New York Giants: Could Ryan Connelly Become An Impact Player As A Rookie?

The New York Giants drafted Wisconsin linebacker, Ryan Connelly, in the fifth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The New York Giants have had one of the worst linebacker corpses in the NFL for years now. The Giants’ last general manager, Jerry Reese, placed little to no emphasis on the linebacker position.

This was strange considering the Giants thrived off of a strong linebacker corpse in the ’80s. Fortunately, the Giants’ current general manager, Dave Gettleman, has placed more emphasis on improving the Giants’ linebacker position than his predecessor.

Dave Gettleman has made two notable moves to improve the Giants’ linebacker corps in his two years as the Giants’ general manager. Last offseason, Dave Gettleman made a trade for former Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree. Ogletree struggled at times in 2018, but still, lead the Giants in interceptions with 5 picks.

Big Blue’s latest attempt to improve the linebacker position came in the 5th-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The New York Giants selected inside linebacker Ryan Connelly out of Wisconsin with 143rd overall selection. Giants fans have high hopes for Connelly’s future, but will he be able to make an instant impact as a rookie?

How Connelly Can Make An Instant Impact:

Ryan Connelly considered a surprise pick for the Giants in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Many expected the Giants to draft an offensive lineman, but the decision to draft an inside linebacker could pay dividends.

The Giants’ current linebacker corps is weak. The starting linebackers on the Giants, Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson, both had disappointing seasons in 2018. Alec Ogletree is a leader and will certainly start in 2019, but B.J. Goodson has been an inconsistent player in each of his first three seasons, so Connelly could overtake his starting role.

B.J. Goodson has not played 16 games in any of his three seasons in the NFL. He played 15 games in 2016 and 2018 but played in only 7 games in 2017. In order for Ryan Connelly to take over the starting linebacker position, he must stay healthy.

Goodson started in 13 games in 2018 and finished with 61 tackles. He also added 2 interceptions, 4 tackles for loss, and 1 fumble recovery. Still, Goodson did not grade out particularly well by Pro Football Focus’s standards in 2018, finishing with an overall grade of only 66.2. PFF noted there were times when Goodson “couldn’t seem to find [his] covers.”

Pro Football Focus grading might not have been too kind to B.J. Goodson in 2018, but it was certainly favorable towards Ryan Connelly. Connelly finished ahead of the 10th overall pick, Devin Bush, in PFF grading in 2018.  Ryan finished with an overall grade of 85.2, a run defense grade of 82.5, and 50 total stops in 2018.

Ryan Connelly is a speedy linebacker with the ability to shoot gaps. His 1.54s 10-yard split recorded at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine ranks third among participating off-ball linebackers that weighed in at 240-plus pounds since 2010. Connelly was praised by NFL scouts for his instincts and play recognition.

Ryan Connelly was a great linebacker against the run for Wisconsin in 2018. Ryan totaled 89 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and 1 forced fumble. Unfortunately, Connelly was not an extraordinary linebacker defending the pass as he finished his collegiate career with 2 interceptions and 5 passes defended in 4 seasons.

There is some serious potential in the New York Giants’ 5th round pick this year. Ryan Connelly is a talented inside linebacker who could end up starting for the Giants in his rookie season and beyond. If Connelly can reach his true potential, he will be an absolute defensive steal.

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