If there’s anything to take away from 2019 for the New York Giants, it’s former head coach Pat Shurmur, and GM Dave Gettleman planned on featuring six rookies on defense.
Of the 11 players that regularly start on both sides of the ball, all six rookies played or were slated to earn significant reps before injury.
The New York Giants defensive draft picks from 2019:
- Dexter Lawrence
- DeAndre Baker
- Oshane Ximines
- Julian Love
- Ryan Connelly
- Corey Ballentine
Right off the bat, Lawrence and Baker were two starting players who played the majority of the season. The interior defense tackle had a great rookie campaign, earning the 9th slot in PFF’s rookie rankings. Baker struggled immensely from the get-go but improved significantly toward the end of the season.
Ximines finished with 4.5 sacks on the year and displayed quality despite coming from a small school in Old Dominion. Julian Love played multiple positions, acting as a jack of all trades, in which he flashed promise, especially in the secondary. Connelly looked great to start the year before suffering a torn ACL against Washington. He logged three interceptions and solid coverage grades before going down, which brews optimism moving forward.
Ballentine, on the other hand, showed athleticism but has a long way to go before he can be trusted in coverage. It seems as if he will be utilized as a slot option moving forward, but I don’t expect to see much of him unless injuries arise.
Why we should be excited for 2020:
With the youth on the defensive side of the ball gaining a year of experience under their belt, the Giants might be in a better place than most believe. With the 4th overall pick in the draft and a high second-rounder, Gettleman has the ammo to add a player like Isaiah Simmons, and that’s not even considering the $80+ million in cap space.
Realistically, last year’s experience for the rookies will help them tremendously in year two. With the additional resources allocated towards the bolstering of the defense, the Giants seem to be in good shape.