5 players who must improve

The New York Giants endured a disastrous 2017 season. These five players will have to step up big to get the team back into the playoffs.

There’s been a lot of conversation about how the new players brought in by Dave Gettleman can impact the New York Giants next season. Rookies and free agents can certainly help Pat Shurmur get the team on the right track, but it’s also going to take significant improvement from players who were on the team last season.

For some returning players, it will require getting physically healthy. Other returners are going to need to recover from the mental scars of going 3-13. Without delay, let’s start with one defender who needs to elevate his game to keep the Giants competitive.

5. Olivier Vernon

If the Giants defense is going to be successful, they’re going to need to generate a significant pass rush. Vernon gives the team their best natural rusher from the edge.

Vernon wasn’t bad last year but he can definitely play better. 6.5 sacks in 12 games is reasonable production from a defensive end. His talent level is high enough for him to produce more results though. If the Giants defense is going to be successful in 2018, they’re going to need double-digits sacks from their most talented defensive lineman.

Gettleman and company are hoping that the addition of Lorenzo Carter in the third round of the draft will take some pressure off Vernon. He faced a lot of double teams last season due to the lack of defensive playmakers around him. If Carter can manage to apply pressure from his linebacker spot it could open up more opportunities for Vernon.

Vernon has a lot of motivation to play well this season. He’s occupying $17 million of the Giants’ salary cap this season. If he doesn’t pick up his play, he could easily find himself a salary cap casualty next offseason.

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