New York Giants: 3 big takeaways from the release of the unofficial depth chart

david sills, new york giants

The New York Giants released their first unofficial depth chart ahead of the first preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. With the team enjoying a great experience at MetLife during Fan-Fest, coining the first fan engagement since before COVID-19, spirits are high, and excitement is brewing.

While the depth chart has a few interesting placements, there’s still plenty of time for players to change the course of their off-season.

Three takeaways from New York Giants’ unofficial depth chart:

1.) David Sills listed ahead of CJ Board, Austin Mack, and Damion Wills

One of the standout players for the Giants thus far has been David Sills, who broke his leg last year, ending his preseason early. Sills was a stand-out during training camp in 2020, and once again, he’s proving to be a solid receiver, especially in the red zone. During live drills in the RZ, Sills has hauled in five touchdown passes, with a number of them coming from quarterback Daniel Jones.

David spent the majority of his off-season following Jones around the country, working hard to create chemistry and perfect timing. Clearly, that is paying off in a big way during camp.

“Basically this guy followed Daniel around the country,” Giants coach Joe Judge said of Sills, per Art Stapleton of NJ.com. “Wherever Daniel was, he was going to be there to catch passes. That’s someone who you can tell has really invested in himself to get every shot he has.”

Judge loves players who invest in themselves and spend extra time refining their craft. Based on that alone, I would say Sills is on the fast track to earning a spot on the 53 man roster. If he can contribute on special teams, Judge will have a hard time moving on from him and his work ethic.

“He’s making a lot of plays for us,” Judge said. “He’s doing a good job, he comes out, works hard every day. Sills is a guy who does everything you ask and he does it 100 percent.”

2.) Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines listed as projected starters at OLB

The Giants added tons of outside linebacker support this off-season, but they listed two familiar faces as the projected starters ahead of the first preseason game. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, who was activated off the PUP less this week as the starters, have Azeez Ojulari and Trent Harris behind them.

Carter is coming off a torn Achilles and Ximines a shoulder injury that ended his season, but they have the most experience at the position. The expectation is that Ojulari will earn significant reps to open the year, given his success last season in the SEC.

Having more depth at the position will prove to be beneficial in 2021, as the Giants were forced to rely on seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin and practice squad player Jabaal Sheard as their primary outside linebackers in 2020. Based on the fact this depth chart is unofficial, it’s not surprising to see Ximines slotter it in as the starter.

3.) Tae Crowder listed as starting WLB next to Blake Martinez

When the Giants drafted Tae Crowder with the final pick in the 2020 NFL draft, nobody expected he would be vying for starting snaps just one year later. The Giants have Crowder listed as the starter opposite Blake Martinez. Not much has been said about the former Georgia stand-out this training camp, but he showed flashes of adequacy as a pass coverage linebacker and run stopper during his rookie season. He collected 40 total tackles, 18 stops and allowed 283 yards. Over 210 covered snaps, he didn’t give up a single score, which is a positive sign.

Behind Crowder, the Giants have Devante Downs and TJ Brunson. I wouldn’t expect either to dislodge him from the starting spot, putting Crowder in an advantageous position to open the year as the primary weak side linebacker.

New York Giants place OLB Oshane Ximines on injured reserve

New York Giants, Oshane Ximines

The New York Giants will not only be without outside linebacker Oshane Ximines on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, they placed him on injured reserve with a shoulder issue.

Examiners, who had a solid rookie season in 2019, racking up 4.5 sacks, 25 combine tackles, and nine quarterback hits, has struggled to get off in his second year as a pro. Through four games, he hasn’t recorded a sack and only has five total tackles. Interestingly, he has seen a decrease in snap percentage through four weeks, by about 4%.

Ximines will now be ineligible to play for at least three weeks while he recovers from his injury. It will open up a spot on the Giants’ active roster to add another player to the secondary or defensive line.

In the absence of Ximines, the Giants will likely utilize Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, and Kyler Fackrell as their primary rotational pass rushers. Golden has seen his share of snaps decrease since hitting 10.0 sacks in 2019.

