New York Giants: How The Defense Could Go From Worst To First In The 2019 NFL Draft

The New York Giants could go after Ed Oliver in the 2019 NFL draft.

In 2018, the New York Giants‘ defense was one of the worst in the NFL. They allowed 25.8 points per game which ranked 23rd in the league. They were poor against both the run and the pass. Against the run, the Giants ranked 20th with 118.6 yards per game. And against the pass, the Giants ranked 23rd with 252.8 yards per game.

The Giants’ only two Pro Bowlers on defense from 2018 are no longer with the team. Landon Collins left for Washington in free agency and Olivier Vernon was traded to Cleveland. This left the Giants’ defense filled with holes and lacking any star talent.

Despite this, the Giants still have the opportunity to vastly improve on defense in 2019 through the NFL Draft.

Defensive Options In The Draft

The Giants hold two 1st round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. This opens up plenty of defensive options for the Giants. Luckily for the Giants, the 2019 draft class is absolutely loaded with defensive talent.

With the 6th pick, the Giants have a good chance of drafting an elite defensive prospect. With the 17th pick, the prospect might not be “elite,” but he will be good enough to start and make an immediate impact for Big Blue.

On Monday, the Giants met with two defensive prospects who both have the chance to be drafted by the Giants in the 1st round. The two defensive prospects the Giants met with are Ed Oliver and Clelin Ferrell. Oliver is an option for the Giants with the 6th pick and Ferrell is an option for the Giants with the 17th pick.

Ed Oliver:

Ed Oliver is an interior defensive lineman who has extreme athleticism and the ability to defend the run, as well as rush the passer. Oliver has drawn some comparisons to the NFL’s best player, Aaron Donald. This is because both Donald and Oliver possess rare athleticism for their size and position. Oliver is only 6 feet 2 inches and 287 pounds. This is undersized for his position, but it allows him to be an extraordinary athlete.

At his Pro Day, Oliver ran a speedy 4.71s 40-yard dash. This is certainly comparable to Donald’s 4.68s. Oliver showed off elite quickness, running a quicker short shuttle than Donald with a time of 4.22s. That time is quicker than Saquon Barkley’s!

In his collegiate career at Houston, Ed Oliver was a little bit up and down. Many analysts attribute this to Oliver being used incorrectly in Houston’s new defensive scheme in 2018. Prior to 2018, Oliver was looked at as a lock for the top 3 picks in the draft. His 2017 season was impressive, as he recorded 73 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. Ed Oliver would instantly make the Giants’ defense better for years to come.

Clelin Ferrell:

Clelin Ferrell is an edge defender out of Clemson’s loaded defense. Ferrell played a big part in Clemson’s 2018 National Championship season. In 2018, Clelin had 55 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Outstanding production by the junior edge defender.

The Giants have a need at edge since they traded away Olivier Vernon. Ferrell has the ability to rush the passer off tackle, something the Giants need desperately. Ferrell is a strong, bull-rusher who can knock tackles off balance and get in the backfield. Check out Clelin Ferrell powering through top offensive tackle Jonah Williams:

If the Giants could combine Ferrell’s pass-rushing ability off the edge with Oliver’s all-around dominance on the inside, they could create a scary defensive duo for years to come. Adding this pair in a mix that already features Lorenzo Carter, Dalvin Tomlinson, and B.J. Hill gives the Giants potential to have one of the best, young defensive fronts in the NFL.

New York Giants: Options On Defense With The 6th Pick In The 2019 NFL Draft

Should the New York Giants consider taking Clemson pass rusher, Clelin Ferrell?

The New York Giants are picking in the top 10 for the 3rd time in the last 4 years. After picking 2nd overall in 2018, the Giants showed minimal improvement as their record went from 3-13 to 5-11. In 2019, the Giants hold the 6th overall pick.

Many fans and analysts predict the Giants will draft a quarterback in 2019. Some believe that the Giants will need to trade up in order to do that. But there is no evidence to confirm that the Giants are definitely planning on drafting a quarterback. There are a lot of rumors and a lot of speculation, but nothing will be set in stone until the pick is made.

The Giants may not select a quarterback in 2019, and if they do not, there are plenty of options on defense for the Giants to draft.

Drafting A Defensive Playmaker:

The 2019 NFL Draft Class is absolutely loaded with defensive talent. The Giants’ defense was one of the worst in the NFL in 2018. General Manager Dave Gettleman has pointed this fact out and vowed to improve the defense in 2019.

A great way to improve the defense is through the draft. Obtaining quality young talent on defense to progress at the next level is key to building a contending roster. CBS Sport’s 2019 NFL Draft Prospect rankings include 13 defenders in the top 15 best prospects this year.

Arguably the two most important positions on defense are two of the Giants’ weakest: edge defender and cornerback. Luckily for the Giants, edge defenders and cornerbacks are both near the top of the draft board.

Cornerbacks:

A pair of playmaking cornerbacks have been mocked consistently in the top 10. Byron Murphy out of Washington and Greedy Williams out of LSU.

Byron Murphy was Pro Football Focus’s top graded cornerback in 2018 with a 91.9 overall grade. Murphy only played two seasons of college football as he was redshirted his freshman year. However, those two years were enough for Byron to prove himself worthy of being in the NFL. In 2018, Murphy was a true playmaker, as he had 4 interception (1 for a touchdown) and 13 passes defended.

Greedy Williams is a lengthy cornerback who also played only two seasons in college. Greedy is listed at 6′ 2″, 182 pounds. His build is reminiscent of another great LSU cornerback who has made his mark in the NFL: Patrick Peterson. At LSU, Williams had 8 interceptions and 19 pass breakups in his two seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams allowed only a 39.7% catch rate while targeted in coverage. If Williams can be as shut down in the pros as he was in college, then he is well deserving of a top 10 pick.

Edge Defenders:

The top of the draft will certainly feature multiple edge defenders being selected. The top edge prospects, such as Nick Bosa and Josh Allen, probably will not be available by the time the Giants are on the clock at 6. However, a couple of other top prospects should be.

Clelin Ferrell was a key piece on Clemson’s National Championship-winning defense. PFF recorded Ferrell gaining 52 total pressures in 2018, being an absolute force to be reckoned with. He showed consistent growth in college, improving in tackles, sacks, and tackles for loss in each year he played. He capped it off with a dominant junior year in 2018 that featured 20 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Check out Clelin Ferrell powering through the draft’s top lineman prospect in the National Championship game:

Another edge rusher who has seen an increase of interest in recent months is Jachai Polite out of the University of Florida. Polite has elite speed and finesse off the edge that allows him to blow past offensive tackles and get to the quarterback. He posted a 91.4 Pro Football Focus pass-rush grade in 2018. Jachai’s 42 total pressures proved he was a consistent and effective rusher at the college level. Translating his skills to the NFL could lead Polite to be the next best edge rusher in the league.

Linebacker:

One other player that could be in play at the 6th pick is not an edge rusher nor a cornerback. Another LSU product, linebacker Devin White has potential to be an elite talent at the next level. White has all the physical tools he needs. He has the perfect build to be an NFL linebacker and the speed to go sideline to sideline. On top of that, Devin is an effective pass-rusher. He totaled 30 pressures on 86 pass-rush attempts. White totaled 120+ tackles in each of his final two seasons at LSU. The Giants have not had elite production from the linebacker position in years, and 2019 could be the year that changes.