Analyzing 5 players who could make or break the Giants' 2020 season

Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson, | Twitter |

The Giants find themselves with an upgraded roster heading into the 2020 season. GM Dave Gettleman made necessary changes via free agency and the NFL Draft that should have a big effect when the regular season rolls around. 

But there are a few players that stand out above the rest. It isn't just because of their talent, but more importantly, because their production will impact the team in a positive -- or negative -- way. Make or break, if you will. 

Who are these Giants? Well, the first one is fairly obvious, but they are all entirely crucial to Giants' success next year:


Daniel Jones

It's Year 2 for "Danny Dimes," and as is the case with just about every quarterback in the NFL, success runs through them.

Jones showed he can do just that with the Giants weapons -- they haven't changed at all -- and that year of building chemistry and trust should lead to more success in 2020. But Jones' mishaps like his 18 fumbles from last season need to take a downturn. We all know he has the attributes to make the big plays and lead this offense. He just has to be consistent with it in his sophomore season. 

With Eli Manning out, this is Jones' team -- whether he wants to say it or not. So taking charge and showing the Giants he can be a team leader while producing at a high level each week should be his main goal. The team needs it to happen. 

James Bradberry

Gettleman surprised many when he signed Bradberry, reuniting with his former second-round pick during his days as GM in Carolina. But the truth is the Giants needed a veteran corner that would not only serve as the team's top option in that department, but also help mentor the very young group the team currently has. 

And with the DeAndre Baker situation that occurred over the weekend, Bradberry's production is even more crucial, as the 2019 first-round pick's Giants future isn't set in stone. 

The NFC East is stacked in the receiver department, and playing teams like the Browns (Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry), Bucs (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin), Cardinals (DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald), and Seahawks (Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf) will deliver some very tough matchups for the Giants' secondary. 

Bradberry was brought in to handle those top receivers, and he's done so in the past. He had a 70.1 passer rating against and 59.8 completion percentage last season. If he has numbers like those in 2020, the Giants defense will take a leap forward. 

Video: Darnold and Jones: What are the odds on pass yards?

Kyler Fackrell

Another new face on defense, Fackrell was brought in to play the role Markus Golden did last season in that the Giants are hoping he can recreate his 2018 season that saw 10.5 sacks out in Green Bay with the Packers

Fackrell was blocked by Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith last season, which is why his stats took a tumble. But he wanted a fresh opportunity to prove he can be a starter, and reuniting with his linebackers coach in Patrick Graham was the way to go. 

Well, the Giants didn't add an elite pass rusher like many thought they would in free agency. They also didn't address it much in the draft either. So Fackrell will have to team up with Lorenzo Carter, who is going on his third season, and 2019 third-rounder Oshane Ximines, who was so-so in his rookie season. 

The Giants need someone off the edge that can consistently disrupt the quarterback. Fackrell has the best chance to do so, and frankly, the Giants have their fingers crossed that he will be their guy to get into the backfield each week. 

Xavier McKinney

The Giants were ecstatic to draft McKinney in the second round, as they didn't think he would be there for the taking in the first place. He is expected to be the man standing by Jabrill Peppers each game, working as the team's free safety. But McKinney is much more than just a ballhawk. 

McKinney's ability to constantly be around the ball made him a valuable asset for the Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Giants should be picturing him as that same player in the blue and white next season. Covering tight ends in the slot, making tackles in the backfield, and making key interceptions is all in McKinney's skill set. His presence also allows Peppers to play in the box more, where he is most impactful. 

Nick Saban, Joe Judge and Gettleman have all referred to McKinney as a playmaker. He even did himself during his post-draft interview. Well, the Giants need that to happen to give this defense a bigger fear factor as the weeks move along. Teams have thrived on big plays from busted coverage against New York in recent seasons. 

If McKinney can be that "quarterback of the defense," like Judge envisions him to be, the Giants will sleep much better at night. 

Video: Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge talk Xavier McKinney

Nate Solder/Andrew Thomas

One offensive lineman has to make the list, but it's hard to choose just one. And that's because both of these tackles are crucial in making everything on offense run smoothly. 

We know the interior is going to be alright. Will Hernandez at left guard has proven to be a solid commodity, and Kevin Zeitler at right guard was a great trade pickup, as he proved with his 2019 campaign. Center will be a question between Spencer Pulley and Jon Halapio, but it should be alright. 

The biggest question marks are on the outside, and that's not what you want to hear heading into a new year. It's no secret Solder's play has taken a hit since he came over from the Patriots two seasons ago when Gettleman made him the highest paid lineman in the league. If he plays the same way this season, the Giants may very well eat $6.5 million in dead cap room and cut him a year short of finishing his four-year deal. 

And then there's Thomas, the Giants No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft that is expected to be Jones' blindside protector of the future (aka when Solder leaves). He should project to start on the right side this season, though, with Solder aboard. 

These two solidifying the edge and playing good football with open things up a ton. And that's putting it lightly. Saquon Barkley could stretch run to both sides, and more importantly, Jones can have more time in a solid pocket. 

If not, it won't be pretty yet again for Big Blue on that side of the ball. 

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