The New York Giants boldly decided to trade away veteran DT Leonard Williams this season in exchange for valuable draft capital. The move puts Big Blue in position for a fruitful draft in 2024 but has left them with a void on the interior of their defensive line.
Entering the offseason, filling that void left behind by Williams will be a top priority for New York’s front office. Whether through free agency, the draft, or a member of the current active roster the Giants must find a way to fortify their front line.
Extending A’Shawn Robinson
Following Williams’ departure, veteran DT A’Shawn Robinson elevated into the role left behind and became one of Big Blue’s starting interior defenders. Robinson has performed well this season, appearing in 14 games and making 10 starts with 52 combined tackles and four tackles for loss.
Robinson is a solid run defender, but the Giants are missing Williams’ pass-rushing capabilities from the interior. While extending Robinson is a viable option, the G-Men may want to seek an interior defender with more pass-rushing upside this offseason.
Reuniting with Leonard Williams
The Giants were praised by Williams and his agent for their handling of the trade following the deal being made. This praise indicates that things were left on good terms between Williams and the G-Men.
Williams will be a free agent again this offseason. Could a reunion at a cheaper price point be on the table? Williams is still well-respected and currently heavily missed within the G-Men’s locker room. Perhaps he could make his return in 2024 following a short-term rental from the Seattle Seahawks.
If not Williams, there will be plenty of options available for the Giants to consider in free agency. D.J. Reader, Grover Sweat, Sheldon Rankins, and Michael Pierce stand out as potentially affordable targets for the Giants to pursue.
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A mid-round draft target for the Giants
Looking even further ahead to the 2024 NFL Draft, the Giants could aim to find Williams’ replacement in the middle rounds. A player like T’Vondre Sweat out of Texas will stand out for his stature, run-stuffing abilities, and pass-rushing prowess.
Sweat is a “6-4, 360 pound monster at defensive tackle” who earned the 2023 Outland Trophy and was a unanimous 2023 All-American selection. He recorded 42 combined tackles, eight tackles for loss, and two sacks this season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Sweat’s 92.0 run-defense grade this year led all FBS interior defensive linemen, and his 15 tackles for loss or no gain tied for second. He also ranked 10th in pass-rush win rate at the position (14.2%). These marks earned Sweat a spot on PFF’s 2023 College Football All-Big 12 Team.
Currently, Sweat has a mid-round projection in the upcoming draft. If the Giants were to land him, Sweat could instantly upgrade the defense’s interior while hopefully developing into a long-term answer at the position alongside Dexter Lawrence.