The New York Giants should, on the whole, be an improved team in 2022. First-round picks Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal will address long-wanting positions in EDGE and offensive tackle. A new coaching staff led by head coach Brian Daboll should, based on its promising resume, get more out of a roster that in all probability will stay healthier than it did last season. There is, however, one position group that undeniably got worse on paper this offseason: the secondary.
The financially driven release of cornerback James Bradberry, the inexplicable release of safety Logan Ryan, and the loss of safety Jabrill Peppers in free agency has thinned Big Blue’s secondary to the point of real concern. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and safety Xavier McKinney are both expected to be solid-to-good starters, but beyond them New York’s defensive backfield is a mishmash of mediocre veterans and inexperienced youngsters.
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If their secondary is their weakness, then any opponent with a deep, quality set of wide receivers will present a heightened challenge to coordinator Wink Martindale and the Giants’ defense.
So, to gauge the difficulty of the task Big Blue’s unproven secondary will face, let’s rank from best to worst the receiving corps on the Giants’ schedule.
1. Dallas Cowboys (Weeks 3 and 12)
It may seem strange to rank Dallas’ receiver group first after having lost Amari Cooper this offseason, but there’s a reason the Cowboys felt they could afford to lose Cooper. Third-year wideout CeeDee Lamb, coming off a 1000-yard season, will have no problem assuming the number-one receiver role. Michael Gallup will continue to be the high-end number two he’s been for most of his career. Rookie third-round pick Jalen Tolbert and former Pittsburgh Steeler James Washington will compete for the third receiver spot. Tolbert presents a higher upside, but Washington is a proven pro who can reliably start if Tolbert isn’t immediately ready.
2. Minnesota Vikings (Week 16)
The Vikings’ receiving corps may not have the greatest depth, but Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen form perhaps the best one-two punch in the league. Only entering his third year, Jefferson already has two Pro Bowls under his belt and has a credible case as the best receiver in football. The veteran Thielen would be a number-one on many other teams, and is still an elite route runner and redzone threat. Third-year fifth-round pick K.J. Osborn, who had 50 catches for 655 yards last season, projects as their third receiver.
3. Seattle Seahawks (Week 8)
Seattle’s overall roster is in bad shape, but their receiving corps is the one vestige of quality left over from the Russell Wilson era. D.K. Metcalf is a bonafide star and arguably the best big-bodied deep threat in the NFL. Tyler Lockett is a criminally underrated player, coming off three straight 1000-yard seasons. There’s hope 2021 second-round pick D’Wayne Eskridge can take strides in his second year. It’s just a shame one of Drew Lock or Geno Smith will be throwing them the ball.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (Weeks 14 and 18)
The Eagles vaulted up this list with their draft-day acquisition of former Tennessee Titan A.J. Brown. Now entering his fourth season, Brown has already established himself as one of the game’s very best young wideouts, and gives the Eagles a caliber of weapon they haven’t had since Terrell Owens. Brown’s arrival bumps 2021 10th-overall pick DeVonta Smith to the number-two spot, where he should only improve after registering 916 yards as a rookie. Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor, Zach Pascal, and Greg Ward round out a deep and eclectic group of receivers.
5. Washington Commanders (Weeks 13 and 15)
There’s a definite dropoff after the top-four on this list. Washington gets the nod as the best of the second tier, thanks primarily to their new $71-million man. Terry McLaurin is pretty clearly the best receiver among the remaining teams on the Giants’ schedule. McLaurin is no stranger to torching Big Blue, either, as he totaled 200 receiving yards over two games against New York last season. Washington is counting on rookie first-round pick Jahan Dotson to be their number-two receiver. 2021 free-agent signing Curtis Samuel, injured for most of last season, will be their slot/gadget guy, and former second-round pick Dyami Brown has potential as a deep threat.
Ep 113: The Patriots And The AFC East
by Full Press Coverage on March 17, 2023 at 2:14 pm
6. Carolina Panthers (Week 2)
Much like the Seahawks, the Panthers have a solid receiving corps that will likely be squandered by subpar quarterback play. D.J. Moore is coming off three straight 1000-yard seasons and should, now in his fifth year, be entering his prime. Robby Anderson is coming off somewhat of a down year, but is still a very good field stretcher and has expanded his game since coming to Carolina. The Panthers are hoping second-year second-round pick Terrace Marshall can become a reliable third target after a disappointing rookie season.
