Articles

Coaches Corner/Spotlighting the Defensive Line.

By Michael Stewart/@TheTruthNYG

This will part 6 in a series spotlighting the defensive linemen currently on the Giants roster. This off season GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge added a few new faces through free agency and in the draft. Let’s take a look at the projected starters, backups and players on the outside looking in.

Starters

  • Leonard Williams: The Giants rewarded Williams with #3 year deal for his breakout season in 2020 and hope he continues to provide production as a run stuffer and a pass rusher.
  • Dexter Lawrence: Lawrence has had two solid seasons since joining the NFL back in 2019 and the Giants are counting on him to replace Dalvin Tomlinson not only on the field, but also in a leadership role.
  • Austin Johnson: The final spot could go to newly acquired Danny Shelton as well as both are more suited at this point in their careers as productive backups. I’m giving Johnson the edge at this point as he should see his snap count increase as he did a good job in 2020 in his limited role.

Backups

  • Danny Shelton: Shelton signed a 1 year deal this off season and could see this playing time be shared with Austin Johnson evenly. Shelton is a pure run stuffer and fits in perfectly of what DC Patrick Graham wants his interior Defensive linemen roles to be.
  • B. J Hill: This will be a make or break year for Hill if he wants to continue with the Giants after his rookie deal. In fact; there are no guarantees that Hill makes it to opening day, but for argument sake he does in this article.
  • Elerson Smith: Smith was selected in the 4th round in the 2021 draft and has a ton of upside, but might need a little more time to develop and get stronger to see ample playing time. At this time, I see Smith as a situational pass rusher in 2021.

Outside Looking In

  • R. J McIntosh: McIntosh was nearly cut last season, so he would need to have an explosive training camp to eliminate any doubts with Joe Judge and Patrick Graham. My guess is that McIntosh will be cut prior to opening day.
  • David Moa: It’s unclear how much the Giants organization likes Moa as he spent time on the practice squad in 2020. Moa would also need to show improvement as training camp unfolds to remain on the team; which will likely be another year on the practice squad.
  • Raymond Johnson III: Johnson was signed during the UDFA phase and from what I’ve read the Giants really like his abilities. This will not guarantee him a spot on either the roster or the practice squad as he really needs to step it up to un-seed some of the other defensive linemen who have been with the team last season.
  • Niko Lalos: Lalos was signed during last season UDFA phase and when he got the call to join the team; he made the most of it with an interception and a fumble recovery. However; Lalos will be climbing a very steep hill if he wants to earn a spot on the final roster.

The departure of Dalvin Tomlinson remains to been seen as he was a value member of the Giants defensive line since being drafted, however; I believe GM Dave Gettleman assembled quality replacements (Johnson and Shelton) at a fraction of the cost to assume the role of Tomlinson as a premiere run stuffer. In years past, the Giants carried either five or six defensive linemen on the final roster, so at this point it’s unclear what that final number will be. For now, I’m going with six, but that could certainly change.