Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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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.

May 182020
 
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Deandre Baker, New York Giants (December 29, 2019)

Deandre Baker – © USA TODAY Sports

As previously reported, New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker was charged last Thursday with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm from an incident that allegedly took place at a house party in Miramar, Florida last Wednesday. The incident was allegedly sparked by a game of dice that involved high-stakes gambling and allegedly resulted in Baker robbing party guests at gunpoint.

While an arrest warrant was issued last Thursday, Baker did not turn himself into police authorities until Saturday morning. Baker spent Saturday night in a Broward County jail, but was released on a $200,000 bond Sunday morning, $25,000 for each of the eight counts against him. No bail was requested by the state prosecutor. Baker was also required to turn in his legally-licensed firearm and is not allowed to leave the state of Florida at this time without permission from the court.

According to multiple media reports, the New York Giants have told Baker to stay away from team offseason virtual meetings and concentrate on his ongoing legal situation.

According to Baker’s attorneys, Baker was the victim of a shakedown and that four of the original witnesses have already recanted their original testimony against Baker. The attorneys claim they have witnesses who can attest to Baker’s innocence and that the original arrest warrant was not accurate at all. One of Baker’s attorneys believes in the end that the state will not officially charge Baker (there is a 30-day window to do so).

“He seems like changed individual,” said the attorney in interview with SNY. “In two days. Sometimes going to jail does that. He’s scared straight. He’s completely focused on what he has to do. He’s just going back to work. And he’s certainly looking forward to nobody taking his position. He doesn’t want anybody taking his position as the Giants’ starting cornerback.”

The Giants drafted Baker in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker had an up-and-down rookie season for the Giants. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, receiving 87 percent of defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 61 tackles and 8 pass defenses. He did not intercept a pass.

May 182020
 
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May 162020
 
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Deandre Baker, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Deandre Baker – © USA TODAY Sports

As previously reported, New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker was charged on Thursday with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm. The incident allegedly took place at party in Miramar, Florida on Wednesday and allegedly involved Baker robbing party guests at gunpoint.

While an arrest warrant was issued on Thursday, Baker did not turn himself into police authorities until this morning.

Baker’s lawyer has issued multiple written statements on Instagram over the course of the past two days.

(On Friday): “I want to thank @miramarpd for being professional in regard to surrendering and issues with the case. We understand that the officers can only base warrants on what was told to them at the time. We have had affidavits from several witnesses that also dispute the allegations and exculpate our client. Our investigator has had them for some time. We would have rather presented them to the court at the proper time, rather than in the media, but in this day and age, people rush to judgement. Where some seek publicity, we seek justice. I look forward to moving this case forward to proper conclusion, as we believe our client is innocent of any charges.”

(Saturday morning): “We will be presenting the trove of evidence we have obtained over the past 3 days to the judge at the right time 7 affidavuts (sic) exonerating my client and video evidence.”

(Saturday morning): “Reports are correct that Deandre turned himself in this morning. I am a believer in the system and that if everything works the matter will be appropriately resolved. Both my client and I have felt @miramarpd and the Detective working the case, were accommodating and went out of their way to assure Mr Bakers privacy during this hard time. That is not just lip service, it is fact,, and we appreciate it. This is my 23rd year in practice defending those who I feel are wrongly charged or wrongly treated. That doesn’t mean that all police officers are bad or all are good. We all have jobs to do and I believe we all do them to the best of our ability. Police reports are just that, reports of what was told to them or said to them. Court is what we use to then examine those reports, investigate those claims and allow the Defendant an opportunity to confront the evidence. Don’t rush to judgement.”

The Giants issued the following statement on Thursday: “We are aware of the situation. We have been in contact with Deandre. We have no further comment at this time.”

TheAthletic reported that Baker did not participate in any virtual team meetings this past week.

The Giants drafted Baker in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker had an up-and-down rookie season for the Giants. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, receiving 87 percent of defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 61 tackles and 8 pass defenses. He did not intercept a pass.

ARTICLES…

May 162020
 
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May 162020
 
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May 142020
 
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Deandre Baker, New York Giants (December 15, 2019)

Deandre Baker – © USA TODAY Sports

The NFL future of New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker is very much in doubt as Baker has been charged with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of armed aggravated assault with a firearm. An arrest warrant has been issued for Baker by the Miramar Police Department in Florida. As of this evening, Baker has yet to turn himself in to police authorities.

According to multiple media sources, Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar were at a party in Miramar, Florida on May 13th. An argument supposedly broke out and Baker allegedly started pointing a semi-automatic firearm at other party guests. Baker and Dunbar then allegedly began robbing people at the party by gunpoint. There is also another allegation that Baker instructed a third unidentified person to shoot someone who had just arrived at the party.

Meanwhile, the Giants released the following statement: “We are aware of the situation. We have been in contact with Deandre. We have no further comment at this time.”

TheAthletic is reporting that Baker did not participate in any virtual team meetings this week.

The Giants drafted Baker in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker had an up-and-down rookie season for the Giants. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, receiving 87 percent of defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 61 tackles and 8 pass defenses. He did not intercept a pass.

May 142020
 
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