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Grading the Giants: Rating the defensive personnel

Let’s see how the roster stacks up

New York Giants v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

How much talent is there on the New York Giants’ roster? We have already graded the offensive personnel, using a color-coded scouting grade chart. Now, let’s do the same for the defense.

(Only players that have played 15 or more snaps this season will be on the list)

The grading system

(via Landry Football)

This grading scale is designed to separate classes of players as well as skill sets and athletic traits. The grade only reflects what a player is currently, not what he was or can be.

“7.4 – 7.0 (BLUE) = BLUE players are the top line players in the league. BLUE Players make the plays that are the difference in close games. They have Superior talent and consistently make big plays.

7.4 = One of the top handful of players in the league if not the best.

7.0 = One of top players at his position in the league.

6.9 – 6.5 (RED) = RED players win for you. They have starter type production in the league. The Top line REDS are usually BLUE in either the running or passing game but fall short in the other. RED players are impact players and start on contending teams.

6.9 = One of the best players at his position in the league. You must game plan for their presence.

6.5 = High level player at his position in the league. They cause some match up problems.

6.4 – 6.0 (PURPLE) = PURPLE players are players that you can win with even if they are not players that can win for you. They are usually RED in some areas and can match up with some REDS but overall fall short of REDS. PURPLES are very good players. They are solid starters who will usually get the job done in at least some areas. The Pro Personnel scouting axiom is to not play anyone below a PURPLE.

6.4= Upper tier in the solid starter category and are close to being a RED and may even be in some areas.

6.0 = Solid starter but not on the verge of being in the REDS and may even be close to trending to ORANGE. Could be a declining veteran or someone lacking in special physical or intangible traits.

5.9 – 5.5 (GREEN) = GREENS are young players with upside potential. While you may not be able to currently play them much, it is due to inexperience and not physical or intangible traits. You cannot to play too many GREENS unless you are in a rebuilding year or out of playoff contention.

5.9 = Players with lots of physical ability with inexperience the only thing holding them back to being in the RED area or above.

5.5 = Good young players with the physical ability with inexperience the only thing holding them back to being in the PURPLE area or above.

The above 3 rating areas are the minimum of what a club must have to win. Any Player below purple must be upgraded or the club does not match up at that position creating a mismatch advantage for their opponents.

5.4 – 5.0 (ORANGE) = An ORANGE player is one with backup ability and/or production only. They do not match up versus the REDS and are dominated by the BLUES. An ORANGE should make your squad only if they are a RED or BLUE special teamer. Otherwise, you must replace your ORANGES.

5.4 = A player with ORANGE production but may have PURPLE or above physical or intangible traits.

5.0 = A player who will never be more than a back up roster player and one that you must replace unless he is a RED or BLUE special teamer.

4.9 – 4.5 (YELLOW) = A YELLOW player is one who lacks the ability and skills to contribute even as a backup OR someone who has serious medical or character issues. In any of these cases, these players are not worth developing.

4.9 = A player who is not good enough at this point but may have some qualities to develop into a backup at some point. Usually someone with decent physical traits but trying to overcome medical or character flaws.

4.5 = A player that you think is not good enough and likely has serious playing, medical or character flaws and therefore not worth developing.

That’s the scale, let’s get started:

Blue

7.4 = One of the top handful of players in the league if not the best.

There is no defensive player on this Giants’ defense that fits a 7.4 grade. Players around the league that fit this description are defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

7.0 = One of top players at his position in the league.

There are a few players that are almost debatable for a 7.0 grade on the Giants’ defense, but I’m not ready to put anyone here.

Red

6.9 = One of the best players at his position ... You must game plan for their presence.

CB James Bradberry: The three-year, $43.5 million deal the Giants gave Bradberry seems like it’s really working out for the 27-year-old. Bradberry’s ability to process route concepts is excellent. He’s quick, disruptive, and effective at the catch point. Bradberry is also physical in run support. He’s a very good player for this Giants’ defense.

