As we roll along in our rankings of top Giants by position, this week’s countdown focuses on the defensive line. This is strictly ranking tackles and ends. We’ll take a look at linebackers next week (spoiler alert: someone with the initials “L.T.” makes the list).
10. Keith Hamilton, 1992-2003
The Giants’ fourth-round 1992 draft choice out of Pittsburgh was a trooper. In his 12 seasons in New York, Hamilton was only on four playoff teams. He was a steady force on the defensive lines of the 90s, however, finishing his career with 63 total sacks.
9. Arnie Weinmeister, 1950-1953
He only played four seasons for the Giants, but this Washington alum was an All-Pro in each of those four years. Before joining the G-Men, Weinmeister played two seasons for the New York Yankees.
No, he wasn’t the original Bo Jackson. The New York Football Yankees were a part of the All-America Football Conference, an unsuccessful challenger to the NFL in the 1940s. Despite only playing six seasons of pro football, Weinmeister was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1984.
8. George Martin, 1975-1988
One of the more underrated defensive linemen the franchise has ever had, Martin was anything but when it came to doing his thing between the lines. He was the very picture of durability for the Giants, having only missed six games in 14 seasons (not counting strike-shortened seasons).
At one point, Martin was the NFL's all-time leader in touchdowns scored by a defensive lineman with six (Martin technically scored seven touchdowns, but one was scored when he lined up on offense as a jumbo tight end). In 2006, Jason Taylor of the Dolphins broke Martin's record of six touchdowns scored by a defensive lineman.
7. Justin Tuck, 2005-2013
Tuck was chosen in the third round of the 2005 draft out of Notre Dame. He likely would have been a first-rounder if not for some persistent injuries in college. Nonetheless, he finished his Giants career with 60.5 sacks, two Pro Bowl appearances, an All-Pro vote in 2008, and of course, two Super Bowl championships.
6. Osi Umenyiora, 2003-2012
The Giants’ 2003 second-round draftee out of Troy University was never quite the same after missing the 2008 season with a torn meniscus. Even with that missed season, Umenyiora’s 75 sacks are fourth-most in Giants history. Two Super Bowl rings aren’t bad, either.
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5. Rosey Grier, 1955-1962
Talk about old-time Penn State football: Rosey Grier played for the Nittany Lions over a decade before Joe Paterno became head coach. He was then selected by the Giants in the third round of the 1955 draft. Even though Grier is best remembered as part of the Los Angeles Rams “Fearsome Foursome,” his best years statistically were in New York. He was an All-Pro in 1956, the same year that the Giants beat Chicago to win the NFL Championship.
4. Jim Katcavage, 1956-1968
A Philadelphia native, Katcavage played his college ball at Dayton before being drafted by the Giants in the sixth round of the 1956 draft. His peak seasons were in the early 60s. Katcavage was voted to the All-Pro team in both 1961 and ‘63 and was a Pro Bowler in ‘62. He is unofficially credited with 96.5 sacks, which register as the third-most in franchise history.
3. Leonard Marshall, 1983-1992
Leonard Marshall would have been an outright star on any other defense. The fact that he was usually mentioned after Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson shows how dominant the Giants’ defense was in the 1980s.
Marshall, New York’s second-round choice in 1983 out of LSU, accumulated 79.5 sacks in his ten seasons with Big Blue, the third-most in franchise history. He is perhaps most infamously remembered for effectively ending Joe Montana’s career in San Francisco with a brutal sack in the 1990 NFC Championship game.
2. Andy Robustelli, 1956-1964
After serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II, Andy Robustelli attended Arnold College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Los Angeles Rams chose him in the nineteenth round of the 1951 draft.
Robustelli already had two All-Pro votes to his name by the time he came to New York in 1956, just in time for the Giants’ championship season. He was an All-Pro that year and three times after that as well. Following a stellar 14-year career, Robustelli was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
1. Michael Strahan, 1993-2007
Who else? After the Giants selected him out of Texas Southern in the second round of the 1993 draft, it took some time for Strahan to show his worth. His breakout season was in 1997 when he notched 14 sacks and helped the Giants win the NFC East for the first time in seven years.
His career year was undoubtedly 2001. His 22.5 sacks that season are still the most in NFL history. For all the amazing efforts by Eli Manning, David Tyree, and Plaxico Burress in Super Bowl XLII, no one deserved that championship more than Michael Strahan. It was the perfect finish to a remarkable career.