New York Giants: PFF lists Blake Martinez as a potential first-time All-Pro selection in 2021

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants had one of the NFL’s best defenses in 2020. The unit ranked top-ten in points allowed per game as Joe Judge and Patrick Graham made strong impressions during their first year coaching the Giants. The Giants’ defense really turned things around after allowing the third-most points per game in 2019.

The acquisitions that the team made in the 2020 offseason were crucial for the defense’s success last season. New York made a few splash signings on the defensive side of the ball, adding the likes of James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, and Logan Ryan. This new core of veteran defenders surrounded by young talent allowed the Giants’ defense to outplay all expectations last season.

James Bradberry was selected to his first-career Pro Bowl in his first season with the Giants in 2020. Many felt like Blake Martinez should have been selected to one too, however, the Giants’ star linebacker received no such honor. According to Pro Football Focus, heading into 2021, Blake Martinez has a great chance of earning an even more prestigious honor: an All-Pro selection.

Why Blake Martinez could be an All-Pro in 2021

Blake Martinez was phenomenal for the New York Giants in 2020. The Giants have suffered through various struggles from the inside linebacker position for years. Last season, that changed with the arrival of Blake Martinez.

Martinez spent the first four years of his career with the Green Bay Packers. In 2020, he signed a three-year, $30.75 million contract with the Giants. Blake Martinez was the fifth-most valuable off-ball linebacker in the NFL, according to PFF’s Wins Above Replacement metric. His PFF grade was an impressive 75.9 overall last year.

In 2020, Blake Martinez totaled 151 combined tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in his career year. This was the fourth season in a row that Martinez totaled 140 or more combined tackles. He has been consistently one of the best run-stuffing linebackers in the NFL throughout his career, but Blake Martinez has never been recognized as such. That could change in 2021 if Martinez can put together another impressive season with the New York Giants.

New York Giants: Blake Martinez has glowing praise for Joe Judge

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

Going into their second season under Joe Judge, the New York Giants are one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL. After all, they almost made the playoffs last season despite a terrible early season and they remained in the mix for the entire year. There’s a certain allure around their head coach, not just because of his prestigious background working with some of the biggest names in the sport but also because the Giants showed more fight than they have in years during his first season in charge.

Headed into the second year, the sentiment is understandably positive around Judge. That begins with the players, and defensive captain Blake Martinez will be the first one to speak up in support of the head coach.

Martinez did just that when interviewed by the New York Post. He was asked about several of his teammates and offered his takes on them, but the questions also came around to the topic of Judge.

“Whether it’s a coach or a player, he’s gonna make sure he’s getting the best out of everybody,” Martinez said. “His number one thing is he believes that every single person could be even better than what people expect. There’s a lot of people out there that would pat us on the back last year. But all of us as a team know we’re competitors and we want to be playing further into January and continuing our season… There’s no complacency anywhere at any point, any tier of this team, and it starts with him and all the way down.”

It just goes to show the sentiment is good right now around the Giants despite the team coming off another season where they ended up with a top 10 draft pick. That, hopefully, won’t be the case this time around.

If the Giants do make a dark horse run to a better record and potentially the playoffs, we can be sure the leadership of Joe Judge will be heavily involved in that outcome. And, likely, more high level play from Martinez at linebacker.

He competed for the top spot in tackles last season despite not getting as much credit as many other linebackers. This season, that top spot may be his if his performance is similar.

The New York Giants have one of the best, yet most underrated linebackers in the NFL

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants had a top-ten defense in the NFL last season. The team made a couple of key moves in the 2020 offseason to propel their defense into being one of the league’s best units. The Giants allowed only 22.3 points per game defensively, which ranked ninth-best in the NFL.

Two key free agency additions made their marks and revamped the Giants’ defense: cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez. The Giants saw their newly-acquired cornerback, Bradberry, make his first career Pro Bowl in a season where he led the NFL in forced incompletions (PFF).

Blake Martinez, however, did not receive any recognition for a stellar 2020 campaign. Martinez has never made a Pro Bowl in his NFL career. He was listed as the sixteenth-best linebacker in the league by PFF this offseason, but Giants fans feel Blake Martinez deserves more credit.