So far this year, Golden has only six combined tackles, and one quarterback hit to show for a 26% snap count on defense. It seems as if the Giants retaining him was his only option, as other teams were not as giddy about his production last year. His ineffectiveness as a pass rusher has been notable, but he will see an increase in snaps as Oshane heals from his shoulder injury.

Fackrell is also questionable for Sunday’s contest, which would leave Golden and Carter as the Giants’ pass rushers at outside linebacker if he is unable to go.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown both earned some playing time against Dallas, just to mitigate fatigue at the position.

New York Giants: Who is pass rusher Oshane Ximines?

New York Giants rookie, Oshane Ximines.

The New York Giants drafted outside linebacker, Oshane Ximines, in the 3rd round of the 2019 NFL draft. This was an interesting pick for sure, a mainly unknown prospect from a college that doesn’t produce NFL talent. However, Ximines is one of the few bright spots on the 2019-2020 Giants roster. Let’s take a look at who Oshane Ximines was before he dawned the blue and white, who is Oshane Ximines?

High School

Oshane Ximines attended Hertford County High School in Ashokie, North Carolina. Ximines recorded 145 tackles and 35 sacks in his entire high school career. Oshane Ximines was ranked as a 3-star outside linebacker and received offers from schools such as Cincinnati University,  Appalachian State University, and Old Dominion University. Ximines would commit to Old Dominion University on June 21st, 2013.

College

Oshane Ximines played only one game in his freshman year before getting redshirted. Ximines moved into a more significant role in his sophomore year, but he couldn’t fully reach his potential with limited playing time. Oshane Ximines recorded 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, four passes deflected, and five sacks in 2015. The four passes deflected stat is a standout; Ximines is 6’3 216 pounds, he’s too big to defend the pass, yet he did it anyway. Oshane Ximines broke out in his Junior/Senior year, as he went on to rack up 86 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, six passes deflected two fumble recoveries, and seven forced fumbles. Ximines went into his 5th and final year as a force to be reckoned with. In his final year with Old Dominion, Ximines recorded 58 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, one interception, two pass deflections, and four forced fumbles. These dominating 5th-year stats saw Ximines receive an invite to the NFL annual combine.

NFL Combine

Oshane Ximines came into the combine as a mostly unknown player because Old Dominion is not a prestigious school. Ximines ran a 4.78-second 40-yard dash; this would be an impressive time if this combine didn’t showcase Nick Bosa, Montez Sweat, Brian Burns, and Rashan Gary. Ximines also repped 225 pounds 24 times, which is impressive even if it wasn’t the highest of the edge rushers. Overall, it was an average combine for Ximines; his performance didn’t help or hurt is value. Ximines would be chosen purely off his play at Old Dominion, which was very impressive.

NFL Draft

Oshane Ximines would slip into the 3rd round, which surprised nobody. Ximines was a mid 3rd round pick at best in most mock drafts. I was a little surprised that he fell to pick 95, where the New York Giants would select the former Monarch. NFL analysts were praising Ximines as the steal of the draft. Ximines came into the Giant’s rookie training camp with something to prove.

NFL Season

Ximines came in as the backup to Markus Golden and played all 16 games. In week 4, the winless New York Giants faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ximines recorded his first sack against Jameis Winston as the Giants won their first game of the season. Flash forward to week 14 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles; Ximines sacked Carson Wentz twice during the overtime loss. Ximines also switched positions from defensive end to outside linebacker in week 14. Oshane Ximines ended the year with 25 tackles, five tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one pass deflection, and nine quarterback hits. Ximines was a solid rookie, and Giants fans are eager to see what he can improve on in year two.

Conclusion

Ximines played like a beast in college, and he should’ve been picked higher than the 95th pick. Although Ximines’ play was terrific in college, Old Dominion is not a good enough college to help his stock. Old Dominion doesn’t really play any team of talent except for Virginia. If Ximines received an offer from Ohio State or Florida, Ximines would be a 1st round pick.

