Giants final 53-man roster projection: Who’s in, who’s out after preseason finale?

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants coach Brian Daboll didn’t take any chances in Saturday’s preseason finale against the Jets (the Giants lost 32-24). Daboll rested 23 of his top players so they wouldn’t be exposed to injury. That seemed like a good call after seven backups were knocked out of the game with injuries.

Those injuries mostly affected players not in the mix for spots on the 53-man roster, which must be set by 4 p.m. Tuesday. The 53-man roster won’t be finalized Tuesday, as there could be additions via trades or waiver claims in the coming days. But here’s my projection for the 53 players who will be left standing from the group of 90 on the roster.

Quarterbacks (2)

In: Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
Out: Tommy DeVito

DeVito impressed enough during the preseason to secure a spot on the practice squad. But don’t expect the Giants to take advantage of the new third quarterback rule on game day, which would require carrying DeVito on the active roster.

Running backs (4)

In: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Jashaun Corbin
Out: Gary Brightwell, James Robinson

Barkley, Breida and Gray are locks. The writing has been on the wall that Brightwell’s days are numbered, with a knee injury that has sidelined him for the past two weeks likely sealing his fate.

Corbin’s competition is mostly the concept of keeping four running backs. Despite an impressive preseason, there don’t figure to be many carries available for Corbin since Barkley is going to dominate the running back snaps. The Giants can probably pass Corbin through waivers and get him back to the practice squad for a second straight year. But team brass likes the 2022 undrafted free agent, so it could avoid the risk of losing him and find a role for him on special teams.

Wide receivers (7)

In: Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Jalin Hyatt, Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Bryce Ford-Wheaton
Out: Cole Beasley, Collin Johnson, Jamison Crowder, David Sills, Kalil Pimpleton, Jaydon Mickens

Slayton, Campbell, Hodgins and Hyatt are locks. Shepard is close to a lock, as the Giants have handled his workload in training camp like he’s a player they’re focused on having ready for the season. It was somewhat surprising that Shepard played in the preseason finale, but if he was truly fighting for a roster spot, the team likely wouldn’t have given him so many rest days as he returns from a torn ACL.

The only question with Robinson, who tore his ACL in November, has been if he’d be activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list before Tuesday’s deadline. The expectation is that Robinson will be activated, giving the 2022 second-round pick two weeks of practice to get ready for the season opener.

Beasley, who was signed just before camp, has always seemed like insurance for Robinson. With Robinson expected to get activated, there doesn’t appear to be room for Beasley, who could go to the practice squad as an experienced injury replacement.

Ford-Wheaton has a strong chance to make the team because of his special teams ability. None of the other receivers has any special teams value, so having a 6-foot-3, 224-pounder with speed to cover kicks is an asset. This is tough to project, however, as there’s no word yet on the severity of the knee injury that knocked Ford-Wheaton out of Saturday’s game.

Tight ends (3)

In: Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager
Out: Tommy Sweeney, Chris Myarick, Ryan Jones

Waller and Bellinger will be big pieces of the offense. Cager has been the No. 3 tight end all offseason and has emerged as a core special teamer. Sweeney, assuming he has recovered from the “medical event” he experienced Wednesday, or Myarick, who suffered a metacarpal fracture in his hand Saturday, could land on the practice squad as blocking options available for game-day elevations.


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Offensive linemen (9)

In: Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredeson, John Michael Schmitz, Mark Glowinski, Evan Neal, Josh Ezeudu, Tyre Phillips, Matt Peart, Marcus McKethan
Out: Shane Lemieux, Jack Anderson, Korey Cunningham, Wyatt Davis, Sean Harlow, Julién Davenport

The top six offensive linemen — Thomas, Bredeson, Schmitz, Glowinski, Neal and Ezeudu — are set, even if it’s still not clear who will start at the guard spots. It was curious that Phillips didn’t play in the preseason finale, but he should be safe as a player with guard/tackle flexibility who filled in capably at right tackle when Neal was injured last season.

Peart has been the swing tackle by default, but the 2020 third-round pick hasn’t inspired confidence this summer. The Giants — like many other teams — could be in the market for an upgrade at swing tackle around cut day.

The Giants figure to carry nine offensive linemen so they can stash another player who likely won’t suit up on game day. That seems like a good spot for McKethan, the 2022 fifth-round pick who made his preseason debut Saturday after a lengthy recovery from a torn ACL.

