The future whereabouts of the New York Giants leading sack artist from 2019, Markus Golden, remain unknown. While there is certainly potential for a reunion following Big Blue’s decision to place the seldomly-used UFA Tender on the pass-rusher, nothing is set in stone.
Yet, despite numerous question marks regarding their edge defenders, Big Blue chose not to aggressively address the position in free agency. The team added Kyler Fackrell from the Green Bay Packers, fresh off a vastly-underwhelming one-sack season.
New York used a seventh-round selection on Carter Coughlin, a highly-productive collegiate star whose questionable size may lead to him switching to more of a standup linebacker role in the pros. They also still have Lorenzo Carter, an uber-talented athlete still looking to tap into his potential two years into his NFL career.
However, the most enticing edge-rusher on the Giants roster may just so happen to be a homegrown kid from Queens, New York.
The Next Great Giants Pass-Rusher?
Oshane Ximines tied for the 2nd-most sacks amongst all Big Blue defenders in his rookie campaign with 4.5, despite starting just two games. Now, entering 2020, New York is hopeful that the Old Dominion product can take the next step in his career and spearhead their pass-rush.
CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker believes this to be certainly plausible, as evident in his breakdown of the “Key Homegrown Player” for each NFC East team.
The guy [Oshane Ximines] from Queens is hoping to become the next King of New York, and he has the potential to do just that if he can build on his promising rookie debut. The former third-round pick walks into 2020 having delivered nine quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in only two starts, hinting at what could be stirring below the surface. He was available for all 16 games in 2019 and new head coach Joe Judge could look to give lean on Ximines heavily if Markus Golden doesn’t return to the club, as the Giants desperately look to replace the potentially lost pass-rush production.
Ximines finds himself battling a more veteran presence in Kyler Fackrell — who had 10.5 sacks in 2018 for the Packers — but the New Yorker has the added motivation of possibly being the savior in his own hometown. Also working in his favor is the fact Fackrell is only operating under a one-year contract, giving Ximines the chance to prove he’s both the now and the later at his position.
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Ximines Greatly Outplayed His Draft Stature as a Rookie
Ximines was extremely productive as a college player at Old Dominion, registering 32.5 sacks over a four-year span from 2015 through 2018. However, questions regarding his athletic traits as well as the level of competition he faced on a weekly basis caused the edge defender to slide down draft boards.
Ximines put all those questions to rest as a rookie, tieing for the eighth-most sacks amongst all 1st-year defenders in 2019 with 4.5 sacks. He also owned the 6th-best pass-rush grade among all rookie edge defenders (min. 400 snaps), per Pro Football Focus. That includes ranking ahead of two edge defenders who were selected in the 1st-round. Not bad for a small-school guy drafted in the 3rd-round.