New York Giants' playmakers shift pressure to Jason Garrett, Daniel Jones

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It might seem like the New York Giants overloaded on offensive weapons this offseason as they continued their roster makeover. It was clearly a priority for general manager Dave Gettleman, who seemed to be working from a lengthy to-do list.

  • Item 1: Spend big for a No. 1 receiver who operates on the outside and can make contested catches -- Kenny Golladay, check.

  • Item 2: Take a low-risk flier on a world-class speedster and former first-round pick -- John Ross, check.

  • Item 3: Grab an inline tight end who is an excellent red-zone target -- Kyle Rudolph, check.

  • Item 4: Add some running back insurance with a consistent, productive veteran -- Devontae Booker, check.

  • Item 5: Draft a speedy playmaker who can line up at several positions -- Kadarius Toney, check.

  • Item 6: Give a 30-year-old former first-round receiver who has been out of the league since 2018 a shot at tight end -- Kelvin Benjamin, check.

Gettleman and the Giants have been stockpiling potential options for quarterback Daniel Jones and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. After a busy few months, there are no more excuses for either.

New York now has a surplus of choices to target on any particular play, and there is a nice variety of talents, too. The hope is the wider array of skills will fill holes in what has seemed like a half-finished puzzle in recent seasons.

Toney, perhaps, is the most fascinating and unique of the newcomers. He will keep Garrett and the offensive staff busy. That includes senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens and offensive assistant Jody Wright, who will be heavily involved in promoting creativity and designing game plans. It will be up to that group to scheme enough usage out of their first-round pick.

"There's going to be some things you'll see that may look similar what to what he did in college, although it's different systems," Giants coach Joe Judge said after rookie minicamp. "[We will] make sure we create enough versatility in his game to play him in different spots ... but also we'll have to change our system like we do with everything to cater to our players."

That has to involve the screen pass becoming more prevalent. Toney had more receptions on screens than any other route, per ESPN Stats and Information. The Giants, meanwhile, ran the second fewest play-action screen passes last season with 15. Those went for the fewest yards (25) and no touchdowns. The Kansas City Chiefs led the league with seven touchdowns on such plays.

It was evident at rookie minicamp last weekend Toney can be an asset in the Wildcat formation, on screen passes, jet sweeps and plays where he gets the ball in his hands quickly. If Garrett and Co. can scheme them up.

Toney oozes potential. Watching him operate, you can envision the endless possibilities. He has speed, shiftiness and, as one coach raved about, fantastic contact balance. This is what makes him special with the ball in his hands and earned him the nickname "The Human Joystick" from former Florida coach Jim McElwain.

He evaded 21% of tackle attempts in 2020, second-best in the SEC per Sports Info Solutions. That should come in handy. The Giants averaged a league-low 3.0 yards after the catch on receptions last season.

"Maybe just mindset, knowing that I'm playing like the ability that you're blessed with," Toney explained of his ability to make plays after the catch.

Listed at 6-foot and 193 pounds, he is more stocky than slim for what most would consider a smallish receiver by NFL standards. He's kind of similar to former Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (5-11, 198) coming out of LSU.

More than anything, and this seems to be the thinking with the pick, Toney is unique to the Giants' roster.

"I really like our receiver room," Judge said. "Some guys are more size, speed, inside, outside, guys with good quickness, good top-end and long speed. I like the combination of layers we have right now, both the receivers and the tight end room."

The past few seasons it always seemed as if the offensive pieces never meshed. Receivers Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard were similar players, best out of the slot, which is ironically where Toney did most of his damage at Florida. Tight end Evan Engram was also constantly trying to work in that same area and rarely seemed to be sent downfield. Space was at a premium. There was no big, outside receiver to demand double teams and force opposing defenses to spread thin.

Much of that changed this offseason when the Giants signed Golladay. There was no other true No. 1 receiver available in free agency who plays on the outside, the kind of "X" receiver Garrett needs to allow this offense to function as planned. The former Cowboys coach always seemed to have that kind of player in Dallas, whether it was Dez Bryant or Amari Cooper.

Now, it's Golladay, with a diverse mixture of pieces around him.

"You've got your speed guy in [Darius] Slayton, Golladay who is your contested-catch specialist, Sterling Shepard keeps the chains moving and you have an offensive weapon in Toney, and you're taking a flier on John Ross who is a legitimate speed guy. And same with [Dante] Pettis," a personnel executive studying the Giants said recently.

The pieces are there. As long as Jones continues to grow, any issues or failure to improve upon last season's 31st-ranked offense can not be blamed on a lack of talent. It will be because of a lack of creativity.

All eyes now shift to Garrett and the Giants' offensive staff.