Giants’ Defensive Front: Unleashing Elite Potential in 2023

new york giants, dexter lawrence
Jan 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (97) celebrates a defensive stop during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants‘ defensive front, armed with Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Azeez Ojulari, presents a promising outlook for the upcoming season. The key ingredient for this unit’s success is undoubtedly maintaining a clean bill of health.

Leonard Williams: A Veteran Pillar Under Scrutiny

Leonard Williams, for the first time in his career, sat out a substantial portion of last season. The nearing-30-year-old played in only 12 games, a career low in his nine professional seasons.

New York Giants, Leonard Williams
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) is caught by New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Nfl New York Giants At Tennessee Titans

Despite being a pivotal part of the Giants’ defense for years, Williams’ future with the team looks uncertain as he enters the last year of his contract. His impending departure could be influenced by his age and one of the game’s largest salary cap charges.

“Williams’ cap hit, which is the third highest in the league at any position this year, has stuck out like a sore thumb all offseason. The Giants have shown no interest in an extension or a restructure, which would push more dead money onto next year’s cap.”

Dan Duggan of The Athletic.

Dexter Lawrence: A Rising Star for the Giants Seals the Deal

Contrarily, Dexter Lawrence recently sealed a hefty four-year, $90 million extension, solidifying his future with the team.

Following his best professional season, recording a career-high 9.0 sacks and 70 total pressures, nearly double his 2021 metrics, Lawrence is optimistic about his pairing with Williams. Their chemistry, honed over seasons, could well be one of the most formidable in football, assuming both manage to stay fit.

Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux: Young Outside Linebackers on the Rise

Ojulari, recognized for his expertise in pass rushing, encountered setbacks due to injuries in 2022. Although he participated in a mere 252 snaps, inclusive of the postseason, he succeeded in managing 6.0 sacks and 20 total pressures. Having gained 10 pounds of muscle mass, Ojulari battled with a range of lower body injuries. However, he is entering the training camp in full health and is anticipated to possibly deliver his best season to date.

On the opposing side of the defense, Thibodeaux is aiming to capitalize on his impressive rookie season. The 22-year-old pass rusher notched 45 pressures and four sacks last season, over 859 total pressures. Despite missing a few initial games, Thibodeaux managed to participate in most of the Giants’ games, thus laying a strong foundation for a promising career ahead.

Tasked with boosting his strength by the defensive coordinator, Wink Martindale, Thibodeaux is primed to enhance his pass-rush skills and run-game efficiency.

The Giants’ defensive front, buoyed by these four talents, boasts immense potential. The keys to unleashing their prowess hinge on sustained health and consistent performance.

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