The answer to the question in the headline — “Why did the Giants draft Oshane Ximines?” — is really a simple one. The Giants needed pass rush help off the edge, and they felt Ximines could provide it.
The Giants were 30th in the NFL in sacks last season. They traded their best EDGE player in 2018, Olivier Vernon, to the Cleveland Browns. Connor Barwin, Kerry Wynn, Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards are no longer Giants. Ximines racked up 12 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and 4 forced fumbles playing for Old Dominion last season.
Why the 6-foot-3, 253-pound Ximines rather than any of the other available EDGE players? GM Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur explained the pick shortly after it was made.
“We need pass rush help,” Gettleman said. “We feel we have really addressed it with Dexter Lawrence and this kid. We got inside pass rush help and we got outside pass rush help. The quicker you get to the passer, the less time corners have to cover and good stuff happens.”
“Oshane Ximines, ‘X-Man’ – he’s a scheme fit for us. He’s a guy that’s played a lot of football – 48 starts, has been very productive, many sacks. He’s got a good first step. He’s a good edge player. I think he’s going to be a real good fit for our defense in base, as well as in nickel,” Shurmur said. “Not to mention, as good a player as he is, as productive as he is, he’s an even better person. He’s going to be another real good scheme fit for our locker room. I called him to tell him we were going to draft him, and he quickly said hello and dropped the phone. He’s probably as excited a player to hear that he was going to be a New York Football Giant as anybody that I’ve called in the last couple years.”
The Giants did not have a pick in Round 2 after their trade up to No. 30 in Round 1 to select cornerback Deandre Baker. They felt like they got a second-round player in Ximines, though, as Gettleman said the Giants “had a second round value on him, the bottom of the second.”
The Giants considered moving up for Ximines
“As the board was breaking, we started talking with about 14 or 15 picks left,” Gettleman said. “Bottom line is, we were thinking about trading up, but I said no, we’ll hold our water because I didn’t want to give up our four (fourth-round pick) or two fives (fifth-round pick) for tomorrow, because of what our board looks like. So, he was a target for sure.”
Gettleman said the Giants seriously considered moving up about a half-dozen spots before their 95th pick.
“We were at No. 95, and we were thinking six could get us up to No. 90, get us up five spots, but let’s just hold our water for now, and I’m glad we did,” he said.
What will Ximines’ role be?
Gettleman made it clear that the Giants believe Ximines is “not a designated pass rusher. He’s a legit three-down player.”
Shurmur said that Ximines has the versatility to play in both odd and even fronts?
“He’s an edge player for us, so he would play the outside ‘backer spot for us when we are five on the line,” he said. “We can take the nose out and he’s a pass rusher in a four-man front. He can be a three-down player.”
A little Osi?
Ximines forced 11 fumbles over the past three seasons. A speed-rushing defensive end who forces fumbles? Of course he drew comparisons to former Giants great Osi Umenyiora.
“He has some stuff. As Pat said, the forcing of the fumbles has a lot to do with length and arm length and a knack, which he has,” Gettleman said. “He’s got some things he’s gotta polish up before we put him in that category. To answer your question, the kid really [has] legitimate pass rush ability.”
Small school transition
The Giants aren’t worried about Ximines’ ability to handle the transition to a much higher level of competition.
“The litmus test is he went to Old Dominion, he went to ODU. It’s a Division I program, but obviously it’s not a Power Five. He’s at Old Dominion, so you say to yourself, would this kid start in the ACC? Could he possibly start in the SEC? You think about those things, and he can,” Gettleman said. “The interesting thing about him is because he’s played so much and the kind of kid he is, as Pat said, he has legitimate counter pass rushing ability, counter pass rushing moves.
“Most of the kids coming out of college have their move when they come off the ball, or they come of the ball they know what they want to do, and if the tackle thwarts them, they don’t know what to do. They’re not power rushers, they get stuck. Oshane can counter punch, which is what made (Broncos LB Bradley) Chubb so special last year.”