As of May 18, here are the Giants’ projected starters on defense…
Base Defense 4-3
RDE – Jason Pierre-Paul
RDT – Cullen Jenkins
LDT – Jon Hankins
LDE – Damontre Moore
SLB – Jameel McClain
MLB – John Beason
WLB – Spencer Paysinger
RCB – Prince Amukamara
SS – Antrel Rolle
FS – Will Hill
LCB – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Defensive End – JPP and Damonster give the Giants the best chance at getting to the passer. Mathias Kiwanuka (41 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries in 2013) will see action as well as free agent acquisition Robert Ayers. DL coach Robert Nunn has always been a proponent of playing the hot hand, so the strategy here changes from game to game.
Defensive Tackle – Jenkins is an old pro and Hankins is next man up after the departure of Linval Joseph vis free agency. Mike Patterson had a solid 2013 and the Giants are still high on Markus Kuhn. Rookie Jay Bromley will get his turn in the rotation as well. Of the UDFAs, Kelcy Quarles could challenge for a roster spot if not make a splash.
Linebackers – MLB Jon Beason is the mainstay. He wears the headset and will be on the field for 95% of the snaps barring anything unforeseen. McClain was an unexpected add after he was deemed too expensive for Baltimore. He’ll be on the field a lot, too. Paysinger played well in 2013 and has certainly earned a roster spot if not a starting role. The others will have to sing for their supper. Jacquain Williams has to stay healthy and Mark Herzlich is more of a special teamer these days. Expect the Giants to find a role for rookie Devon Kennard, who they have high hopes for. Much more depth and experience here than in 2013.
Cornerbacks – DRC and Prince will be the men with former Seahawk Walter Thurmond as the primary slot corner. Trumaine McBride and Jayron Hosley are the incumbent backups with newcomers Zack Bowman, Thomas Gordon and Bennett Jackson challenging for spots. A much improved group than the one they fielded last year.
Safety – Rolle is in the final year of his deal and is the captain of the defense along with Beason. He rarely comes off the field. Should Hill somehow skirt by his impending suspension, the Giants will have a nice 1-2 punch at safety. If Hill gets chopped, Stevie Brown, who is coming back from a season lost to injury, should get the job. But the Giants have been beefing up their secondary all winter. They signed Quentin Demps in free agency, still have the enigmatic Cooper Taylor and two rookies – Nat Berthe and CJ Barnett – that plan on factoring in.