As training camp commences and preseason embarks upon the NFL, the Giants have released their first official depth chart. A majority of the position hierarchy came out as expected but there are a few surprises and potential position battles.
Arguably the biggest surprise on the first released depth chart is seeing tight end Larry Donnell sitting behind NFL journeyman Daniel Fells. Fells is in his second year with the Giants (who is his fifth team), and posted 16 receptions for 188 yards and 4 touchdowns in his inaugural season with the G-Men. Fells has never had a season with over 400 receiving yards, which pales in comparison to Donnell’s 63 reception, 623 yard and 6 touchdown year a season ago. Donnell is going into his 3rd year for the Giants and it would be surprising to not see him making a bigger push to usurp the starting role from Fells.
While the order of the tight ends raised some eyebrows, another foggy area for the Giants is the strong safety position. Currently listed on the depth chart is transitioned corner Bennett Jackson<. Jackson is entering his second season in the NFL, however he only partook in the preseason a year ago. The Notre Dame alumnua has never logged a career tackle in the regular season, but his lead at the strong safety before the start of the preseason is likely due to his familiarity with the Giants defensive scheme.
Behind Jackson is rookie Mykkele Thompson out of the University of Texas. The lanky rookie has already made statements boasting that he has the ability to cover Gronk, a promising sign of confidence for Giants fans. If he is able to demonstrate a strong grasp of the playbook before the regular season and enjoys a favorable preseason campaign, Thompson may end up being the Giants starting strong safety come week one.
The other notable part of the team’s first depth chart is that it comes sans-JPP. The pro bowler has yet to report to training camp and has been rehabbing from his off-the-field fireworks incident. Anchoring the line in his place are Robert Ayers and Kerry Wynn. Giants defensive end coach Robert Nunn has praised both players on their additions to the team and improvements from a season ago.
“I really like where Robert Ayers has come in from a mental standpoint,” noted Nunn. “Kerry Wynn, when he got his opportunity, he made the most of it as far as production.”
It will be interesting to see which player JPP will replace when/if he returns to the lineup. The preseason will indicate which player deserves the spot opposite Pierre-Paul, however having a deep defensive line rotation in the NFL is rare luxury and nice advantage to possess.