TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10: Xavier McKinney #15 of the Alabama Crimson Tide knocks down a pass by Nick Fitzgerald #7 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After solidifying the offensive line in the first round, the New York Giants must turn their attention to the defense.

Jason Leach

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman had his sights on improving an offensive line that gave up 43 sacks last season. He accomplished this on day one of the 2020 NFL Draft when he took Georgia All-American tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick.

Now he must focus on improving a unit that is in desperate need of a playmaker after finishing 25th in defense last season.

Fortunately for Gettleman and the Giants, there are a few players who will be available when they are on the clock at 36. In fact, some of the players on the board are first-round talents who have fallen to day two.

Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Many see 6-foot, 201-pound McKinney as the most versatile safety in this draft class. He can be a two-high, or single-high safety depending on the situation. He not only possesses great cover skills, but he’s also excellent at stopping the run.

As a sophomore in 2018, he became a full-time starter and tallied 74 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. His production increased last season as he had 95 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions.

The Giants are very thin at safety at the moment. The Cowboys and Eagles both improved their passing attack by adding wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Jalen Reagor, respectively. It makes sense for the Giants to add McKinney if he’s available at 36.

A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

Some felt Epenesa was the second-best pass rusher in this draft behind Ohio State’s Chase Young, so the fact that he’s on the board in the second round is surprising.

In his three years at Iowa, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Epenesa accumulated 101 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, and 26.5 sacks. He may not have the ideal speed to consistently beat tackles off the edge, but it’s hard to deny his production.

Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota

Winfield Jr. is a true ball hawk. He had seven interceptions in his final season at Minnesota and ran one of those picks back for a touchdown. He may have a small frame at 5-foot-9, 203 pounds, but he doesn’t lack toughness and is active against the run.

What is most appealing about Winfield is that he has a ton of playing experience. After being a four-year contributor for the Golden Gophers, he has no shortage of on-field experience. In past years, that has gone a long way with Giants brass.

Zack Baun, OLB, Wisconsin

Baun has the speed and quickness you want in an edge rusher. He is relentless going after quarterbacks and ball carriers.

In his final season at Wisconsin, he had a career-high 12.5 sacks to go along with 75 tackles and 19.5 tackles for loss. The 6-foot-2, 238-pound Baun would fit well in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s aggressive and attacking scheme. He would be hard to pass up if he’s available when the Giants are on the clock.

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