It’s hard to believe that the 2019 New York Giants NFL season will be kicking off in just a few short weeks. The off-season has proven to be… well, interesting at minimum. With the forfeitures of Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins came the additions of Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence. And those transactions and draft picks are just the beginning. But it is where “holes” remain where the magic will happen, determining the storied future of the franchise.
This year, the Giants are poised to present a new set of faces to represent the club. “New,” used with relativity. Some of these studs have already proven themselves with the team in a variety of different ways. Others might just emerge from the rough, surprising us as the regular season approached. But it seems there are always those core standouts; the guys whose action shots will soar across the screens of our televisions and stadiums before and after the commercials commence, embedded in shiny graphics and punch words, riling up the spectators.
Three Key Faces of the 2019 New York Giants
The Obvious: Saquon Barkley
Obviously, Saquon Barkley will be one of the most recognizable faces of the franchise in his upcoming sophomore season. The Penn State alum became a household name during his rookie breakout, during which he provided much-needed support for a troubled Eli Manning. The second-overall draft pick has proven himself not only a highly effective rusher (11 touchdowns last year) but an extremely capable receiver (tack on an additional four scores). Last year, Beckham Jr. recorded 77 receptions with a 62.7 percent catch percentage. Saquon had 91 catches, with a percentage of 75.2. Put that in your stat book.
Beckham is gone now and replaced by former Philadelphia Eagles star Golden Tate, but you can bet that we’ll see Barkley performing just as much double-duty in the coming season as he did in 2018. With a quite good Wayne Gallman beneath him on the depth chart, Pat Shurmur should be able to float his star back with ease.
Barkley will surely be an asset in the training of Jones, Manning’s franchise-proclaimed protégé and heir apparent. It is more than likely that Jones will see quite a bit of field time this year, as Manning’s mobility and accuracy continue to wane. And when the technicalities of Barkley’s college quarterback Trace McSorley and Manning are married, they create a Jones-esque player that Barkley knows how to cater to. In turn, working with Jones will help Barkley to fine-tune his abilities in finding the most effective holes in the Giants’ offensive fence.
The Veteran: Janoris Jenkins
We can expect to see Janoris Jenkins starting as an outside corner from the get-go of the upcoming season. Coming off a suspension and a subsequent ankle injury in 2017, he returned to his usual level of performance last year, recording 70 combined tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and 15 defended passes. He and Alec Ogletree both came to the Giants from the now Los Angeles Rams—Jenkins in 2016 and Ogletree last year—and are the only remaining veterans on the Giants defense.
The squad is not at a loss for cornerbacks this year, but with such a young department, Jenkins is the only surefire playmaker. The 30-year-old might be nearing the end of his career, but he’ll serve as a mentor to the likes of Deandre Baker and Julian Love, this year’s healthy draft selections at the position (Corey Ballentine is currently recovering from a gunshot wound incurred a day after he was drafted this year).
A strong Jenkins assures attention as a Giants franchise face. He is tried and true, and ready to enter the 2019 season with more than a few big bangs as he aims to go down swinging in the final moments of his fruitful career.
The Surprise: Austin Droogsma
Austin Droogsma hadn’t played football since high school until he began preparations for rookie minicamp. He was good back then, and reportedly received a handful of scholarship offers to play in college, all of which he declined. Will he be any good now? The signs are all pointing towards the sun.
The 6’4″, 345-pound beast has always had the makings of an NFL lineman. Still, he opted to follow in his father’s footsteps; becoming a track star at Florida State, specializing in the shot-put. While he left college with the intent of training to be an Olympian, he had ultimately stopped working out by the time he received an invitation from Charles Tisch to participate in rookie minicamp. Despite his hesitation over the legitimacy of the offer, he accepted the opportunity and had eight days to prepare with his friend, former Florida State offensive lineman Landon Dickerson.
It’s an unusual trajectory, but with so many questions still to be answered regarding the team’s offensive line, there is no time to question the logic. Droogsma was impressive enough at camp to earn himself a contract, and with his recently re-employed no-days-off regimen, he’s being groomed for the second string of offensive guards, behind projected starters Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler. Both of these guys have stud-like resumes, but they can’t do it all. Droogsma will likely take the field early on, and from that point, once his story is shared with his public, they won’t be able to get enough. It’s rare that a player at his position and rookie depth makes waves, but with a background like Droogsma’s, the security-guard-turned-offensive-guard is bound to become a Giants fan favorite. We’re bound to witness this fearsome menace wreaking havoc on the field against defensive tackles, and repping his team in the pixels of our plasma screens.