The Giants overhauled their EDGE position after the 2020 defense outperformed expectations. They selected Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith in the second and fourth rounds, respectively, during the 2021 NFL Draft.
They also added Ryan Anderson from Washington and Ifeadi Odenigbo from the Minnesota Vikings in free agency while retaining Leonard Williams, a key cog in Patrick Graham’s defensive system.
Odenigbo had a productive final two years in Minnesota, the last of which was a line that was decimated by injuries. He’s a versatile player that can line up inside during passing situations, and he offers solid upside at a low cost. It could be one of the more underrated signings for the Giants.
Odenigbo is a bit different from the other EDGE rushers on the roster. If all healthy, the starters should be Ojulari and Lorenzo Carter, who is coming off an Achilles injury. Smith, Ximines, Cam Brown, and possibly Carter Coughlin will potentially be rotating into the lineup in passing situations.
Anderson is a bit more of a run defending end who should see snaps on early downs if he cracks the roster.
The former Vikings pass rusher has 68 pressures and 11 sacks in 2 seasons with Minnesota (733 pass-rushing snaps). Those are productive numbers, and I appreciate his versatility as a pass rusher, but what is Odenigbo’s upside with the Giants?
I think he's just a rotational player or someone that can be a clutch performer in Graham’s defense. Let’s see if we can find out in this version of the Good, the Great, and the Ugly.
(Ifeadi Odenigbo is No. 95)
The Good: Gets Sacks
The production in the pressure and sack department is solid for Odenigbo; however, many of the sacks are coverage-based.
It’s a solid area of his game, creating pressure and being disruptive. Still, Odenigbo was signed to a small 1-year, $2.5 million deal for a reason--he’s not entirely consistent winning one on one--he’s much more of an effort player.
Odenigbo does possess solid pass rushing tools; he has some moves that he can put together, he plays with great leverage, and he has shown speed-to-power conversion.
Add all of that together, along with his lower body explosiveness, and that deal looks mighty team-friendly.
These are all of Odenigbo’s sacks through the last two seasons. One can see how some are a product of defensive scheme and coverage, albeit I do believe the Giants can use Odenigbo’s ability on stunts/twists.
His ability to generate pressure is solid, but the reason it’s not in the “great” category is more due to the production being context-based and not the player excelling consistently while rushing the passer.
Odenigbo is a good signing, and he should be a nice addition to Graham’s defense. I appreciate the high motor and his solid athletic traits that are highlighted by his good explosiveness and short-area burst.
He plays with excellent leverage and is solid against the run. His hair is on fire as a pass rusher, and he doesn’t have a plan quite yet--he's more of a bull-rusher.
However, he can convert speed to power, and he has some counter moves, including a spin that he likes to utilize.
He also does a good job using his hands once the half-man relationship is established--he does well to get into his rip move. His change of direction and quickness allow him to stunt effectively; he stays low and explodes around tight corners well while actively using his hands.
His lack of length hurts him in run situations; therefore, he doesn’t always make initial contact. Odenigbo is a competitive player who can fill the Jabaal Sheard role with a bit more pass-rushing upside; he’s not going to be someone who drops in coverage too often, but he’ll have some impact rushing the passer. It’s hard to knock this signing at that price tag.
MORE "GOOD, GREAT & UGLY" BREAKDOWNS
The Great: Run Defense in Pursuit
The lack of length doesn’t help him while setting the EDGE, but he is effective as a back-side pursuit defender.
Odenigbo isn't the biggest EDGE rusher and he does not measure all that well with short arms and sub-50% height, yet he uses his frame well in conjunction with his impressive lower body explosiveness.
Odenigbo uses this leverage advantage well as a run defender, which he is solid overall against the run and as a pass rusher.
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Offenses typically try to get an advantage by leaving a tight end on an EDGE (typically to the back-side), Odenigbo would make those offenses pay quite often.
He slants inside against the tight end above. He dips his outside shoulder while using his outside arm to disallow the tight end from restricting space, which is mainly happening because of the bend and leverage of Odenigbo.
His quality strength doesn’t allow the tight end to wash him down the line of scrimmage. He then locates Todd Gurley and makes the tackle for a loss.
Here’s the backside of a stretch zone play where he uses good foot speed, lateral quickness, and acceleration not to allow the tight end to acquire his inside shoulder.
This is solid leverage combined with really good explosiveness on the back-side of a run play. Odenigbo keeps the tight end at arms distance, readjusts with the tight end, and makes the play down the line of scrimmage.
(against the tight end, right side of the screen)
The readjustment of his outside shoulder gives the tight end fits, as Odenigbo tends to do to blockers on the backside of these stretch zone types of plays.
He does such a good job with his positioning and hands to keep himself clean while showing a great motor to trackball carriers down from the backside.
He initially-hand fights with the tight end here before slapping the outside arm of the tight end downward and bringing his outer shoulder away from the blocker’s inner shoulder; this positions him to make the tackle--an excellent back-side pursuit defender.
(over right tight end)
Anthony Firkser (No. 86) is tasked to prevent Odenigbo from crashing inside, but he uses his outside hand to keep the tight end from getting to his chest, and then he restricts the C-Gap to tackle Derrick Henry.
Odenigbo is more than capable of holding the point of attack and defeating most blocking tight ends, which is great to hear for the Giants.
Patrick Graham relied on players like Jabaal Sheard to hold the point of attack, and he did that well against tackles. I feel Odenigbo can hold the point against adequate tackles, but he will struggle against the better ones--especially those with longer arms.
The Ugly: Arm Length
The leverage advantage is great, but having 24 percentile arm length will affect his overall ability as a run defender and a pass rusher.
Odenigbo doesn’t have the ability to effectively use a long arm move as a set-up pass rusher when his arms struggle to make initial contact.
The short arms also give tackles and tight ends the advantage on play-side runs when Odenigbo is tasked as the contain defender.
It isn’t something that was glaringly wrong with his film, but it came up from time to time. I like the addition of Odenigbo and feel it’s a high upside, low downside type of move for the Giants.
His ability to play with great leverage helps mask his shorter arms. Still, his combination of foot speed and competitive toughness make him a slightly better run defender on the back-side--he’s not a liability with short arms, but his skill set is hindered a bit because of them.