New York Giants: Rag-Tag Team Of Pass-Rushers Could Be Dangerous In 2020

The New York Giants‘ defense does not have a single top-tier pass-rusher. Instead, the Giants have a rag-tag group of pass-rushers and a blitz-heavy defensive scheme to generate pressure. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps in 2019 with Patrick Graham running the defense. The Giants are expected to run a similar defensive scheme in 2020.

New York will use its scheme to make up for its lack of EDGE talent. The Gmen do have a few talented pass-rushers on their roster, but not a proven singular game-changing pass-rusher. But the Giants might not need that. The group of underrated pass-rushers that the Giants have assembled could be dangerous for opposing offenses this season.

New York Giants: Is Oshane Ximines the key to a successful pass rush in 2020?

New York Giants, Oshane Ximines

The New York Giants are taking an interesting approach toward their pass rush scheme in 2020. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham loves to blitz, especially on third down when he blitzed 41% of the time in 2019 with the Miami Dolphins.

I fully anticipate a schemed pass rush, including safeties and linebackers. Second-round pick Xavier McKinney will be active moving up to the line of scrimmage alongside Jabrill Peppers, who is cemented at strong safety. Linebackers Blake Martinez and Ryan Connelly should be frequent fliers on delayed blitzes as well.

However, the outside linebacker position could be tumultuous in 2020. In the case that Markus Golden leaves the team for a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Giants will be left with Kyler Fackrell, who posted 10.5 sacks in 2018, Oshane Ximines, who posted 4.5 sacks in his rookie season last year, and Lorenzo Carter who took a major step backward in his sophomore campaign.

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Golden only has a few more days to make a decision on his future. It seems like he’ll stick with the Giants on a one year, $4.125 million deal. That should give Big Blue a bit more firepower at the position. However, I’m mostly excited about Ximines.

Ximines was the first player to ever be drafted out of Old Dominion in 2019, and the Queens, New York native, holds a ton of untapped potential. His 32.5 career sacks in college attest to his solid physical traits. He has great athleticism, solid speed off the edge, and a surprisingly diverse array of pass rush moves.

Playing in 45% of defensive snaps in 2019, Ximines logged 4.5 sacks, 25 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. Another positive stat, he didn’t miss a single tackle. As the season progressed, he took more responsibility and played well with the opportunity.

What should the New York Giants expect from “X”?

I believe the second your player is a breakout candidate for 2020, considering the increase in playing time we expect him to enjoy. The increase in experience and adaptation to the physicality and speed of the league should help him in his development. In addition, the continuity in the interior of the line should help him increase his 1v1 assignments.

Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams, and Dexter Lawrence are great at drawing double teams. Theoretically, this should give the outside linebackers more of an advantage, especially on stunts.

Despite our expectations for OShane, the Giants have one of the thinnest pass rush units in the NFL. They are essentially trying to buy sacks with the signing of Fackrell on a one year deal. Their retention of Golden would give them an underrated unit, but their real strength lies in the interior.

Ximines’ build looks eerily similar to Osi Umenyiora, who stood at 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds. Ximines is 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds. I like his style compared to Osi, who was dangerously quick off the line of scrimmage and had strong hands at the point of contact.

New York Giants legend Osi Umenyiora to pass on vintage pass rush moves to Oshane Ximines

New York Giants, Oshane Ximines, Osi Umenyiora

If you are a New York Giants fan, you remember Osi Umenyiora and his tantalizing speed off the edge. Umenyiora played with the Giants during both their Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011. Over nine years with Big Blue, he posted 75 sacks, 32 forced fumbles, 87 quarterback hits, and 70 tackles for a loss.

His size is somewhat comparable to Oshane Ximines, who the Giants drafted in the third round last year out of Old Dominion. Going into his second season, the potential is there for Ximines to explode onto the scene and become one of the Giants’ top pass rushers.

Seeing the similarities between Ximines and Umemyiora, notably their frame and similar style of play, I took to Twitter to try and connect them.

