NY Giants depth chart rankings: Wide receiver or safety atop the list?

Xavier McKinney #29 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Xavier McKinney #29 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
7 of 9
NY Giants
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) runs the ball against New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

3) Defensive line

Starters: Leonard Williams, Danny Shelton, Dexter Lawrence

B.J. Hill, Austin Johnson, Niko Lalos

R.J. McIntosh

For the past several seasons, the NY Giants’ defensive line has been the backbone of the roster and one of the deepest positions.

This season, additions at two other critical areas — combined with the departure of Dalvin Tomlinson via free agency — push the defensive line down a rung or two, but it remains possibly among the stoutest in the NFL.

The pressure is on Williams to prove that his career-high 11.5 sacks weren’t a fluke in 2020 and that his massive contract is justified, but the former No. 6 overall pick had his most dominant season in his first playing under coordinator Patrick Graham and line coach Sean Spencer, which could be a harbinger of things to come.

Meanwhile, playing alongside space-eaters in Shelton and Lawrence should free Williams up from double-teams, with the latter a versatile interior pass-rusher in addition to being a dominant run-stuffer.

If the NY Giants’ defense makes strides this season, it will be because this group didn’t miss a beat and took a step up in 2021.