What the Giants’ defensive line could look like in a perfect draft scenario

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

While attention continues to flow toward the offensive line regarding the New York Giants’ off-season plans, holding two first-round picks in the top 10 selections provides tons of value for new general manager Joe Schoen and his coaching staff.

Schoen can move in several different directions, but acquiring a premium pass rusher should be at the top of his wish list. Good football teams are built through the trenches, so adding another pass rusher to the Giants’ rotation can significantly booster defensive efforts, after hiring new coordinator Wink Martindale to replace Patrick Graham.

Recent reports have indicated that Oregon standout outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux could slip several spots, making him available for the Giants with the 5th or 7th overall selections.

It was only a few weeks ago that Thibodeau was considered arguably the number one pick in the draft, and similar to Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater last year, teams ended up stealing them after the top 10 picks had already been chosen.

A Giants defensive front consisting of Thibodeaux would give them a young group filled with cost-controlled contracts and one veteran leader who signed a big extension signed last off-season.

Projecting the New York Giants’ 2022 defensive line:

LOLB: Kayvon Thibodeaux

DE: Leonard Williams

DT: Austin Johnson

DE: Dexter Lawrence

ROLB: Azeez Ojulari

Williams signed a three-year, $63 million deal under Dave Gettleman’s leadership and is set to count $27.3 million this season. The Giants are unable to move on from his contract unless a team is willing to acquire him via trade, which is highly unlikely.

Alongside Williams comes Dexter Lawrence, who has disappointed the past few years after showcasing potential during his rookie campaign. Lawrence recorded three sacks, nine QB hits, and 31 hurries in 2021, posting his best pass rush grade but worst run defense grade over three seasons.

Former Georgia pass rusher Azeez Ojulari had a solid rookie season, tallying eight sacks, 49 tackles, and eight tackles for loss. If Ojulari can improve his run defense and provide more physicality off the edge, the Giants could have one of them or underrated defensive fronts in football.

Injecting Thibodeaux into the mix would provide the Giants even more fire-power off the edge. With Oregon this past season, he recorded seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 49 total tackles, and two forced fumbles over 10 games.

Joe Schoen has indicated how important cost-controlled deals are to building a team, particularly at essential positions like pass rusher, offensive tackle, cornerback, and quarterback. If the Giants can grab two high upside players in the first round to aid that ideology, they will be heading in the right direction in the first year after a major front office overhaul.

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