The New York Giants spent big free agent money in the offseason on cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez. They brought defensive tackle Leonard Williams back. They drafted safety Xavier McKinney in the second round. They used a rare unrestricted free agent tender to keep Markus Golden.
The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia is apparently unimpressed.
Kapadia ranked the Giants’ defense No. 31 in the NFL entering the 2020 season, with only the Carolina Panthers keeping the Giants from being bottom-feeders. He wrote:
GM Dave Gettleman has invested in run-stopping defensive tackles like Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. That’s an area where the Giants should be strong. But the pass defense is a different story. New York signed corner James Bradberry, but DeAndre Baker’s status is up in the air, and Sam Beal opted out. They got edge defender Markus Golden back but otherwise don’t have much pass rush. Xavier McKinney was a nice find at safety in the second round, but overall this defense just lacks impact players.
Is Kapadia right that the Giants are that bad on defense?
Since Kapadia wrote this a couple of days ago, we know that Baker has been formally charged in connection to an alleged armed robbery. Beal opted out. Other than the fact that Bradberry will man one side, the Giants are a complete unknown at cornerback. There isn’t another cornerback on the roster who has proven to be a quality NFL player.
Kapadia is right that the Giants didn’t have enough impact players a season ago. Thing is, none of the players they added this offseason have a history forcing turnovers. Williams had just a half-sack in 2019. McKinney had five interceptions in three college seasons. Bradberry had eight interceptions in four years. Martinez has been criticized as a tackle compiler, with too many of his tackles coming down field and not at the line of scrimmage.
I can’t believe the Giants will be that bad defensively.
The defensive line should be fine. There is reason to believe young players like Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter still have upside on the edge. McKinney should help the secondary. Martinez gives them leadership they have been missing.
Still, defense in this age of the NFL is really about the big, game-changing play. Kapadia, to me, is right that the Giants don’t really have anyone on defense who has proven to be a game-changing player.
But, 31st? That’s harsh.