Giants Player Profile | Oshane Ximines, OLB
In 2019, the Giants made edge rusher Oshane Ximines the first NFL draft pick in Old Dominion football history.
After passing on edge rushers in the first two and a half rounds, a position seen as one of the Giants' greatest needs, general manager Dave Gettleman took a chance on the Queens, New York native, with the 95th overall selection, a pick acquired from the Cleveland Browns in the Odell Beckham Jr trade.
In addition to Ximines' 32.5 career sacks at Old Dominion, his athleticism, size, and mental processing were worthy of NFL consideration, despite the small-school background. However, his lacking hip flexibility and light anchor held him back from achieving true polish as a prospect.
But in a Giants edge rusher room that was mostly young and light on proven talent, Ximines stepped in as an impact rookie in his first training camp, tallying three sacks in the preseason.
Ximines' impressive preseason showing earned him 21 defensive snaps in Week 1 against the Cowboys, as the small-school rookie tallied his first NFL tackle in his first career game.
The very next week, Ximines got to an opposing quarterback to earn his first share of a sack against Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the third quarter to bring his NFL sack total to 0.5 in just his second game.
Then in Week 3, Ximines recorded his first solo sack against Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. Ximines' sack was a critical one in the Giants dramatic 32-31 win, coming on third down to hold the Buccaneers to a field goal in the second quarter.
Ximines' role continued to expand with his impressive early play. He earned his first career start in Week 5 against the Vikings with starting edge rusher Lorenzo Carter out with a neck injury. Ximines started his second-consecutive game just four days later against the New England Patriots, with Carter's role limited in his return.
Ximines didn't record a sack in either of his two starts, but was productive in a heavy role against the Vikings, tallying four tackles including one for loss as he played 94 percent of defensive snaps. He had lesser production against the Patriots, only recording one tackle in 63 percent of defensive snaps.
Ximines' rookie season came to a peak in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football in Week 14, with his first-career multi-sack game, getting to quarterback Carson Wentz for two sacks in an overtime thriller.
He finished the season tied for second on the team in sacks with 4.5, nine total quarterback hits and 25 tackles.
NFL.com's Adam Rank predicts Ximines to be the Giants breakout star in 2020, and it would undoubtedly be possible and welcome on a thin pass rush unit that will leave a lot of room for Ximines to ascend in playing time.
Veteran edge rusher Markus Golden, who led the team in sacks in 2019 with 10, looks to be on his way back if no one else signs him before July 28, but his return is not guaranteed.
If another team does scoop up Golden before the deadline, then Ximines may emerge as a defensive starter by default after the Giants did very little to address the edge rusher position this offseason.
The Giants brought in former Packers edge rusher Kyler Fackrell, who is coming off a one-sack season, but didn't select any defensive front seven prospects until the sixth round in this year's draft.
Ximines and Carter are both young players with a degree of NFL experience under their belt, and modest success in getting to the quarterback.
The Giants' pass rush might be best served in granting Ximines and Carter as much playing time as possible, both short and long term. They are capable of being productive, and their development could also benefit from extended playing time in new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham's scheme.
Under Graham's defense last year, edge rusher 25-year-old Taco Charlton emerged as the team's leading sack artist with five sacks. It was a career-high for Charlton, who's had a disappointing career as a former first-round pick.
Ximines might prove to have a higher ceiling than Charlton and could also see a big second-year jump as a cornerstone player in Graham's defense.
The Giants pass rush unit remains one of the team's thinnest units, and least productive from a year ago. It is a defensive handicap going into the season. Still, for Ximines, the Giants' lack of proven pass rush talent could be an individual opportunity to live up to Rank's prediction and emerge as a critical player and young leader in 2020.