The New York Giants will likely come into 2021 with a better defense than they had in 2020. While more of the focus has gone to improving the offense, there have been some good additions to the defense and we can expect more from defensive coordinator Patrick Graham now that the Giants are no longer working with an entirely new staff.
It’s easy to point to some of the top names on the defense as future big performers. But what about the dark horses? Which player will come away from the season with better numbers and on the field play than we expected?
The answer might be Tae Crowder
It’s easy to see why Tae Crowder already picked up some notability last season. He was selected with the last pick in the draft in 2020 but performed above expectations, and one could argue that he was also the most dramatic dark horse player for the Giants last season.
His 52 tackles and one fumble recovery is more than most would have expected from a player drafted at his position. After all, Crowder was hardly even guaranteed to make the team going into training camp. The fact that he ended up with a touchdown last season via running back that recovered fumble is even more impressive.
However, he has a chance to emerge as a larger part of the defense this season and once again surprise people with his play.
The position, after all, is there for the taking. The Giants moved on from competing linebacker David Mayo when they released him back in March, and it looks like Crowder might be in a position battle with Reggie Ragland this offseason.
Ragland, of course, is a new addition. We don’t know how he’ll perform yet with the Giants, meaning the other inside linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez is still a tossup. Ragland peculiarly had the same amount of tackles last year with the Lions that Crowder had with the Giants. While some might expect Ragland to take the spot, it’s not a foregone conclusion just yet and we shouldn’t be surprised if Crowder emerges as a starter and records more tackles this year.
It would be a pretty good progression from being Mr. Irrelevant, and if it does happen, it would certainly make Crowder one of the top dark horse performers on the defense.