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3 biggest surprises from Brian Daboll’s first Giants depth chart for 2022

Giants, Brian Daboll, Daniel Jones

Brian Daboll is starting to mold the New York Giants in his image. The first-year head coach is still working with a roster that won just four games last season but has made some noticeable improvements in the trenches.

Ed Valentine of SB Nation’s Big Blue View has noted what the depth chart looks like on both offense and defense in the week before the Giants’ first preseason game. Most of the depth chart is about what anyone would expect, with the typical names in their previously assumed places.

Among the least surprising observations are that Daniel Jones is the starting quarterback, Saquon Barkley is behind him in the backfield, the young OT duo of Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal are starting, Kayvon Thibodeaux is running with the first team and Blake Martinez has reclaimed his spot at linebacker after tearing his ACL in Week 3 of last season.

With a little under a week before the Giants face the New England Patriots, let’s look at some of the more shocking parts of their depth chart.

3 biggest surprises from Brian Daboll’s first Giants depth chart for 2022

3. Oshane Ximines’ role is seemingly shrinking

With Thibodeaux shining in training camp and emerging as New York’s key edge rusher and Azeez Ojulari holding down the other edge spot (but missed practice due to a hamstring injury), the backup spots ate edge rusher seem up for grabs.

Valentine noted that the third-string rusher behind the two youngsters is Jihad Ward. Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com noted that, when the team showed its base defense, Jalyn Holmes was one of three defensive linemen. This left Oshane Ximines without a spot, suggesting that the 25-year-old is further back on the depth chart than previously thought.

Ximines has appeared in 30 games in three seasons for New York ever since being selected with the 95th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He has been a key fixture on the defense, though with New York only having one noteworthy season on that end of the ball during his career, it doesn’t mean much.

Ward is a 28-year-old veteran that started all 17 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Holmes is a 26-year-old that appeared in eight games with the New Orleans Saints last season. Daboll and new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale seem to prefer them over Ximines.

In all honesty, Ximines’ role diminishing is not a very shocking revelation. It is a bit surprising given his history as a key player for the Giants but the options aside from him are just as qualified.

2. Aaron Robinson as CB2

Refer back to the tweet from Stapelton above and you may notice another surprising name with the first-team defense. Aaron Robinson is occupying the cornerback spot along with Adoree’ Jackson.

The Giants’ cornerbacks group is an area to be wary of this season. Moving on from James Bradberry has left them very thin at that position. When New York featured its base 3-4 defense for the first time, Robinson filled his spot opposite of Jackson rather than Darnay Holmes.

Holmes, who has one more year under his belt than Robinson, appeared in more games (11) and snaps (281) than him (nine and 268, respectively) while making four starts compared to just two last season. Still, Robinson seems to have a leg up right now. His veteran teammates are taking notice of what he brings to the table.

“I have been liking A-Rob since I met him. I know when I came and signed here, then we drafted him, I just looked up his highlight tapes,” Jackson said about Robinson, according to Big Blue View. “I liked what I had seen from him and been liking him ever since. He works hard, he’s a guy that just goes out there and does what he has to do.”

1. Daniel Bellinger as TE1

After Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph departed in free agency, New York was left with few options at tight end. Rookie Daniel Bellinger, who was taken with the 112th pick, has emerged as the top TE on the roster during training camp.

The fact that Bellinger is currently starting is not too shocking given the Giants’ situation. Five-year veteran Ricky Seals-Jones, Big Blue’s most experienced TE, is injured. However, what is surprising is that the Giants are rolling with a fourth-rounder from the get-go. They could bring in a veteran like Eric Ebron, Jesse James or Blake Jarwin to fortify the group.

Bellinger is making an impact in training camp, which is why the team feels comfortable rolling with him right away. As both a blocker and pass catcher, he could be a key part in new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka’s offense.

The Giants don’t have many massive surprises at the moment but could still decide to mix things up before the season officially begins.