NY Giants With The Most To Prove: Part Two

The top five NY Giants with the most to prove in the 2024 season as written by John D. Find Part One here if you missed it!

5. Rakeem Nuñez-Roches: The man known as Nacho and every other defensive lineman employed by the Giants better thank their lucky stars that they get to play alongside Dexter Lawrence, so most fans and media members forget about them. Brought in to be the 3rd defensive lineman next to Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence.

Nacho had a very lackluster first season in blue. He had just four starts and a 46.3 PFF grade. Nobody is expected to match the production of Sexy Dexy, but more points separated him from Dex (46.6) than his grade. He’s signed through 2025, but the Giants could gain $3.6 million by cutting him after this season while eating just $1.4 million in dead money. He’s playing for his job. 

4. Malik Nabers: Is this fair? Of course not. The kid hasn’t played a single snap in the league. The pressure here is not his making like the other names listed. But the Giants lost their best weapon to Philly and had (when healthy) their second-best weapon retire.

So now, for better or worse, the fan base will have Odell Beckham-like expectations from the fellow LSU standout.

It doesn’t help that WR has become one of the quickest positions to adjust to the league, as 16 players have had 900+ yards (8 have 1k+), 17 have 7+ TDs, and 15 have 70+ catches all in the last five years alone. The Giants drafted Nabers 6th overall to spark an anemic offense; anything short of 70+ receptions for 900+ yards and 7+ TDs will be looked upon as a failure of a rookie season for right or wrong. 

3. John Michael Schmitz. The second-round pick from 2023 was expected to anchor an improved O-line last season. Instead, he wound up in the middle (literally) of one of the worst interior offensive lines and O-lines periods in football history.

The Giants have, at least on paper, upgraded both guard spots with experienced, above-average starters, especially in pass protection, by signing Jon Runyan Jr & Jermaine Eluemunor and even bringing in another experienced veteran starter in Aaron Stinnie in case Eluemunor has to kick outside and replace Neal.

The 25-year-old did battle injuries last year, which may have had something to do with his 41.4 PFF grade, but with new guards and Carmen Bricillo coaching him, JMS needs to take a giant leap forward in year 2.

It also doesn’t help that as of this writing, the Giant’s center depth is virtually non-existent with just Schlottmann, who has never started more than four games in his five-year career, and Jimmy Morrisey, who has four career starts in 3 seasons. 

2. Evan Neal. The seventh pick in the 2022 Draft has been a complete bust so far in his career and regressed in his sophomore campaign, going from a 44.1 grade as a rookie to 39.8 last season.

The Giants need to decide on his and Kayvon Thibodeaux’s fifth-year options after this season, and while picking up Thibodeaux’s seems like a no-brainer, declining Neal’s seems equally as inevitable right now. The Giants already have a viable, experienced replacement on the roster with current guard Jermaine Eluemunor.

If he flounders again, he may get a chance to play guard but may just be shipped out for whatever the Giants can return. After insulting Giants fans last year, he’s already teetering on Kadarius Toney and Eli Apple territory.

While, like JMS, injuries may have played some part in his struggles, if he doesn’t look like a whole new player this season, he will be eaten alive by the same burger flippers he chastised last season and possibly handing them his resume. 

1. Daniel Jones. Far and away the most polarizing figure since being drafted in 2019, the never-ending debate around Daniel Jones rages into year 6. Following the 2022 season, the Giants rewarded Daniel Jones with a four-year, $160 million extension.

The expectation at the time was that Jones would be more of the quarterback we saw in the Minnesota playoff game and less of the quarterback we’ve seen most of his career. But in 2023, Jones suffered two more injuries, including a season-ending ACL tear, and was outperformed by Tyrod Taylor and Tommy Devito. Joe Schoen and the Giants have a massive decision to make following this season: do they cut ties with Daniel Jones, take them out in his deal, eat $22.2 million in the dead cap in 2025 and move on at the position, or do they bring him back and use $100,210,000 of the 2025 & 2026 salary cap on him alone?

For a guy who hasn’t topped 15 passing TDs in 4 straight seasons, who has never eclipsed 3,205 passing yards in his career, been 20th in the league in passing yards since entering it, and 23rd in TDs over that same span, the choice seems obvious right now. However, the choice seemed equally obvious when they declined his fifth-year option before the 2022 season, and he played himself into a position where the team had no choice. “Fool me once, shame on me…” so I don’t see the Giants being fooled again by an under 4,000-yard and sub-23 combined TD season, even if they win one more playoff game.

Still, in the unlikely event that Jones lights the league on fire and stays healthy, maybe the Giants will decide that paying him as much as Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford is worth it. But it’s on him now. The difference of $78 million in his pocket rests not on the weapons or the line; it’s on him. He has to stop being shell-shocked and scared and go ball out. And if he does, maybe fans will agree with him. 

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