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Better or worse: Giants have same edge players, but can they improve?

Experience, health could lead to more impact

Washington Commanders v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The New York Giants have the same edge defenders they had during the 2022 season, despite having expiring contracts on the books. Both Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines were re-signed as free agents.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Elerson Smith, and Tomon Fox were all on their rookie contracts, with Thibodeaux and Fox as rookies. Ojulari and Smith battled through injuries all season, resulting in valuable playing time for Ward (740 defensive snaps) and Ximines (529).

Ward and Ximines had specific roles in the Giants’ simulated pressure and fire-zone package that led to both players dropping to certain zone areas of the field. Ward’s role on early downs also resulted in several STOPs at the line of scrimmage.

However, the 2022 edge group dealt with injuries. Still, instances of excellence were displayed by Ojulari when he was healthy. Thibodeaux had a solid rookie campaign, but I’m sure he would be the first to say he wants to achieve more success. He started his rookie season injured, so it’s plausible that affected his statistical outcome.

Key losses: N/A
Key additions: N/A
Other additions: Habakkuk Baldonado

Why the Giants might be better

A clean bill of health would be the primary way that the 2023 Giants’ edge position would surpass the 2022 unit. Furthermore, the group is an extra year into Wink Martindale’s defense, with another year of maturity and development. That alone should help the Giants improve this season.

Adding Habakkuk Baldonado (Pitt) as an undrafted free agent should create competition. Baldonado is long and strong at the point of attack. He should compete with Tomon Fox and Elerson Smith for a roster spot.

Fox was an undrafted rookie last season who played 327 snaps. New York values his presence, and another year on this defense should theoretically help him. The personnel is the same, but health and experience could lead to the growth necessary to maximize the talent in the group.

Why the Giants might be worse

The position group did not lose anyone and gained one undrafted free agent for competition purposes. Not to be redundant, but health (as of right now) and time are on the side of the Giants’ edge room being better in the upcoming season.