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New York Giants’ overhaul: Inside their ‘astonishing’ 16-month makeover – New York Giants Blog

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Finally, the optimism seems warranted for the New York Giants. One look at their roster and it is apparent there is more talent from top to bottom than there has been since the 2016 season.

The upgrade can be credited to an overhaul during the past 16 months that has transformed them from barren to plentiful. The depth chart when coach Joe Judge arrived on Jan. 8, 2020 was scary, and not in a good way.

Of the Giants’ 22 starters from Week 17 of the 2019 season, 12 are gone, as are 32 of the 53 players from that roster. Half of those 32 are either retired (quarterback Eli Manning), unsigned as of mid-May or out of the league. And that doesn’t include retired long-snapper Zak DeOssie and tight end Rhett Ellison, who finished that season on injured reserve.

That is an indictment of general manager Dave Gettleman’s progress until Judge was hired. Since then, they have worked together to stockpile quality talent, producing a roster that finally seems to have realistic potential.

“It’s actually pretty astonishing … seeing how much improved that roster is,” said a personnel executive with a team that made the playoffs last season. “They have nice depth.”

That comment came after the exec was given a comparison of the Giants’ personnel at each position group from the day Judge was hired to now, which we will detail below. This offseason alone, the Giants added wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and John Ross, tight end Kyle Rudolph, defensive lineman Danny Shelton, edge rusher Azeez Ojulari and cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Aaron Robinson. Their most significant losses were guard Kevin Zeitler and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson.

“We’ve had a good roster-building season,” Gettleman said. “We’ve added playmakers. We’ve added pass-rushers. We added corners. We feel good about what we’ve done.”

With insight from the personnel executive and ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum (a former NFL GM), here is a position-by-position look at the Giants’ roster when Judge arrived compared to now:

Quarterback

Current: Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon, Clayton Thorson, Joe Webb

Jan. 8, 2020: Jones, Eli Manning, Alex Tanney

The group that finished the 2019 season had better depth, but as Tannenbaum notes, this should be a better and more experienced version of Jones. And Manning, who spent most of the 2019 season as a $17-million backup, was about to retire.

Thoughts about the Giants’ current QBs will change if Jones makes the jump the Giants, Tannenbaum and the executive all expect of him this season.

“That can quickly be fixed by Daniel Jones becoming a legitimate starter this year and getting over the hump,” the executive said. “Good chance.”

Running back

Current: Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker, Gary Brightwell

Jan. 8, 2020: Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Buck Allen

There doesn’t seem to be much hesitation from the executives in predicting Barkley bounces back from a serious knee injury. They also agree Booker is more dynamic and versatile than Gallman.

“He is one of these underutilized players who always maximized his opportunities,” Tannenbaum said of Booker.

That makes the current group slightly better. Brightwell is also highly thought because of his special-teams ability compared to Allen.

Fullback

Current: Eli Penny, Cullen Gillaspia

Jan. 8, 2020: Penny

Gillaspia was claimed off waivers this offseason because of his ability on special teams, an area the Giants put extra emphasis on this offseason.

Penny also brings value in that regard. He finished second on the team last season with seven tackles on special teams and catches the ball well out of the backfield, if the Giants ever choose to call his number.

play

1:18

Check out the best highlights from Florida WR Kadarius Toney’s college career.

Wide receiver

Current: Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Toney, Ross, Dante Pettis, C.J. Board, Austin Mack

Jan. 8, 2020: Golden Tate, Shepard, Slayton, Cody Latimer, Corey Coleman, Da’Mari Scott, Russell Shepard, Cody Core

The current group represents arguably the biggest upgrade of any position.

“It’s dramatically better now,” Tannenbaum said.

In the final game of the 2019 season, Scott and Latimer started in a three-wide-receiver set along with Shepard. Neither is still in the league.

This year’s group is talented, deep and has a little bit of everything.

“The depth and the versatility of the group and the way the skill sets complement each other is the difference,” the executive said. “You’ve got your speed guy in Slayton, Golladay, who is your contested-catch specialist, Sterling Shepard keeps the chains moving, and you have an offensive weapon in Toney and you’re taking a flier on John Ross who is a legitimate speed guy. And same with Pettis.”

The executive thought Pettis had a legit chance to be a starter after his rookie season in San Francisco. It’s conceivable he’s the Giants’ sixth wide receiver entering training camp.

Tight end

Current: Evan Engram, Rudolph, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo

Jan. 8, 2020: Engram, Smith, Garrett Dickerson, Ellison, Scott Simonson

Judge said the Giants wanted improvement at every position, and they now have four established tight ends.

“By adding competition, one of two things happen: You either bring someone in who [helps] you improve because they are good enough to take someone else’s job, or you bring someone in who pushes the guys in front of him to keep their job, and either way you get a raised level of play,” Judge said.

