EAST RUTHERFORD — The Giants have improved their roster from last season, when they won nine games and picked up their first playoff victory since Super Bowl XLVI.
The cream at the top of the depth chart is sweeter, for sure. There are fewer questions and more optimism, more talent in key spots.
But don't think for a moment that Giants brass are harboring delusions of grandeur. There are positions where depth is needed, which means nothing is truly settled. Options will be explored.
"There’s work to be done here,’’ coach Brian Daboll said after Saturday's 32-24 loss to the Jets in the preseason finale at MetLife Stadium. “[General manager] Joe [Schoen] and I, the coaches and the scouts will meet and we’ll talk about the things we need to talk about."
Here's our final roster projection, knowing there is some wiggle room in terms of placing players on short-term injured reserve later this week and the possibility that veterans not subject to waivers can be released with the promise of re-signing when the numbers' game plays itself out.
Practice squad: Tommy DeVito
Breakdown: This position appears as settled as any on the roster. Jones is coming off a strong preseason, and Taylor is comfortable in this offense. The pairing should have the Giants feeling good about where they are heading into the 2023 campaign. DeVito's development is noticeable since the spring, and he's more than just a good "North Jersey legend" story. It's unlikely that any team would claim DeVito if he is waived — putting him on their 53 — and there's no reason to believe he won't be back on the practice squad.
Running backs: 3
Breakdown: We haven't seen Barkley in game action this entire preseason, so it'll be fun for the Giants to unveil what they have planned in Year 2 of this offense. The running game in its entirety was somewhat of a non-entity this summer, by design and necessity, given the limitations of practice. Breida's game complements Barkley, especially when the two are on the field together. Gray has had flashes, but mostly as a receiver. The rookie will likely get the chance to be the returner. Corbin has looked good, but his spot on the 53 rests solely on his special teams presence. That might not be enough, with numbers needed at other positions.
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Wide receiver: 7
Breakdown: I've stayed consistent at this position and believe there is a place for Shepard and Beasley here. It's hard to imagine the Giants having Shepard manage his ACL recovery this summer the way they did, only to cut him. Could Beasley wind up on the practice squad? As a veteran, he's not subject to waivers, so that's certainly something they could work out. It would be a big surprise if Robinson is not removed from the PUP list and activated by Tuesday's deadline. Ford-Wheaton was making a push, especially with his work on special teams, but a knee injury suffered Saturday night complicates things. Johnson would seem to have more value internally within the fan base than outside the team coming off an Achilles injury, so he should make it back. If the Giants could trade a receiver for another piece at a different position, that could happen as well.
Tight ends: 3
Practice squad: Tommy Sweeney
Out: Chris Myarick, Ryan Jones
Breakdown: The Giants could wind up looking at the waiver wire here to find a backup in the mold of what Bellinger brings to the table as a blocker. Sweeney's recovery from a medical event suffered last week clouds his immediate future and availability, although he said he was "doing good, feeling good" Saturday night. Myarick's hand injury suffered against the Jets puts his spot in question, too.
Offensive line: 10
Breakdown: The Giants' starting group is set, and it'll be interesting to see how a settled line performs. The guard who loses out on a starting role (Bredeson, Ezeudu, Glowinski) will be next man up. The biggest question is at swing tackle. Peart has had considerable ups and downs. Phillips could be an option to back up at right tackle and serve as jumbo TE. McKethan is still developing. You can't let serviceable linemen go in this NFL climate, and Lemieux can give you what you need at guard in a pinch. It would not be a surprise if the Giants look to the waiver wire to find an upgrade at tackle if they can.
Defensive line: 5
Breakdown: That's a strong group at the top of the depth chart. Riley's emergence has put Davidson, who recently came off PUP in his ACL recovery, and Anderson, who is dealing with an arm injury, on the bubble. A sleeper for the PS is Smith. Could see Anderson on the initial 53, then moved to short-term IR.
Outside linebackers: 5
Practice squad: Haba Baldonado
Out: Tashawn Bower
Breakdown: Neither Ximines nor Fox distinguished himself in the second half of the preseason finale against the Jets' backups, so we could absolutely see the Giants add someone for depth purposes depending on fit. Fox is younger with more upside, which puts Ximines on the bubble.
Inside linebackers: 5
Practice squad: Dyontae Johnson
Breakdown: Brown has been out for weeks with an undisclosed injury, so we'll see if he lands on IR. Coughlin played well on defense in reserve Saturday night and has special teams value.
Practice squad: Amani Oruwariye
PUP: Aaron Robinson
Out: Darren Evans, Zyon Gilbert, Gemon Green
Breakdown: Would not be a shock to see the Giants add someone here. They worked out veteran William Jackson last week. Oruwariye has been up and down but would seem to have the most value if they decide to keep six. Green and Gilbert left with injuries Saturday. Holmes has a cap hit of over $2 million clouding his status, and he was playing in the third quarter Saturday night, usually a sign of players being squarely on the bubble. He may have to take a pay cut to stay, or could be a trade chip for a depth player the Giants don't believe will get to them on waivers.
Practice squad: Alex Cook
Out: Bobby McCain
Breakdown: McCain suffered a concussion on an illegal blindside block by Randall Cobb on Saturday night, so his status is uncertain. Cook has had an active preseason, and that should be enough to come back as a developmental prospect on the PS. Owens left Saturday's game late with a tweaked hamstring, so it's unclear if that'll hurt his chances.
Practice squad: None
Out: LS Cameron Lyons
Breakdown: Gillan's inconsistency will hang over his status for the foreseeable future. It would not be a surprised if the Giants try to find another developmental punter to have on the practice squad. Could the Giants cut Kreiter to use the roster spot at another position, or to give them flexibility to move a player to short-term IR, only to re-sign their veteran long snapper later in the week? That level of roster gymnastics is certainly possible.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Giants roster: Who's in, who's out in our final 2023 projection