How Giants have improved their depth for the 2023 NFL season

Nov 20, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Boogie Basham (55) during pre-game warmups before their game against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the offseason, the Giants’ main goal had to be consolidation. After making the postseason in 2022, they were a team that didn’t have many major holes and instead needed to improve their depth to strengthen their roster.

Of course, there were a few key areas where they obviously upgraded. Bringing in Darren Waller at tight end will add a new dimension to their passing offense and Bobby Okereke is the kind of productive defensive signal-caller the team lacked last season.

Also, they had a few crucial players to bring back, including Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. With those moves resolved, the Giants could focus on their depth, which seems to have improved throughout the team.

Crucial to that process has been their draft, which is looking really promising based on preseason. Naturally, their top picks, Deonte Banks and John Michael Schmitz, were brought in to start immediately at cornerback and center respectively and they each seem ready based on how comfortable they looked during preseason action. This has the knock-on effect of moving players like Cordale Flott, Darnay Holmes and Nick McCloud – who started 16 games between them last year – into more suitable rotational roles.

Jalin Hyatt showed some big-play potential at wide receiver, but he joins a group which is already relatively deep, with Parris Campbell being added as a free agent and players like Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins, who have both produced well when given opportunities in the past, earning an opportunity to prove themselves. The pressure on Hyatt to immediately produce is therefore lessened.

Where the draft could really set the Giants up for success, though, is with the additions they made in the later rounds. Seventh round defensive tackle Jordon Riley looked like a terrific prospect in preseason and sixth-rounder Tre Hawkins was so comfortable in camp and preseason the Giants may open the season with him in the starting line-up. These additions at least provide the Giants with rotational depth and potentially two future reliable starters.

While the other two draft choices, fifth-round running back Eric Gray and seventh-round safety Gervarrius Owens, are less likely to contribute immediately. They could contribute on special teams and develop into being a bigger contributor next year and beyond. Gray is in the mix to handle return duties

New Giants linebacker Isaiah Simmons during warm ups. The NY Jets against the NY Giants on August 26, 2023 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, as the rivals play their final preseason game before the start of the NFL season
New Giants linebacker Isaiah Simmons during warm ups. The NY Jets against the NY Giants on August 26, 2023 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, as the rivals play their final preseason game before the start of the NFL season / Chris Pedota – – USA TODAY NETWORK

As camp was coming to a close, the Giants obviously took another look at their roster and made two trades in areas where they could benefit from further bolstering their depth. They ended up acquiring Isaiah Simmons and Carlos “Boogie” Basham with the total cost just being a 2024 seventh-round pick and a 2025 day three pick swap.

Simmons is a player whose versatility has proven to be something of a curse at the NFL level because he’s struggled to find his best position and been labeled as a tweener. Is he a safety, an off-ball linebacker or an edge rusher?

When employed as a situational chess piece, that question becomes a dilemma for the opponent rather than the Giants and his capability to play all these roles creates depth in a variety of positions and allows the Giants to be flexible and creative on defense.

Basham is yet to make a start at the NFL level, and only has 4.5 sacks in his first two seasons, but the former second-round pick may have untapped potential – much like Simmons, who was selected eight overall back in 2020. This allowed the Giants to cut ties with the underperforming Oshane Ximines, himself a former day two pick, and hang onto the promising Tomon Fox.

Basham and Simmons should be ideal backups because they will be hungry for a bigger role and motivated to produce. Each has the talent to be more consistent than they have been in the past, but the Giants will no longer be banking on this as their former teams would have had to.

On the whole, it’s been a solid offseason for the Giants, who now have a roster filled with players capable of stepping up in the event of an injury crisis, as well as lots of young talent who will be keen to move into major roles within the next year to two.

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