The New York Giants are heading into the 2021 season with a bolstered outside linebacker unit. Last year, both Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines suffered season-ending injuries, which forced defensive coordinator Pacha Graham to utilize underdeveloped and aged talent. They rolled with Carter Coughlin and Jabaal Sheard as their primary pass rushers for the majority of the second half of the season, but the 2021 campaign should offer them a bit more security.
General manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to draft a pass rusher, which is where Georgia stand out Azeez Ojulari comes into play. Ojulari should have an immediate impact as a second-round pick, ranking first in sacks in the SEC with 9.5 and forcing four fumbles last season. Ojulari is only 20 years old, so he still has plenty of time to develop and refine his game, but he already has a few quality pass rush moves he can use at the NFL level.
However, there is one pass rusher the Giants acquired that could end up being a significant contributor, and his name is Ifeadi Odenigbo.
The former Minnesota Viking spoke with Empire Sports Media a few weeks ago, indicating that he is excited to join the Giants and offers value at multiple positions, including outside linebacker, 5-tech, and even interior at 3-tech.
Last season, Odenigbo tallied 35 tackles, 15 QB hits, and 3.5 sacks, representing Minnesotaâ€™s top pass rusher on a poor unit. He tallied 27 quarterback hurries, 11 QB hits and regularly made an impact on the defensive front. He is a solid tackler, missing only 6.7% in 2020.
As more of a power washer, Odenigbo can be utilized to overwhelm smaller offensive lineman on the outside or interior but has been working to increase his agility and speed off the edge. The Giants have had their eyes on Odenigbo for quite some time at Northwestern, and they finally managed to snag him on a relatively cost-efficient deal.
He signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Giants â€” another one-year, stop-gap deal to help replace and even offer more than Kyler Fackrell at OLB.
I do believe that he is being undervalued, considering his versatility and past success. Back in 2018, Ifeadi tallied 7.0 sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He is an adequate pass rusher, and at 27 years old, heâ€™s just entering the prime of his game. This could end up being a home run move for the Giants, who lacked significant depth at OLB on the defensive line last year.
One positive sign for the new Giant is the fact that heâ€™s been training with Leonard Williams this off-season, develop chemistry, and learning his new system from one of the better players on the defense.