The New York Giants revamped their linebacker corps over the offseason, adding former Ram Alec Ogletree, Kareem Martin (Arizona), and Lorenzo Carter (Georgia). The primary issue with the additions is that they lack ability in coverage. Ogletree and B.J. Goodson are primarily inside linebackers that specialize in stopping the run. Carter and Martin are outside linebackers that can double as defensive ends.
The priority will be to find a linebacker than can stop opposing tight ends in coverage and allow the defensive front to put pressure on the quarterback by keeping the middle of the field secure.
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The dark-horse linebacker:
The Giants began rookie mini-camp on Friday, and third-year player Derrick Mathews was oddly attending the camp. Mathews has performed well this offseason, intercepting Davis Webb in veteran camp and recording another interception on Kyle Lauletta on Saturday.
Mathews spent the entire 2016 season on the practice squad for the Green Bay Packers and was signed to the Giants in 2017. He was eventually brought up to replace Landon Collins after he suffered a broken arm late in the season. While Mathews only saw one game of action, he could earn an expanded role on the team in 2018.
He will likely have to begin on the special teams unit and work his way up, but at 25 years-old he has a lot of life left as a professional athlete.
Here’s a clip of Mathews’ skills at the University of Houston, where he had a knack for finding the ball in traffic. He plays with tenacity and gusto in the run game and is also wary in the pass game. His frame is ideal for the linebacker position (6-foot, 232 pounds). He could be a solid complement to Ogletree and B.J. Goodson in the middle if one succumbs to injury.