Despite the dire predictions from many of the “experts”, the pass rush of the NY Giants may be much better than many currently believe.
When the offseason began for the NY Giants, most experts – and fans alike – felt that improving the pass rush was a top priority for the team. Perhaps the only area that was seen as high of a priority to improve upon was the offensive line. Many believed the team would address the offensive line through the NFL Draft and the pass rush through free agency by picking up one of the vast numbers of star pass-rushers expected to be available.
The prognosticators were half right, the NY Giants addressed the offensive line in the NFL Draft by adding Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, and Shane Lemieux in the first, third, and fifth rounds of the draft, vastly improving what was an underperforming line last year.
In free agency, the GMEN opted to upgrade to forgo high profile pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney, Robert Quinn, Dante Fowler, Kyle Van Noy, Vic Beasley, and others. Additionally, they watched as other elite pass rushers such as Yannick Ngakoue, Shaq Barrett, Bud Dupree, and Matthew Judon had the franchise tag assigned to them by their respective teams.
Instead, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman would decide to upgrade his secondary by signing former Carolina Panthers cornerback, James Bradberry. They would add to their linebacking corps by adding former Green Bay Packer and tackling machine Blake Martinez.
In fact, the only pass rusher that the NY Giants would sign in free agency was another former Packer in Kyler Fackrell. They would add a few pass-rushing options in the later rounds of the draft with the sixth-round selection of Cam Brown out of Penn State, and seventh-round picks Carter Coughlin out of Minnesota, and T.J. Brunson out of South Carolina.
While Brown, Coughlin, and Brunson all have the athleticism and upside to become potential contributors as outside edge-rushing linebackers in the future, they are widely viewed as developmental projects who remain raw and likely are at least a couple of seasons away from being ready to receive significant snaps on defense.
Meanwhile, the NY Giants opted to pass on pass rushers Yetur Gross-Matos of Penn State, Darrell Taylor of Tennessee, AJ Epenesa of Iowa, and Josh Uche of Michigan in favor of drafting safety Xavier McKinney of Alabama. McKinney was valued as a top 10-15 player on most draft experts’ big boards and the selection was widely praised and was likely an excellent one by Gettleman given how far the star safety had inexplicably slipped.
Gettleman would shock many fans again in the third round when he selected Matt Peart over Akeem Davis-Gaither of Appalachian State, Zack Baun of Wisconsin, Troy Dye of Oregon, and Julian Okwara of Notre Dame. Although given the atrocity that was the NY Giants offensive line last year and how high of a ceiling that many draft experts felt Peart had, the decision was one that was easily explained.
The fourth-round selection of UCLA’s Darnay Holmes and fifth-round selection of Oregon interior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux also shocked many, as the Giants again opted to pass on pass-rushing talents including D.J. Wonnum of South Carolina, Alton Robinson of Syracuse, Curtis Weaver of Boise State, Khalid Kareem of Notre Dame, and Bradlee Anae of Utah. However, the need for a true slot cornerback like Holmes and a versatile interior offensive lineman like Lemieux, who could end up at center, were understandable roster additions.
However, after not adding anyone other than Fackrell to the pass-rushing attack via free agency and after waiting until the late rounds of the NFL Draft to acquire developmental projects, many “experts” feel that the NY Giants pass rush is going to be subpar in 2020.
That said, there are some reasons to believe that may not exactly be true. Here is a breakdown of why the Giants pass rush may be poised to surprise a number of pundits next season.