It took a while and the Giants hope taking a shot at a prospect with an exotic name from a smaller school pays off as they finally addressed a need for a pass rusher by selecting Oshane Ximines of Old Dominion in late in the third round of the NFL Draft.
An outside linebacker, Ximines set a school record with 33 sacks in 48 games. He arrives with the 95th overall pick and comes to a defense badly need of what he specializes in doing on the field. The Giants in 2018 managed to get only 30 sacks, 31st in the league, and traded their sack leader, Olivier Vernon, to the Browns.
This was one of the picks the Giants gained in the mega-trade that sent star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns.
Ximines, the son of Jamaican immigrants, did not receive offers from any power-five schools and he thrived at Old Dominion, becoming the first player ever drafted from that school. His pass-rush prowess is mostly based on his speed and first step and, at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, he will have to prove he is strong enough to escape blockers and develop as a power player.
“Oh man, I do what I can,’’ Ximines said about his pass-rush skills. “I want to come in and compete and learn the defense and contribute on special teams.’’
Ximines was born in Queens and grew up North Carolina and said most of his family still lives in New York and “everybody in my family was rooting for me to go to New York. I didn’t want to go to any other team.’’
In addition to his sacks, Ximines had 11 forced fumbles at Old Dominion and said his coaches told him “a sack is pretty good but a sack-fumble is awesome.’’
The Giants need all the pass-rush help they can get. Defensive tackle B.J. Hill had 5.5 sacks as a rookie and no one else on the roster returns with more sacks from 2018. Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter has four sacks as a rookie.
After the tumult of Day One, with three picks and the fallout from taking quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6, Day Two was a far different experience for the Giants. The trade-up into late in the first round with the Seahawks to get cornerback Deandre Baker cost the Giants their second-round pick (37th overall), meaning they spent a long evening waiting and watching as 65 players came and went without making a selection. They went from taking Baker at No. 30 late Thursday night until they were on the board at No. 95 late Friday night, deep into the third round.
Not having a pick the entire second round was the tradeoff for securing Baker, who became the first cornerback taken in the draft. Baker was a three-year starter at Georgia and allowed only one touchdown pass in his career.
“It was a back-shoulder fade from the 1-yard line against TCU in the bowl game,” Baker said.
Baker had seven interceptions while at Georgia and insists this is not an indication of any deficiency with his ball skills.
“It’s hard to get interceptions,’’ he said, “when you are not targeted much.’’