Luckily, the impossible happened. Oshane re-tweeted my plea, and Umenyiora answered the call, stating that the two would work together and hopefully transfer some of his vintage pass rush moves over to the young player.

Ximines finished his rookie season in 2019 with 4.5 sacks, 25 combined tackles, five tackles for the loss, and nine quarterback hits over 45% of defensive snaps.

The Old Dominion product has an impressive number of pass rush moves to display for the Giants. His arm chops, bull rush, and solid speed are all influential factors in his game. If he can learn how to explode off the edge as Osi did in his glory days, the Giants might be looking at their next big pass rusher.

However, he will have competition to unseat. The Giants still have Kyler Fackrell, who signed a one-year deal this off-season and potentially Markus Golden. Golden has a few more days to find a multi-year deal elsewhere, or he will likely sign a one-year contract with the Giants on the free-agent tender. This will pay him $4.125 million for the 2020 season.

With two experienced pass rushers on the roster, Ximines will have to perform during preseason and training camp to earn starting reps. Ideally, he will have over 60% of defensive snaps this upcoming season, giving us a good sample size going into 2021.

New York Giants: How Xavier McKinney and Oshane Ximines can transform the defense

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants have adopted a one-word mantra, that being “youth.” Establishing a foundation of young and hungry players is an essential part of building an NFL roster capable of winning at a high-level. As we saw several years ago with Jerry Reese, spending millions of dollars on overextended veterans can be a short-term fix but ultimately does not promote success in the long run.

While Dave Gettleman hasn’t perfected the art of the rebuild, he has established a young group at multiple positions, including in the secondary, outside linebacker, offensive line, and a quarterback/running back.

This team is completely different than it was just a few with years ago, and that is a great thing considering the bad contracts that were plastered across the board. In addition, Gettleman began to take a different approach toward the draft as the previous regimen focused on skill position players. Some may argue that Saquon Barkley fits the mold of the Reese-era, but spending the fourth overall pick on a left tackle changes the narrative.

There are two players that could transform the defense moving forward, and they follow the youth agenda that Gettleman has instituted since his tenure began in 2018.

Xavier McKinney and Oshane Ximines represent what the Giants’ defense could look like in the future. Fast, versatile, strong, and efficient. Both players have the tangible traits to develop into premium level players in the NFL, but the intangibles also stand out among the rest.

McKinney is a diverse safety that can move up close to the line of scrimmage and drop back into the defensive secondary to act as a ball hawk. He’s a steal at the top of the second round. If the draft hadn’t been so stacked in the first round, McKinney would have easily went earlier. The Giants were blessed with his availability, and they are gaining a surefire tackler, a turnover machine, and an intelligent player to add to their secondary. Now, he must adapt to the NFL game, which promotes a more physical and aggressive style.

Ximines, on the other hand, played in 45% of defensive snaps last year, recording 4.5 sacks and 9 quarterback hits. He didn’t miss a single tackle and showed impressive pass rush moves coming out of a smaller school in Old Dominion.

Oshane displayed an ability to bull-rush, use chops and stab shoulders with strong hands last season. If he can improve upon his already existing pass rush moves, he could establish himself as one of the top options at outside linebacker for the Giants.

In a new defensive scheme, set forth by Patrick Graham, we can expect the pass rush to be schemed to a degree. I anticipate a mesh of 3-4/4-3 base sets with rotating OLBs and delayed blitzes. It’s important to mention Graham played 50% man-coverage last year and blitzed 41% of the time on third-down.

They will also rely heavily on the interior defense to apply pressure in the trenches and collapse the pocket, forcing opposing quarterbacks to move and, hopefully, end up in the grasps of players like Ximines.

New York Giants: Will 2020 Be Oshane Ximines’s Breakout Season?

New York Giants, Oshane Ximines

The New York Giants invested many assets this offseason in their defense. The team drafted a safety, cornerback, and multiple linebackers in the 2020 NFL Draft. In free agency, New York’s two splash signings were defenders too; cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez.

