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PFF’s top 3 Giants show a team in need of difference-makers

See if you agree with the selections

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Syndication: The Record
Leonard Williams
Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Who are the top three players on the New York Giants roster? Pro Football Focus recently tried to answer that question, and the players PFF chose are sure to raise some eyebrows.

PFF’s choices?

  • Defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
  • Left tackle Andrew Thomas.
  • Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

PFF’s Ben Linsey writes:

Given the Giants’ cap situation this offseason, there should be more high-end talent on this roster.

Thomas took a notable step forward in his second season out of Georgia last year, improving his PFF pass-blocking grade from 54.7 in 2020 to 82.1 last season. Williams isn’t enough of a pass-rush threat to warrant his status as the second-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the NFL, but he can be counted on to play a high number of snaps with above-average play against both the run and pass. Jackson stands out as one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the league after earning 80.0-plus PFF coverage grades in each of his last two full seasons in 2019 and 2021.

New York’s two top-10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft could quickly factor into this conversation, as well.

Valentine’s View

When I think about this list, I don’t think it’s fair to consider rookies. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal might be on this list a year from now, but you can’t put players who have never played a game on a list like this.

So, let’s talk about who is on this list — and who is not.

Leonard Williams — Putting him on this list is a no-brainer. He is the best defensive player the Giants have. Former GM Dave Gettleman made a curious midseason trade for Williams in 2019. Gettleman got crushed for that, and for the money he spent to keep Williams in a Giants uniform.

Thing is, where would the Giants’ defense be without Williams, who has 18.0 sacks, 109 total pressures, 138 tackles and back-to-back seasons of more than 800 defensive snaps played?

The flip side of all of that is PFF’s Linsey is right that there isn’t enough high-end talent on the roster. As good a player as he is, Williams isn’t good enough to be the best player on a really good defense.

That’s one of the reasons the Giants drafted Thibodeaux. They are hoping he can become that guy.

Andrew Thomas — The fact Thomas is on this list, PFF’s choice for the Giants best offensive player, speaks volumes. It speaks volumes about how far Thomas came in 2021 after a miserable rookie season. It also speaks volumes about the offensive players the Giants hoped would be above Thomas on a list like this — quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney.

To become a truly quality offense, the Giants need some — if not all — those players to surpass Thomas on a list like this.

Adoree’ Jackson — No offense to Jackson, but if he is one of the three best players on the Giants’ roster that is a massive problem.

Jackson is a good man coverage cornerback with a 92.9 career passer rating against. He has just never been a difference maker. He has just three career interceptions in five seasons and 2,534 career coverages snaps. Of his 39 career passes defensed, 17 were in his 2017 rookie season.

For me, the clear choice here should have been safety Xavier McKinney. McKinney had 93 tackles, five interceptions and 10 passes defensed in a breakout 2021 season. For me, McKinney is clearly the Giants’ best defensive back.