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Mailbag: Big Blue's defensive potential

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Let's address one of the most consistent questions we receive. Fans should not expect the Giants to make any significant free agent additions until they have a few weeks of camp in to see where the roster is, what injuries may occur, and where the team might need some extra talent. It would be surprising if anything significant is done before training camp begins. Now, on to specific questions …

James in New York: The inside linebacker position appears to have improved some with the pickup of Reggie Ragland. Does the former second-round pick out of Alabama have the ability to be a three-down backer or will Tae Crowder (or someone else) be on field for obvious passing downs? I'm not sure if Ragland has the ability to cover speedy backs and tight ends.

John Schmeelk: Ragland is a more traditional downhill linebacker who will be effective against the run or could be used as a blitzer on passing downs. In his past stops, he has not had as much success defending the pass and changing direction in space while trying to cover quicker offensive players. Based on his past NFL experiences, it's likely he is used more on early downs and Tae Crowder gets a chance to fill the nickel linebacker role. You can expect to see Jabrill Peppers as a virtual linebacker in passing situations, too.

Greg in New Jersey: Who is the best defensive addition the Giants have acquired since last season?

John Schmeelk: You can be excited about second round-pick Azeez Ojulari, but it usually takes pass rushers a little bit of time to adjust and succeed at the NFL level. Adoree' Jackson will be the best and most impactful addition to the roster this off-season. He should provide a high-level, stable starter across from James Bradberry to give Patrick Graham more freedom to use more man-to-man defense. Jackson will be a difference-maker.

Brian in New York: From which group (line, linebacker or secondary) will the defensive MVP come from and who will it be?

John Schmeelk: This is a very tough question because there are legitimate candidates at all three levels of the defense: lineman Leonard Williams, linebacker Blake Martinez and many defensive backs. Strictly based on the odds, the answer would come from the secondary because it is the strength of the defense and there are a number of players who could be viable options. James Bradberry, Adoree' Jackson, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and even Xavier Mckinney could make enough big plays and force turnovers to be defensive MVP. Blake Martinez is going to lead the team in tackles again giving him a real chance, but gut feeling says it will be Leonard Williams. He is easily the team's most accomplished pass rusher and if this defense is going to improve this year, Williams is going to have to be dominant up-front.

Kevin in New York: Why is it that Lance Medow always says on BBKL that you can't just assume the Giants' defense will pick up where it left off last year, but also he speaks of the Giants going to face defenses who were at the top of the league last year? Why the inconsistency?

John Schmeelk: This would not be regarding Lance, rather point your finger here and it's an understandable question. It is true that defensive performance is difficult to maintain season to season – which is why it is very difficult to determine a team's strength of schedule before the games are played. But the chances are slim that all the good 2020 defenses on the Giants' schedule are going to fall apart. Some of them will maintain their high level of play, but is there a chance that the schedule is not nearly as tough for the Giants' offense than it looks like today? Yes, but we have to operate on what is more likely than not. In the same way, can you say the Giants' defense will be good again this year? You think so, but there are no guarantees. For the Giants and other teams around the league, small changes in personnel or key injuries can have a huge impact that is impossible to predict.

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