This is part of the thought-process with Engram — hope his game elevates in a crowded room.

So, which group is better? From the 2019 roster, only Engram and Smith remain in the NFL, and the executive considers the current group significantly better after adding Rudolph as an in-line player who can block and make contested catches. He raved about his hands.

Tannenbaum was less impressed: “What’s left with Rudolph? If he’s healthy, they’re better. But that is a wait and see.”

Offensive line

Current: Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez or Zach Fulton, Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux, Matt Peart or Nate Solder, Jonotthan Harrison, Chad Slade, Kyle Murphy

Jan. 8, 2020: Solder, Hernandez, Jon Halapio, Zeitler, Mike Remmers or Gates, Slade, Spencer Pulley, Eric Smith

This is where the opinions varied. The executive seems to share the Giants’ optimism about this year’s young group.

“Definitely better,” he said. “They have an up-and-coming left tackle [Thomas] who played more consistently down the stretch [last season]. At least they have an insurance policy behind Will Hernandez. Gates has transitioned nicely to the center spot. There is a young guard [Lemieux] they seem to like and he’ll be able to [focus] on one position all offseason, which is important for him. And a young right tackle prospect [Peart] they seem to be fond of and a former starter [in Solder].”

Tannenbaum also is optimistic, even if he thinks the group from the 2019 season was better.

“Solder has played better than Andrew Thomas. And I’m a Zeitler fan,” he said. “This offensive line has a chance to be good if Peart develops. I loved Andrew Thomas coming out, but he has to play better. They have a chance to be good, but on paper, I’d take Zeitler and a healthy, younger Solder.”

Defensive line

Current: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Shelton, Austin Johnson, B.J. Hill, RJ McIntosh

Jan. 8, 2020: Williams, Lawrence, Tomlinson, Hill, McIntosh, Chris Slayton

This is the one area where the Giants clearly are not better. They lost Tomlinson in free agency this offseason because they wanted to move that money to a different position group. The current group might be deeper now, but it’s not as good.

“I don’t think you’re disappointed with [the current group],” the executive said. “Good unit still. But you had three frontline starters with Dalvin.”

play

0:48

Check out the best highlights from Georgia LB Azeez Ojulari’s college career.

Outside linebacker

Current: Ojulari, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Elerson Smith, Ryan Anderson, Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown

Jan. 8, 2020: Markus Golden, Ximines, Carter, Kareem Martin, Chris Peace

Tannenbaum and the executive were in agreement that this unit has improved and has depth. Both are high on Ojulari, confident he’s more talented than anything New York had when Judge arrived.

“I thought Ojulari was a [first-round pick],” Tannenbaum said. “He was different than [Kwity] Paye. He was a better space athlete. He was twitchy, good lower-body flexibility and he can drop in coverage.”

The executive says Ojulari has the ability to become the frontline player the Giants were missing. He also noted Carter and Ximines can play the rotational roles that suit them.

Inside linebacker

Current: Blake Martinez, Reggie Ragland, Tae Crowder, Devante Downs, TJ Brunson

Jan. 8, 2020: Alec Ogletree, David Mayo, Deone Bucannon, Ryan Connelly, Josiah Taueafa

No need to spend much time on this one. Martinez is the only high-level starter on either list because Ogletree was done by the start of the 2020 season and about to be released.

“Martinez is a really, really good player,” Tannenbaum said.

The executive sees reason for optimism beyond Martinez: “Crowder came on and played some nice ball for them,” he said. “Ragland has starting experience.”

Cornerbacks

Current: James Bradberry, Jackson, Darnay Holmes, Robinson, Isaac Yiadom, Rodarius Williams, Sam Beal, Madre Harper

Jan. 8, 2020: Deandre Baker, Antonio Hamilton, Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, Beal

Poor James Bettcher. This exercise also serves as a scary reminder of what the former coordinator was working with at the end of his Giants’ tenure. They were awful at cornerback, really bad at inside linebacker and extremely thin at outside linebacker.

They have invested heavily at cornerback since, signing Bradberry and Jackson to be the starters and drafting Holmes and Robinson in the middle rounds to man the slot.

“Frontline starters and the depth is better,” the executive said, before adding that when opposing teams came into games last season, the plan was to throw at Yiadom or whoever was the CB2 that week.

Can’t do that anymore. Now Yiadom is a backup fighting for a roster spot instead of a starter and a weekly target for opposing quarterbacks.

The Giants have a lot riding on Jackson. He’s “a really, really good athlete … if healthy,” Tannenbaum said.

Safeties

Current: Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Nate Ebner

Jan. 8, 2020: Peppers, Antoine Bethea, Mike Thomas, Love, Sean Chandler, Rashaan Gaulden

The previous group had Bethea on the verge of retirement and really had no chance behind those cornerbacks. This year’s class has three potential starters.

