Football is back, and as teams hit the field this week to get to work, the talk should be about the action on the field and what each team has in store. Somehow it’s not a surprise that the talk surrounding the New York Giants isn’t even about them, and while Odell Beckham Jr more than deserves this discussion based on his talent, it’s sad to see that the talk isn’t even about that. The Giants have an overwhelming amount of young players and all eyes will be on them once the media can join them on the field at Wednesday’s training camp. When you think about a draft class that is far overlooked due to the selection of Daniel Jones (which temporarily solves the quarterback problem that everyone has been pleading them to fix) and the departures of Odell Beckham, Landon Collins, and Olivier Vernon, it’s not surprising that people lean on this as the main reason that the Giants may struggle again come September. However, there are more than a few players that can help head coach Pat Shurmur polish his resume that are not talked about nearly as much as they should be.
Golden Tate, WR:
Where the Giants have lost, they have added, and while it is hard to live up to the play of OBJ, Tate is a receiver that is far more talented than people give him credit for. Whether him purely coming to New York and signing a deal in which many believe the Giants overpaid, or his lackluster 2018 season (despite being traded halfway through the year), there is more than meets the eye when it comes to him. He crowns himself the ‘YacKing’ for a very good reason, as he leads the NFL in yards after the catch since 2014 with 2,736. This will be a great weapon for Eli Manning as a security blanket who can turn short drags into 15 yard gains with ease, and he will be a great option on third downs as he can stretch the field and he is also second in the league with receptions on third down (124) since 2014. While he isn’t necessarily the deep threat that Odell was, in reality, Tate can run every route in the tree much better than what people like to admit. This team is full of young talent, and along with Antoine Bethea, Golden Tate comes in as a veteran presence that can help grow the still developing wide receiver core and will prove to be a strong locker room voice. Tate will also serve as a great compliment to Sterling Shepard, who has a similar style of play, and it wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest to see the two of them combine for 2,000 yards receiving this season. This compliment will make defenses much more cautious of the short game, giving Engram and Coleman the freedom to work deep down field. In his time with Detroit when he was the number one man at wide out, he averaged over 120 targets per season and over 90 receptions which shows that he is more than capable to carry a significant portion of the offensive load this season.
Sam Beal, CB:
After being selected in the third round of the 2018 supplemental draft, Beal suffered a shoulder injury that would end his season before it started. After a year of recovery and learning around the team, the 6’1” 180 lb corner looks to exceed the reasonably high expectations that were set for him last summer. In his junior year at Western Michigan he was known for his physical play, and his ability to stalk receivers is expected to translate to the NFL as he tallied 2 interceptions and 10 pass breakups while allowing a 35.2 passer rating when targeted (the lowest in the MAC). Beal is one of the many bright spots at defensive back to join the Giants’ ‘puppies’ that Janoris Jenkins has said he is ready to train, including Deandre Baker (Georgia), Julian Love (Notre Dame), and Corey Ballentine (Washburn). While there is a lot of young talent, this actually is great for Beal as it gives him a platform to take on a large role and prove that he deserves to play at the #2 CB spot. Given that the Giants have struggled tremendously in being able to close games late in the past few years due to their subpar pass coverage (31st in the league last year at 252.4 yards per game) Beal has a lot to live up to in terms of helping the team decrease that number, but has more than enough skill to get that done and then some.
BJ Hill, DT:
Hill was one of the unsung heroes in a season that was almost fully highlighted by Saquon Barkley and with not much coming from the defense besides a few interceptions from Alec Ogletree. While it is completely understandable that whenever the Giants were mentioned last year, people almost only spoke about the future OROY Saquon Barkley, but Hill showed that he is ready to play at the professional level. He posted 48 combined tackles with 5.5 sacks and he proved that as a starter in Betcher’s 3-4 scheme he will be able to stop the run and put significant pressure on the passer. Once he takes on a full time role at one of the interior spots, likely along with Tomlinson and Lawrence, he will be able to increase those numbers and do more for the defense as it has an almost completely new look from what it was in 2017. A year under his belt will have to do as there is a lot to be expected from the NC State product but he is already well liked in the locker room and seems to be ready for the increased role that he will embrace this season.
The wrong kind of attention has been surrounding a team full of young potential for too long, but the only way that they can get rid of it is to shine through their play. GM Dave Gettleman has just finished a full rebuild that Jerry Reese tried to plug with large veteran signings for years and was never able to complete, and now it is looking as if the Giants will be a team that will continue to grow and impress over the next few seasons if the young talent performs as people think they will. It’s time to start talking about the players that will be on the field wearing blue and white at the start of the 2019 season, because the narrative will shift dramatically once they get the ball rolling this fall.
Antoine Bethea, S:
Bethea is coming off of a quiet but effective season as he was one of the few solid players on the Cardinals lackluster defense last season along with Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones. Recording 121 combined tackles and 3 sacks as a safety at age 34 is no easy feat, but he showed that he can still play at a high level and he brings a lot of experience after playing with a Colts team that dominated the league with Peyton Manning a decade ago. He also is close with DC James Bettcher who has completely changed the Giants defensive look since coming on board last season, and that can be a sign of reassurance for Giants fans since Bettcher clearly trusts him as a veteran player and a team leader. With visits and workouts by Johnathan Cyprien and Tre Boston which could lead to a signing in the near future, Bethea will potentially have some competition to see who will start week one alongside newly acquired Jabril Peppers. Whether he gets a lot of playing time or ends up being a great locker room guy, Bethea isn’t your typical 34 year old player and has a lot to offer a team that needs help at just about every defensive position.
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