Blake Martinez stats and highlights

The New York Giants enjoyed watching Blake Martinez have a “breakout” season in 2020. Though it was a career year for the five-year veteran, it was anything but a “breakout.” Martinez has been one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL for a few seasons now. Blake Martinez leads the NFL in total tackles over the last four seasons.

Martinez has racked up an insane 594 combined tackles since 2017. He led the NFL in combined tackles in 2017 and has posted 140 or more combined tackles in every season since. Last year, Blake Martinez totaled 151 combined tackles in his first season with the Giants. He also added nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and notched 57 defensive stops and forced two fumbles for the Giants in 2020 (PFF).

If there is one weakness to his game, Blake Martinez does struggle at times in pass coverage. But the Giants’ defensive schematics were excellent in 2020 and played to their players’ strengths. Martinez was not asked to play in coverage that often, masking any deficiencies he might have in that aspect of his game. Patrick Graham allowed Martinez to be a pass-rushing and run-stuffing linebacker. That clever New York Giants scheme allowed Blake Martinez to play to his strengths and emerge as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

New York Giants: Blake Martinez comes in underrated in PFF linebacker rankings

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have one of the best inside linebackers in the league in Blake Martinez – but he might be underrated still when compared to others. Martinez, of course, went under the radar as a good addition until the season started and he proved himself on the field.

Many thought the Giants were overpaying and doubted the move, but Martinez went on to register 151 tackles and 3 sacks in his debut season.

His numbers last year placed him with some of the position’s top tacklers, but Martinez still comes in relatively low in this year’s linebacker rankings from Pro Football Focus.

16. Blake Martinez, New York Giants

Only Zach Cunningham and Lavonte David have racked up more defensive stops over the past two seasons than Blake Martinez, whose first season with the Giants was a career-best for him in terms of overall PFF grade (75.9). He notched 57 defensive stops and forced two fumbles for the Giants, and he’ll look to build on that and be even better in 2021.

To be fair, the list involves more than just inside linebackers. Part of the reason why Martinez falls outside the top fifteen is competition from pass rushing outside linebackers.

Still, even including OLBs, the number looks low considering Martinez’s performance last season which saw him competing with some of the leading LBs in the league statistically as well as helping the Giants make a big improvement on the interior compared to previous years.

Going into this season, though, Martinez might have a chance to get more recognition. He is, after all, entering the year already having proved himself last season. The league in general will be more aware of Martinez’s ability, so we’ll see soon enough if he can keep up his standard of play from 2020.

New York Giants’ Blake Martinez details ‘awesome’ free agency and atmosphere around Big Blue

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have had an eventful off-season, littered with high-profile free agent signings and a strong draft class. Acquiring WR1 Kenny Golliday, CB2 Adoree Jackson, and a bevy of adequate depth pieces, the Giants are heading into the 2021 season with a revitalized sense on both sides of the ball.

For current players, watching the Giants go out and spend big money to acquire more talent was exciting; it represented the progress and forward momentum of the organization.

This present-day Giants team is far different than the one we experienced in recent years, ranging from personnel to front office decisions. Even the players noticed a change, compared to their old teams or just in one off-season with Big Blue.

Arizona radio station interviewed Giants’ LB Blake Martinez, who described the difference between playing in New York and Green Bay — they were quite extreme:

“I think the biggest difference between both is the age of the given guys on either team. I think in Green Bay, it was a lot of older, veteran guys, where in New York it was a lot of young guys still in that college mindset and everyone hung out with each other and had that camaraderie. Not that we didn’t have that camaraderie in Green Bay, but it felt more like a high school (or) college vibe in New York,” Martinez said.

The locker-room aspect of any given team is extremely important, but the camaraderie the Giants currently have is outstanding. The coaching staff has put together a disciplined roster containing a variety of demographics, ranging from youth to veterans. With so much youth on the team, there has a college feel to it, which boosts morale and excitement.

The New York Giants had an “awesome” offseason:

“It’s awesome. Throughout the whole thing, I was excited, especially with the free agency process and the guys we brought in on offense and defense. In the draft, we got multiple defensive guys — a couple outside linebackers, a cornerback, the list goes on. The sky’s the limit, and I think the potential is there, but each and everyday as a group, we just have to keep going back to that foundation and that culture and put that work in to be able to reach that potential. If we do that, I think it’s going to be a very successful year.”

