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3 questions facing Giants Defensive Line in 2015

Steve Spagnuolo is back.


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And if the defensive coordinator can return his unit to Super Bowl levels, he will have to start up front on the defensive line.

That was the group that led the way during Spags' first stint with the Giants, and we'll see if it can now.

With offseason workouts and the 2015 NFL Draft around the corner, looks at three questions surrounding the defensive line:

1. What effect does Spagnuolo's return have on the line?

Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants and led a unit in 2007 that ranked in the NFL's top 10 in eight categories, including a league-high 53 sacks. During his two seasons with the Giants, Spagnuolo's defense allowed 17 points or fewer in 19 contests (the Giants finished 19-0 in those contests). And leading the way was the defensive line.

Now Spagnuolo inherits a group that was able to get after the quarterback down the stretch but finished near the bottom in yards and points allowed in 2014. In addition to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had nine sacks in his last five games for his first double-digit sack season since 2011, Spagnuolo will have third-year defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who had a breakout season with seven sacks as a full-time starter. Meanwhile, defensive end Robert Ayers was playing at a high level before suffering a season-ending injury in 2014, and Kerry Wynn turned heads down the stretch as an undrafted rookie. They will be among the key factors in Spagnuolo's defense moving forward.

2. How will newcomers fit in?

The Giants bolstered their defensive line both inside and out with the additions of free agents Kenrick Ellis and George Selvie. The 6-foot-4, 346-pound Ellis came over from the Jets, where in 2013 he played a career-high 16 games as part of a run defense that held opponents to 88.3 yards per game, third best in the league. Ballcarriers managed just 3.4 yards per carry, the best in the league. Meanwhile, Selvie played the last two years in Dallas, where he recorded 10 sacks.

3. Can they improve the run defense?

One of Coughlin's biggest concerns heading into the offseason was running the ball as well as stopping it on defense. While the Giants went on a torrid run down the stretch to finish fourth in the NFL in sacks, the run defense finished 30th in allowing 135.1 rushing yards per game. They were last in giving up 4.9 yards per attempt.

Check out photos of the Giants defensive line

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