6.5 = High level player at his position. They cause some matchup problems.

LB Blake Martinez: I haven’t seen a Giants’ linebacker with this type of pursuit and intelligence in a while. He’s rarely out of position, and he’s a downhill physical presence in the middle of the Giants’ defense. His football intelligence and overall effectiveness in run defense make this Giants’ defense much better.

Purple

6.4 = Upper tier in the solid starter category and are close to being a RED and may even be in some areas.

DL Leonard Williams: He’s a very long and versatile defensive lineman who can effectively line up all over the defensive line. He’s an excellent run defender, who has 7 pressures on the season. I’d like to see him sack the quarterback a bit more, but he’s still a force on the inside and does a lot of great things that may not show up on the stat sheet.

DL Dexter Lawrence: Very physical and strong at the point of attack. He’s a difficult player to move off the ball, and the Giants have a few of those defensive lineman, which creates 1-on-1 mismatches for players like Lawrence. He plays low, is very athletic for his size, and may continue to grow into possibly being a blue chip performer.

DL Dalvin Tomlinson: The Giants’ have two 6-foot-4 320-ish-pound defensive lineman. That may seem redundant, but it’s not; having a good rotation and mismatch defensive linemen who can be fresh against offensive lineman that are logging snaps is important. However, both of these players don’t necessarily have a ton of pass rush upside. Tomlinson is incredibly good at the point of attack, and is excellent at stacking interior offensive linemen and shedding them while finding the ball carrier. Both Lawrence and Tomlinson are very good players for the Giants.

CB Logan Ryan: He’s very quick to the football and does a good job being a nuisance in coverage. He’s still athletic and isn’t a liability in man coverage, while also executing several different coverage assignments.

6.0 = Solid starter but not on the verge of being in the REDS and may even be close to trending to ORANGE. Could be a declining veteran or someone lacking in special physical or intangible traits.

EDGE Lorenzo Carter: The hype around Carter in the offseason seems to be legitimate. He’s improved as a run defender, as a pass rusher, and he seems to have added a few more moves to his arsenal. He’s very competitive and plays with good hustle. He leads the Giants with 7 pressures, tied with Williams. I want a bit more consistency as a pass rusher in terms of getting pressure; he’s not a true number one pass rusher just yet, but he’s developed nicely.

DT B.J. Hill: When he gets a chance to play, he does a good job. He’s only played 83 snaps so far this season, and he seems to do well when he gets the reps, but he’s buried behind the likes of Williams, Lawrence, and Tomlinson. Hill is quick off the snap, uses his hands well, and has solid flexibility for someone of his size.

May even be close to trending to ORANGE.

DS Jabrill Peppers: He’s been dinged up the last two years. A good alley defender coming downhill who provides versatility with his ability to play big nickel/dime linebacker, but he still has coverage lapses and doesn’t always recognize route concepts quick enough to make a game changing play. I want to see a bit more from him in coverage, but he’s a solid run defender who’s a good athlete.

EDGE Kyler Fackrell: Has played the ninth-most snaps on this defense so far, and is out there much more than Markus Golden because Fackrell has the ability to drop into flat coverage. A solid overall player, but he could be better and the Giants should look to replace if a better option develops or arises.

Green

5.9 = Players with lots of physical ability with inexperience the only thing holding them back to being in the RED area or above. (Xavier McKinney would be in this category as well)

DS Julian Love: Exceptional quickness and closing burst, while also flashing a lot of good qualities in terms of ball skills, tackling, and physicality. Love can easily be a purple player, with the upside of being a red one, but he’s still inexperienced; remember, he didn’t start seeing snaps until the Chicago game after the BYE last year. I’m looking forward to the future of Love.

EDGE Oshane Ximines: He had to become a better run defender in the offseason, and he hasn’t been terrible in that department, but he’s still not consistently setting the edge. He needs to get stronger and maximize his speed/hand technique as a pass rusher.

