One New York Giants breakout candidate at the linebacker position

New York Giants, Tae Crowder
Oct 18, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants linebacker Tae Crowder (48) avoids the tackle by Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants allocated the majority of their draft capital toward the pass rush unit, secondary, and adding more weapons for Daniel Jones in the receiving game.

The one position they avoided in free agency and the draft was linebacker, where they feel secure with Blake Martinez. Alongside him, they might find themselves with some struggles in 2021.

Last season, Martinez played in all 16 games, despite dealing with a few injuries as the season progressed. The 26-year-old posted 151 combined tackles, nine tackles for a loss, six QB hits, and 3.0 sacks. He logged the lowest missed tackle rate of his entire career at 6.2%.

However, the Giants played a risky game at LB2, utilizing a combination of Devante Downs and Tae Crowder. The Giants retained Downs for training camp, at least, but he is on the bubble as they also signed Reggie Ragland to replace David Mayo on a cheaper contract.

The New York Giants might have their starting LB2 already:

Crowder might end up being the starter come the 2020 regular season, but he is far from an above-average player. At 6’3″ and 235 pounds, Crowder played in 11 games last year, including six starts. He tallied 57 tackles with three tackles for a loss, three QB hits and recovered a fumble that he took to the house against Washington in week six.

The former Bulldog has the tangible traits to be an adequate player at the NFL level, sprinkling in a few quality performances throughout the season. As “Mr. Irrelevent,” the last pick and the 2020 NFL draft certainly had a tall mountain to climb in terms of adaptation. However, for a player that wasn’t considered to offer much coming out of Georgia, he made a solid impression against the run.

The question is, can he hold up in coverage and stop the run adequately. He posted a 16.1% missed tackle rate last year, according to PFF. That is an unacceptable factor, but the experience he gained in 2020 should translate to improvement.

Crowder is physically capable of being a quality player, he just needs the right coaching and more experience alongside Martinez. There’s no doubt in my mind he could end up starting this upcoming season, and I feel as though he has the potential to make a solid impact. Either way, the Giants didn’t do much to bolster the position next to Martinez, but they might have a breakout candidate in Tae, who has what it takes to enjoy a leap in his development.