of the season, I do think he’ll be healthy enough to make the Giants comfortable keeping just six linebackers on the team. The interesting thing about this year’s group is that four (Beason, Herzlich, McClain, Kennard) all have the ability to play the middle of the defense. Even if McClain goes down in the middle, the Giants have several others that can fill in.

One cut that I went back-and-forth on for a bit was whether or not Mark Herzlich would make the team or Dan Fox. Herzlich is in very warm water and if Fox can show similar value on special teams, he’ll get the nod. If not, I see Fox headed to the practice squad. This decision came down to a coin flip, Fox was tails and it landed on heads.

SAFETIES
SS: Antre Rolle, Quintin Demps, Nat Berhe
FS: Stevie Brown, Cooper Taylor
Notable Cuts: C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon
Why?: This is more of a ‘why are the Giants keeping five safeties’ than ‘why someone was cut.’ I did’t see any scenario (except injury) where Barnett or Gordon made the final 53, but would the Giants keep five at the position?

From talking to coaches and Cooper Taylor himself, it seems like last year’s fifth-round pick is in the team’s plans. This year’s fifth-round pick, Nat Berhe, has flashed during the offseason and I don’t think general manager Jerry Reese would cut a player drafted that high. Not to mention, there is zero guarantee Stevie Brown’s surgically repaired knee can hold up throughout the entire season. The crazy thing is, if Will Hill’s appeal had been won, one of them would be getting cut.

The biggest issue that keeping both Taylor and Berhe caused was the fact it all but sealed the fact the Giants can’t keep seven corners.

Charles James, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Can Charles James crack the Giants final 53-man roster?– © USA TODAY Sports Images

CORNERBACKS
RCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman
LCB: Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, Charles James
NICKEL: Walter Thurmond
Notable Cuts: Jayron Hosley, Bennett Jackson, Travis Howard, Ross Weaver, Kyle Sebetic
Why? Every single logical scenario I played out in my mind had a very good player getting cut. There was no way the Giants could keep all their corners and whoever doesn’t make the team will wind up on someone else’s 53.

I’ll start with the first move: cutting Jayron Hosley. The fact the former third-round pick is serving a four-game suspension will keep him on the team early on. If Rodgers-Cromartie, Amukamara or Thurmond go down, Hosley will be activated and the other IR’d. But if everyone stays healthy, Hosley will be cut. From my understanding, the Giants have had enough with the underperforming, often-injured and now suspended corner.

The final roster spot that I believe is up for grabs is cornerback position No. 6. Assuming Trumaine McBride is healthy, I view him as a lock. That leaves both Charles James and Bennett Jackson. While Jackson may have an edge on special teams, James showed much more as a corner in the offseason. James also has value as a special-teamer, bringing it down to a coin flip. This will be a battle reported on extensively throughout camp and won’t be decided until the final cut-down day. Whomever shows more will get the spot. The Giants hope the other clears waivers so they can stash him on their practice squad.

One scenario I could see unfolding is one that involves Zack Bowman getting cut and both Charles James and Bennett Jackson making the roster. In order for this to happen, both James and Jackson will need to show they are as good on defense as the corner and can contribute equally as much on special teams. Bowman has excelled on special teams throughout his career and is regarded as one of the best in the league. It’ll be tough to unseat him, but not out of the question.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Josh Brown
KR: Quintin Demps
P: Steve Weatherford
PR: Trindon Holliday
LS: Zack DeOssie
GUNNERS: Charles James and Zack Bowman
Notable Cuts: Brandon McManus
Why?: The Giants gambled on a young, unproven kicker with a strong leg once before and it cost them a divisional title. I just cannot see coach Tom Coughlin risking it again. I’m not saying Brandon McManus is the next Matt Dodge, but Josh Brown has been doing it too successfully for too long to warrant a cut. He had a good season last year, proved he can kick at MetLife and still has a few good years left in him.

ERIC KENNEDY’S FINAL 53-MAN ROSTER – DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

DEFENSIVE LINE
LDE: Mathias Kiwanuka, Robert Ayers
LDT: Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson
RDT: Cullen Jenkins, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley
RDE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore
Notable Cuts: Adam Kendrick, Emmanuel Dieke, Jordan Stanton, Kerry Wynn, Everett Dawkins, Kelcy Quarles
Why?: Barring injury, I think this is relatively straight forward unless one of the rookie or street free agents really surprise. I think 2014 will be a “redshirt” year for Bromley similar to what Linval Joseph and Johnathan Hankins went through as rookies.  I don’t expect him to be active on game day much. The biggest question to me here is who starts opposite JPP? Kiwanuka, Ayers, or Moore?

LINEBACKERS
Perry Fewell’s misnamed WILL: Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger
MIKE: Jon Beason, Dan Fox
Perry Fewell’s misnamed SAM: Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard
Notable Cuts: Mark Herzlich, Spencer Adkins, Justin Anderson, Terrell Manning
Why?: Barring injury, I also think this is pretty straight forward with the exception of Dan Fox possibly beating out Mark Herzlich. Unless Herzlich dramatically improves in this camp, I’d rather go with someone with more potential. I think we’ve pretty much seen what Herzlich can do.

SAFETIES
SS: Antre Rolle, Quintin Demps (third safety)
FS: Stevie Brown, Cooper Taylor
Notable Cuts: Nat Berhe, C.J. Barnett, Thomas Gordon, Kyle Sebetic
Why?: In trying to get to 53, my biggest problem was finding room for either 11 defensive backs, 9 defensive linemen, six wide receivers, or five running backs/fullbacks. I’d prefer to keep Berhe, but barring injury (a big potential factor), I think the Giants keep 9 defensive linemen, six wide receivers, and five backs. I also think they keep six corners. My guess is they try to “redshirt” Berhe on the Practice Squad, especially given his lack of ideal size and overall athleticism.

CORNERBACKS
RCB: Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond (nickel), Bennett Jackson
LCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman, Charles James
Notable Cuts: Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley, Travis Howard, Ross Weaver
Why? The initial 4-game suspension of Hosley actually may work in the Giants favor. If someone else gets hurt in the first month of the season, Hosley is obviously a legit option. My biggest upset here is Bennett Jackson beating out McBride. Why? Jackson is a very good special teams player; McBride is not. Plus Jackson has a bigger upside. McBride may be only the fifth best cornerback on the team now and I think Charles James will surpass him this camp. I do wonder where DRC will line-up? One would think Amukamara would stay at RCB and DRC at LCB, but the Giants seem to  have indicated to DRC that he will cover the opposing team’s best receiver, which is usually the split end or X receiver.

SPECIAL TEAMS
K: Josh Brown
KR: Trindon Holliday
P: Steve Weatherford
PR: Trindon Holliday
LS: Zack DeOssie
GUNNERS: Zack Bowman and Bennett Jackson
Notable Cuts: Brandon McManus
Why?: Like Connor, the great debate I see here is at placekicker. Do the Giants go with the younger, strong-legged McManus over the old, proven veteran? I think Coach Coughlin will want to play it safe. Jerry Reese may not. Quintin Demps is a very good kickoff returner with nearly the same yards per return average as Holliday. And Holliday has had ball security issues. But Holliday is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. Six return touchdowns in two seasons? That’s Devin Hester in his prime territory. Bowman and Jackson may be the best duo of gunners the Giants have had in some time.

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Connor Hughes/BBI

Connor Hughes has been working in both the broadcasting and journalism fields for the last seven years. His work has been heard on WMCX, WBZC and Lenape District Television, while read on the pages of The Star-Ledger and The Burlington County Times. Connor can be reached via email (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) or on twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes)

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