5.5 = Good young players with the physical ability with inexperience the only thing holding them back to being in the PURPLE area or above.

LB Tae Crowder: The athletic ability of Crowder was much better than Downs, and is acceptable for someone playing linebacker. Mr. Irrelevant himself almost came away with a key interception against the Rams. He’s no slouch as a run defender as well. He still has a long way to go, but he’s a good developmental piece who can start if he has to.

CB Darnay Holmes: Offenses are targeting Holmes, and he’s taking his lumps mentally and with some horizontal crosses, but he still has good athletic ability. His spatial awareness isn’t quite there yet, but that should hopefully develop with more reps under his belt.

CB Ryan Lewis: We only have 60 snaps to watch, but it’s obvious that he is an upgrade over Isaac Yiadom. Lewis seemed to be stickier in man coverage and he’s much more balanced and fluid than the other options at CB 2. He’ll be targeted heavily in the coming games, so we’ll have the opportunity to see how good he is at disrupting the catchpoint, if he can stay in phase well.

Orange

5.4 = A player with ORANGE production but may have PURPLE or above physical or intangible traits. (David Mayo would be in this category).

DT Austin Johnson: Has made some big plays in important situations throughout his 70 snaps with New York. He’s good at the point of attack, plays with excellent hustle, and packs a violent punch. Much like Hill, he’s in a deep rotation, but he’s making the most of his opportunity.

EDGE Markus Golden: Is relegated to a limited role where he rushes the passer. He’s a solid contributor on the defense in that regard, but he doesn’t really play much on running downs, nor does he drop in coverage. He has his role, and that’s appreciated, but he’s not being used as the 10 sack guy that he was in James Bettcher’s defense.

DS Adrian Colbert: A solid overall backup safety that brings solid zone coverage skills. He’s a solid tackler, and can bring a powerful pop to the secondary. His transitions could be a bit better, but he deserves to be on a roster.

5.0= A player who will never be more than a backup roster player and one that you must replace unless he is a RED or BLUE special teamer

DS Nate Ebner: A very good special teamer who should not be playing defensive snaps.

LB Devante Downs: The fact that he was playing significant snaps in the nickel subpackages was probably not an advantageous move for the Giants. He seemed to struggle to shed blocks, put himself into position to make a tackle, and he was bad at breaking down, locating, and making a tackle in space. He also wasn’t great in coverage. Downs should be nothing more than a special teams piece for the Giants moving forward.

4.9 = A player who is not good enough at this point but may have some qualities to develop into a backup at some point. Usually someone with decent physical traits but trying to overcome medical or character flaws (doesn’t need to be though).

CB Corey Ballentine: His physicality and ability to come up in run support is incredibly valuable, but he’s still a liability in coverage. He’s just slow to react and seems indecisive on committing to wide receivers breaks. It’s like he’s a bit tentative to fall for a double move. He’s redeemable, but needs to be developed more by Jerome Henderson.

CB Isaac Yiadom: He has not had a good time in New York so far. He’s unbalanced, has bad footwork, plays way too high, and lacks the quick explosiveness to click & close on routes. He deserves to be on a roster, but not as a starter right now.

4.5 = A player that you think is not good enough and likely has serious playing, medical or character flaws and therefore not worth developing.

N/A

The totals

Blue — 0
Red — 2
Purple — 8
Green — 5
Orange — 5
Yellow — 2

Final thoughts

The Giants have a lot more building blocks on their defense than they do their offense. The high-end starters like Williams, Ryan, Tomlinson, and Lawrence in the purple section are all solid pieces of this defense. That’s with Bradberry and Martinez being red chip performers. A big issue with this defense was the liabilities that were playing way too many snaps. In the Rams game, the Giants benched Downs and Yiadom, and the defense solidified. That could be an aberration or it could be the new normal - time will tell. The team in general needs a lot of time to develop; it’s a young squad, but there’s still not a lot of top tier talent that would allow this Giants’ team to consistently compete.