As with a ship, it is dangerous for a football team to be too heavy.
The Giants have a few individual stars who can stand out on both sides of the ball, but salary cap constraints imposed on general manager Joe Schoen prevented the overall roster from improving much after last season ended 4-13.
It feels like Year 5 of a rebuild for fans, but don’t be surprised if it feels more like a fresh start.
Here are The Post’s five bold predictions for the season:
1. The Giants end up with a top-three pick in the 2023 NFL Draft
The consensus total of over/under wins is seven, so getting “bold” means either predicting a playoff berth or hitting rock bottom.
The Giants’ record in each of the past five years has earned first-round picks No. 2, No. 6, No. 4, No. 10 and No. 5, respectively. Only once in the top three because former general manager Dave Gettleman’s rosters were full of overpays that only made the Giants a little more talented at the cost of a hellish salary cap. This diet wisely ends with taking shortcuts – and the list has holes at cornerback, linebacker and tight end to prove it.
The hurdle here is a loose schedule with the Texans, Jaguars, Lions, Seahawks, Panthers and Bears. Except fans of those teams write a “W” next to the Giants on the calendar, just like Giants fans do. A 2-4 (or worse) mark against these foes sets up another long season.
2. Saquon Barkley exceeds 1,500 yards from scrimmage to win Returning Player of the Year
Unlike MVP voting, Comeback Player of the Year should not have a team success component.
So if Barkley is a workaholic for an offense plagued by quarterback Daniel Jones’ turnovers or for a team that’s losing shootouts because its lightning defense is a victim, his candidacy shouldn’t be affected. Other top comeback candidates include Derrick Henry, Jameis Winston, Christian McCaffrey, Baker Mayfield and Michael Thomas, but Barkley’s biggest hurdle is staying healthy.
After missing 21 games the past three seasons due to injury, he is playing 17 games in this offense and is finally enjoying walking the lanes opened up by a decent offensive line and catching passes in open space created by patterns, en route to his highest total yards from scrimmage since his rookie season as he enters free agency.
3. Three quarters play – again
The main focus of the season is whether Jones is the long-term quarterback. A fifth straight 1-7 or 2-6 start makes it clear it’s no Halloween, giving Tyrod Taylor time to prepare for a Week 9 goodbye. Still reeling at the end of the season, Davis Webb – one of the organization’s most popular players – was called up by the practice squad to make his first career start before retiring as coach.
It’s also possible that Taylor and/or Webb will have to play in place of an injured Jones, who has missed at least two starts in each of his first three seasons. Last year’s team started three quarterbacks (Jones, Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm) for the first time since the 2003 Giants.
4. Barkley aside, Sterling Shepard is the leader recipient
The Giants continue to try to eliminate Shepard — who took a roughly $7 million pay cut this offseason — and he continues to survive.
The $72 million free agent touchdown streaks signing Kenny Golladay and first-round pick Kadarius Toney continue into October, and their familiar issues — Golladay’s lack of separation and Toney’s lack of durability — remain a problem. all season. Darius Slayton is traded before the October deadline.
Shepard’s chemistry with Jones is matched only by David Sills, a three-year-old practice squad sensation who has no career regular-season catches. Shepard misses games with injuries as usual, but he’s Jones’ safety cover when healthy as it looks like he’s ready to start the season after tearing his Achilles last December. . Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson challenges Shepard for most yards — but not catches.
5. Xavier McKinney becomes the Giants player this century with eight interceptions in a season
The real beneficiary of the blitz-happy defense is McKinney, not pass-rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams.
With the quarterbacks rushing in quick throws, McKinney will have chances to rip the ball into deep 1-on-1 coverage or shadow for Aaron Robinson’s side of the field cornerback and try to gain some ground. ‘assistance. He had five interceptions last season in a less aggressive pattern and is a Pro Bowl-bound rising star.
Stevie Brown’s eight interceptions in 2012 are the most by a Giant since Emmanuel McDaniel’s six in 2000.
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