The NFL season is only a few weeks away, which means it’s awards prediction season in the football media world. Candidates for the various 2020 NFL Honors awards have been popping up around the internet, but you won’t find many New York Giants among them. With the exception of running back Saquon Barkley, Big Blue doesn’t have anyone recognized as an elite-level player. So, in order to spotlight some G-Men who could have standout years, here is a Giants-only edition of predicting the NFL’s major awards.
Most Valuable Player – RB Saquon Barkley
For New York to succeed, coordinator Jason Garrett’s offense will have to click in it’s first season. Garrett has a long history of getting big production out of his running backs. The explosive Barkley should be no exception. As good as Ezekiel Elliott is, Garrett has never had a back as talented as the 2018 second-overall pick. Barkley should see a lot of the ball, in both the power-running game and the screen game.
Garrett’s back-friendly offense, along with a hopefully improved offensive line and Barkley’s dynamic ability should equal a mammoth year for the Penn State product. People denounce the value of the running back position, but Barkley’s numbers this year could be too good to dismiss.
Offensive Player of the Year – RB Saquon Barkley
When your running back wins team MVP, it’s tough not to name him the OPOY, too.
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Defensive Player of the Year – CB James Bradberry
Now in the NFC East, Bradberry should feel like a big leaguer playing in triple-A. In the NFC South last year, he had to cover Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones. Bradberry performed well against those star receivers, not allowing a 100-yard game all season.
The step down in competition should help the ex-Panther, along with being the only proven cover-man on the Giants. Opposing offenses will likely target whichever other corner New York starts, whether it be Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes, or someone else. This will give Bradberry fewer chances at interceptions and forced fumbles, but will keep his total yardage-allowed down. With a lack of playmakers on this Giants defense, Bradberry is the choice here.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – OT Andrew Thomas
Thomas is the Giants’ only offensive rookie slated to start, so he wins this award by default. Still, the 2020 fourth-overall pick is in line for plenty of praise if things go according to plan.
Quarterback Daniel Jones should improve his ball security and decision making in his second year. This will result in fewer Jones fumbles and sacks, which will be partially attributed to Thomas’ pass protection, even if the main cause is Jones’ own progression. Plus, Garrett’s offense should help Barkley have a monster rushing season, which will be partially credited to Thomas’ run blocking. Circumstances could conspire to make the Georgia product’s rookie season look quite impressive.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – S Xavier McKinney
McKinney’s only real competition for this award is fellow defensive back Darnay Holmes, who is vying to be the starting slot cornerback. But McKinney’s path to the field is clearer. His versatility in coordinator Patrick Graham’s diverse defense should also allow him to make more splash plays. Expect the Alabama alum to be sent on blitzes, rotated into man coverage, and dropped into zone coverage. McKinney will be deployed all over the field, so it’ll be hard not to notice him.
Comeback Player of the Year – ILB Ryan Connelly
The 2019 fifth-round pick pleasantly surprised with his level of play before tearing his right ACL in Week 4 last year. Connelly worked his way back to full health, and has the inside track to be the starting inside linebacker next to free-agent addition Blake Martinez. Connelly’s strengths are his instincts, decisiveness, and play-speed. If he stays healthy, he should be able to rack up plenty of tackles behind the Giants’ stout, block-eating defensive line. Throw in an interception or two thanks to his decent coverage skills, and the Wisconsin product might have a solid sophomore season.