Moeller: Will Draft Help Change Giants’ Defensive Direction in 2020?

One of the Giants’ major weaknesses is as obvious as the pandemic changing the country.

Fix the defense.

When the draft dust settles, the question will remain – how good can the Giants’ defense be in 2020?

Is Isaiah Simmons coming to New York or will GM Dave Gettleman draft down to stockpile for the future?

This is a current defensive unit in which the words potential and promise are sprinkled throughout.

Thursday’s draft can sway the 2020 projectory higher or keep it at a status quo. The key will be finding.

Some depth through rounds three through seven among their 10 overall picks.

Can they lift the Giants from the depths of a 4-12 record last year, one where blame primarily fell on them?

Hiring new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham appeared to be a refreshing start, yet Graham’s defense in Miami last season ranked last in sacks (23), points allowed (30.9) and yards allowed (397.8).

To his credit, he was playing with a number of inexperienced players due to Miami’s restructuring.

Graham’s defense featured innovative blitz packages and man coverage, two areas in which the Giants could benefit.

Gettleman began the first phase of patching and filling the holes via free agency with the

additions of cornerback James Bradberry, linebackers Kyler Fackwell and Blake Martinez, safety Dravon Askew-Henry, and defensive tackle Austin Johnson.

Now, they are faced with choosing either an offensive tackle or Simmons – a potential Lawrence Taylor 2.0—or even trade down to acquire some more defensive help.

Adding Simmons certainly can help elevate a unit that was 30th of out of 32 teams. He can provide the edge rusher they have been seeking. Last year, linebacker Markus Golden had 10 of the team’s 36 sacks, but he wasn’t resigned. Golden still remains unsigned, and he would be worth another phone call.

Simmons, Fackwell and Martinez should improve a unit that has been searching for solid footing over the years. It was 36 years since the Giants drafted legendary linebacker Carl Banks with their top pick in 1984.

Bradberry, 26, has the reputation of being a big, shutdown corner who will be counted on for his Leadership even among a young core that include DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, and Grant

Haley (23), all of whom are under 24. If they mature together, there is unbound potential here.

Askew-Henry was a fan favorite of the XFL Guardians, and he has the potential to be a steady contributor.

Yet, the onus now falls on safety Jabrill Peppers, who has to elevate his status in a leadership role at age 24 is considered the seasoned vet in the mix.

Up front, Johnson is a rotation tacker who will provide depth. He’ll join Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson, two previous high draft choices who both need to continue to show growth. Leonard Williams signed a franchise tag Wednesday, and he is the real hope. Williams has been a stopper with the run, but they need him to be an effective rusher this season, especially if Simmons and Golden aren’t in the picture.  

Draft Simmons or resign Golden. One will help, and both could turn the wheel.

Philadelphia, Dallas, and Washington haven’t shown any initial signs of a downward slide, and the NFC East looms as another major obstacle ahead.

Thursday night will be a foretell sign to see if the Giants’ defensive unit can take a major step forward this fall.


About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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