Giants need to address LB depth ahead of the 2023 season

new york giants, oshane ximines
Sep 18, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants linebacker Oshane Ximines (53) celebrates a sack against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have had a weakness at the linebacker position for the last several seasons. In 2022, the Giants’ linebacking corps posted the second-worst overall grade in the NFL per PFF (35.8). To address this pitiful unit, Big Blue made a big acquisition this offseason, signing former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke to be the team’s No. 1 linebacker. But behind Okereke, New York has a severe lack of depth

The Giants have lackluster LB depth

Despite this acquisition, the unit still leaves a lot to be desired, particularly on the outside. Behind Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, the lack of depth the Giants have at the position begins to rear its ugly head, as Oshane Ximines, Jihad Ward, and Tomon Fox among others serve as lackluster outside linebacker depth.

On the inside, Darrian Beavers and Micah McFadden are competing for the No. 2 LB position behind Okereke. But behind these two players is a lack of talent that closely rivals the lack of depth on the outside.

LB Jarrad Davis, who signed with the Giants prior to the last game of the 2022 season, was in line to compete for a starting job, however, an ACL injury last month during camp ended his season before it could even get started. Davis started the 2022 season finale as well as both playoff games Big Blue played in, so losing him only adds to the void New York has created at the linebacker position.

Finding diamonds in the rough at the LB position

The Giants have found diamonds in the rough at the linebacker position in the past. In 2020, former Green Bay Packers LB Blake Martinez turned his career around after signing with the Giants, accumulating 151 tackles, 3.0 sacks, and a 75.9 PFF grade in 2020, the best of his career.

Could the Giants add depth through free agency?

On the free agent market, OLB Kyle Van Noy could be an intriguing depth piece for New York. The nine-year veteran spent the 2022 season with the Los Angeles Chargers, racking up 5.0 sacks and 9 QB hits. Perhaps Van Noy could see a resurgence similar to Martinez in 2020 if given the opportunity by the Giants. Van Noy has the ability to play both outside and inside linebacker, potentially killing two birds with one stone if Big Blue were to sign him.

Whether Joe Schoen and the rest of the Giants’ front office decide to address the outside linebacker situation internally or externally through the free agent/trade market remains to be seen. However, it is imperative that the Giants act on this soon, as they cannot afford another season of lowly linebacker play if they are serious about competing in 2023.

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