That is exactly what you want to hear from your mike linebacker, who played such an integral part in boosting the defense to a top 10 year in 2020. Martinez finished his first season in blue with 151 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, six QB hits, 3.0 sacks, and a career-low 6.2% missed tackle rate. Martinez is a reliable player, playing at all 16 games despite battling injury at points of the season. He set the example for the younger guys, and with Martinez’s excitement, should come an even better 2021 campaign.

Will the New York Giants receive any compensatory picks this year?

New York Giants, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants are not expected to be awarded any compensatory draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants hold the 11th overall pick in the 2021 Draft. They will only have six picks overall to fill the many needs on the roster.

In addition to their first-round pick, the G-Men will have the 42nd overall pick in round two, No. 76 overall in round three, No. 107 overall in round four, and two sixth-round selections — No. 172 and No. 177, the latter received in exchange from the Arizona Cardinals in the Markus Golden trade.

The Giants do not have a fifth-round selection due to the trade with the New York Jets for Leonard Williams. Big Blue also does not have a seventh-round selection either due to the trade with the Denver Broncos for Isaac Yaidom.

According to the compensatory draft pick cancellation chart compiled by “Over The Cap,” the Giants are not due any additional selections due to their aggressive shopping spree in free agency last March. They signed cornerback James Bradberry, linebacker Blake Martinez, kicker Graham Gano, outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, quarterback Colt McCoy, tight end Levine Toilolo, and safety/special teamer Nate Ebner.

Safety/Special Teamer Michael Thomas was signed by Houston, but according to the chart, he is listed as non-eligible for compensation.

New York Giants have no players selected to the 2020 All-Pro team

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have been shut out of the 2020 NFL All-Pro team. This is now back-to-back years where the Giants have had zero All-Pro selections. Their last All-Pro selection came in 2018, with Saquon Barkley making the second team along with Aldrick Rosas.

No Giants made the All-Pro teams this year, despite having a number of worthy candidates. The Giants’ defense in particular saw numerous players put together standout seasons in the 2020-2021 regular season. Some Giants players received votes for the All-Pro teams, but no one received enough votes to actually earn a spot.

Who received votes?

Blake Martinez, Leonard Williams, James Bradberry, and Graham Gano all received votes for the 2020 All-Pro teams. Williams and Martinez received two votes each while Bradberry and Gano each received one vote.

Arguably the most confusing snub on the list of Giants snubs is cornerback James Bradberry. The Giants’ cornerback had a career-year and even made Pro Football Focus’s All-Pro team this season. Bradberry was second-team All-Pro via PFF, behind Jaire Alexander.

James Bradberry was phenomenal this season, totaling a combined 17 interceptions and pass breakups on the year, the third-most in the NFL. Bradberry was also selected to the Pro Bowl this year for the first time in his career. So he did receive some recognition, but one could argue that James deserves far more recognition than he is getting after seeing the 2020 All-Pro teams.

Leonard Williams also had a career-year in 2020, but he did not receive any recognition. Despite totaling a career-high 11.5 sacks and racking up an insane 62 pressures, Williams missed both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. Granted, there is a lot of strong competition amongst interior defensive linemen, but Big Cat had an elite season that should have seen him earn some recognition.

Graham Gano is another player that received no recognition, despite a phenomenal 2020 season. After missing all of 2019 with a hip injury, Gano came back strong with the Giants. Graham hit 30 straight field goals this year, a Giants record. He also missed just one kick (57-yards), making 31 of 32 attempts (97%). Gano was not selected to the Pro Bowl and only received one All-Pro vote, but he was truly dependable for the Giants this year.

Finally, Blake Martinez, one of the Giants’ biggest 2020 free-agent acquisitions, also received zero recognition from the league for his phenomenal season. Martinez totaled 151 combined tackles this season, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 0 touchdowns allowed in coverage. At the very least, Martinez should have made the Pro Bowl.

