Sat. Jan 25th, 2020

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Giants’ Leonard Williams a pass rushing gem

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Giants’ Leonard Williams a pass rushing gem


When New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman traded for New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams — an impending free agent — last October, the move was highly criticized.

This was not a trade a last-place team makes. It’s the type of trade a contender makes to help put them over the top.

Yet, Gettleman had no qualms in forking over a third-round pick, and what likely will be a fourth-round pick for the former No. 6 overall pick out of USC.

Now the Giants are pretty much tethered to the idea of retaining Williams or run the risk of having wasted valuable draft capital on a player who walked away in free agency.

The Giants are expected to re-sign Williams this March and despite the fact that his sack numbers aren’t stellar (0.5 sacks in 15 games last season), the 25-year-old did make a significant difference in the Giants’ defensive front.

From Pro Football Focus:

No player had a bigger deference between his pressure rate rank and sack rate rank than Williams, who split the year between the Giants and the New York Jets prior to his trade. Among 87 interior defenders with 200 or more pass-rushing snaps, Williams ranked 13th in pressure rate at 11.3% but his one sack in 424 pass-rushing snaps put him near the bottom of the list in sack rate. On the other hand, Williams led the position with 19 quarterback hits. A few fractions of a second faster on several of those plays and that sack total looks a whole lot more respectable.

Considering the draft capital that the Giants gave up acquiring Williams, it seems likely that they’ll retain him moving forward. He’s always been a better run defender than a pass-rusher, but he’s certainly better in the passing game than the one sack he was able to produce in 2019. Now the Giants just need to figure out how to balance all the young talent they have at interior defensive line if they re-sign Williams.

It doesn’t matter the cost. It’s already been too high. The Giants might have to overpay a bit to keep Williams in the fold, but then again, there may not be too many teams champing at the bit to pay him his asking price. The Giants could actually end up getting Big Cat at a bargain rate.

For the analytics lovers: Giants' Leonard Williams a pass rushing gem

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