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Monday, April 18, 2011
Breaking down the DLs: New York

By Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the defensive lines of each NFC East team. Today: New York Giants.

Although the Giants could lose Mathias Kiwanuka and Barry Cofield in free agency, this is a great defensive line. Because Jason Pierre-Paul has such vast abilities -- and flashed them as a rookie -- Kiwanuka probably will leave. But Cofield, even though he might be expensive, is someone Big Blue needs to hold onto. He is in the prime of his career and has proved to be an every-down player, even though he fought a shoulder injury last season. If he plays like he did in 2010, many will start to consider him among the best at this position.

But Justin Tuck is the heart and soul of this defensive line and its best player. Tuck does everything well and is extremely consistent. Stats don’t tell the whole story, but he did record 11.5 sacks last season and recovered five fumbles, which led the league. He should always be mentioned among the best defensive linemen in the league.

But Tuck’s counterparts at defensive end are not too shabby either. Pierre-Paul looks like a superstar-in-the-making. His natural ability is off the charts. Pierre-Paul can be great. But Osi Umenyiora probably isn’t going to step aside. He also played great last season despite fighting a serious hip injury. This threesome of ends might be the best in the league, and Tuck’s ability to move inside on throwing downs, makes them extremely difficult to deal with.

Including Cofield, the group of defensive tackles is pretty strong as well. I am a believer in Chris Canty's game. He has a lot of versatility to his skill set and can line up in several different spots. His role could expand next season, although he did seem to wear down as the season progressed. Rocky Bernard also was a very solid two-way tackle last season. The Giants used a high draft pick on Linval Joseph, who hardly saw the field but does have a lot of ability. Joseph’s role would really expand if Cofield left town.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.