The Giants will enter 2020 with a brand new secondary and a brand new linebacker corps. One position, however, that the team did not invest a lot into is arguably their biggest weakness: the pass-rushers. New York signed only one edge rusher in free agency, Kyler Fackrell. Other than Fackrell, the team’s edge rushers are unchanged. Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, and, likely, Markus Golden will be the team’s pass-rushers.

Last season, Markus Golden was a pleasant surprise. The veteran totaled 10 sacks in his first season with the team. On the flip side, Lorenzo Carter was a bit of a disappointment in 2019. After a solid rookie season in which Carter totaled 4 sacks in 441 snaps, Lorenzo followed it up with only 4.5 sacks in 723 snaps in 2019. Lorenzo Carter did not develop in his sophomore season the way fans expected him to. But what about Oshane Ximines?

Oshane Ximines was the Giants’ third-round pick out of Old Dominion in 2019. He too had a solid rookie season. But heading into his sophomore season, will Ximines breakout or disappoint?

Oshane Ximines Stats and Highlights

Statistically, the rookie seasons of Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter are very comparable. Both players started 2 games, totaled 4.5 sacks, and were efficient tacklers. Each player recorded 0 missed tackles in their rookie seasons. However, Carter also attempted far more tackles than Ximenes. Ximines totaled only 25 combined tackles in 2019, while Carter recorded 43 in 2018.

It is interesting to note that X-Man recorded 18 less combined tackles in 45% of defensive snaps that Carter did in 40% of defensive snaps. Another interesting thing to note is Ximines’s lack of quarterback pressures. He recorded only 12 pressures in 28 blitz attempts, compared to Carter’s 19 pressures in 32 blitz attempts as a rookie in 2018.

Oshane’s 42% pressure rate is solid, but not nearly as impressive as Lorenzo Carter’s pressure rate of 59% as a rookie. However, Carter suffered a fall from grace in 2019, recording only 23 pressures on 78 blitz attempts, a pressure rate of 29%. He also had a missed tackle rate of 15.1%, indicating further a clear regression in his performance during his second season.

Lorenzo Carter took a step backward in year two. That doesn’t mean that Oshane Ximines will regress too, but, upon analyzing his statistics, it does not appear highly likely that Ximines will have a breakout season in 2020. A larger role could lead to increased productivity, but that is what Giants fans thought heading into Lorenzo Carter’s second season. It might be best for fans to temper expectations heading into Oshane Ximines’s second NFL season.

New York Giants: 3 defenders who could take big leaps in 2020

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love

The New York Giants are far from being a Super Bowl-caliber team in the NFL, but they are well on their way to establishing a successful culture built around hard work and determination. The overhaul of the coaching staff and installment of leaders like Joe Judge, Mark Colombo, and Patrick Graham, should positively benefit the team as a whole, but we won’t know until after the 2020 regular season.

While coaching is the first step in the development of players, the product on the field must be adequate to compete against quality teams. The defense for the Giants ranked 30th in the NFL last year, but adding a few solid players this off-season should help them improve on that lowly number.

Here are three New York Giants defenders who could take significant leaps in 2020:

1.) Jabrill Peppers

Jabrill Peppers is a player I believe can make a significant jump moving forward, based on the elevation of his stats compared to 2018. In just 11 games, he matched nearly all of his statistical totals from the previous year. His 76 combined tackles, five tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, five passes defended, and one interception represent a good benchmark to build off of.

Peppers has a unique blend of athleticism and game speed, which attributes to his ability to cover tight ends and stop the run. He filled the strong safety position with the Giants in 2019, and he was well on his way to his best season yet before he suffered a season-ending hip injury on a punt return. Aside from his high motor and charismatic personality, Peppers has the ability to be a playmaker and staple on the Giants’ defense.

The Giants recently picked up his fifth-year option, showing their faith in his development and what he has to offer. Under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, I believe his role at strong safety will be expanded, and we will see him a lot more in the offensive backfield.

