As with a ship, it is dangerous for a football team to be too heavy.
The Giants have some individual stars capable of outstanding seasons on both sides of the ball, but the salary cap placed on general manager Joe Schoen has prevented 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 feels more like starting from scratch.
Here are The Post’s five bold predictions for the season:
1. The Giants end up with the top three picks 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 record of the giants each of the last five years won the number 2, number 6, number 4, number 10 and number 5 first-round selections, respectively. Only once in the top three because former general manager Dave Gettleman’s rosters were full of premiums that made the Giants only slightly more talented at the cost of salary cap hell. This regime is smartly done with short cuts — and the roster has holes at cornerback, linebacker and tight end to prove it.
The obstacle here is a soft schedule with the Texans, Jaguars, Lions, Seahawks, Panthers and Bears. Except fans of those teams pencil in a “W” next to the Giants on the schedule just like Giants fans do. A 2-4 mark (or worse) against those foes sets up another long season.
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 should not have a team success component.
So, if Barkley is a workhorse for an offense plagued by the turnovers of quarterback Daniel Jones or for a team that loses shootouts because its blitz defense is victimized, his candidacy should not be affected. Other top return candidates include Derrick Henry, Jameis Winston, Christian McCaffrey, Baker Mayfield and Michael Thomas, but Barkley’s biggest obstacle remains healthy.
After missing 21 games over the last three seasons due to injury, he is playing 17 games in this offense and is enjoying finally running through lanes opened up by a decent offensive line and catching passes in open space created by schemes, en route to his highest yards of. scrimmage total since his rookie season when he enters free agency.
3. Three quarterbacks play — again
The main goal of the season is to find out if Jones is the long-term quarterback. A fifth straight 1-7 or 2-6 start makes it clear he isn’t before Halloween, leaving time to get Tyrod Taylor ready during Week 9 until. Still reeling late in the season, Davis Webb — one of the most popular players in the organization — gets the call from the practice squad to make his first career start before retiring into coaching.
It’s also possible that Taylor and/or Webb have 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 continues to survive.
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 long. 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’s a safety blanket for Jones when healthy, as it looks like he’s ready to start the season after a torn Achilles last December. Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson challenges Shepard for most yards — but not for catches.
5. Xavier McKinney becomes the Giants player of the century with eight interceptions in a season
The real 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 opportunities to rip the ball away in deep 1-on-1 coverage or shadow to the side of cornerback Aaron Robinson 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.