Why the NY Giants’ rebuild is further along than the Jets’

NY Giants vs NY Jets(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NY Giants vs NY Jets(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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NY Giants
NY Giants Defensive Line (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images). /

Defensive Line

The NY Giants received a boost along their defensive line last year when Dave Gettleman traded the NY Jets for their former first-round draft pick, Leonard Williams. The trade generated controversy, as the Giants were 2-6 at the time, and gave up a third and a fifth-round pick for a player who would be a free agent at the end of the season.

Despite the views that the deal was not prudent for the Giants brass to make, Williams undoubtedly improved the performance of the defensive line for the GMEN after coming over.

The 26-year-old Williams would finish the season with 46 total tackles, a half-sack, one forced fumble, two tackles for a loss, 16 quarterback hits, and three pass deflections in 15 games played. Though the sack totals were disappointing for the former Pro-Bowl defensive lineman, it was still a productive season and he made his fellow defensive linemates better.

One of the biggest benefactors of the Williams acquisition was 2019 first-round draft pick, Dexter Lawrence. The 22-year-old Lawrence was one of the most productive rookie defenders in 2019, recording 38 total tackles, two and a half sacks, one pass deflection, one forced fumble, three tackles for a loss and nine quarterback hits, playing in every game as a rookie.

Former second-round selection, Dalvin Tomlinson also had a solid year on the D-line for the Giants.  The 26-year-old had 49 total tackles, three and a half sacks, one forced fumble, seven tackles for a loss, and nine quarterback hits in 16 games played.

Former third-round draft pick, B.J. Hill saw a reduction in playing time when Williams was acquired. However, the 25-year-old continued to be productive in limited playing time for the Giants and is an excellent young depth piece along the defensive line for the GMEN.

The NY Jets used the third overall selection in the 2019 draft to select Quinnen Williams out of Alabama. Williams was solid but unspectacular in his rookie season. He would record 28 total tackles, two and a half sacks, one fumble recovery, six quarterback hits and four tackles for a loss in 13 games played as a rookie.

Gang Green received serviceable play from 34-year-old defensive lineman Steve McLendon last season. In 16 games, McClendon would record 36 total tackles, two and a half sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, and four tackles for a loss.

Former Colt Henry Anderson stepped into the hole vacated by the trade of Leonard Williams and the 29-year-old would record 25 total tackles, one sack, three tackles for a loss, and nine quarterback hits in 13 games.

The Jets hope to have found a steal in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft when they selected Jabari Zuniga out of Florida. Zuniga only played in six games and recorded three sacks for the Gators last season due to injury but had 11 sacks for Florida in 2018.

Advantage: NY Giants

While Quinnen Williams is widely expected to take a major step forward, the NY Giants have a large advantage over the NY Jets along the defensive line. The Giants have invested early-round picks on the likes of Lawrence, Tomlinson, and Hill over the past three years and gave up highly coveted draft capital and salary cap space to trade for and retain the former first-round pick, Leonard Williams.

These young NY Giants defensive linemen are extremely athletic for as massive as they are and will likely see an uptick in quarterback sacks with better coverage from a much-improved secondary. The GMEN have invested a lot in this young defensive line, and they have performed well so far, so it should be no surprise that they hold a distinct advantage over their cross-town counterparts.