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Giants Now: Where Big Blue's defensive front ranks


Where do Giants land on PFF's 2023 defensive line rankings?

With spring football now in the rearview mirror, the countdown to training camp is on.

Pro Football Focus has recently been analyzing each position group from all 32 teams ahead of the 2023 season. The analytics site took a look at every defensive line and ranked them 1 through 32, where the Giants landed in the top 10 at No. 9.

"No player improved as much as interior defender Dexter Lawrence did in 2022, ending the campaign as the second-highest-graded player at his position (91.6)," wrote PFF's Zoltan Buday. "Lawrence and Leonard Williams form arguably the best interior defender duo in the NFL. This defensive line could enter the next tier if either of their young edge defenders — Kayvon Thibodeaux or Azeez Ojulari — make a leap in 2023."

Lawrence enjoyed a true breakout campaign in 2022 on his way to being named Second-Team All-Pro. The fourth-year defensive lineman set new career-highs with 7.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hits, shattering his previous high marks of 4.0 sacks and 11 QB hits. He has also set new career-bests in total tackles (68), tackles for loss (seven), pass breakups (three) and forced fumbles (two), which led to his first selection to the Pro Bowl. Lawrence registered 70 total pressures, including the playoffs, and 42 defensive stops, according to PFF.

Williams missed time due to injury for the first time in his eight-year career this past season. In the 12 games he did play, the veteran lineman registered 45 tackles (26 solo), 2.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble and a career-best two fumble recoveries.

A knee injury suffered during the preseason led to Thibodeaux not making his NFL debut until Week 3. He finished his rookie year with 49 tackles (33 solo), four sacks, six tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one touchdown, and five passes defensed. The 22-year-old flashed his potential during the Giants' Week 15 win over the Washington Commanders, a game that Thibodeaux dominated. The former Oregon Duck finished with 12 tackles (nine solo), a sack, three tackles for loss, and a forced fumble which he recovered and returned for a touchdown.

Ojulari was on the field for just seven games (five starts) in 2022. However, when he was out there, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound outside linebacker made his presence felt. Ojulari recorded 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and seven quarterback hits in his limited action. This came one year after his eight sacks in 2021 set a new official franchise rookie record.

In addition to those four, the Giants' defensive front also boasts plenty of depth. Veterans A'Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches were signed during free agency to bolster the interior D-line. On the outside, both Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines were re-signed. The two outside linebackers combined for five sacks, three forced fumbles, 10 tackles for loss, 21 quarterback hits, and six passes defensed last season.

Here are PFF's top 10 defensive fronts:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Washington Commanders
  4. Miami Dolphins
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. Cleveland Browns
  7. Buffalo Bills
  8. Dallas Cowboys
  9. New York Giants
  10. Tennessee Titans

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.



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