May 192020
 
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Darius Slayton, New York Giants (December 9, 2019)

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Wide Receivers

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Perhaps the biggest offseason NFL story in 2019 was the trade of Odell Beckham, Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in March. While the Giants received what now appears to be more-than-adequate compensation (1st- and 3rd-round draft picks and safety Jabrill Peppers), the trade left the Giants without a clearcut #1 wide receiver who could consistently threaten opposing defenses down the field. In addition, the Giants were now very thin and top heavy at the position, with only newly-acquired Golden Tate and yet-to-breakout Sterling Shepard as headliners.

Things got even dicier early when Tate (49 catches, 676 yards, 6 TDs) was suspended for the first four games of the season for the use of performance-enhancing substances. Shepard (57 catches, 576 yards, 3 TDs) then missed six games (Week 2, Weeks 6-10) with concussions. Evan Engram (44 catches, 467 yards, 3 TDs), a hybrid tight end/wide receiver, also missed eight games (Week 6, Weeks 10-17) with knee and foot issues. Former Browns 1st rounder Corey Coleman was lost in July with a torn ACL.

Long story short was that the Giants were forced to rely on guys like perennial tease Cody Latimer (24 catches, 300 yards, 2 TDs) and no-name journeymen such as Bennie Fowler (23 catches, 193 yards), T.J. Jones (3 catches), Cody Core (3 catches), Russell Shepard (3 catches), and Da’Mari Scott (2 catches). David Sills spent the bulk of the season on the Practice Squad until mid-December but he did not have a catch.

Thank goodness for 5th-round steal Darius Slayton, who had a surprisingly productive rookie season, playing in 14 games with nine starts, and finishing with 48 catches for a team-leading 740 yards (team-leading 15.4 yards per catch) and a team-leading eight touchdowns.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: The Giants cut Fowler and Jones during the 2019 season and chose not to re-sign Latimer and Russell Shepard in free agency. The team did re-sign Coleman and Core in free agency, as well as re-sign practice squader Alex Bachman.

Surprisingly, the Giants did not sign any free agents from other teams and did not draft a receiver in what was widely-regarded as a very deep wide receiver draft. The only newcomers are undrafted rookie free agents Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Derrick Dillon.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The main question is do the Giants have enough receiving targets who can stay healthy and scare opposing defenses? On paper, the Giants are pretty much in the same boat as they were at this time last year, having to rely on Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Evan Engram to stay on the field and be consistently productive. The one significant change is the emergence of Darius Slayton. Was 2019 a flash in the pan for the rookie Slayton or the start of something even better? Will he experience the dreaded “sophomore slump”? Tate proved he can still play, but the Giants are his fourth NFL team and it will be interesting to see how he interacts with Joe Judge. The big concern is Shepard’s career-threatening concussion history. How much more will he be able to play?

Cody Core is a stud special teamer but only has 33 catches in four NFL seasons. It’s a bit surprising that Da’Mari Scott is even back. Sills and Bachman have already been cut by other teams. There was some hope last year that Corey Coleman could emerge, but now he’s coming off a torn ACL. Undrafted free agents Victor, Mack, and Dillon probably couldn’t have picked a better team to sign with. At least one has a reasonable shot of making the team. Unless someone really surprises, there is very little depth at this position.

ON THE BUBBLE: Slayton, Shepard, and Tate are the sure bets with Core having a great shot because of his special teams value. That leaves probably two or three spots for the rest, who are all on the bubble. Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge will be actively scanning the waiver wire.

PREDICTIONS: There are a lot of conflicting thoughts in my head when I consider the team’s situation at wide receiver. I grew up during a time when Phil Simms largely had a bunch of no-name scrubs and still got the job done. I also witnessed how the personal excellence of Odell Beckham had no impact on the overall W-L record. On the other hand, it’s hard to see Eli Manning winning two Super Bowls without the presence of Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham.

Personally, I don’t think the Giants have enough talent at the position. If everyone stays healthy, this could be a more-than-adequate unit, but the slot receiver Shepard is one big hit away from being done and he’s never come close to cracking the 1,000-yard mark. The hybrid Engram also can’t seem to stay on the field. I also could see the show-boating Tate rubbing Judge the wrong way. There will be a lot of pressure on Darius Slayton to perform and even improve upon his rookie season. It is a long shot to believe anyone else will be meaningfully productive.

I suspect wide receiver will be a top priority in free agency and the draft next offseason.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Cody Core, Corey Coleman, Binjimen Victor

After my first four, the next two are my best guesses. Coleman has talent but is now on his fourth team and coming off an ACL. Still, he has the one thing you can’t teach: speed. Austin Mack is one of those receivers who is tough to cut, but I just don’t see an ability to separate in his game. Victor reminds me of a poor man’s Plaxico Burress. The 5th and 6th receivers may not be on the roster yet. Stay tuned.

