5 NY Giants breakout candidates: Ifeadi Odenigbo key along front-seven?

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive ends Ifeadi Odenigbo (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive ends Ifeadi Odenigbo (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

The NY Giants’ roster features several young players capable of breakout seasons in 2021, might newcomer Ifeadi Odenigbo become a key piece to a solid pass-rush? 

During the NY Giants’ flurry of offseason additions, it might have been easy to overlook the signing of Ifeadi Odenigbo, which preceded Dalvin Tomlinson’s departure to the Minnesota Vikings, but that would be a mistake.

Odenigbo returns home to the Garden State, potentially primed to make a major leap as he enters his third NFL season.

Last season, Odenigbo produced four sacks and 28 total tackles as a rotational player along the Minnesota Vikings’ front-seven. The 27-year-old also added 42 total pressures in 432 pass-rush snaps, offering a glimpse of what he might be able to contribute to the NY Giants’ pass-rush rotation that includes Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, rookie Azeez Ojulari, and plenty of opportunity to breakout.

In the days leading up to training camp beginning for the Giants, we’ll examine five players who could be on the cusp of a breakout season in 2021.

Here’s a look at why Ifeadi Odenigbo has a chance to breakout and elevate his game to the next level, why he might not, and our verdict on what to expect from the NY Giants’ edge rusher this season:

Why Odenigbo will breakout:

For what seems like the latest season dating back in perpetuity, and second under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, the NY Giants’ defense is going to need to “manufacture” sacks.

That’s largely because there isn’t a player, other than defensive end Leonard Williams, with a track record of producing a double-digit sack campaign … And Williams has done it only once.

Such uncertainty off the edge presents a major opportunity for Odenigbo.

Odenigbo made up for the bulk of the Vikings’ pressures last season, and given that the NY Giants invested such significant resources on the back-end of the defense; signing Adoree’ Jackson, plugging former second-round pick Xavier McKinney into a key role, improved coverage downfield should allow the front-seven — including Odenigbo, a better chance at getting after the quarterback.

Why Odenigbo won’t have a breakout season:

If Carter and Ximines return from injury, they will likely be given the first opportunity to start at the two edge spots.

Likewise, much of the NY Giants’ pressure the past two seasons has come from the defensive line — mainly Williams and Dexter Lawrence, with minimal presence from the edge.

If that trend continues, and Odenigbo is simply a rotational player rather than someone playing starter-caliber snaps, it’s difficult to see him cracking five-plus sacks in 2021.

The verdict: Breakout

There is real opportunity for Odenigbo to make a real impact along the NY Giants’ front-seven.

Not only from a pass-rush perspective, but dropping into coverage against opposing tight ends and running backs, Odenigbo could be a nice complementary piece to the NY Giants’ defense.

At a minimum, look for Odenigbo to inherit the role occupied by Kyler Fackrell last season, and if he pushes for 35-40 snaps per game, he could make a push for a career-high in sacks in his first season in New York.

Matt Lombardo is FanSided’s National NFL Insider and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday. Email Matt: Matt.Lombardo@FanSided.com, Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL