One of the most intriguing position battles for the New York Giants this summer will be the one taking place at outside linebacker.
As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we all hope things return to normal soon and we’re able to witness a full NFL season in 2020.
Regardless of what occurs, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and first-year head coach Joe Judge are hopeful they made the right acquisitions in order to improve on the team’s 4-12 record from last season.
However, there still remains the question of whether the Giants will be able to generate a formidable pass rush from their edge rushers. Based on the team’s personnel, you can expect them to often line up in a 3-4 scheme, where it’s imperative that the outside linebackers are able to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
Last season, the Giants defense registered 36 sacks (22nd in the NFL). If Big Blue is going to improve on that total this season, they’re going to have to rely heavily on Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Kyler Fackrell, and Markus Golden. The Giants placed the unrestricted free agent tender on the latter-most individual in April.
With that said, one of the most intriguing position battles whenever the Giants report to camp will be at outside linebacker. Who will ultimately be named the starters?
Unless Golden signs elsewhere by July 22, he’ll be back with the Giants in 2020. Last year, he was able to rack up a team-leading 10 sacks and become the first Giants linebacker to hit the double-digit sack mark since Lawrence Taylor had 10.5 in 1990.
Therefore, based on his 2019 performance and the fact that the Giants placed the tender on him, Golden will likely take the first-team reps when New York reports to camp.
The Giants signed the 28-year-old Fackrell to a one-year, $4.6 million contract this offseason after he spent the first four seasons of his career with the Green Bay Packers. In 2018, he notched a career-high 10.5 sacks, but with the additions of Preston and Za’Darius Smith, he only recorded one sack last season.
Nevertheless, Fackrell is confident he can be even better than he was in 2018 with extended playing time.
Ximines was the Giants’ third-round pick in the 2019 draft (No. 95 overall). He recorded 25 combined tackles and 4.5 sacks during his rookie campaign. The Giants are expecting big things from him this season as year No. 2 is when players tend to take a significant leap.
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s aggressive play-calling seems to be a perfect fit for Ximines’ talent.
Carter is entering his third season with the Giants after they took him with the No. 66 overall pick in 2018. In two seasons, he’s racked up 88 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, and one forced fumble.
Typically when a player is taken in the third round, you’d figure he’d automatically be penciled in as a starter ahead of his third season. That’s not the case for Carter though, which makes 2020 a pivotal season for the 24-year-old.
Graham will surly rotate these four men throughout the course of the year in order to keep his players fresh. It’ll be the starters that will set the tone for each and every game though. This will ultimately make the outside linebacker competition one of the most intriguing position battles this summer.