George Karlaftis Purdue
Syndication: Journal-Courier

Should the Giants target a pass rusher early in the 2022 NFL Draft? The answer is a strong yes — but when?

When we look back at the 2021 NFL season, the New York Giants were bad. Really bad. And there are lots of holes they need to address in the upcoming NFL Draft.

One area that the organization has neglected far too often in recent seasons has been getting after opposing quarterbacks. The franchise that gave us Lawrence Taylor has fallen on hard times when it comes to attacked the quarterback.

The Giants finished the 2021 season with 34 sacks as a team, which finished tied with Seattle and Baltimore for 22nd in the league.

That’s a problem.

However, with two picks in the top seven overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Giants will have an opportunity to potentially change that narrative.

Draft history

Since the 2010 NFL Draft, the Giants have only drafted three players who have accumulated at least 20 career sacks:

  • 2010 – 1 – 15 – Jason Pierre-Paul — 91.5
  • 2010 – 2 – 46 – Linval Joseph — 25.0
  • 2014 – 5 – 174 – Devon Kennard — 26.5

Obviously JPP is was still an impact player this season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Joseph, a defensive tackle, was with the Giants for four years in which he picked up nine sacks. He posted 15 sacks over six seasons in Minnesota and played for the Chargers this season.

Kennard, an outside linebacker, had 9.5 sacks over 52 games (35 starts) in four seasons with the Giants before moving on to Detroit, where he had 14 sacks in two seasons. He was with Arizona this year and failed to record a sack in 15 games.

Azeez impact

Azeez Ojulari was the Giants’ second-round pick (No. 50 overall) in the 2021 draft. He was credited with eight sacks this past season, which ranked third among rookies behind Dallas’ Micah Parsons and Miami’s Jaelan Phillips.

Ojulari also led the Giants with those eight sacks.

The Giants appear to have drafted a bona fide pass rusher when they selected Ojulari, but they need significant improvement in that department. Which is why we turn our eyes to the 2022 NFL Draft.

Who’s next?

There will be some options available if the Giants want to pursue a pass rusher with one of their picks in the top seven in the upcoming draft.

Conventional thought is that both Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux will be off the board by the time the fifth overall picks comes around. And we are not advocating the Giants trade up to get one of them; they have too many needs to do that.

But there are a few other names that could be intriguing for the Giants with the fifth of seventh overall selections this year.

  • George Karlaftis, Purdue
  • David Ojabo, Michigan
  • Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
  • Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
  • DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

In the second round, the Giants might consider:

  • Sam Williams, Mississippi
  • Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
  • Phidarian Mathis, Alabama (DT)

Will the Giants draft another edge rusher to improve their defensive pressure in 2022 and beyond? We’ll see. There’s a new GM in town, so we’ll be watching him in free agency and the draft.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.