2.) Oshane Ximines

I have been very vocal about the progression of Ximines in recent weeks. In just 45% of defensive snaps in 2019, Ximines posted 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. If he can build on these totals and show off his improved pass rush moves, the Giants could be looking at their next premium pass rusher.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed. We said the same thing about Lorenzo Carter last year, and he underperformed significantly. However, I believe they are two vastly different prospects and players. Examiners came out of Old Dominion with an array of pass rush moves that isn’t normal from the lower tier division one school. He has displayed his inability to bulrush, utilize arm shops, and so much more to dominate opposing tackles.

3.) Julian Love

Love is a player that can fill multiple roles for Big Blue on defense, whether it be strong safety, free safety, or covering wide receivers in the slot. I believe Patrick Graham will utilize him in three safety sets next season, paired up with Xavier McKinney and Peppers. I really like the versatility he brings to the defense and how he is adapting to different roles. Having spoken to him several weeks ago, he stated that he played a lot of strong safety in 2019, and his adaptation to the free safety position was a bit tumultuous. He found himself creeping up to the line of scrimmage accidentally, but it was part of his development process.

I believe he will make a significant jump forward in 2020.

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus‘ stated that Julian Love was the most underrated player on the Giants’ defense.

NEW YORK GIANTS: DB JULIAN LOVE

The Giants’ secondary has some definite question marks with DeAndre Baker facing possible legal trouble and an unproven group at cornerback behind free agent acquisition James Bradberry. But Julian Love is someone they should feel pretty good about after a promising start to his NFL career as a rookie last season. Love is a guy who graded extremely well at the college ranks as an outside cornerback for the Fighting Irish, earning coverage grades of 83.7 and 90.9 during his final two seasons with Notre Dame. Love followed that up by coming away from the 2019 season with an encouraging 70.5 overall grade despite being a 21-year-old rookie playing a new position. Whether he remains at safety or moves back to cornerback to potentially fill in for Baker outside, Love is a player to watch as he enters his second season.

Is New York Giants’ Oshane Ximines the next big-time pass rusher?

New York Giants, Oshane Ximines

The New York Giants are sticking with a relatively young pass rush unit, even if they do end up retaining Markus Golden for the 2020 season. New head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman used the rare free-agent tender on Golden, which would pay him 110% of his 2019 salary for one year.

However, the core of the outside linebacker unit revolves around Oshane Ximines and even Lorenzo Carter.

Ximines was a third-round pick in 2019, posting 4.5 sacks over just 45% of defensive snaps. As a rookie, he stepped in and made an impact instantaneously, also tallying 12 pressures and 25 combined tackles.

Coming from Old Dominion, Oshane displayed a vast array of pass rush moves that one normally wouldn’t have coming out of a smaller school. He is prepared to increase his production in 2020 and add more diversity to his game.

However, Ximines can only excel if the secondary holds up, and the other pass rushers on the team are able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That is where a player like Carter comes into play, who struggled last season.

Carter is only going into his third season in the NFL, so there’s plenty of untapped potential to be extracted. The Giants also signed Kyler Fackrell, formally of the Green Bay Packers. He last posted a successful season in 2018 (10.5 sacks), when Patrick Graham was his linebackers coach.

The New York Giants are putting their chips on the success of an interesting pass rush grouping:

While this grouping seems like a band of misfit toys, the Giants are building out a defense focusing on the trenches. The interior defensive line consisting of Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams, is meant to disrupt the trenches and put interior pressure on quarterbacks.

Hopefully, their impact will force more turnovers and give the secondary more assistance.

Ximines, though, has the potential to be a staple on the defense moving forward. Posting 4.5 sacks in his rookie season in less than half of defensive snaps is impressive. If he can build on these numbers in Graham’s scheme, his contribution to the team overall will exceed expectations for a third-round selection. Again, he has an imposing number of pass rush moves, and honing down on his fundamentals and strength will put him in a position to succeed.

Graham’s system will include a variety of different blitzing sets — focusing on safeties moving up to show blitz-looks but dropping into coverage. Expect to see a very unpredictable unit that will take time to gel and build chemistry, but the potential of his scheme is sky-high.