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Giants training camp: Are they better on the defensive line?

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Between now and the start of training camp we will be looking at each position on the Giants roster and asking 'Are they better than they were in 2014?' We go in the trenches first to look at the defensive line.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

All summer long we have been looking at the players who will be reporting to the New York Giants' training camp on July 30th. And while there has been much speculation over whether or not the Giants have improved over the course of the 2015 offseason, we have yet to take a look at the various positions to determine if they have been improved, taken a step backward, or held par with 2014.

Since the Giants have placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on controlling the line of scrimmage in 2015, we'll take a look at the defensive line first.

2014 Depth Chart

RDE Jason Pierre-Paul Damontre Moore
DT Johnathan Hankins Jay Bromley
DT Cullen Jenkins Mike Patterson Markus Kuhn
LDE Mathias Kiwanuka Robert Ayers Kerry Wynn

2015 Depth Chart

(Projected for the start of camp)

RDE Robert Ayers Damontre Morre Jordan Stanton
DT Cullen Jenkins Markus Kuhn Jay Bromley Carlif Taylor
DT Johnathan Hankins Kenrick Ellis Dominique Hamilton
LDE George Selvie Owamagbe Odighizuwa Kerry Wynn

Roster Changes

Departures - Mike Patterson (DT), Mathias Kiwanuka (DE)

Additions - George Selvie (DE, FA), Owamagbe Odighizuwa (DE, R), Jordan Stanton (DE, PS), Kenrick Ellis (DT, FA), Dominique Hamilton (DT, PS), Carlif Taylor (DT, R)

Have The Defensive Ends Improved?

If you look closely, you'll notice that Pro Bowl and All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul isn't on the 2015 depth chart. That's because he has yet to sign his franchise tag tender. So while the Giants have his rights, until he signs the offer sheet, he won't be suiting up for them.

But even if he does sign the offer sheet, his July 4th accident makes this a very sticky situation. Everything we have heard from doctors is that his fractured thumb, not the amputated right index finger, will determine when he comes back. And while the projections from doctors and players, both current and former, are positive -- as to whether the loss of his index finger won't hamper his play -- until he gets out on the field, it is still a question mark.

So setting JPP's status aside for the moment, the big change has been replacing Mathias Kiwanuka with George Selvie and Owa Odighizuwa. Despite all he had done for the New York Giants franchise, age and injury had reduced Kiwi to a shadow of his former self. Parting ways with him would be addition by subtraction in and of itself, as the defensive line's play at the end of the 2014 season showed. Adding a solid veteran in Selvie and a high-upside rookie like Odighizuwa should make for a definite improvement for the defensive ends.

Assuming Pierre-Paul can play like he did in 2014, the defensive ends should be markedly improved, even before any schematic changes by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Have The Defensive Tackles Improved?

Much like the defensive ends, the defensive tackle position saw the loss of an aging veteran, the addition of a steady vet, and is looking for the development of a somewhat unknown quantity.

In this case the Giants parted ways with Mike Patterson, who was a good player in 2013, but definitely not in 2014, and added Kenrick Ellis. Where Patterson had difficulties staying stout at the point of attack in 2014, Ellis is a young, and surprisingly athletic 335-pound behemoth of a run stopper.

Swapping Patterson for Ellis should be an instant improvement for the middle of the Giants' defensive line, but for them to truly take as step forward, the Giants are counting on the development of Jay Bromley. The Giants shocked, well, pretty much everyone -- including Bromley himself -- when they selected the defensive tackle out of Syracuse in the third round of the 2014 draft. The Giants were, and still are, betting that Bromley's work ethic would help him harness his considerable potential sooner rather than later. If his development follows the same path as Linval Joseph and Johnathan Hankins before him -- a quiet rookie campaign, but a breakout sophomore year -- it should bode well for the Giants' defensive line as a whole.

Final Thoughts

Have the Giants improved their defensive line as a whole? Well, that really depends on a couple things, namely how Jason Pierre-Paul comes back from his injury and whether Jay Bromley's hard work over the 2015 off season pays off.

In parting ways with two players who became some of the weakest links on the defensive line, and replacing them with younger, better players, the Giants have set the stage for a defensive line that is both deep and talented. But they will need Jason Pierre-Paul to prove the optimistic projections correct for the defensive line to take the next step and regain their former dominance