Last season, we saw second-round sophomore safety Xavier McKinney breakout and become a Pro-Bowl level safety after a shortened rookie season. With the NY Giants defense being full of young players who have a ton of potential, it only makes sense that we see some of them take a giant leap this campaign.
While some of these players have more potential than others, the NY Giants are relying on these players breaking out to improve upon a defense that did not perform very well last season. If these players can reach the potential we think they have, the Giants defense could be in for a resurgence this year. Here’s a look at three guys in particular to keep an eye on.
After selecting Azeez Ojulari with the 50th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the NY Giants had high expectations for the young edge rusher out of Georgia. So far, after the way Ojulari performed in his rookie season, you can say he’s met said expectations, or at the very least, is on the way to do so.
In 17 games played last season, Ojulari tallied 49 combined tackles, eight tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and eight sacks. After breaking the rookie sack record for the team, many fans were pleased with Ojulari’s performance and became very excited for the future. Putting up eight sacks as a rookie in general is an impressive accomplishment.
However, to do so while being a speed rusher off the edge having a somewhat limited arsenal of pass rush moves makes this even more impressive. However, it seems as if Ojulari’s days of only being a speed rusher may be coming to an end, as according to Ojulari himself, he added around 10 pounds of muscle.
While obviously Ojulari will not all of a sudden turn into a power rusher, it is still nice to add the extra size to his abilities. This, combined with the fact that he will be playing alongside high profile rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux, makes it quite easy to pick Ojulari as one of the NY Giants breakout candidates for this season.
Ojulari already had a record-breaking season as a rookie. If he can continue to work on what he already has, Ojulari will easily eclipse 10 sacks this season and become the franchise cornerstone we believe he can be.