Giants need second-year defensive lineman to step up this season

New York Giants defensive tackle Jordon Riley (95) participates in drills during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Facility
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ defensive line is anticipated to be one of their strongest units this upcoming season. However, they are still lacking depth on the interior after trading away Leonard Williams during the regular season and seeing A’Shawn Robinson depart in free agency.

In 2024, the Giants will need to rely on second-year defensive lineman Jordon Riley to take a step forward this season. Riley faces an opportunity to win the starting job opposite Dexter Lawrence but will need to prove his worth in such a role.

The Giants are thin on the interior of their defensive line

New York Giants defensive tackle D.J. Davidson (98) blocks a pass by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium
Oct 2, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle D.J. Davidson (98) blocks a pass by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Competing alongside Riley for the starting job is fellow youngster D.J. Davidson. The third-year player saw an increase in playing time last season after Williams was traded. He finished with 13 combined tackles, one tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks, and two pass defenses on the season.

They also still have veteran Rakeem Nunez-Roches. Better known as “Nacho,” Nunez-Roches made four starts for the Giants in 2023 and totaled 26 combined tackles and one tackle for loss. He might have to play a larger role this upcoming season as the one veteran player contending for this starting job.

Jordon Riley could step into a starting role

Dec 17, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Jordon Riley (95) warms up before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Jordon Riley (95) warms up before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the lack of competition Riley has for the No. 2 starting interior defensive lineman position, he has an opportunity to win the job. Riley, a seventh-round pick for the Giants in last year’s draft, played just 136 defensive snaps as a rookie last season. He finished with eight combined tackles and one tackle for loss, but flashed potential in his limited playing time and during the preseason.

Riley turned in a stellar performance against the Carolina Panthers last preseason that had fans excited about his potential and future:

In 2024, Riley could see an increase in playing time whether he wins the starting job or not due to the team’s lack of depth on the interior. Unless the Giants make a late offseason addition through free agency, Riley will probably be in the team’s defensive line rotation and utilized as a priority backup if he does not become the starter.

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