Clelin Ferrell
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The New York Giants need to rebuild the offensive line and find Eli Manning’s successor, but the top priority in the draft should be defense.

Jason Leach

The New York Giants have a long tradition of playing great defense. But that tradition has been broken over the past several seasons. In four of the last five seasons, the Giants have finished 24th or worse in total defense.

  • 2018– 24th
  • 2017– 31st
  • 2016-10th
  • 2015– 32nd
  • 2014– 29th

Last season the Giants also finished tied for 30th in the league in sacks with 30.

As much scrutiny as Eli Manning and the offensive line came under for the Giants finishing 5-11, the defense was the main culprit.

The 369 points the offense scored were the most points scored by any team in the NFC East. But the 412 points the defense gave up was the most in the division.

The main reason for the Giants defensive deficiencies is because the team has gone heavy on offense over the past several seasons, especially when it comes to the draft. Since defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 46, the Giants have used six of their seven first-round picks on the offensive side of the ball.

  • 2012– David Wilson, RB
  • 2013– Justin Pugh, OL
  • 2014– Odell Beckham Jr., WR
  • 2015– Ereck Flowers, OT
  • 2016– Eli Apple, CB
  • 2017– Evan Engram, TE
  • 2018– Saquon Barkley, RB

You can’t argue or complain about the Giants taking Beckham and Barkley as they’re two of the best players in the league. But using only one first-round pick in the last seven seasons on the defense is not a recipe for success. Ironically, Apple, the lone defensive player the Giants took over this span was traded to the New Orleans Saints in October.

There has been much speculation on what the Giants will do with the sixth pick in the draft. Some feel they should take a quarterback in either Ohio State University’s Dwayne Haskins or University of Oklahoma stud and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Kyler Murray. Or they could take the best right tackle available.

But if the Giants want to avoid another double-digit loss season in 2019, they need to use their first round pick to fill one of the many holes they have on defense.

The defense needs a big dominant run stopper to make up for the loss of trading Damon Harrison. They desperately need an edge rusher that puts fear in opposing offenses. They haven’t had a player with double-digit sacks since Jason Pierre-Paul had 12.5 in 2014. In addition, they could use another cornerback, a free safety, and another linebacker.

There are several standout defensive players that will be available when the Giants are on the clock.

Clemson University defensive end Clelin Ferrell, University of Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, University of Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, and Michigan linebacker Devin Bush could all be on the board when the Giants pick at six. Each of those players can make an immediate impact and 2019 and help turn the defense around.

Yes, the Giants still need to continue to rebuild their offensive line by getting a right tackle and center. But if they want to get back to their winning ways, they need to make the defense a priority and that starts by taking a defensive standout with the sixth pick in the draft.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.