The New York Giants have struggled at the linebacker position for the past few years, but they may have found a solution in rookie Ryan Connelly out of Wisconsin.
The four-year linebacker in college enters the NFL as a fifth-round pick with light expectations on his shoulders. However, he is already making waves around Giants camp and during the preseason which elevated his status and made him a potential starter for the 2019 season.
He has seemingly developed very quickly during training camp, likely because he’s facing off against one of the NFL’s top running backs, Saquon Barkley.
Facing off against that quality of talent will help him develop his game and refine his skills to achieve success at the NFL level. Ultimately, if he can stop Saquon Barkley in the open field, he can stop any running back in the league. Connelly’s plan from the get-go was to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches by commanding the huddle and being a quality MIC linebacker. His job was to provide physicality and prove his development early on.
At this point, it seems that Ryan has completely pushed BJ Goodson out of the second starting linebacker position. It is quite fascinating, considering he managed to dethrone a multi-year starter in just one training camp. Additionally, injuries have played a part in his career, and he is questionable in coverage at times.
While Connelly is still growing into his new role, he’s a much better linebacker in coverage and is exceptionally instinctual in regards to shooting gaps and playing against the run.
On Friday night against the Chicago Bears, Connelly shot through the gap on a third-and-one running play, just barely missing the running back and falling short of making a big stop.
While he did miss the tackle, it showed his athleticism and ability to get into the backfield very quickly. It is exciting to see what he can do from the middle of the defense and what we should expect to see from him in the future. Missing a vital tackle against the Bears is part of the rookie learning curve, but that will slowly alleviate itself as he continues to earn more playing time and experience.
He has shown the coaching staff that he is tenacious player plenty of upside. That is all you can Asfoor for my fifth-round pick that is just getting used to the physicality and speed of the NFL.
“I think he’s shown us that he belongs on the field,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “Like any young player, when somebody goes down ahead of you, you get in there and take advantage of the reps you have.”