Five bold Giants predictions for the 2022 NFL season

Same as with a ship, it’s dangerous for a football team to be too top-heavy.

The Giants have a few individual stars capable of standout seasons on both sides of the ball, but the salary-cap constraints put on general manager Joe Schoen kept the overall roster from improving much after last season’s 4-13 finish.

It feels like Year 5 of a rebuild to fans, but don’t be surprised if it looks more like starting from scratch.

Here are The Post’s five bold predictions for the season:

1. The Giants wind up with a top-three pick in the 2023 NFL Draft

The Consensus over/under win total is seven, so going “bold” means either predicting a playoff spot or bottoming out.

The Giants’ record each of the last five years has earned the No. 2, No. 6, No. 4, no. 10 and No. 5 first-round picks, respectively. Only once in the top-three because former general manager Dave Gettleman’s rosters were full of overpays that made the Giants only slightly more talented at the cost of salary-cap hell. This regime wisely is finished with taking shortcuts – and the roster has holes at cornerback, linebacker and tight end to prove it.

The obstacle here is a soft schedule featuring the Texans, Jaguars, Lions, Seahawks, Panthers and Bears. Except fans of those teams are penciling in a “W” next to the Giants on the schedule just the same as Giants fans are doing. A 2-4 mark (or worse) against those foes sets up another long season.

Saquon Barkley could have a big comeback season
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

2. Saquon Barkley Tops 1,500 yards from scrimmage and wins Comeback Player of the Year

Unlike the MVP vote, Comeback Player of the Year shouldn’t have a team success component.

So, if Barkley is a workhorse for an offense plagued by quarterback Daniel Jones’ turnovers or for a team that loses shootouts because its blitzing defense is victimized, his candidacy shouldn’t be affected. Other top comeback candidates include Derrick Henry, Jameis Winston, Christian McCaffrey, Baker Mayfield and Michael Thomas, but Barkley’s biggest obstacle is staying healthy.

After missing 21 games over the last three seasons due to injury, he plays 17 games in this offense and enjoys finally running through Lanes opened by a decent Offensive line and catching passes in open space created by schematics, on his way to his highest yards from scrimmage total since his rookie season as he enters free agency.

3. Three quarterbacks play — again

Tyrod Taylor will see the field this season for the Giants.
Tyrod Taylor will see the field this season for the Giants.
Charles Wenzelberg / NY Post

The primary goal of the season is to find out whether Jones is the long-term quarterback. A fifth straight 1-7 or 2-6 start makes it clear that he is not by Halloween, leaving time to get Tyrod Taylor ready during the Week 9 bye. Still reeling late in the season, Davis Webb – one of the most popular players in the organization – gets the call up from the practice squad to make his first career start before retiring into coaching.

It’s also possible that Taylor and/or Webb has to play in place of an injured Jones, who has missed at least two starts in each of his first three seasons. Last year’s team started three quarterbacks (Jones, Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm) for the first time since the 2003 Giants.

4. Barkley aside, Sterling Shepard is the leader receiver

The Giants keep trying to phase out Shepard – who took about a $7 million pay cut in the offseason – and he keeps surviving.

The touchdown-less streaks of $72 million free-agent signing Kenny Golladay and first-round pick Kadarius Toney continue into October, and their familiar problems – Golladay’s lack of separation and Toney’s lack of durability – remain an issue all season. Darius Slayton is traded before the October deadline.

Shepard’s chemistry with Jones is matched only by David Sills, a three-year practice-squad sensation who has zero career regular-season catches. Shepard Misses games with injuries as usual, but he is Jones’ security blanket when healthy, as it appears he is ready to start the season following a torn Achilles last December. Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson challenges Shepard for most yards – but not for catches.

Xavier McKinney will have a strong season for the Giants.
Xavier McKinney will have a strong season for the Giants.
AP

5. Xavier McKinney becomes the Giant player this century with eight interceptions in a season

The true beneficiary of the blitz-happy defense is McKinney, not pass-rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams.

With quarterbacks rushed into quick throws, McKinney will get chances to rip the ball away in deep 1-on-1 coverage or shade to cornerback Aaron Robinson’s side of the field and try to win in help. He had five interceptions last season in a less-aggressive scheme and is a Pro Bowl-bound rising star.

Stevie Brown’s eight interceptions in 2012 are the most by a Giant since Emmanuel McDaniel’s six in 2000.

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