The interior of the New York Giants defensive front is the clear strength of their defense. B.J. Hill emerged as the breakout star of the Giants’ draft class (relative to his pre-draft hype and draft position), while Dalvin Tomlinson reinforced the good first impression he made in his rookie season. Meanwhile, Mario Edwards Jr. proved to be a solid pick-up after final cutdowns who could probably use more time on the field.
However, a robust rotation on the defensive front is always a good thing, and the Giants have made it clear that they both need and want to improve their pass rush.
This year, Alabama’s Isaiah Buggs played in the figurative shadow of Quinnen Williams, and the literal shadow of (the massive) Raekwon Davis. However, he was remarkably productive for a player who didn’t get much buzz at the national level.
But does that just mean that he could be a good value for the Giants?
- Thick, powerful frame.
- Build gives him natural leverage and he knows how to use it.
- Generates explosive power on contact and is able to drive blockers backward.
- Versatile lineman. Lined up at nose tackle, 3-technique, 5-technique, and 7-technique for Alabama.
- Shows some variety in pass rush moves. Flashes a bull rush, long arm, and club-rip move.
- Active behind the line of scrimmage. 13.5 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks in 2018
- Only one season of production with Alabama.
- First step is generally good, but not great, and seems to depend on where he lines up.
- Motor seems to run hot and cold. Will pursue a play all the way down the field, but will barely run on others. Could be a conditioning issue.
- Lower body appears stiff.
What They’re Saying
“He played really well today, and actually all week. He lined up at defensive end for the Tide, but I think he’s going to move down to defensive tackle in the NFL. He’ll either be a nose tackle or a three technique. He’s really good with his hands, like most Alabama defensive linemen. He really played well in one-on-ones on Thursday and showed he has the body type and play traits to make the switch to an interior position. He proved he can take control against some guys that are a little bigger than him. He’s probably a Day 3 pick (Rounds 4-7), but he could work his way into Round 3.”
- Lance Zierlein (NFL.com Senior Bowl Notebook - Day 3)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Given Buggs’ versatility to play a variety of positions along the defensive line, he would be a nice fit for the Giants’ defense.
On some plays he looks like a smaller version of 2018 draftee, B.J. Hill. He has a similar physical demeanor in collapsing the pocket and penetrating into the backfield, while also having an understated athleticism. Buggs appears much more comfortable playing as an interior lineman, as opposed to playing as a defensive end in nickel situations. He lacks the burst and bend to be a defensive end in a four-man front, and he seems to struggle to time the snap or fire off the ball when playing the 7-technique. Inside, however, he generally shows a decent first step and is a handful for most offensive linemen one-on-one. He has the leverage and strength stand blockers up and punch out of his weight class in the run game as well.
Given the breadth and depth of talent on the Alabama defense, Buggs wasn’t double-teamed all that often, but when he was, he did flash the ability to split the blockers and disrupt some.
The biggest issue teams will have with Buggs will be his motor. There are some plays where he is utterly relentless in pursuit, while n others he seems to disappear. Teams will need to decide if it is a matter of “want,” focus, or condition. If it is the latter, then the team that drafts him will need to have a plan for how to use his talent without wearing him out.