Over the coming weeks, the New York Giants aim to fuel a fierce competition during training camp. Among the positions under the spotlight is the linebacker role, where the team has recently strengthened their ranks with the addition of Bobby Okereke, who comes in on a four-year, $40 million deal.
A Leap Forward for Second-Year Linebackers
The Giants are optimistic that second-year linebackers Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers will demonstrate significant improvement. Despite missing the entire 2022 season due to a pre-season torn ACL, Beavers is back, and the Giants are hopeful about his progress.
On the other hand, McFadden, although experiencing some fluctuations in his performance, managed to log 435 defensive snaps in the previous season.
Evaluating McFadden’s Performance
McFadden ended the previous season with a 9.1% missed tackle rate, amassing 35 tackles and six pressures. This tally includes two sacks and four quarterback hurries. Despite solid tackling grades, McFadden faced challenges with his positioning and demonstrated weaknesses in coverage, conceding 269 yards, a touchdown, and an 81.5% completion rate.
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Beavers’ Comeback and Potential
However, Beavers is now back in the field and aims to secure the starting LB2 role, pitting him directly against the slightly more experienced McFadden. Coming off a successful senior year with Cincinnati, Beavers will be looking to repeat his rookie campaign, which saw him notch up impressive stats, including 98 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, four sacks, and one pass defended. His early camp performance last year showcased promising vision and football IQ.
Evaluating Athleticism Post-Injury
At 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, Beavers certainly has the physical frame to excel as an NFL linebacker. However, the primary question revolves around his athleticism, especially post an ACL injury that usually takes at least a season to recover fully. Day 1 of the training camp witnessed both Beavers and McFadden sharing first-team reps, indicating the coaching staff’s intention to foster competition between the two.
The Impact of Depth Injuries on the Giants
With Jarrad Davis, a depth linebacker, also out with an ACL injury sustained during OTA’s, the Giants are now heavily banking on their young duo of second-year defenders to step up and clinch a starting job. Consequently, general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll are expecting their 2022 draft selections to up their game and meet the challenge, even though the majority are recovering from significant injuries.