7. Houston Texans (Week 10)
The pickings are already getting slim on this list, which is good news for the Giants’ young secondary. We’ll slot the Texans here at number seven since they at least have a proven and productive veteran in Brandin Cooks. Cooks has gone for 1000 yards in six of his eight professional seasons, despite already having played for four different teams. Second-year third-round pick Nico Collins, who showed flashes as a rookie, will be their second receiver. Rookie second-round pick John Metchie will round out their starting trio.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 7)
The Jaguars signed two free-agent receivers this offseason in an effort to bolster their pass-catching unit. And while Christian Kirk and Zay Jones are fine players, neither are substantial difference makers. Kirk and Jones join Marvin Jones, another solid but unspectacular player, as Jacksonville’s likely starters. Third-year second-round pick Laviska Shenault will get mixed in as well. Overall, the Jaguars receiving corps is pretty non-descript.
9. Indianapolis Colts (Week 17)
Indianapolis has a lot riding on third-year pro Michael Pittman Jr., who’s coming off a breakout 88-catch, 1082-yard season. They’re counting on Pittman developing into a true number-one receiver. After him, though, there’s very little to get excited about. 2019 second-round pick Parris Campbell has missed significant time with injury, and it’s a bit much to ask rookie second-round pick Alec Pierce to make a major impact right away.
10. Green Bay Packers (Week 5)
Now that Davante Adams is wearing silver and black in Las Vegas, Green Bay has one of the NFL’s worst receiving corps. Sammy Watkins will probably start the season as their number-one receiver, but his stats have steadily declined since his only 1000-yard season in 2015. Allen Lazard has the most experience with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but he’s yet to have more than 40 catches in a season. The uninspiring Randall Cobb will probably start in the slot. Rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will be in the mix for playing time, along with second-year man Amari Rodgers.
11. Tennessee Titans (Week 1)
Much like the Packers, the Titans traded away their top receiver for picks and are now suffering the consequences. They drafted Treylon Burks in the first round to replace the aforementioned A.J. Brown, but even Burks’ biggest advocates would acknowledge he’s a raw prospect. Robert Woods is their most accomplished receiver, but he’s coming off a torn ACL and needs to prove he can produce away from Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams. Beyond those two, there’s nobody of note or real promise.
12. Detroit Lions (Week 11)
The Lions’ receiving corps won’t be good in 2022, but at least it may be good some time in the future. Detroit traded up in the first round to take speedster Jameson Williams, but he’s coming off a torn ACL he suffered in January and may not be ready to start the season. The Lions also signed DJ Chark from the Jaguars this offseason, but he’s coming off a fractured ankle. Chark made the Pro Bowl in 2019, and will serve as their main deep threat. Amon-Ra St. Brown is coming off a 90-catch rookie season and should start in the slot. If Williams can get healthy in time to play most of the season, this unit has a chance to outperform this ranking.
13. Baltimore Ravens (Week 6)
The Ravens executed the mild version of what the Packers and Titans did when they traded Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals. Brown isn’t nearly as good as the players those other teams traded, but he leaves a similarly unfilled hole in Baltimore’s receiving corps. Second-year player Rashod Bateman now becomes their unquestioned number-one receiver, which is asking a lot of someone who only started four games last year. After Bateman, reserve-quality players like Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace fill out the depth chart.
14. Chicago Bears (Week 4)
You have to feel bad for Justin Fields. The second-year quarterback will have arguably the NFL’s worst receiving corps to work with this season. Darnell Mooney will be their top guy, but he really should be a number-two at best. Outside of him, the Bears’ receiver room is mostly composed of castoffs from other teams. Rookie third-round pick Velus Jones is their only other young receiver with any upside, and even he was widely considered a reach of a draft pick.
– Ryan Cuneo is the Managing Editor of Full Press Giants. He covers the New York Giants. Like and follow on Follow @ryan_cuneo Follow @FullPressGiants and Facebook.
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