The New York Giants used seven of the 10 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, but how many of them will crack the starting lineup.
New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman had two primary focuses during the 2020 NFL Draft. The first was to build a solid offensive line to protect Daniel Jones and create holes for Saquon Barkley. The other was to revamp a defense that finished 25th last season and allowed 28 points per game.
He addressed the offensive line by taking All-American offensive tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick before adding UConn tackle Matt Peart and Oregon guard Shane Lemieux.
But Gettleman made sure that he would provide new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham players who can make an impact. Gettleman would use seven of his 10 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball (Xavier McKinney, Darnay Holmes, Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, T.J Brunson, Chris Williamson, and Tae Crowder).
What are the experts saying about our picks? 🤔
— New York Giants (@Giants) April 26, 2020
Not all of the Giants’ selections will make the team, but some will and have a chance at starting.
Head coach Joe Judge nor Patrick Graham have revealed whether or not they’ll play a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. But based on the personnel, the expectation is they’ll be in a 3-4 defense often.
Here’s a look quick look at what the New York Giants starting defense will look like post-NFL Draft.
RE: Leonard Williams – Now that Williams has signed his franchise tender and will make a minimum of $16.1 million, he’ll look to make a big impact in his first full season with Big Blue.
NT: Dalvin Tomlinson – Tomlinson is one of the most underrated interior defensive linemen in the league. He had a career-high 3.5 sacks last season and will look to improve on that total.
LE: Dexter Lawrence – The 6-foot-4, 342-pound Lawrence was one of the best rookie linemen in 2019, recording 38 tackles. Generally, players make the biggest jump in performance from year one to year two, and if that happens for Lawrence, the Giants’ front will be a nightmare for opponents.
ROLB: Kyler Fackrell – Fackrell is one of Gettleman’s free-agent acquisitions, and the Giants are hoping he can revert back to his 2018 form with the Packers when he tallied 10.5 sacks. The pass rush will rely heavily on Fackrell.
ILB: Blake Martinez – Martinez is another one of Gettleman’s prized free-agent acquisitions. He finished second in the NFL in tackles last season with 155. The Giants defense gave up 113.3 yards on the ground last season, and Martinez was brought in to fix that.
ILB: Ryan Connelly – Before his season came to an abrupt end in Week 4 with a torn ACL, Connelly was one of the best defensive players on the team. He had 20 tackles to go along with two interceptions and one sack. If he’s fully recovered, he and Martinez will be a dynamic inside linebacker duo.
LOLB: Oshane Ximines – Ximines is another promising young player who the Giants hope will take a huge leap in year two. He had 4.5 sacks last season but will be in a position battle with third-year linebacker Lorenzo Carter for the starting job.
RCB: James Bradberry – The Giants were in desperate need of a veteran No. 1 corner and they filled that hole by signing Bradberry in free agency. He’ll line up primarily at right corner, but will shadow opposing No. 1 receivers if the scheme calls for it.
FS: Xavier McKinney – Many felt that McKinney was the best safety in the draft and for the Giants to scoop him up at 36 is an absolute steal. He’s athletic and versatile and will help the Giants’ ongoing issues of covering tight ends.
SS: Jabrill Peppers – Despite missing the final five games of the season, Peppers was fourth on the team in tackles with 76. He showed he was better in coverage than former Giants safety Landon Collins, and now he’ll look to have an even better season in 2020.
LCB: DeAndre Baker – Baker struggled for most of last season, but showed flashes at times that he has what it takes to be a solid corner. Patrick Graham’s press scheme should play to Baker’s strengths as opposed to the exotic schemes that James Bettcher ran.
Slot corner: Sam Beal, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes – Who will be the Giants’ primary slot corner? That’s one of the most intriguing questions heading into camp.
The four mentioned above, including the rookie Holmes, will have their opportunities to make their case in camp and the preseason. As of right now, one would have to think Beal or Love— if they don’t have him at safety—have the inside track on the starting gig.