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Giants’ 90-man roster: Can ‘X-Man’ ‘stamp out Giants’ need for a pass rusher?

Quick development from small-school player would be a boon to Giants’ defense

NFL: New York Giants-Rookie Minicamp
Oshane Ximines
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Allen at No. 6? Nah. Montez Sweat at No. 17? Nope? A third-round trade up for someone like Jaylon Ferguson? Nada.

The pass-rush needy New York Giants waited until the 95th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft to select an edge rusher, making Oshane Ximines the first player ever drafted into the NFL from Old Dominion.

Can the player the Giants quickly nicknamed ‘X-Man’ help to eliminate one of their biggest 2018 issues? Let’s take a closer look as we near the end of our player-by-player look at the 90-man roster.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 252
Age: 22
Position: Edge
Experience: 0

How he got here

Ximines racked up 32.5 sacks and 51.0 tackles for loss in 50 games at Old Dominion. Those are school records. Ximines also holds the school record for forced fumbles with 11. In 2018 he had 11.5 sacks and 18.0 tackles for loss.

In his 2019 Draft Guide, Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote:

Ximines has the edge athleticism to wrap the corner and wreak havoc, showcasing a sophisticated approach to his rush. He is an inconsistent run defender, mostly due to his undersized frame, and was strictly an upfield player in college, lacking experience dropping in space. Overall, Ximines is a speed-based pass rusher with tweener size and play strength, displaying active hands and motor to be a nickel rusher as a rookie.

Pro Football Focus charted 55 pressures in 328 pass-rushing snaps for Ximines, and his pas-rush productivity score of 10.1 was 13th among edge rushers charted by PFF. That 10.1 was a superior score to first-round picks Brian Burns (8.9) and Rashan Gary (8.7). PFF had Ximines 103rd on its draft board.

“We need pass rush help,” GM Dave Gettleman said after selecting Ximines. “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.”

Ximines has “legitimate counter pass rushing ability, counter pass rushing moves,” according to Gettleman.

“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.”

Old Dominion defensive line coach John Commissiong told Big Blue View that “speed and athleticism” are Ximines’ main weapons, but not his only ones:

“He’s an instinctive rusher and because of it he does different things,” Commissiong said. “He’s worked at it over the years. As a good pass rusher you have a plan as far as what you’re gonna do, however your plan doesn’t always work out exactly the way you want it to. When that doesn’t happen the ability to adapt and change and react to what’s going on in front of you a good pass rusher has to be able to do that. He definitely can do that.”

2019 outlook

Gettleman said that the Giants believe Ximines is “not a designated pass rusher. He’s a legit three-down player.”

Ximines, though, was a better pass rusher than run defender in college, something both Brugler and Pro Football Focus highlighted. At 252 pounds, he would seem a tad light to be a force on the edge against the run right now.

Ximines worked with the second team during the spring, and with Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter as locked in starters if they are healthy, will probably stay there once the season begins. His likely initial role would be as an edge rusher in sub packages when either Golden or Carter — probably Golden — moves to a defensive end role. That is something Chris Pflum pointed out in a post-draft analysis of the Ximines selection.

“He’s got a great first step, he’s got great quickness. He’s a bright-eyed kid. I think you guys are going to all really enjoy his personality. He’s got a big smile on his face. He’s been coached extremely hard. His college coach is a good friend of mine, and we’ve crossed paths. So, I know he’s been coached that way,” said outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson. “He’s a guy that loves the game. He’s a guy that wants to get better, he wants to know what he did wrong. Even if it wasn’t necessarily an incorrect or a bad rep, how can I make that rep a little bit better? Coach me on the film. Some guys, they just go, ‘Hey coach, I did what I’m supposed to do. Let’s move on to the next play’. He’s a guy that wants to know the ins-and-outs of it. He’s going to be a fun guy to be able to get your hands on, and get to help mold and shape, and watch him grow.”

It would be a huge benefit to the Giants’ defense if that growth occurs quickly.