Giants’ second-year DL should see expanded role following Leonard Williams trade

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
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have a void to fill on their defensive line after trading away Leonard Williams before the trade deadline. Williams’ absence from the lineup will pave the way for second-year defensive lineman D.J. Davidson to play an expanded role and continue to develop this season.

D.J. Davidson should play a larger role this season

The Giants drafted Davidson in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. His rookie season was cut short after he suffered a torn ACL during the team’s Week 5 win over the Green Bay Packers in London. After spending the summer on the PUP list, Davidson was activated prior to the start of the regular season.

Davidson has since seen playing time as a rotational down-lineman in Big Blue’s defensive front this season. He has been on the field for 21% of New York’s defensive snaps this season, but that rate should increase with Williams no longer in the lineup.

Ahead of Davidson on the roster are veterans A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches. The two vets are expected to primarily fill the void Williams is leaving behind. But at 2-6, the Giants are expected to place a heavy emphasis on developing their young talents for the rest of the season, which should help Davidson receive increased playing time.

So far this season, Davidson has totaled just four combined tackles with one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit. He has also managed to get his hands up at the line of scrimmage and bat down two passes.

The Giants need depth on the defensive line

Defensive line depth was a point of weakness for Big Blue entering this season. After signing Robinson and Nunez-Roches, the unit was expected to make significant strides forward. However, losing Williams leaves New York thin up front.

Davidson will need to rise to the occasion and take a big step forward for the remainder of the season. The 26-year-old second-year lineman has struggled to earn consistent playing time this season but has a prime opportunity to earn a role in the defense with Williams now off the team.

It will be crucial for Davidson to maximize his minutes and elevate his game for the remainder of the season.

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