New York Giants tight end Darren Waller (12) performs a...

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller (12) performs a drill at the NFL football team's practice facility, Thursday, May 25, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: AP/John Minchillo

The Giants have undergone a fairly significant makeover since we last saw them at the end of last season, especially on offense. We’re still a few months away from learning if they have closed the gap on the Eagles, if they will shine in their six prime-time games or if Darren Waller will change, well, everything for them.

The Giants will conclude their on-field business this spring with a mandatory minicamp on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the meantime, there are questions to ask and answer.   

Where will the Giants be most improved this season?

There’s not a lot of wiggle room here. The only answer has to be this: explosive plays.

The Giants were last in explosive plays (pass plays of at least 20 yards) in 2022. In a league that is built more on speed and chunk plays perhaps more than ever before, the Giants have to join the party. And they left the 2022 season knowing that.

The Giants had a need for speed — a need they filled.

Just ask wide receiver Darius Slayton.

“I think kind of selfishly as a speed guy, I lean toward other speed guys,” he said. “I like watching people flying around fast. We’ve got a lot of them now. Parris [Campbell] was a 4.30 guy. Jeff Smith was a 4.2 guy, low 4.3 guy. And [rookie Jalin] Hyatt obviously could fly. I could fly. You turn on the film, it’s a whole lot of flying. I mean, it’s fun to watch, fun to play with guys like that.”

A main beneficiary of this could be and should be quarterback Daniel Jones.

“I think definitely walking away from last season, explosives were the thing we needed more of,” Slayton said. “This spring it’s been a conscious effort to push the ball down the field. We have all these guys. It’s like having a bunch of Ferraris, and keeping them in the garage. Take them out to the track. I think that’s kind of been the mindset and maybe why you see a little more of the ball going down the field.”  

Who most changes the Giants’ offense?

OK, here are the ground rules. We’re the dealer and we’ve stacked the deck.

The answer: Darren Waller.

Waller is the Giants’ most dynamic tight end and matchup nightmare for opponents since Jeremy Shockey. His catch radius is enormous, his speed allows him to join wide receiver drills and (we think) he could box out Charles Barkley.

Asked if he considers himself a tight end or a wide receiver, Waller said: “I would say just a football player.”

Said cornerback Adoree’ Jackson: “He’s trying to run through you, run around you, whatever.”

That sounds about right.  

How excited is Wink Martindale with the additions to his defense?

Let’s put it this way: Martindale was particularly happy with the first-round draft pick who fills an immediate need, 6-2, 205-pound cornerback Deonte Banks.

“I think it’s important to have a cornerback like that in anybody’s defense,” Martindale said. “He’s very instinctive. What’s Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He’s got a short memory when things don’t go right. He’s tough-minded, he’s physical, he can tackle, and on top of that, he can run. So we’re excited about it.

“He’s getting into the groove. There’re still some rookie mistakes, which you expect that, especially this early, but we’re really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket.”

A lottery mention and commentary on life as a goldfish. Thankfully, we’re pretty sure Wink will never change.   

What did we learn this spring about Adoree’ Jackson?

That heading into a contract year, Jackson said he’s “excited” to mentor Banks.

“I think about when I was in Tennessee and I had Logan Ryan being able to help me and mentor me. And the following year, I had Malcolm Butler. I always think of it as an added benefit to us as a whole, not just the defense but the team as a whole. So I’m excited, watched his tape. Like him. Watched him go through the walk-throughs, different things. Talked to him. He’s got a good head on his shoulder. Seems like a great guy. I was excited to get him.”

That’s a really good teammate.   

What about Saquon?

Saquon Barkley’s 1,650 yards from scrimmage last season represented 29% of the Giants’ total yards. He tied for the team lead in receptions.

Even with the additions on offense, he ranks as the second-most-important member of the unit, behind the newly minted Jones.

There has to be a deal to be made here. Barkley has been the face of the Giants. In fact, you could argue he still is.

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