After a year of defensive struggles and poor fourth-quarter performances, the New York Giants used the offseason to improve their defense with top free agents. They transformed their D-line with some of the most lucrative contracts in the league.
Projected Depth Chart
Pierre-Paul will be taking over at LDE after finally recovering from his hand injury. He will no longer be playing with a club and is anticipated to return with his superior athleticism after becoming less restricted and gaining more movement in his fingers. Backup LDE Odighizuwa was drafted by the Giants last year, but only played in four games after a season ending foot injury. He is yet to prove himself in the NFL, but became a standout player at UCLA, finishing his senior year with 61 tackles and 6 sacks. He will be rotated in as a pass-rushing defensive end, giving Pierre-Paul some crucial rest.
Harrison is a huge asset to the D-line as the Giants’ starting LDT. At 6’4, 350 pounds, he is a powerful force, finishing last season with 72 tackles. Harrison went from being an undrafted free agent to the league’s best run defender this past season. Nix lll will be making his true debut for the Giants this year after a long string of injuries that cut his season short. He only played in four games last year, finishing the season on the practice squad. With little experience, he will have to work hard in the offseason to prove himself as he has yet to make a tackle in his NFL career.
The Giants’ top target in free agency was Vernon and nothing says “I believe in you” more than $85 million, making him the highest paid DE in the NFL. He will be replacing Robert Ayers, who had a great year, despite missing four games due to an injury. Ayers finished the season with 9.5 sacks, while Vernon only had 7.5. The difference is that the Giants see a future in the young player. At the age of 25, Vernon is in his prime and can help improve their pass rush that was lacking from last season. Kerry Wynn is a solid backup who has already proved himself as a hard working player, recording 53 tackles last year.
Despite missing half of the season last year, Jonathan Hankins will return as the Giants’ starting RDT. He expressed his readiness in minicamp after making a full recovery and is excited about the potential of the improved D-line. He had a career-high 7 sacks in his 2014 season with the Giants. Jay Bromley will serve as a backup after playing all 16 games last season and finishing with 36 tackles.
After spending more than $200 million in free agency, the Giants have acquired some of the best defensive talent. The D-line is motivated by the addition of Vernon and Harrison, who will be unstoppable forces this season. Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a diverse group to work with and there is no doubt that they will make the playoffs this season. Spagnuolo is comfortable with post season pressure, known as the defensive mind behind the Giants’ 2008 Super Bowl victory that ended the Patriots’ perfect season.