The New York Giants have depth issues along their defensive front. Dexter Lawrence had a supernova type of 2022 season that solidified him as a top defensive lineman in the league. Leonard Williams was dinged up for most of the year and is set to count for $32 million against the cap; one would imagine that will be negotiated in some manner.
A tandem of Lawrence and Williams is more than formidable, but the depth behind the two is troublesome. Jihad Ward, Nick Williams, and Justin Ellis are all free agents. Ward was predominantly an edge defender for the Giants, and Williams landed on IR with a pectoral injury after the Seattle loss.
Ellis played 362 snaps for Wink Martindale’s defense, but it was easy to discern that he was long in the tooth. Henry Mondeaux and Ryder Anderson were relied on down the stretch of the season; the latter has upside entering his second year, but the former is a replacement-level player; neither should be playing over 150 snaps in a season, which they both did in 2022.
New York may turn to the draft to find reliable depth pieces on the defensive line. They drafted D.J. Davidson in the fifth-round last year, but a Week 5 torn ACL places him behind the eight-ball heading into 2023. The Giants could turn to free agency to bolster their defensive front, and 28-year-old Larry Ogunjobi is an option.
Age: 29 in the 2023 season
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 305
Position: Defensive Line
Experience: 6 seasons
2022 stats: 16 games | Tackles: (28) | Tackles for a loss: (7) | Stops: (23) | Pressures (30) | Sacks: (1.5) Missed tackles (6, 11.8 percent)
Ogunjobi attended the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl and made a fantastic impression as a small school out of the University of Charlotte. It was young Nick Falato’s first trip to Mobile, Ala., to witness the distinguished event. Ogunjobi shined in front of the eyes of many NFL evaluators.
Fast-forward six years and Ogunjobi has bounced around the AFC North. He played his first four years with the Browns before joining the Bengals in 2021. Unfortunately, he did not play in Super Bowl LVI. He suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Bengals’ Wild-Card Round victory over the Raiders.
Ogunjobi had one of his best seasons in Cincinnati. He recorded a career-high 41 pressures and 7.5 sacks on a one-year, $6.2-million contract. Until his injury, Ogunjobi had multiple pressures in every game dating back to Week 9.
He then signed a one-year $8-million contract to join the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he recorded 30 pressures in 2022. He’s had four seasons of 30 or more pressures, and he’s only played less than 650 snaps once in his career, which was in his rookie season of 2017.
Ogunjobi fits well as a three-technique or 4i-shade, who can leverage his quickness to stress the angles of offensive linemen who are attempting to execute their block. Ogunjobi has a good first step and combines suddenness with power on the inside. He would make an excellent third wheel to team up with Lawrence and Williams on the Giants’ defensive line.
Dang Larry Ogunjobi. That center has a family. Walks him right into the RB, sheds, and makes the TFL. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/JV81YfSn7O— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) December 5, 2022
This play posted by Alex Kozora displays his power, but it’s Ogunjobi’s quickness that is very enticing. Ogunjobi might be out of the Giants' price range for defensive line. New York may reset the defensive line market soon with Lawrence, and Williams’ $32 million cap hit has to be re-worked.
According to Spotrac.com, Ogunjobi’s market value is at $3.4 million per year; Spotrac has him signing a two-year, $6.9 million deal. I believe he’ll make more than that, but I would entertain a contract that low for a player with 178 pressures and 28 sacks in his career, who is still playing at a high level.