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2 hidden gems on Giants’ 2023 roster you need to know

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The New York Giants 2023 roster is close to set as we head into the dog days of the NFL offseason. Before training camp starts, fans know most of the big-name veterans who will make an impact next season, like Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Leonard Williams, and Adoree’ Jackson. Giants fans even know the top rookies who will try and become difference-makers this season, such as Deonte Banks, John Michael Schmidt, and Jalin Hyatt. However, there are some hidden gems on the Giants roster, too, that fans might not be as familiar with. Wide receiver Collin Johnson and rookie running back Eric Gray fit this bill.

WR Collin Johnson

Wide receiver Collin Johnson heads into his fourth NFL season as a relative unknown, despite his intriguing promise. The 6-foot-6 pass catcher was a fifth-round pick out of Texas in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In his first two seasons, Johnson played more special teams than wideout. In 14 games for the Jaguars and 12 for the Giants, the tall WR had a grand total of 52 targets, 29 catches, 377 yards, and two touchdowns. He never played as much as 30% of his team’s offensive snaps.

However, that seemed like it was going to change in 2022, as the lanky receiver was one of the more impressive pass-catchers in Giants training camp. Under the new coaching staff led by Brian Daboll, Johnson has seven catches for 82 yards in the team’s preseason opener last year.

Unfortunately, Johnson tore his Achilles tendon before the season started, and he missed the entire campaign.

In the meantime, the team acquired Isaiah Hodgins from the Buffalo Bills, 2022 second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson got a year of experience, the team brought back Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepherd, signed Parris Campbell, and drafted Jalin Hyatt.

The Giants’ wide receiver room will be crowded in training camp. But Collin Johnson is such a unique player, he has a good chance to make the Giants’ 2023 roster this fall, and if he does, the big pass-catcher could turn some heads.

If Johnson is fully healed, he could become a major weapon and a Daniel Jones favorite. The Giants QB likes big targets, and outside of tight ends Darren Waller and Daniel Bellinger, he doesn’t have any at the wideout position.

Johnson looked like he was ready to take the magical third-year receiver leap last season, and an injury stopped that. If he can recover and get back to form, Collin Johnson could be a true hidden gem on the Giants’ 2023 roster.

RB Eric Gray

The biggest problem on the Giants roster, both in 2023 and beyond, is the Saquon Barkley situation. The veteran running back is, no doubt, one of the best in the game, and he wants to be paid like it. That’s a problem because paying an RB isn’t smart team building anymore.

As such, the Giants retained their star runner on the one-year, $10 million franchise tag.

Whether Barkley will play on that deal or hold out for a long-term contract or, worse, a trade, remains to be seen. No matter what happens, it seems like Barkley won’t be a Giant for years to come, so the team needs to start thinking about his replacement.

And that’s exactly what general manager Joe Schoen did in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft when he picked Oklahoma (via Tennessee) running back Eric Gray. The former Sooner and Volunteer is 5-foot-9 ½ and 207 pounds, and according to his NFL.com scouting report, the player he most resembles is Myles Sanders.

Gray is fast, quick, decisive, and slippery. He’s also not afraid to take on bigger defenders or mix it up with blitzers, despite his smaller size. Gray also has excellent hands, catching 99 balls for 827 yards and five receiving touchdowns in his four seasons in college. Those numbers complement his 3,089 rushing yards and 21 rushing scores nicely.

The rookie runner will be an incredible complement for Barkley as a runner and a pass-catcher this season. He also has the potential to develop into a true three-down back like Barkley as his career goes on.

On the Giants’ 2023 roster, having depth at RB is crucial. Barkley may have contract issues to start the season, and, let’s be honest, he’s never been the healthiest ball carrier in the league.

Veterans Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell are solid players with defined roles, so they will be useful this season. Eric Gray could be a real hidden gem, though, if he pairs with Barkley as well as it seems like he might. And he could be an even bigger surprise to fans if he unseats the star as the season goes along.

The post 2 hidden gems on Giants’ 2023 roster you need to know appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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