Giants could snag Penn State linebacker in mid-rounds to plug massive defensive hole

Jesse Luketa, giants

One position the New York Giants desperately need to upgrade is middle linebacker. With Blake Martinez tearing his ACL against Atlanta Falcons last season in Week 3, they were forced to roll with a bevy of different players at the position, starting Tae Crowder as the primary mike linebacker.

Crowder has significant athletic limitations and might be better served as a depth piece rather than a starter. However, the Giants only have so many draft picks they can utilize.

One mid-round linebacker could be a perfect plug-and-play piece this upcoming season.



Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa might be an excellent fit in Wink Martindale‘s scheme. At 6’3″ and 251 pounds, Luketa tallied 61 total tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and recorded an interception, which he took for a touchdown last season. As a two-year starter for the Nittany Lions, Luketa has the make of an aggressive linebacker with phenomenal intangible traits.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had to say about Luketa:

Team-first leader who plays every snap like his hair is on fire. Luketa is self-made and known for putting in the work necessary to go from Ottawa tough guy to productive, two-year starter in the Big Ten. He won’t blink in the face of physical challenges, using his leverage and power to hold his ground or come out on top. He lacks instincts and pursuit speed and is best suited as a 4-3 Sam linebacker but his lone season as a 4-3 end could have 3-4 teams exploring his potential as a developmental outside linebacker. No matter the scheme, Luketa’s toughness and talent should make him a good backup or low-end starter with the ability to shine on special teams as early as his rookie season.

The Giants can use as many leaders as they can get, and Luketa fits the mold well in that regard. While some have him graded as a 4th or 5th round prospect, his draft stock has risen considerably in recent weeks, making him a potential 3rd round selection.

Pairing Luketa with Martinez would do the Giants well, giving him an experience mentor to learn from. However, Zierlein believes that Luketa could end up being an experimental 3–4 linebacker, which is perfect for Martindale who loves to utilize every position as blitzers. If Luketa can develop some solid pass rush moves, his role could expand quickly in the Giants’ defense.

In fact, Big Blue hosted him on a local visit this week, attesting to their interest.