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Mailbag: How can Leonard Williams' pressures lead to more sacks?


Charles in New York: Leonard Williams has proven he can plug holes but he hasn't proven he can consistently get to the quarterback. Defensive lines are units that work best when working together, do you think adding a top edge rusher would help Williams' productivity?

John Schmeelk: Adding a player on the outside who draws the attention of the offense would undoubtedly give Williams more room to operate inside. He would also face fewer double teams.

Williams has been able to rack up pressures and quarterback hits over the course of his career, but high sack numbers have eluded him. As much as an edge rusher might help him boost those numbers, an improved secondary that forces opposing quarterbacks to hold the ball longer might actually be a bigger help.

He is an extremely talented player and the results could be right around the corner.

Ian in Pennsylvania: Are the Giants considering trading Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard for draft capital, because neither one of them have been able to stay healthy?

Engram missed 13 games the past two seasons, but the only time Starling Shepard has missed over the past two seasons was five games for being in the concussion protocol in 2019. He did not miss a game in 2018 or 2016. He missed five in 2017. The team needs both players to stay healthy this season.

Engram still has one more year on his rookie contract, and another if the team decides to pick up his fifth-year option. It will be an important year for Engram, who is trying to bounce back from a season-ending foot injury. He does need to stay on the field more consistently.

Shepard and Engrams are playmakers. Engram is a true mismatch player who is capable of beating linebackers and safeties. He is also an improved blocker. Kaden Smith proved to be a good tight end last season, but he does not have the explosive play potential of Engram.

Shepard, meanwhile, is a reliable and consistent receiver who can play both inside and outside and he just signed to a long-term contract last offseason. He can be a very important player for the offense.

Both players are young and should be given more time to develop.

Greg in New York: Why don't we take care of defense in free agency and finally draft an offensive line by taking a tackle in the first round and a center in the second round? It would help our defense by being able to run the ball and let Barkley be the focus he was supposed to be.

John Schmeelk: How the Giants go about addressing certain needs with high-end players is partially out of their control. The free agent market (and potential franchise tags) will determine if players will get paid equal to or more than their value on the field. The defense market in free agency might end up being so inflated that adding multiple difference-making players becomes cost-prohibitive.

Meanwhile, who the Giants draft will be dictated by who is available. If the best player on the board is a defensive player, Dave Gettleman will probably take that player. If he is an offensive tackle, he will probably take that player.

To your point, improving the offensive line would have a two-fold effect, making Barkley a better back and Daniel Jones a better quarterback. If the offense improves, it takes some pressure off the defense. Circumstances will dictate how any of these potential improvements are made, but there's no doubt they will be a focus this spring.

Check out the best photos from behind the scenes at the NFL Combine.


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