Why the New York Giants must sign Yannick Ngakoue, among other targets for free agency

The 2019 season was a tough one for the New York Football Giants, ending the season with a 4-12 record the Playoffs were never realistically in sight. The season was offering a light at the end of the tunnel though, towards the tail end of the season the Giants held the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. With the Cincinnati Bengals widely expected to take Heisman trophy-winning Quarterback Joe Burrow at #1, elite edge-rushing prospect Chase Young seemed to be there for the taking.

However, Daniel Jones and his clutch playmaking may have hurt him in the long run. By leading Big Blue to a couple of late season wins Danny Dimes may have faced himself with the task of having to keep one eye on Young for the rest of his career, given that the division rival Washington Redskins now possess the #2 pick. This now leads General Manager Dave Gettleman to look to free agency for the elite Defensive End that is so desperately needed in New York, Gettleman will have the funds to get the job done as well. The retirement of future Hall of Famer, not up for debate, Eli Manning gives the Giants a great opportunity to attack free agency this year. As well as having several big contracts the Giants could offload with minimal if any loss to the on-field product; Nate Solder, Alec Ogletree, Rhett Ellison, Kareem Martin, Antoine Bethea, Spencer Pulley and Alex Tanney could all be sacrificed to make room for some big free agent signings. This should excite Giants fans, as the last time the team had cash to splash in free agency was the 2016 offseason where then GM Jerry Reese built one of the league’s best defences and mounted the team’s last playoff appearance before a certain boat trip to Miami ruined everything.

Yannick Ngakoue has to be considered the white whale of this year’s free agency class. The 25-year old DE saw a slight drop in production recently when it came to rushing the passer, picking up 8 sacks in 2019 compared to 12 and 9.5 in 2017 and ’18 respectively. However, despite his drop in sack numbers he was more effective in the run game for the Jaguars. Increasing both his tackles and the number of run stuffs he had indicating that he is becoming a more complete player, this is a key component of my argument in favour of the G-men picking up the unrestricted free agent. Many of the criticisms on Ngakoue’s game is that he is one-dimensional and ineffective when the opposition is calling a run play, however he is showing progression in his run defence and can only be expected to get better as he continues to learn. Another positive of Ngakoue’s game is his admiration for the greatest defensive player of all-time and Giants legend Lawrence ‘LT’ Taylor, the Maryland product has expressed his appreciation for LT multiple times on social media. Stating that when watching the great man’s highlights he can identify “That’s greatness”. Ultimately, Ngakoue is a force of nature and would be a great building block for a rejuvenated Big Blue defence.

Ngakoue has become the #1 option at DE for the Giants after a couple of late wins taking Big Blue from the #2 overall pick in the 2020 draft to #4, seemingly taking blue-chip prospect Chase Young out of the picture. Unless someone is willing to pay the Redskins a King’s ransom to take Tua Tagovailoa who’s a risk coming off a dislocated hip, whilst another GM gives the Lions a Queen’s ransom for Oregon QB Justin Herbert based off of one drive at the senior bowl. Other options to improve the position through free agency come in the forms of the injury prone Jadeveon Clowney, an athletic freak who hasn’t quite managed to produce to the level expected of him from being the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Clowney has been more effective when defending the run than the pass in his career, so he doesn’t really fit what the Giants need as they have plenty of run stuffers as it is. Another potential signing could be Jamie Collins, who would be following both new Giants Head Coach Joe Judge and Outside Linebackers Coach Bret Bielema from the Patriots. This would make sense for Judge to try and build a similar system to the one he was a part of in New England that garnered so much success. However, neither of these two would be as big of a get as Ngakoue given the D.C. native’s production on the field plus potential for the years ahead.

Another key position for Gettleman to upgrade this offseason is Offensive Tackle, the Offensive-Line has been a point of weakness for too long now and if DG wants to keep his job beyond the 2020 season, he needs to sort it out. There are several blue-chip OT prospects in this year’s draft who could be taken with the #4 pick, but even this will not be enough as both Left and Right Tackle are in need of improvement. Hence why Jack Conklin would be a great pick up, the Michigan State product is coming off the back of a great underdog playoff run with the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game. Conklin played a significant role in assisting a dominant Derrick Henry in the run game, hopefully he would be able to recreate that for star Running Back Saquon Barkley who was rarely given any space to run in this season just gone. At 25 years of age Conklin has also yet to hit is prime, making him a worthy investment for the four-time Super Bowl champs. There would need to be a sizeable contract laid down for such a player, but as mentioned before Gettleman has plenty of cap room to play with.

The final player I will advocate for is Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Byron Jones, the G-men already have one star player by the name of Jones so why not add another one? At 27 years of age Jones is hitting his prime now, which is exactly what the Giants need in a CB right now even though they are currently in a rebuilding phase. There are currently plenty of young CBs on the team who have shown some level of ability in one area or another, and Jones would be the perfect player to lead that position group. By being able to shut down an opponent’s star receiver, the former first round pick out of Connecticut will take pressure off of the other younger CBs and allow them to develop at a steadier rate. Especially for Deandre Baker going into his second season who would otherwise be the no.1 CB on the team, and whilst Baker was a first-round pick in the 2019 Draft he did not show anything during his rookie season to suggest he was capable of fulfilling such a role.

So those are my picks for who the Giants should sign in free agency, Ngakoue being the most important but Conklin and Jones would also greatly improve the team. Now we just have sit and wait to see if Dave Gettleman follows my advice, or goes against just like when he drafted Danny Dimes. If so, hopefully he proves me wrong again.

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