The New York Giants’ defense finished the 2016 season ranked 10th overall. Where will they stand this season?
After several seasons of record-setting futility, the New York Giants’ defense rebounded back their old self in 2016. Major free agent signings along with several home-grown players combined to make the Giants a force in the NFL once again.
In this day and age, a team can transform itself overnight. With some dedication and diligence, you can get better very quickly. On the same token, if you take your eye off the road for one second, you can find yourself in a ditch. The Giants are still dedicated and diligent these days, so they are making it through this offseason basically unscathed. In fact, they could be even better.
Here’s a quick rundown of the what the defense looks like as we head into rookie camp next week:
Roster losses: DT Johnathan Hankins (signed with Colts), CB Coty Sensabaugh (signed with Steelers)
Roster gains: CB Antwon “Valentino” Blake (UFA), DL Dalvin Tomlinson (Draft -R2), DE Avery Moss (Draft – R5), S Jadar Johnson (UDFA), DT Jarron Jones (UDFA), LB Calvin Munson (UDFA), DT Josh Banks (UDFA), DE Evan Schwan (UDFA)
Key re-signings: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, LB Keenan Robinson, LB Mark Herzlich, DE Kerry Wynn
Projected Defensive Roster (Starters in bold)
Defensive Ends: Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, Owa Odighizuwa, Avery Moss
Carrying six DEs is not the norm, but the Giants are deep here and there will be blood in the coaches’ room come cutdown day if any of these guys are on the bubble.
Defensive Tackles: Damon Harrison, Jay Bromley, Robert Thomas, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jarron Jones
Thomas or Tomlinson could end up starting but this is a rotation, so who cares? The Giants could end up using some DEs in some formations as well, so this group is fluid. I put Jones in the mix because the team is high on him but he could just as easily wash out here.
Linebackers: Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, B.J. Goodson, Mark Herzlich, J.T. Thomas, Ishaq Williams
Nothing new to see here except that Goodson is the likely starter in the middle. I have heard the Giants could cut J.T. Thomas but I left him on the roster for the time being. DC Steve Spagnuolo will be constantly mixing and matching personnel on defense using nickel and dime packages as well as five linemen, so they won’t need excessive numbers in this unit.
Cornerbacks: Janoris Jenkins, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, Valentino Blake, Donte Deayton, Michael Hunter
Apple is actually a starter, too, but in a base defense the Giants might be more comfortable with DRC. The depth is worrisome, so its not out of the question they add another veteran – or two – to this mix.
Safeties: Landon Collins, Darian Thompson, Nat Berhe, Andrew Adams, Jadar Johnson
Collins came into his own in 2016 and the Giants expect Darian Thompson to retake the starting spot he earned last year in camp as a rookie. Berhe, is he can stay healthy may finally be able to take more reps. Adams handled himself well as a rookie and should take a step forward this camp. Johnson went undrafted and the Giants are just fine with that. He is a bit raw but they like his upside. He could end up on the practice squad if Mykkele Thompson finally makes it through camp.
Overview: The run defense should pick up right where they left off last season and they should be able to keep consistent enough pressure on the QB to allow their playmaking secondary to go to work. I am concerned about the lack of sufficient depth at corner, so if they can add a veteran that would ease a lot of minds. We’ll see if they’re right about Goodson, but from what we’ve seen he could end up being the new Antonio Pierce. That would be a huge development in their favor.