Could the Giants upgrade linebacker with stud Utah prospect in 2022 NFL Draft?

devin lloyd, giants, utah
Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd (LB22) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better linebacker prospect in the 2022 NFL draft than Devin Lloyd out of Utah. Given the well-documented linebacker troubles the New York Giants have faced in recent years, aside from the performance of Blake Martinez in 2020, targeting a player like Lloyd could be on the radar of new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll.

This past week, Lloyd ran a 4.66 40 yard dash at the Combine, recording 25 reps on the bench press, a 35-inch vertical jump, and a 126-inch broad jump. At 6’3″ and 237 pounds, Lloyd wasn’t expected to be a blazer with elite straight-line speed, but he offers highly productive and highly physical attributes entering the NFL.

Just a few weeks ago, Lloyd was dropping to the early second round, but his Combine did him a few favors. There is still the potential he slips somewhere in the late first round, where the Giants may be willing to pounce if they view him as a stud prospect.

Lloyd’s strengths range from the ability to play multiple linebacker positions, incredible numbers in 2021, and fantastic aggression in run support. His biggest concerns revolve around his play recognition and discipline, which are all coachable negatives.

Last season for Utah, Lloyd posted an impressive 111 tackles, including 22 for a loss, 7.0 sacks, four interceptions, and one forced fumble over 14 games. His numbers are almost unprecedented, and an NFL team may be enamored by his level of production.

The expectation is that Big Blue will retain Martinez, potentially on a pay cut given he’s coming off a torn ACL. Pairing Lloyd with Martinez would be an exciting duo, allowing the youngster to learn from the NFL veteran.

In Wink Martindale‘s heavy man coverage system, Lloyd would be asked to play a bit more aggressively, running downfield and frequently blitzing to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Some may find it difficult to trust him in man coverage if asked to cover linebackers and tight ends, which is why some analysts have coined him as a potential outside linebacker at the next level.

Schematically, Lloyd could fit multiple roles, but having a versatile player who can feature at multiple linebacker positions would be highly beneficial to the Giants and Martindale. If he were there in the second round, it would be an easy choice for Schoen and Co., but it is far more likely he’s picked in the first after his impressive Combine numbers.

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