These Giants were snubbed but a good part of the reasoning why could be the team’s win-loss record. Finishing 6-10, the Giants were never a top team in the NFL. Many voters might have held the team’s lack of success against these individual players. Regardless, the Giants and their fans know the level of talent that these players possess. This All-Pro absence will only serve as motivation for these players as they look to build towards the 2021 season.

New York Giants: The top three most confusing Pro Bowl snubs

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

Right now, one of the major stories around the New York Giants is Evan Engram and James Bradberry making the Pro Bowl. It’s a good accomplishment as it marks the talent level on the roster going up compared to recent years where the Giants were less represented in the game. However, it’s safe to say the Giants should be sending more players than they actually are. Some players were confusingly left out, despite their high levels of performance all season.

Logan Ryan

One of the obvious ones is Giants defensive back Logan Ryan, who joined the team in the aftermath of Xavier McKinney’s training camp injury and immediately justified the Giants’ decision to sign him. He’s played in every game so far for the Giants and has 83 combined tackles so far.

He also has 9 passes defended, a single interception, and one fumble recovered. His play this season has largely made up for the Giants not having McKinney until late in the year.

Ryan was also the leader in fan voting for the NFC free safeties for a number of weeks. This ultimately, however, wasn’t enough to boost him into actually getting the spot. It won’t stop the large amount of offseason speculation about his contract situation that will come soon, however.

Blake Martinez

The Giants have really helped former Packers linebacker Blake Martinez turn it around after picking the free agent up to man the middle of the defense. Martinez has 128 combined tackles so far, and that ties him for the fourth spot in the overall standings.

Martinez had also led this list at one point and still has a chance to move further up it in the last two games of the season. On top of that, Martinez has assisted in multiple areas of the game with one interception, two forced fumbles, and two sacks.

Leonard Williams

Despite a dud of a first year with the Giants, Leonard Williams has turned it around under Patrick Graham to have the best pass rushing year of his career. 8.5 sacks is a career high for him and places him at the number eleven spot overall on the league charts for the statistic.

He’s also got 24 QB hits, which places him at sixth overall in the league right now. It really seems like Williams is having a Pro Bowl caliber season, especially with the inclusion of Evan Engram from the Giants, who hasn’t stepped up as much by comparison at his own position.

New York Giants: Giants should “Enter the Wu” and draft Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, New York Giants

Drafting Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would take the New York Giants defense from being a very good defense to being an elite defense.

I know what you are probably saying to yourself, “Why are we already talking about who the New York Giants should draft in the 2021 NFL Draft when there are four weeks remaining in the season, and the team is in first place in their division?”. I totally understand the confusion. In recent years, writers were forced to look ahead to NFL Draft prospects for the Giants by this time of year because the season was already over for Big Blue, and there was nothing else to look forward to.

Obviously, this year is different. If the season were to end today, the New York Giants would qualify for the playoffs, despite currently having a losing record of 5-8. The Giants are coming off a four-game win streak that has propelled them to the top of a weak NFC East. Despite their record, the team has looked exponentially better this season and looks like they could represent a difficult matchup should their current trajectory hold up and they make the playoffs.

Much of their success has been a direct result of a massive improvement on the defensive side of the ball. New defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, has the Giants’ defense playing at a level that we have not seen in recent years. Currently, New York is ranked eighth overall in the NFL after stifling a very potent Seattle Seahawks offense that came into last week as the third-highest scoring offense in the league.

The Giants’ defense has a very solid young core that should allow them to wreak havoc on the National Football League for years to come. Their defensive line is lead by Leonard Williams (26), Dalvin Tomlinson (26), Dexter Lawrence (23), and B.J. Hill (25). The linebacking corps consists of Blake Martinez (26), Oshane Ximines (24), Lorenzo Carter (25), Devante Downs (25), Carter Coughlin (23), Cam Brown (22), David Mayo (27), and Tae Crowder (23). The secondary is made up of James Bradberry (27), Jabrill Peppers (25), Julian Love (22), Logan Ryan (29), Darnay Holmes (22), Xavier McKinney (22), and Isaac Yiadom (24). To say that this talented defense is young would be a massive understatement, with no major contributor over the age of 30 and most aged 26-years-old or younger.