“McKinney, they’ll have a role for him,” the executive said. “They did a nice job with Logan Ryan last year and they cater to Peppers’ strengths.”

Tannenbaum says McKinney will be a good player if he can remain healthy.

Ebner is included here even though he is unsigned, because the expectation is the special-teams ace will re-sign this summer after fulfilling his USA rugby duties and potentially playing in the Olympics.

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Bruce Arians to Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians hasn’t felt the need to bring in a specialist to talk to his players about the COVID-19 vaccine, which some players leaguewide have expressed skepticism about in recent days.

While Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera brought Harvard immunologist Kizzmekia S. Corbett in to speak to his players Tuesday night, Arians said Thursday, “I’m the specialist.”

He told players, “If you want to go back to normal, get vaccinated.”

Arians said the Bucs are holding a vaccine drive for players and their families at the facility.

“There’s going to be a long line over there right now,” Arians said. “We were pretty short up until now. Hopefully we have a pretty good line.”

Previous vaccine drives have also taken place at the facility for coaches and support staff members. The goal is to have 85% of the team vaccinated, which Arians feels they’ll be much closer to after the drive.

“Everybody’s tired of meeting out here and eating outside, and doing all those things we had to do last year,” Arians said. “It’s still a personal choice, but I don’t see a reason not to be vaccinated.”

When asked if any players expressed concern or skepticism, as Washington’s Montez Sweat did Wednesday, Arians said, “I haven’t spoken to anybody that’s resisted it. They’re just too lazy to get one.”

Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett said he and his wife, Jordanna, both received the vaccine. Their four children aren’t old enough to qualify for the vaccine at this time, as the CDC currently recommends children ages 12 and older receive vaccines.

Barrett missed the season finale against the Atlanta Falcons because he was a close contact of a teammate who tested positive, despite never testing positive himself. Still, he was forced to quarantine for five days. His children were home-schooled in 2020 and did not have play dates with other children because of concerns about the virus.

“It’s ‘to each their own.’ I recommend it,” Barrett said Thursday. “I don’t know why people wouldn’t get it. But whatever makes you comfortable, whatever helps you sleep at night, you do that. But I would like for 85% of the team to be vaccinated.”

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Kansas City Chiefs hope Kyle Long back by start of regular season after leg injury in practice

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs are hopeful guard Kyle Long can return for the start of the regular season after he injured his leg Wednesday, sources told ESPN.

Long was signed by the Chiefs in the offseason after he ended his retirement after one year. He wrote about the injury on Thursday on his Twitter account.

“I did everything I could to get back for football,” Long said. “Zero regrets. … Focusing on controlling the things I can control. Yesterday was not one of those things!”

Long, 32, was working as the starting right guard at offseason practice. Other candidates to start include Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and rookie Trey Smith.

Drafted 20th overall by the Chicago Bears in 2013, Long missed just one game over his first three seasons, in which he was selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls, but appeared in just 30 regular-season contests over his last four years with the team because of a variety of injuries. He announced his retirement in January of last year.

NFL Network first reported that Long had suffered a leg injury.



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Fantasy Football cheat sheets – Updated 2021 player rankings, PPR, non-PPR, depth charts, dynasty

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If you’re seeking a one-stop shop for updated 2021 fantasy football rankings and cheat sheets throughout the summer, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you will find them for PPR and non-PPR formats, as well as dynasty leagues.

PPR positional cheat sheet

One sheet with players broken down by position, including overall rank, salary-cap value and bye weeks for leagues that award one point for each catch. Download »

PPR top-300 cheat sheet

This sheet features 300 players in order of overall draft value, with positional rank, salary-cap value and bye-week information for leagues that reward each catch with a point. Download »

Non-PPR positional cheat sheet

For leagues using the scoring format that doesn’t award an extra point for each reception. One sheet with players broken down by position, including overall rank, salary-cap value and bye weeks. Download »

Non-PPR top-300 cheat sheet

This sheet features 300 players in order of overall draft value, with positional rank, salary-cap value and bye-week information. Download »

Mike Clay’s team-by-team projection guide

If you want the full breakdown for all 32 teams, you’ve come to the right place. Download »

NFL team depth chart cheat sheet

Fantasy depth charts for each NFL team: top two QBs, three running backs, four wide receivers, two tight ends and a kicker. Prioritized by fantasy value in PPR leagues rather than role defined on a traditional NFL depth chart, includes players’ positional ranks. Download »

Dynasty cheat sheet

Features the top 240 players and 60 best rookies to make all of your keeper and dynasty league decisions. Includes the age of players at the start of the 2021 season. Download »

*All cheat sheets are in PDF format. Your device must be equipped with a PDF reader for you to access and print the cheat sheet.

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