The position group where the Giants shouldn't have question marks

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- We spend a lot of time here assessing the numerous question marks dotting the New York Giants' roster. And there are plenty of them. But seeing the team on the field the past couple of weeks, I've been struck with one very positive impression.

The Giants' defensive line should be really good.

"We are going to make the line what we make it," newcomer Olivier Vernon said Wednesday. "Whatever we put in is what's going to come out of it. So I can't tell you right now what we're going to be. That is something you're going to have to wait and see on game day. Everybody has potential, but I see that we have a lot of good young guys as well. So we have a lot of talent, we just have to make it work."

Vernon is right, of course. Until we see the newly configured Giants defensive line play together, we shouldn't assume. Vernon is being paid like a top-flight pass-rusher but has to prove he is. Jason Pierre-Paul, projected to start at the other defensive-end spot, has to show he can play better with his damaged hand than he did last season. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison has to continue to be the best run-stuffing lineman in the league in order to justify his own monster free-agent deal. Fellow defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is coming off an injury.

But the signs indicate strong hope that all of those things can and will happen. And if there's a position group that looks, on paper, like the strength of this team, it's that defensive line.

As any Giants fan or recent Super Bowl historian knows, this is what defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo needs to make his defense work at its best. A dominant defensive line that can collapse the pocket from all angles and pressure the passer without having to blitz. The Giants have young reserve linemen, such as Owa Odighizuwa and Kerry Wynn, who they believe can help on passing downs when Harrison comes off the field and someone -- likely Pierre-Paul -- moves inside. They think they might have found an undrafted gem in Ishaq Williams. The Giants feel extremely good about their line, and the vibe around the starting four is very positive.

Last week, they all ganged up on Harrison to try to get him to run a lap after he made a mistake in practice. The starting four do a lot of work as their own group throughout practice. And they're all looking up to Pierre-Paul, who has somehow become the line's elder statesman.

"He's a great guy," Vernon said of Pierre-Paul. "I can see why he's been good for a long period of time. He's very talented and is a good leader as well. He makes everyone feel comfortable. He's been here the longest. A lot of guys look up to him, and I see why. He's been to the big show, he's been to a couple of Pro Bowls and he's done a lot for this organization."

Pierre-Paul, back on a one-year contract a year after losing his right index finger in a July 4 fireworks accident, is on a mission to show he can still be a dominant pass-rusher and earn the long-term free-agent contract he craves. Looking at the group projected to play around him on the defensive line this year, you can talk yourself into liking his chances.