The New York Giants were 25th in total defense in 2019 and general manager Dave Gettleman knew that something had to be done this offseason to address the situation.
Gettleman added depth, flexibility, speed and versatility to the defense this offseason with a flurry of moves before, during and after the draft.
First, they slapped the franchise tag on defensive end Leonard Williams and re-signed linebacker David Mayo, then signed cornerback James Bradberry and linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell In free agency. They also added defensive tackle Austin Johnson and safety Dravon Askew-Henry.
In the draft, they used seven of their ten selections on the defensive side the football: Alabama safety Xavier McKinney; defensive back Darnay Holmes of UCLA; Penn State linebacker Cam Brown; linebacker Carter Coughlin and cornerback Chris Williamson of Minnesota; inside linebacker T.J. Brunson of South Carolina and Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder.
Gettleman piled on after the draft with a slew of UDFA signings starting with Illinois defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Jr. and another DE, Nick Lalos of Princeton. Also added were: North Carolina OLB Dominique Ross, DB Christian Angulo of Hampton, Central Methodist CB Malcolm Elmore, safety Jaquarius Landrews of Mississippi State and Temple DE Dana Levine.
That’s 20 new faces on defense headed for training camp. The Giants are simply throwing ideas and names against the wall to see what sticks. Training camp will sort it all out. Head coach Joe Judge, who is entering his first season on the job, hasn’t even met the veterans on his team yet, never mind the rookies and no one is sure with the COVID-19 restrictions when that is going to happen.
Judge was asked after the draft do you feel with how he felt this team sits right now compared to when he started in January.
“We havenâ€™t been on the field yet so thatâ€™s the biggest answer right there. Look, you canâ€™t really evaluate until you get on the grass,” he said. “Right now we have a lot of names on paper. There’s a lot of guys that are itching to get on the grass and compete and start proving themselves. Look, everyone laughs when I say it, but our depth chart is a blank slate right now. We have a lot of names, everyone has to earn every spot they get. So, when we get out there on day one whoever the first five linemen are that are out there, thatâ€™s just the first five guys taking a rep. Thatâ€™s not a spot in concrete at all. Theyâ€™ve got to earn to keep that spot. Weâ€™ll change it up continuously throughout training camp or OTAS, whenever we get these guys. To answer as far as where we are, I think weâ€™ve made some good moves in terms of bringing in pieces that can help us. But overall, I canâ€™t really give you a solid answer just because I canâ€™t comment on specific players until we really get them on the grass, otherwise itâ€™s just speculation and hypotheticals.”
As of right now, the starting lineup could look something like this:
DL: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson
OLB: Lorenzo Carter, Tyler Fackrell
ILB: Blake Martinez, David Mayo (or Ryan Connelly)
Safety: Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney
CB: James Bradberry, DeAndre Baker, Darnay Holmes (slot/nickel)
That is without any injuries or surprises in camp. A lot can happen, as Judge said, once the players hit the grass.