Lemieux or Anderson, who is dealing with a calf strain, could be an option if the Giants want to carry a backup center. But Bredeson is the backup center, so he’d shift there if anything happens to Schmitz.

Defensive linemen (5)

In: Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jordon Riley
Out: D.J. Davidson, Ryder Anderson, Brandin Bryant, Kobe Smith, Donovan Jeter, Kevin Atkins

The four veterans are locked into the depth chart, even though Nunez-Roches and Robinson haven’t been on the field much this summer. Those four established players make it tough to see a path to playing time for Riley, but the rookie seventh-round pick has shown too much in the preseason to risk exposing him to waivers.

Davidson, a fifth-round pick last year, was activated from the PUP list last week and got first-team reps in practice this week but didn’t play in Saturday’s game. Perhaps the Giants didn’t want any tape out that would entice a team to claim Davidson if they try to pass him through waivers to the practice squad.

Anderson has been sidelined since injuring his triceps a week into camp. That the Giants carried the 2022 undrafted free agent throughout camp despite his injury signals that they want to keep him around. He could be a candidate to make the initial 53-man roster and then slide to injured reserve on Wednesday.

Outside linebackers (5)

In: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Tomon Fox, Oshane Ximines
Out: Tashawn Bower, Habakkuk Baldonado

This is the position most in need of an upgrade before the opener. Ximines could be sent packing if the Giants add a pass rusher through a trade or waiver claim next week.

Inside linebackers (5)

In: Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden, Isaiah Simmons, Darrian Beavers, Carter Coughlin
Out: Dyontae Johnson, Cam Brown, Ray Wilborn

Simmons played a handful of snaps on Saturday after arriving in New Jersey on Friday. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has two weeks to devise a role for the athletic former top-10 pick, who mostly rushed the passer on Saturday.

McFadden should still be the starter in the base defense, with Simmons likely playing in sub packages, at least initially. Coughlin should be safe as a core special teamer who can play inside linebacker in a pinch. The arrival of Simmons likely seals the fate of Brown, who has been sidelined for two weeks with an undisclosed injury.

Cornerbacks (5)

In: Adoree’ Jackson, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins, Cor’Dale Flott, Darnay Holmes
Out: Amani Oruwariye, Zyon Gilbert, Gemon Green, Darren Evans
PUP: Aaron Robinson

The Giants are full-steam ahead with the plan to start the two rookies, Banks and Hawkins, in their nickel defense, with Jackson shifting into the slot. Flott is dealing with an injury that is believed to be minor, so he should make it as the No. 4 corner.

Oruwariye could sneak onto the roster if the Giants prioritize having a fifth corner who plays on the outside and can contribute on special teams. But it wasn’t a promising sign that the veteran played deep into the second half of Saturday’s preseason finale. Holmes’ days could be numbered since he didn’t claim the slot corner job, but he could provide valuable depth in case the Jackson or Hawkins experiments don’t pan out.

It’s a near lock that the Giants will request Holmes take a pay cut if they’re going to keep him. He’s due a $2.7 million salary based on the playing-time escalator he reached in his first three seasons. Like they did with Slayton last year, the Giants could squeeze Holmes for a pay cut down to the minimum to save roughly $1.6 million, which is valuable for a team tight against the salary cap.

An outside addition to bolster the depth at corner is a real possibility.



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Safeties (5)

In: Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Gervarrius Owens, Nick McCloud
Out: Bobby McCain, Alex Cook

Pinnock claimed the starting spot next to McKinney early in camp and Belton has established himself as the No. 3 safety. Owens has impressed while running with the backups, and the rookie seventh-round pick should have an immediate role on special teams as long as the hamstring injury he suffered Saturday isn’t serious.

McCloud has been sidelined for two weeks with a groin injury, but he’s expected to be ready for the opener. The best special teams player on the roster should be safe despite the missed time. McCain was projected as a potential starter when he signed in March, but he never made any headway during camp. The veteran, who suffered a concussion on Saturday, will likely get bumped so the Giants can develop Owens.

Specialists (3)

In: K Graham Gano, P Jamie Gillan, LS Casey Kreiter
Out: LS Cam Lyons

The Giants are hoping Gano maintains his level of consistency. They’re hoping Gillan finds some consistency.

(Photo of Jashaun Corbin: Mike Stobe / Getty Images)

“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time, goes on sale this fall. Pre-order it here.

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