For a franchise that was built on its pass rush, it has been far too long since the Giants have had a constant presence off the edge. In 2018 and 2019, the Giants drafted Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines in the third round of each draft with hopes of them becoming the next great duo of Giants pass rushers. Neither has been able to accomplish that goal, but this year, the Giants have gotten some nice production out of two other young players. Two rookies who came to his team in very different ways, have made their impact felt in 2021.
The Giants took another stab at an edge rusher in the 2nd round of this past April’s draft by picking Georgia pass rusher Azeez Ojulari, and his presence has been felt right away. Ojulari is currently tied with 2020 Giants sack leader Leonard Williams for the team lead in sacks with 5.5. This also leads all rookies in sacks. Ojulari is also second on the team with 7 QB hits. To go along with these pass rushing stats, Azeez also has 6 tackles for a loss and one pass deflection. This is the instant impact the Giants have been looking for at edge rusher for a long time, and with 8 games left on the year, the hope is that Ojulari can continue his strong play and grow as a player. Now, these types of contributions are expected of a 2nd round pick, the same cannot be said about a 6th round pick from another team.
Quincy Roche was a 6th round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was then cut and picked up by the Giants just prior to the start of the season. His role has slowly increased, and the past two weeks he was able to start and play over half the defensive snaps. His effect in these snaps has been immediately felt. The past two weeks, Roche has 3 qb hits, a tackle for a loss, 7 total tackles, and one game sealing strip sack against the Raiders this past Sunday. The sample size is small, but comparing that to both Ximines and Carter’s stats show that his role should continue to increase. Carter has played in 7 games this season (he left the Carolina game early), and in those games has just 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 20 tackles, and 1 tackle for a loss. Ximines has played a much more limited role this season, but has also been active for 7 games, and has no sacks, 2 QB hits, and 12 tackles, and no tackles for a loss. Roche has showed he deserves a prominent role on this defense.
The Bottom Line
The best edge rusher on the Giants right now is Azeez Ojulari. He should start, and play the majority of the snaps. Roche has shown in a very short amount of time that he deserves significant snaps, but that doesn’t mean that he should be the only other edge rusher on the field. Carter has shown potential in the past and should be given snaps, and rookie Elerson Smith deserves to show what he can do as well. With all that being said, Roche has played far too well to not be given a starting role moving forward.
Ride these Rookies till they give you a reason not to.
(Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty)