What the New York Giants saw from rookie pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux against the Washington Commanders was reminiscent of some of their legends from years ago. Players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Michael Strahan all brought that level of quality to any given contest, but the Giants seem to have found a new face to their defensive front.
Thibodeaux finished with a sack, 12 tackles, three tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble that resulted in a defensive touchdown this past Sunday in a game with playoff implications. He showcased elite production and justified his draft selection, shrugging off the doubters.
On the season, Thibodeaux has accrued 38 total pressures, including three sacks, 26 tackles, 18 stops, and two forced fumbles, including a touchdown. His pass rush efficiency has increased week over week, and he’s provided plenty of support on run defense. It seems as if the 22-year-old rookie has a bright future ahead of him, but he’s not the only young defensive lineman putting his talents on display.
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The New York Giants have an embarrassment of riches on the DL:
Aside from veteran Leonard Williams, who’s been a staple for the New York Giants the past few seasons, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari have left an impressionable mark.
Notably, Lawrence has been phenomenal this season at 25 years old. Coming off a few down years, Lawrence has put together an all-pro-level campaign with elite pass-rush grades. Across 455 pass rush snaps, Lawrence has tallied 53 pressures, including eight sacks, 27 quarterback hurries, and 36 tackles. He’s also contributed 30 stops in the run game and two forced fumbles.
Luckily, the New York Giants extended Lawrence on his fifth-year option, giving them a bit of security for the 2023 season before extending him. At this point in time, he seems to be almost guaranteed to receive an extension, especially after coming off a dominant 2022 season.
If the campaign ended today, his numbers would resemble an elite player, but he still has several games left to increase his totals and further justify a long-term deal that will keep him in New York for years to come.
In addition, the Giants also have Ojulari, a former Georgia standout that spent the first half of the season injured with a calf issue. Ojulari isn’t even 23 years old yet, and he’s already showcasing his dominance off the edge.
Over the last three games, Ojulari has produced 15 pressures, including four sacks, five stops, and a forced fumble. In fact, he’s recorded a sack in his last four games played, further showing the expansion of his toolbox.
The Giants have three above-average players just hitting their stride on rookie contracts, which is exactly where they want to be as they continue investing in other positions. The defense has the qualities to be fantastic, hopefully getting back Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney down the stretch before the postseason. The Giants currently have an 87% chance of making the playoffs, but a win over the next three games with nearly guarantee an appearance.
Luckily, their trio of star defensive linemen is making a significant impact, boosting a defense that is currently composed of a practice squad secondary.