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PFF: Giants’ defensive line is only league’s 26th-best

That, obviously, isn’t an endorsement

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NFL: SEP 22 Giants at Buccaneers
Dalvin Tomlinson (94) and Dexter Lawrence (97)
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When you look at the New York Giants roster, you might conclude that the team’s strongest position group could be the defensive line.

If that is the case then Pro Football Focus, which recently ranked the defensive lines of all 32 NFL teams, doesn’t seem to think that’s good news for the 2020 Giants. PFF ranked the Giants’ defensive line 26th in the league entering the upcoming season.

PFF’s Sam Monson said:

The policy in New York under general manager Dave Gettleman has been getting bigger, tougher and meaner against the run on the defensive line.

Dexter Lawrence was their first-round pick a year ago, and Leonard Williams was acquired to add serious weight inside. Add Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill to the mix, and this team is awash with powerful run-stoppers. All four players earned a PFF run-defense grade above 70.0 last season, but none was a difference-maker as a pass-rusher.

Lawrence — all 342 pounds of him — had the best pass-rush grade of the four, but it was just 64.5. The former first-rounder had only 30 total pressures from 412 rushes, which falls into the category of “good for a nose tackle” but some way short of dominant overall.

Williams’ pass-rushing grade improved after he was traded to the Giants (69.1 against 61.4), but he has never quite been the force people expected him to be when he was drafted.

The Giants are short on interior players who can truly pressure the passer and instead will rely on just squeezing the pocket. And that strategy that could work if they had plus play on the edge — the problem is that they don’t have that proven commodity yet.

Lorenzo Carter has flashed that ability, while 2019 third-round pick Oshane Ximines has yet to show he can translate his college production to the NFL. Kyler Fackrell was also added to the mix, but again, his production has come in spikes and flashes at the NFL level, and he never managed to be a consistent threat during his time in Green Bay.

The Giants have a group of solid options but don’t have much in the way of proven players who can get after the quarterback in a league that has never been more pass-happy.

I agree with Monson that the interior defensive line is a throwback run-first kind of group. Thing is, it sounds like Monson is also holding the fact that the Giants don’t have proven edge players against the line, as well. As much as he’s right about the line itself, I’m not sure that’s fair.