The Giants overhauled one essential defensive category

Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Giants, NYG
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have made several noteworthy improvements during this off-season, and one area in dire need of reinforcement was the run defense. After conceding a staggering 144.2 yards per game on the ground in 2022—earning them a 27th rank in the NFL—the Giants shifted their focus to bolstering their defensive line, especially following their devastating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round.

A Healthy Start: Familiar Faces Return to the Giants’ Line

Fans will be pleased to hear that core starters Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Azeez Ojulari are back in action, fully recovered from injuries that plagued two of them last season. The group is geared up to face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1.

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Leonard Williams: A Season of Redemption Ahead?

Last year proved tough for Leonard Williams, who played only 723 snaps—his career-low—largely due to injury woes. He registered 36 tackles and had an 11.5% missed tackle rate, the worst tackling stats of his professional career. However, now that he’s recovered, the Giants can look forward to Williams delivering a standout performance this upcoming season.

Dexter Lawrence: The Saviour of 2022

While Williams struggled, Dexter Lawrence seized the moment. After an outstanding season, Lawrence earned a significant contract extension this off-season. The 25-year-old powerhouse racked up an impressive 70 pressures, 52 tackles with only a 9.8% missed tackle rate, and a career-best 42 stops against the run.

Fresh Faces: Depth Added to the Defensive Line

A significant flaw in the Giants’ 2022 strategy was the lack of depth behind their starting lineup. General Manager Joe Schoen addressed this issue by bringing in two key players—A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

A’Shawn Robinson: A Reliable Addition

Robinson, who played 360 snaps last year for the Los Angeles Rams, offers much-needed reliability in run defense. He had 28 tackles and 18 stops, providing a strong rotational piece that allows Lawrence and Williams to rest and avoid fatigue.

Rakeem Nunez-Roches: Veteran Experience Comes to the Big Apple

Nunez-Roches, who contributed 584 snaps with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, adds valuable veteran presence. His stats of 27 tackles and 21 stops demonstrate his ability to support the Giants’ defensive line effectively.

The Seventh-Round Surprise: Jordon Riley

Along with veteran depth, the Giants also secured seventh-round pick Jordon Riley, a promising young talent who’s shown his worth this preseason. Riley’s large frame allows him to occupy double teams effectively, providing much-needed support to the linebackers by sealing off running lanes.

Linebacker Upgrades: Enter Bobby Okereke

In addition to strengthening the defensive line, the Giants signed Bobby Okereke to a four-year, $40 million deal. Okereke is an athletic marvel with sideline-to-sideline speed. He notched up 112 tackles and 53 stops last year—numbers that would top any stats on the current Giants roster. At 27, Okereke has the potential to be the franchise’s best linebacker in a decade.

The Big Picture: Transforming Potential into Performance

The Giants’ newly added depth, coupled with returning starters and promising youngsters, makes this defensive line one to watch. While they appear formidable on paper, the real test lies in translating these upgrades into on-field results.