New York Giants: What does Josiah Tauaefa offer the defense in place of Ryan Connelly?

Josiah Tauaefa, New York Giants
Aug 22, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Hunter Sharp (15) is tackled by New York Giants linebacker Josiah Tauaefa (48) during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants defense took a significant hit with the loss of Ryan Connelly due to a torn ACL in his right knee. Replacing him will be incredibly tricky and realistically impossible, but as they say, “next man up!”

That fortune next man is Josiah Tauaefa, an undrafted player out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. While the school isn’t well known and doesn’t produce many starting-caliber players in the NFL, Tauaefa has the tenacity and heart to carve out a role. It’s never ideal to have to replace an injured starter, but it gives an opportunity to a player that could rise to the occasion.

The question is: What are the New York Giants getting in Josiah Tauaefa?

Let’s first take a look at some film to see what he’s capable of.

One thing to note about Tauaefa is that he’s a capable blitzer and can evade blocks with his shiftiness. The linebacker isn’t the strongest player, but his speed and relentlessness to get to the ball compensate to a degree. On this play, he shoots the A-Gap, swimming the running back and gets into the backfield in a jiffy. This attests to his speed, something all good linebackers have. My primary concern will ultimately come down to his efficiency in the run game, as his lack of size could show up in that facet.

Tauaefa has solid vision, as you can see in this clip. He identifies the play at the line of scrimmage and reacts well to an option play from the quarterback. That’s the instinctual reaction timing a good linebacker should have. Ultimately, Tauaefa has the attributes to be a solid contributor, but there’s a reason he was on the practice squad. In an ideal world, the Giants will not have to utilize his services, and if they do, they should be prepared to give up some big runs against better running backs.

Aside from Tauaefa, Big Blue has Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis, and David Mayo on the roster to supplement the loss of Connelly. None of the three players mentioned have the instinctual skills Connelly does, and that will hurt the efficiency of the defense. In fact, after Ogletree went down with a pulled hamstring, the defense went on to play six quarters without allowing a touchdown.