There are a few surprises
How many New York Giants are among the best 400 players in the NFL? Well, Sports Illustrated undertook the task of listing the top 400, and it says 13 Giants belong in that group.
Let’s take a look at the Giants who made the cut.
Shane Vereen (No. 369)
SI says: Aside from Theo Riddick, Vereen is as good of a short-area receiving back as you'll find.
Valentine’s View: This is one spot below running back Frank Gore, who gained 1,025 yards for the Indianapolis Colts last season. It feels like a lot of respect for a guy who Played five games, carried 33 times and caught 11 passes in 2016. It does, however, illustrate that I’m not the only one who believes Vereen can have a huge impact on the Giants’ offense if he can stay healthy.
Justin Pugh (No. 311)
SI says: Pugh is a good move blocker in short areas. He could stand to be more consistent in pass protection.
Valentine’s View: The biggest thing separating Pugh from the true upper echelon of NFL guards has been health. He is in line for a huge pay day, especially if he can stay on the field.
Weston Richburg (No. 204)
SI says: Richburg is a good out-in-front force in the running game and on screens.
Valentine’s View: I am expecting Richburg to be one of the best centers in the NFL for years to come. Interesting note: Ex-Giant Johnathan Hankins is No. 205 on the SI list.
Eli Apple (No. 175)
SI says: Apple has outstanding mirror technique, which is another way of saying he stays in front of receivers extremely well. You rarely see such poise from a young corner.
Valentine’s View: For perspective, Detroit Lions’ cornerback Darius Slay is No. 173 and Jacksonville Jaguars’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey, fifth overall pick last season, is No. 171. It is going to be interesting to see how big of a leap Apple takes in his second season.
Brandon Marshall (No. 166)
SI says: Marshall will probably age well because, not being fast, he's had to build his game on technique. Other guys like that over the years: Anquan Boldin, Hines Ward and Larry Fitzgerald, to name a few.
Valentine’s View: The Giants are a great spot for Marshall at this point in his career. He doesn’t have to, and won’t, be the No. 1 receiver. He can use his size, strength and savvy to help the Giants in the red zone and as a possession receiver. In Eli Manning, he also has the best quarterback he has ever played with.
Landon Collins (No. 163)
SI says: Collins is a limited cover guy that must be hidden as much as possible in pass defense. Give credit to Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo'he's found ways to let Collins be a freer, downhill-centric defender. And give credit to Collins for using that freedom to make big plays.
Valentine’s View: This really feels like a diss of a guy who was in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year a season ago. He is waaaay better than this.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (No. 146)
SI says: We saw his value when he went down with a thigh injury in the playoff loss at Green Bay. With no one to cover the slot, the Giants' man-to-man-centric scheme took a hit, compromising significant portions of their gameplan.
Valentine’s View: DRC deserves all kinds of respect for the way he handled moving to the slot last year, and for how well he played.
Jason Pierre-Paul (No. 118)
SI says: Pierre-Paul is another outstanding defensive end who isn't quite twitchy enough to burn you off the edge. He must rely on his technique and physical strength, which he employs well.
Valentine’s View: I have said this before, but it bears repeating — Pierre-Paul played at a level last season I was no longer sure he could reach.
Eli Manning (No. 104)
SI says: He hasn't won a Super Bowl in six years, so I guess it's time to start analyzing his body language again.
Valentine’s View: Manning just missed the NFL Network Top 100. He just misses the top 100 here, as well. Kind of annoying. If he stays healthy, my guess is he won’t be missing lists like this next season.
Damon Harrison (No. 104)
SI says: Outstanding natural leverage and technique allow Harrison to shed blocks and work laterally down the line of scrimmage. This has made him one of the game's best interior run defenders.
Valentine’s View: As with Manning, this mirrors the No. 96 ranking ‘Snacks’ had in the NFLN list. Again, without going player-by-player and doing my own ranking, it feels too low. It underestimates how dominant he is at what he does. To be honest, though, I had no idea how good Harrison was until he became a Giant and I got see every snap he played.
Janoris Jenkins (No. 90)
SI says: There's no way the Rams would have kept Trumaine Johnson instead of him if they'd known what kind of step Jenkins would take in 2016. He's to be commended; few who knew him coming out of college would not have guessed he'd play better after getting paid.
Valentine’s View: The Giants took a huge gamble last year in paying Jenkins the way he did. Many in the media, including yours truly, questioned the massive contract they gave Jenkins. He made it pay off.
Olivier Vernon (No. 57)
SI says: Vernon needs to deliver more pass-rush bang for the $85 million bucks he got as a free agent in 2016. So why is he so high on this list? Run defense. There isn't a better play-side or backside run-stopping defensive end.
Valentine’s View: Here we go again with the debate over Vernon and his number of sacks — 8.5 last year. Vernon is an impact pass rusher, a guy who gets pressure, forces quarterbacks to move and make quick throws. He has never been a great finisher, meaning he isn’t a guy who is going to put up 18-20 sacks. Still, he’s a terrific player. Whether he’s worth $85 million is another debate. The Giants were desperate for help, though, and that is what they had to pay to get it.
Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 23)
SI says: This might be the one guy defenses fear most on any given play, and that's your argument if you think he's ranked too low here. With a little more consistency and emotional maturity (a lack of it has hindered his performance at times), he'll be an overall top-10 player.
Valentine’s View: Antonio Brown (No. 10) and Julio Jones (No. 9) are the only wide receivers listed above him. Tight ends Travis Kelce (No. 21) and Rob Gronkowski (No. 7) are also listed above him. I agree that Beckham has the ability to be a top 10 guy on lists like this. Let’s see if he can get there.