Dec 172019
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (September 8, 2019)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS PLACE EVAN ENGRAM ON INJURED RESERVE, PROMOTE DAVID SILLS…
The New York Giants have placed tight end Evan Engram on Injured Reserve, effectively ending his season. Engram suffered a foot injury during the November 4th game against the Dallas Cowboys and has been out since that time. He also missed a game in October with a knee injury. Engram played in eight games in 2019 with six starts, catching 44 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns.

The Giants drafted Engram in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Other than too many dropped passes, Engram had a very solid rookie season for the Giants in 2017, playing in 15 games with 11 starts, and finishing with a team-high 64 catches for 722 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions.

It was a tale of two seasons for Engram in 2018. Before the bye week, Engram missed three games with a knee injury and caught just 17 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. After the bye, Engram missed two games with a hamstring injury, but his productivity increased to 28 catches for 432 yards and one touchdown, with a number of game-changing plays.

To fill Engram’s roster spot, the Giants signed wide receiver David Sills from the team’s Practice Squad. The 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Giants signed Sills to the Practice Squad in September 2019 after he was cut by Buffalo.

GIANTS SIGN OFFENSIVE TACKLE TO PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants have signed offensive tackle Nate Wozniak to the Practice Squad. The 25-year old, 6’10”, 280-pound Wozniak was originally signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Saints (2018-2019), Minnesota Vikings (2019), and Atlanta Falcons (2019). Wozniak has not played in an NFL regular-season game.

Sep 022019
 
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David Mayo, Carolina Panthers (September 9, 2018)

David Mayo – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN DAVID MAYO, TRADE B.J. GOODSON…
The New York Giants signed linebacker David Mayo on Monday. To make room for Mayo, the team traded linebacker B.J. Goodson to the Green Bay Packers. Trade compensation reportedly involves a swap of conditional seventh-round picks in the Giants’ favor.

“(Mayo) is an outstanding special teams player, but he also plays well from the line of scrimmage,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “In our opinion, he’s a good four-down player. That was the attraction to him.”

The 26-year old, 6’2”, 240-pound Mayo was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. After four seasons in Carolina, Mayo signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2019. He was cut by the 49ers on Saturday. Mayo has played in 59 regular-season games with four starts, accruing 61 tackles and two pass defenses. He is a good special teams player.

In his third year with the Giants in 2018, B.J. Goodson had his most productive season, playing in 15 games with 13 starts, and finishing with 61 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 4 pass defenses, and 2 interceptions. Goodson was drafted by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. As a rookie, he played in 15 regular-season games with no starts. In 2017, Goodson started all seven games he played in, but missed most of the season with shin and ankle issues.

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN TWO MORE TO PRACTICE SQUAD…
The New York Giants finalized their 10-man practice squad by signing wide receiver David Sills and cornerback Corn Elder.

The 23-year old, 6’3”, 211-pound Sills was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Buffalo Bills after the 2019 NFL Draft. The Bills waived him on Saturday.

The 24-year old, 5’10”, 185-pound Elder was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. Elder spent his rookie year on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. He played in 13 games with no starts for the Panthers in 2018, accruing just three tackles. The Panthers waived him on Friday.

NEW YORK GIANTS 2019 TEAM CAPTAINS…
On Monday, New York Giants players elected the following seven captains for the 2019 NFL season:

Offense: Eli Manning, Nate Solder, and Saquon Barkley
Defense: Alec Ogletree and Antoine Bethea
Special Teams: Zak DeOssie and Michael Thomas

This is Manning’s 13th consecutive season and DeOssie’s ninth as captains. Solder, Ogletree, and Thomas were captains last year, their first with the team. Bethea is in his first season with the Giants, and Barkley was selected in his second pro season.

“The players voted on who they want to be their captains, and I am in total agreement with them,” said Head Coach Pat Shurmur. “They chose wisely. This is our official leadership, but there are many players on the team who have shown the ability to lead in their own way.”

INJURY REPORT…
In the portion of practice open to the media, WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), TE Garrett Dickerson (quad), and CB Sam Beal (Injured Reserve – hamstring/groin) were working on the side with trainers. LB Nate Stupar (concussion) and CB Antonio Hamilton (groin) participated in the portion of practice open to the media.

HEAD COACH PAT SHURMUR…
The transcript of Pat Shurmur’s press conference on Monday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.