Did the New York Giants Secure a Defensive Steal in LB Ryan Connelly?

The New York Giants drafted Wisconsin linebacker, Ryan Connelly, in the fifth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
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Aside from the fact that New York Giants fifth-round pick Ryan Connelly out of Wisconsin landed in the top 20 of potential Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates, according to ESPN’s sheet, the linebacker has the potential to be an absolute steal.

An instinctual defender that seems to be around the ball at all times and shoot gaps consistently, Connelly is one of the more speedy linebackers entering the draft. While he’s not up with Devin White and Devin Bush in terms of quality, he possesses an unstoppable motor that is noticeable.

So far in rookie mini-camp, the Giants have praised his play-making ability and desire to find the ball.

New York Giants reporter John Schmeelk stated in reference to specific plays in practice:

“A nice play on the ball, covering a running back man to man in the slot.

Schmeelk continued, saying, “[Connelly] navigated into the flat with him, and got his hand cleanly around the back to knock the ball away.”

The rookie linebacker commented on his transition to the NFL:

“I’m gonna work hard and try to flash around and try to make plays,” Connelly said.

“I pride myself on knowing where to be and when to be there. So I think as soon as I get this playbook under my belt, I’ll be able to help and contribute.”

I anticipate Connelly’s initial contributions being on special teams, as the Giants have more seasoned players featuring at linebacker. However, the depth at inside linebacker isn’t abundant, so it’s more than possible he earns his fair share of opportunities with the starting unit.

Check out the clip above – you can see Ryan’s fierce instincts and desire to get into the backfield. Rarely do you see a player with the ability to choose a hole and explode through it successfully at the rate Connelly enjoys. A four-year player at Wisconsin, he’s a seasoned veteran with the savvy style of play – tallying 89 total tackles, 10 for a loss, three sacks, and one pass defended, according to Sports-reference.

One of his more underrated qualities is his coverage skill-set. He can mark running backs in the flat and match up against tight ends in some scenarios. His speed is his most daring attribute, which diversifies his abilities and elevates his potential.

Connelly will likely require a few months to adapt to the strength and speed of the NFL, but he could have a bright future ahead of him with the right coaching.