MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - SEPTEMBER 14: Carter Coughlin #45 of the Minnesota Gophers celebrates forcing a fumble by the Georgia Southern Eagles during the fourth quarter of the game at TCF Bank Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Gophers defeated the Eagles 35-32.
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The New York Giants needed pass-rushing depth, prompting them to draft edge rusher Carter Coughlin in this year’s seventh round.

Ryan Honey

There were a number of reasons why the New York Giants were once again one of the bottom teams in the league last year. A low-value coaching staff, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram missing a combined 17 games, the secondary struggling to no end, you name it. But one of the more crucial facets of the game in which Big Blue had issues was the pass-rushing department.

For the third consecutive year, New York proved to be one of the more below-average ballclubs in regards to that category, notching just 36 sacks (22nd in the league). In 2018, the Giants tied for 30th in the NFL with 30 total sacks after tying for 29th with 27 sacks the year prior.

Under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, this team must consistently produce in that area, and one of the individuals who could play a role was just selected in the final round of April’s draft.

With the No. 218 pick in the annual event, the Giants chose Minnesota edge rusher Carter Coughlin, a talented player who many teams overlooked. The 22-year-old finished his collegiate career with 158 total tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks, and eight forced fumbles through 47 games. His efforts led to a pair of second-team All-Big Ten selections — 2018 and 2019.

This team doesn’t exactly employ a big-name pass rusher. Markus Golden — who will play for Big Blue if he doesn’t sign with another organization by July 22 — is productive, don’t get me wrong. But he’s no Khalil Mack or Aaron Donald. The veteran racked up 10 sacks last year — unquestionably a satisfactory total — but there’s a reason teams didn’t wish to pay him the amount he desired in free agency — because he’s not a star.

With that said, the Giants may need to utilize a “pass rush by committee” approach to the situation, a proposition that could lead to Coughlin making an early impact. The overall unit could include him, Golden (possibly), the inconsistent Lorenzo Carter, the newly acquired Kyler Fackrell, and Oshane Ximines, a guy who’s yet to unlock his full potential.

Each of the aforementioned names can bring something to the table. But if there’s a strength Carter possesses that could provide him with an advantage over fellow reserves like Ximines and Fackrell, it’s speed.

If people recall, the now-former Golden Gopher ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine earlier this year at 6-foot-3, 234 pounds. He carries tremendous quickness, an important aspect considering the game is seemingly becoming faster each and every year. It’s a characteristic I believe the Giants will fall in love with once the training camp and preseason periods commence.

Ximines and Fackrell don’t exactly portray a significant level of consistency either. After his 2019 third-round selection, the former individual put together productive matchups such as his four-tackle, one-sack game against Tampa Bay and his two-sack performance against Philly late in the year. But then there were games in which he simply disappeared. This encompassed back-to-back contests against Arizona and Detroit where he didn’t notch a single defensive statistic.

Fackrell, on the other hand, proved to be a productive pass rusher when recording 10.5 sacks with Green Bay in 2018. But after opposing teams actually collected noteworthy film on him, he racked up just one sack in 2019, having been overshadowed by linebackers Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, and current Giant Blake Martinez.

Coughlin made an impact in every game he performed in during his 2019 senior campaign, racking up at least one total tackle in each matchup. He really came to play in contests like the November win over Penn State (eight total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack) along with the victory over Northwestern later that month (six total tackles, one tackle for loss).

The 2018 season was the same story for Carter, as he produced in each of his 13 appearances, averaging 3.7 combined tackles and .7 sacks per game. He didn’t vanish against the superior programs either. Two of his finest games were in the October loss to Ohio State (seven total tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks) and the November win over Wisconsin (six total tackles, one tackle for loss, .5 sacks).

Simply speaking, if Coughlin is able to replicate his prior success and utilize his beneficial tools this upcoming season, he could ultimately play a role among a possible “pass rush by committee” approach. His speed, athleticism, and consistency led to prominent success at the collegiate level and may lead to him acquiring more attention from the coaching staff than both Ximines and Fackrell, who’ll likely be the top two guys he’ll be competing against later this summer.

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