Giants' 53-man roster projection doesn't include Geno Smith and Mark Herzlich

Geno Smith may have talent but he's too mistake-prone to be the Giants' backup quarterback. Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants must cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:

Quarterbacks (3): Eli Manning, Josh Johnson, Davis Webb

Notice no Geno Smith. This was a battle that went down to the wire, with both Smith and Johnson excelling in the preseason finale. Smith is more talented but mistake-prone. The Giants go with the steadier and more reliable of the two options. Their backup quarterback serves as more a support system for Manning and a mentor for Webb. Johnson fits that role better.

Running backs (4): Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman

I was going back and forth with Shaun Draughn here. The Giants seem to want to keep him, but he did so little this summer and preseason because of injury it’s hard to justify, especially at the expense of a fullback or another position.

Fullback (1): Shane Smith

They want to keep a fullback to aid the running game. Smith is their best option.

Wide receiver (6): Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Tavarres King, Roger Lewis, Dwayne Harris

Darius Powe was a serious candidate to crack this list before a hamstring injury derailed his summer. As long as King and Harris are healthy, which it seems they will be for Week 1, they make the team. Travis Rudolph was a nice story but he’ll make it to the practice squad instead.

Tight end (4): Rhett Ellison, Evan Engram, Jerell Adams, Matt LaCosse

Adams, LaCosse and Will Tye all bring something to the table. LaCosse and Adams are the better blockers, though. That provides them more value to this group. Tye has some value, so maybe he gets traded for a late-round pick?

Offensive line (8): Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Bobby Hart, Brett Jones, D.J. Fluker, Chad Wheeler

Eight is light but the Giants don’t exactly have a ton of quality options that were left off this list. Adam Bisnowaty is the most notable, but the Giants shouldn’t have trouble getting him onto the practice squad considering his tape from the preseason wasn’t especially strong. He’s a long-term project.

Defensive end (5): Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, Avery Moss

The Giants love Okwara, Wynn had a strong summer and preseason, and Moss is a draft pick who has flashed. Devin Taylor is the odd man out of this deep group.

Defensive tackle (4): Damon Harrison, Jay Bromley, Dalvin Tomlinson, Robert Thomas

A recent injury to Jay Bromley (knee) may have saved Thomas’ roster spot, at least for a bit. Jordan Williams deserves to make it after an incredibly strong summer. He's a victim of a numbers crunch and the Bromley injury.

Linebacker (6): B.J. Goodson, Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, Keenan Robinson, Calvin Munson, J.T. Thomas

Munson and Thomas make it as special-teamers. Mark Herzlich (stinger) is left out only because of the uncertainty with his injury. If he’s healthy, he takes Munson's spot. It also wouldn’t be overly surprising if Curtis Grant somehow sneaks onto the roster.

Cornerback (5): Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, Michael Hunter, Donte Deayon

The top three are givens. Hunter had a strong summer to lock up his spot. Deayon earned it as well by playing lights out as a coverman in the preseason. His lack of significant special-teams value, however, could put his spot at risk if the Giants find someone from another team's roster.

Safety (4): Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe

These were clearly the top four safeties in camp. Duke Ihenacho's bid for a spot ended when he injured his knee against the Jets. Eric Pinkins just never gained traction as a special-teams ace either.

Kicker (1): Aldrick Rosas

Both Rosas and Mike Nugent were perfect in the preseason. But the 22-year-old wins out over the 35-year-old, if only because he could be their kicker of the future.

Punter (1): Brad Wing

There never was a doubt.

Long-snapper (1): Zak DeOssie

He’s not just a fixture. He’s an institution.