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Coaches Corner: Spotlighting the Defensive Line.

By Michael Stewart/@TheTruthNYG

The New York Giants brought in DC Don (Wink) Martindale to spear head their defense and take it in a different direction for 2022.  GM Joe Schoen has added 17 new faces on the defensive side of the ball to accommodate him and now it’s up to Martindale to work his magic. Among the new players brought in, none was more important than the team’s first pick in the 2022 draft Kayvon Thibodeaux (he’ll be featured when we spotlight the OLB/EDGE position).  Let’s take a look at the current defensive line players on the Giants roster.

  • Leonard Williams: Williams had 11.5 sacks in 2020 and only 6.5 in 2021. However; his 2021 season wasn’t a total disappointment as he had more total tackles in 2021 (74) compared to 50 in 2020. If Williams can collect 8-9 sacks in 2022 to go along with his run stuffing ability; that would be considered Pro Bowl worthy.
  • Justin Ellis: Ellis played under Don Martindale in Baltimore and is strictly a 2-gap run stuffer. In fact, Ellis only has been credited with 0.5 sacks in his entire career and is expected to be part of a rotational lineman in Martindale’s defensive system as a 2-down lineman. 
  • Dexter Lawrence: Lawrence 5th year option was picked up and I expect DC Don Martindale will utilize Lawrence over the center when the Giants employ the 3-4 look and as one of the defensive tackles when the team’s goes to the 4-3. This year will be a make or break year for Lawrence if wants to return in 2023 as a Giants. Historically, the Giants re-signing their drafted defensive tacklers isn’t good.
  • Jalyn Holmes: Holmes played with the Saints in 2021, but his best year came in 2020 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings with 35 total tackles in 14 games.  Holmes is not expected to provide any pass rushing production, so he could be on the outside looking in to make the final roster. Perhaps the Giants could send him to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
  • D.J Davidson: Davidson was part of the 2022 draft class for the Giants in 2022 and has impressive size (6’3/327) and could challenge for a roster spot by opening day. Davidson is at his best clogging the middle of line and disrupting the running game.
  • David Moa: Moa was part of the Giants practice squad in 2021, but could become a victim of the numbers game with all the new additions GM Joe Schoen has brought in.
  • Jabari Ellis: Ellis has been described as a player with a high motor but could lack the size to play in the NFL at the defensive tackle position and the quickness to play the edge. Ellis could be a surprise rookie in training camp or could be a bust and released before the end of training camp.
  • Christopher Hinton: Hinton is an interesting prospect coming out of Michigan where he was a solid performer for he wolverines. Hinton has good quickness off the snap and could be a surprise candidate to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster; especially if he can display pass rushing ability from the inside.
  • Ryder Anderson: Anderson was signed after his tryout with the Giants and it’s interesting to see what GM Joe Schoen/HC Brian Daboll see in the 6’6/276 player out of Ole Miss. Anderson would need to have a very impressive camp and showcase some pass rushing stills to be considered a roster spot at all.  My guess is that he gets placed on the practice squad once he clears waivers.
  • Tyrone Truesdell: Truesdell was an UDFA signing out of Florida and could be mistaken for a brick wall at 6’2/335 pounds. Truesdell will compete hard, but I can see him winding up on the practice squad to continue his development.

Among the ten players listed above, I would project that five will make the 53-man roster and possibly two will be sent to the practice squad once they clear waivers, if Schoen doesn’t add any new faces through the waiver wire. In DC Martindale’s defensive system, he likes to keep his players fresh, and a rotational scheme is expected. So, whoever the five players are should expect to see enough snaps to contribute and hopefully give the Giants a highly competitive defensive line in the NFL. Keep an eye out for my next article spotlighting the OLB/EDGE position.