The New York Giants received disappointing news on Tuesday evening after it was revealed that veteran linebacker Jarrad Davis underwent knee surgery that will keep him sidelined indefinitely. The defense was already thin at the No. 2 linebacker spot and this loss only makes matters worse. Entering 2023, the Giants need second-year linebacker Micah McFadden to step up and play a big role in the defense.
Why Micah McFadden may be the Giants’ No. 2 LB in 2023
McFadden was drafted out of Indiana in the fifth round of last year’s draft. As a rookie, McFadden saw plenty of playing time, appearing in all 17 games and making seven starts in 2022. He totaled 59 combined tackles, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and two sacks as a rookie.
Heading into his second season, McFadden was expected to compete for the No. 2 linebacker job with Davis and fellow draft classmate Darrian Beavers. With Davis indefinitely sidelined, McFadden’s only real competition currently on the roster is Beavers, who missed the entirety of the 2022 season with an injury.
Wink Martindale says that McFadden has “really improved”
Despite only being a sophomore, McFadden now stands out as the more experienced contender for the LB2 position. According to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, McFadden has “really improved.” He could be in store for a big 2023 season.
McFadden needs to overcome his rookie growing pains
McFadden got plenty of experience as a rookie, playing 435 of the team’s defensive snaps (39%). However, he had his rookie growing pains, particularly struggling in coverage. McFadden surrendered 20 completions on 23 targets in coverage (87%) for 211 yards and one touchdown. He will need to improve in this regard if the Giants are going to rely on him as a full-time starter in 2023.
Though he struggled in coverage, McFadden demonstrated that there is a lot to like about his game during his rookie season. He proved to have a high football IQ and a keen sense for rushing the passer from the off-ball linebacker position. With newcomer Bobby Okereke taking over as the team’s No. 1 linebacker, the second starting spot is up for grabs and McFadden appears to be the frontrunner for the position.