Monday, June 01, 2020

Fact or Fiction: Most underrated offseason move

Friday, May 29, 2020 10:00 AM
by  John Schmeelk ,  Dan Salomone  &  Lance Medow

The Giants' most underrated offseason addition is RB Dion Lewis.

Schmeelk: Fiction -- I'm not sure how Dion Lewis is going to be used this year. Saquon Barkley is such a weapon on third down as a receiver, I can't imagine he will be taken off the field on those plays. Does that mean Lewis will be a first and second down runner? Will he beat out Wayne Gallman for that role?

Given those questions, I think Darnay Holmes is the most underrated addition. If he plays to his potential and cleans up some of his technique issues from college, he has the chance to be a starter Week One at nickel cornerback. No one else has much of a track record playing that position in the NFL. It is a vital position with so many teams putting their best receivers in the slot to take care of the middle of the field. Much like Julian Love last season, I think the Giants' fourth round pick might be one of the best values in the draft class.

Salomone: Fact -- The start of free agency seems like a lifetime ago, but you can't forget about the veteran running back. Originally a fifth-round selection by the Eagles in 2011, Lewis has played in 86 regular-season games with 27 starts for Philadelphia (2011-12), New England (2015-17) and Tennessee (2018-19). His career numbers include 538 rushes for 2,310 yards and 11 touchdowns, and 172 receptions for 1,281 yards and seven scores. He has averaged 22.9 yards on 57 career kickoff returns, including a 103-yard touchdown with the Patriots in 2017, when Joe Judge was the special teams coordinator.

His familiarity with Judge's culture isn't the main reason the Giants signed him. They think he can produce at a high level. Judge has made it clear he doesn't like the idea of signing veterans just to bring along the younger players; that's the job of coaches. At 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds, he adds another element to the backfield to take some of the load off Barkley. While we're on the subject of underrated signings, don't overlook Colt McCoy. He has coaching aspirations, and he is going to be an asset in the quarterbacks room.

Medow: Fiction -- Dion Lewis will add depth to the backfield, but Saquon Barkley is still the workhorse. It remains to be seen how many opportunities Lewis receives each game. Case in point, Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys' main back and in 2019, he had 301 carries. The next closest player was Tony Pollard at 86. Barkley is clearly the most dangerous weapon, and just as he did with Elliott, I believe Jason Garrett will look for every opportunity to keep Barkley on the field. That's why I'm going with Nate Ebner. The Giants lost a valuable piece to their special teams unit, and a captain of the team, in Michael Thomas, who joined the Texans in free agency. That is a loss that should not be overlooked. Ebner's strength is special teams and he has familiarity with Joe Judge after spending the last eight seasons together in New England. Ebner's presence in the locker room and contributions on special teams will be an asset that doesn't always show up in the box score.

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