Do the Giants have enough pass-rushing depth on the edge?

nfl: new york giants at washington commanders, azeez ojulari
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The New York Giants formed one of the NFL’s most intimidating pass-rush duos this offseason when they traded for Brian Burns, pairing him with up-and-comer Kayvon Thibodeaux. But outside of Burns and Thibodeaux, do the Giants have enough pass-rushing depth on the edge?

Azeez Ojulari should improve while playing in a lessened role

Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) celebrates after making a sack on Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) celebrates after making a sack on Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Former 2021 second-round pick Azeez Ojulari has had a tumultuous start to his career. He entered the league with promise and flashed his potential as a rookie, setting a franchise record with eight sacks as a rookie. In year two, however, he continued to flash potential, but injuries held Ojulari back from becoming a reliable starter.

He totaled 5.5 sacks in seven games in 2022 — impressive production in a small sample size, but not enough consistency to warrant him being viewed as a top-tier player. Ojulari needed to bounce back in his third season to maintain his status as one of the team’s top pass-rushers, but he played in just 11 games with seven starts, totaling 2.5 sacks in 2023.

Burns will take over as the started edge rusher opposite Thibodeaux. But this could be a positive for Ojulari. Because he won’t be a full-time starter, Ojulari’s limited playing time should increase his chances of staying healthy. As long as he can continue to be productive in his limited playing time, like he was in 2022, Ojulari will be a valuable rotational piece in the Giants’ defense.

The Giants need their edge-rushing depth to develop

nfl: cleveland browns at buffalo bills, boogie basham, new york giants
Nov 20, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Boogie Basham (55) during pre-game warmups before their game against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Ojulari, there is a clear lack of depth. The Giants lost Jihad Ward in free agency and didn’t add any pass-rushing talent to the roster this offseason outside of Burns. The team’s edge depth currently features players such as Tomon Fox and Boogie Basham.

The Giants traded for Basham last offseason, hoping he could provide quality depth to their defense on the edge. He appeared in 13 games last season but didn’t make a single start and totaled just 11 combined tackles with zero sacks.

Basham does stand out, however, as the team’s best depth option on the edge behind Ojulari and the starters. If he or Fox could develop, the Giants could feel comfortable with the pass-rushing talent that they possess.

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