A rookie linebacker could have a major impact on the Giants defense in 2022

micah mcfadden, giants

The New York Giants rebuilt their defense this offseason. They hired a new defensive coordinator in Wink Martindale and drastically altered their defensive personnel. The departure of many staters and the addition of new talents will lead to many position battles and opportunities for young players to make an impact. Rookie linebacker Micah McFadden is one of those young players that could have a major impact on the Giants’ defense in 2022.

Micah McFadden is a perfect scheme fit

The Giants drafted Micah McFadden in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft. The Indiana linebacker prospect is a perfect fit for Wink Martindale’s scheme as a blitzing off-ball linebacker. Martindale is a blitz maestro. His blitz-heavy defenses ranked in the top three in the NFL from 2018-2020. Before an injury-filled 2021 season, the Ravens ranked No. 1 in the NFL in fewest yards (307.8) and points per game (18.2) in Martindale’s first three seasons as DC (2018-20).

Ravens Blitz percentage under Don “Wink” Martindale:

  • 2018- 1st (39.6%)
  • 2019- 1st (54.9%)
  • 2020 – 1st (44.1%)
  • 2021 – 6th (31.1%)

What Micah McFadden brings to the Giants

This scheme makes Micah McFadden a perfect fit. McFadden is an off-ball linebacker that specializes in pass-rushing. In 2021, Micah produced 6.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 77 total tackles. Micah McFadden was graded by PFF as the best pass-rushing off-ball linebacker in CFB last year. Had 26.5 TFL and 12.5 sacks the last two years and a 92.9 PFF pass-rush grade since 2020.

Blake Martinez will be the Giant’s starting inside linebacker in the 2022 season. Martinez is coming off of a 2021 season that was cut short due to injury, but he is still a top run-stuffing linebacker. Behind him, however, there is an open competition. Tae Crowder was the Giants’ second linebacker in 2021 but his position is not locked into place. Micah McFadden’s ability to rush the passer might make him a better fit for the team’s new scheme than the likes of Tae Crowder.

Expecting a fifth-round rookie linebacker to start on defense is usually hopeful. However, considering the amount of youth and lack of established starters the Giants have on defense, it is not an unreasonable expectation to make this year. Micah McFadden is a talented young player that could jolt the New York Giants’ pass rush and make an impact in his rookie season.

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