The New York Giants are poised to make significant strides in their defensive capabilities. By adding Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks and several interior defensive linemen to the roster, the Giants are projecting an improved run defense and greater depth in the cornerback position.
The noteworthy acquisition of Bobby Okereke, one of the standout linebackers in free agency, is another testament to their defensive improvement. Okereke recently shared insights about his transition and playing style.
Nonetheless, the Giants’ pass rush is crucial, particularly with the aggressive scheme of Wink Martindale guiding their strategy. An effective pass rush is fundamental in putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, thus making the Giants’ edge rushers instrumental.
The Giants are hoping for a big year from Azeez Ojulari:
Beyond Kayvon Thibodeaux, who enjoyed a successful rookie season, the Giants are relying on Azeez Ojulari to have a healthful and productive 2023 season.
Last year, Ojulari bulked up with an additional 10 pounds of muscle, which unfortunately impacted his time on the field; he participated in just seven regular-season games. Overall, he took part in 252 total snaps, including 22 snaps across the Wild Card and Divisional Round.
At 22 years old, standing 6’3″, and weighing 240 pounds, this outside linebacker is undoubtedly capable of excelling as a pass rusher at the NFL level.
In fact, in his abbreviated seven-game season last year—effectively only six, considering he played a mere seven snaps in Week 17—he generated 6.0 sacks and 20 total pressures. He was on track for 14.5 sacks for the year, a total that would have significantly led the Giants.
If the Giants’ defensive line can maintain health and productivity, they have the potential to be one of the top units in the league.
During his 21-year-old rookie campaign, Ojulari participated in 17 games, accumulating 49 tackles and 8.0 sacks. With his increased physicality and mass, he is also expected to be a formidable force against the run, enhancing the defense on multiple fronts.
Health remains the primary factor for Ojulari, who still has considerable untapped potential.
Given that both Ojulari and Thibodeaux are only 22 years old, the Giants can count on their edge rushers for at least the next few seasons. Combined with the prowess of Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams in the middle, these four players present a formidable challenge for any opposing offensive line.