The New York Giants revamped their linebacker corps this offseason with the addition of prized free agent Bobby Okereke. In 2022, Big Blue’s linebacker room was arguably the worst in the NFL. Addressing that seemed like a massive priority, however, outside of Okereke, not much talent was added to the group.
Despite the lack of added talent, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is confident in the group’s holdover players from last season. In particular, Martindale is bullish on second-year LB Micah McFadden as he looks to take a step forward in his sophomore season.
Giants DC Wink Martindale bullish on Micah McFadden
The Giants selected McFadden in the fifth round of last year’s draft. As a rookie, McFadden appeared in all 17 games and made seven starts, totaling 59 combined tackles, two sacks, and six tackles for loss. He missed only three tackles on the year for an impressive 4.8% missed tackle rate.
Despite a solid start to his career, McFadden exhibited plenty of room for improvement as a rookie. Martindale believes in McFadden, though, saying the 23-year-old has greatly improved.
I’ll tell you, Micah [McFadden] has really improved.Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale is confident in McFadden entering year two despite some clear struggles last season. McFadden’s 38.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade ranked 77th of 81 linebackers last season. In particular, the Indiana Hoosiers product struggled in coverage, surrendering 20 receptions on 23 targets (87%) for 211 yards and one touchdown.
To take that next step forward in 2023, McFadden will need to improve his coverage skills. Additionally, if he wants to maintain his role in the starting lineup, McFadden will need to fend off veteran LB Jarrad Davis and second-year LB Darrian Beavers.
Where McFadden has an edge over the competition is in the pass-rushing department. His 92.0 PFF pass-rush grade ranked first among Big Ten linebackers in 2021. He also totaled 50 pressures across his final two seasons, the second-most among Big Ten linebackers during the timeframe, per PFF.
Martindale emplores an aggressive, blitz-heavy defensive scheme that sends pressure from every angle. McFadden’s ability to rush the passer make him a perfect fit in Martindale’s defensive scheme and should provide him with plenty of opportunities to find his way onto the field in 2023.