The New York Giants drafted Wisconsin linebacker Ryan Connelly in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, an instinctual player that has the ability to shoot gaps and stop runners in the backfield. Considering he’s a late draft selection, there’s not much to justify him earning a starting role immediately.
Veteran linebacker BJ Goodson has been the player of choice for the Giants in recent seasons, given his tackling efficiency and run-stopping prowess. However, he’s not much of a force in the passing game as his coverage skills are below average. Connelly is an above average LB in coverage and can stop the run at an average level.
Whether his skill-set makes the transition to the NFL is yet to be seen, but he certainly has the tangible qualities to adapt with a bit of development.
The New York Giants could see a position battle between the two:
This summer will be full of position battles, one of which could emerge between Goodson and Connelly. There’s a clear favorite here, but Goodson’s injury history has derailed his career at times, playing in just 22 of a total 32 games the past two seasons.
Connelly’s health has been solid and consistent, which could present him with an opportunity in 2019. Goodson did play in 15 games last season, but was ineffective for the most part, collecting 61 combined tackles, three QB hits, and four passes defended.
Compared to Tae Davis, a reserve linebacker for the Giants, his stats look very weak. Davis managed 33 combined tackles in just four starts for Big Blue, adding four QB hits, two sacks, and one pass defended. Davis is also a much better pass-defender, which could provide him with an opportunity to grab the starting job.
This position battle could end up being a three-player war between Goodson, Connelly, and Davis. I imagine all will play in some fashion regardless, whether it be in specific packages or on special teams.