1. O-line, O-line, and Ereck Flowers
There’s no doubting the Giants one glaring flaw from last season was the offensive line, likely the reason why the team couldn’t reach heights they had the potential to. Despite no actual reconfiguration of the line this past offseason, the Giants still have high expectations heading into this year. Expectations of making it back to the playoffs, winning the division, and some have even predicted New York to reach the Super Bowl once again. Expectations as lofty as these cannot and will not happen if the O-line doesn’t improve. All that said, the pressure is squarely on this current line which the Giants’ front office and coaching staff have said they are confident will improve. There’s only a couple of bright spots on the O-line, with many other question marks. Weston Richburg is one of the best centers in the game, and Justin Pugh will surely get a big contract when the time comes, but what of the rest of the line? Bobby Hart and John Jerry are both slated to be starters, and both have had their ups and downs. Ereck Flowers has been a disaster for much of his time on the field. In a draft that was not ideal for OL, the Giants drafted Adam Bisnowaty. Bisnowaty earned back-to-back All-ACC honors the past two seasons, and was Mel Kiper Jr.’s eighth-ranked tackle entering the draft. The Giants also nabbed their prize undrafted free agent OL Chad Wheeler. The O-line as a whole is something to watch closely during the Giants 2017 preseason, but a specific situation that is even more intriguing is a possible battle for LT arising: Chad Wheeler took a few snaps with the first team during practice, meaning Ereck Flowers was sidelined. There’s plenty the coaching staff needs to see out of Wheeler before making any big moves, but giving Ereck Flowers some competition is exactly what this O-line needs.
2. Running back situation
If the O-line shows significant improvement, it’s safe to assume the running game will soar in production compared to years past. Paul Perkins seems to be the clear starter for Week 1, as he rightfully should be. But is he going to become the running back the Giants hope he can be? Rashad Jennings simply couldn’t get the job done and Perkins burst onto the scene with some nice moments in 2016, including his 102 yard performance in the season finale at Washington. Then there’s the rest of the RB corps: Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa, and rookie Wayne Gallman. Vereen is an obvious move for passing plays. Darkwa is a player that fans have desperately wanted to see more playing time out of. Then there’s Gallman, a rookie out of Clemson that runs with power and has the potential to bring physicality to the Giants backfield. Could Gallman prove to be a worthy candidate over Darkwa on the depth chart? If Vereen struggles to stay healthy again, who will be the focused priority behind Perkins? There’s plenty to watch of Giants running backs in the preseason.
3. Is Darian Thompson the answer alongside Landon Collins?
It’s been quite the ride so far for the 2016 3rd-round draft pick out of Boise State. Darian Thompson entered training camp last year with heaps of promise and excitement, as his ball-hawking style of play is a perfect compliment alongside Landon Collins. Thompson’s rookie season was soon derailed, however, after suffering a shoulder injury in camp and later a foot season in the regular season. We have not seen enough of the Thompson/Collins duo to really know just how good of a duo they can be. It is fair to assume Thompson will be the starter, as he’s taken first team snaps all of camp, but if he were to struggle with health again the Giants have great depth at the position behind Collins and Thompson in Nat Berhe and Andrew Adams. Thompson is definitely a player everyone should be keeping a close eye on during preseason.
4. BJ Goodson becoming a starter
For years of struggling to assemble a decent LB corps, it seems Jerry Reese and the Giants have finally done just that. Devon Kennard, BJ Goodson, Jonathan Casillas, and Keenan Robinson are a few great names that have the potential to make a very solid LB group. One in particular to watch during preseason is Goodson, the second year man that has already been declared as the starting MLB. Goodson played most of his rookie season snaps on special teams, but the Giants sensed from the beginning that he would become the starter at MLB. Stepping into his role puts a lot of pressure on the young player, as he hasn’t had much experience to begin with. It’ll be fun to keep an eye on Goodson this preseason to see just how well he fits into the Giants scheme on defense.