The New York Giants have two rookie defensive tackles looking to make an instant impact and a defensive end in Jason Pierre-Paul looking to return to elite form.
The New York Giants used to be known for their fierce defensive line, which helped them win two Super Bowls.
However, Justin Tuck departed for the Oakland Raiders, and he played a huge role in the defensive line’s success.
Jason Pierre-Paul will stick around, but he has yet to regain his 2011 form where he registered 16.5 sacks. The athletic specimen battled back and shoulder injuries last season, which resulted in him finishing with just two sacks in 11 games.
There will be an open competition for the starting spot opposite Pierre-Paul. Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers are the favorites to win the job. Kiwanuka has the edge on experience, and he is a decent pass rusher.
Ayers finally justified the Denver Broncos selecting him in the first round of the 2010 draft by having a career season. Although he was not a full-time defensive end, he stuffed the run well and finished with 5.5 sacks.
Damontre Moore did not receive very much action in his rookie season, but the potential is there. The 2013 third-round pick notched 12.5 sacks in his final season at Texas A&M, and he will look to shine in his second year.
At defensive tackle, Cullen Jenkins and Johnathan Hankins will get the start. Jenkins can still rush the passer relatively well, but his run defense needs improvement.
Hankins, on the other hand, showed great promise as a run stuffer by getting 11 stops in just 195 snaps in his rookie season.
Markus Kuhn and rookies Jay Bromley and Kelcy Quarles will be the primary backups at defensive tackle. Kuhn missed the 2012 season with a torn ACL, but he has reportedly pleased defensive line coach Robert Nunn.
Bromley was selected in the third round out of Syracuse, and he performed excellently in his senior season, finishing with nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
Quarles was signed as an undrafted free agent despite having a great junior season at South Carolina. He finished with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
Bromley and Quarles can both rush the passer and stuff the run well, so a roster spot is looking bleak for Mike Patterson.
If this defensive line can perform up to its full potential, it may once again become one of the most fearsome lines in the NFL.