The Giants will need to address the expiring contracts of Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Logan Ryan, who have all played a major part in the success of this defense. According to spotrac.com, they currently are slated to have just over $18 million in remaining cap space heading into 2021, which doesn’t bode well for keeping the trio. However, moving on from Nate Solder, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate would free up another $21.5 million in cap space, which may allow them to keep all three.

However, if this scenario does play out and the Giants are able to keep all three free agent defenders, they will have limited cap space remaining and will unlikely to be able to sign any additional big named free agent players. That means that the defense will have to add any additional significant improvements to the defensive unit via the NFL Draft.

While a case could be made to draft a big-play wide receiver for Daniel Jones or another young piece along the offensive line in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, a case could be made to take an impact defensive player who can take an already excellent defense to elite status for years to come. After all, we all know that great defenses win championships.

If the Giants continue to have success to close out the 2020 season and do, in fact, make the playoffs, elite defensive talents such as Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, edge rushers Gregory Rousseau of Miami and Carlos Basham of Wake Forest, and TCU safety Ar’Darius Washington will likely be gone when New York makes their pick. However, the best fit for the GMEN on defense will likely still be on the board when they step up to the podium. That player is Notre Dame outside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

The 6’1″ and 215-pound Owusu-Koramoah, or “JOK” or “Wu,” as Irish fans affectionately know him as is a bit undersized at the linebacker position. However, Owusu-Koramoah makes up for his lack of size with incredible athletic ability. JOK has thrived as the leader of a stout Notre Dame defense the past two seasons. He has been exceptional as the rover linebacker for the Irish, recording 127 total tackles, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles, one interception, seven pass deflections, and a fumble return for a touchdown over that span.

Anyone who watches Notre Dame football is likely to notice #6 flying all over the field, seemingly making big plays at will. While Owusu-Koramoah wasn’t a big-time prospect coming out of college, rating only as a 3-star recruit out of Hampton, Virginia, his ability to make plays has catapulted him to become one of the elite defensive players in college football.

Owusu-Koramoah was recently named as a semi-finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, awarded to the player who was the best defensive player with the best character in college football. Additionally, he was named as a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (national defensive player of the year), Butkus Award (best linebacker), and Bednarik Award (best defensive player). A strong showing against Clemson in the ACC Championship game next weekend would go a long way in helping to secure those awards.

Owusu-Koramoah appears to be the perfect fit for the New York Giants in the upcoming draft. One of the few weaknesses remaining on the Giants defense is at outside linebacker. While the GMEN have arguably one of the best middle linebackers in the game in Blake Martinez, they are lacking production at the outside linebacker position. Some of this is due to losing both Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter to season-ending injuries. Both Carter and Ximines have shown flashes of becoming solid pass-rushing options at the outside linebacker position, but neither is a sure thing, especially coming off of major injuries.

Adding a playmaker of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s caliber to play alongside Martinez would represent a major improvement on an already impressive Giants defense. “Wu” would give Patrick Graham’s defense a player who is excellent as a pass rusher, who can provide solid coverage in the passing game, and who has a propensity to come up with huge plays at critical times. If either or both of the tandem of Carter and Ximines return and reach their potential, the linebacking group of Martinez, Owusu-Koramoah, Ximines, Carter, and the young late-round picks from last year’s draft give the Giants a very young, talented, and deep linebacking corps to go along with their young, talented, and deep defensive line and secondary.

If the New York Giants are able to secure this best-case scenario and resign the trio of Williams, Ryan, and Tomlinson and then are able to add a player of Owusu-Koramoah’s ability in the draft, this defense looks poised to be among the best in the National Football League for years to come. Having a strong defense takes a lot of pressure off of Daniel Jones and the offense. If they can pull off these moves in the offseason AND add a few offensive weapons for Jones, this team will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

New York Giants receive bad injury news on defense and optimism on offense

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

When New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones went down in week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals, the expectation was that they would lose against Seattle Seahawks in week 13.

However, reserve quarterback Colt McCoy did just enough to help his team to victory, with the defense stepping up in a big way, limiting a potent Seattle offense to just 12 points.

This week, Jones has been working his way back to full health but is not 100% healthy. He was seen jogging lightly down the field following a running back screen in practice, but it was clear there was still a limp in his step, indicating that he might need one more week to return as the starter.

“There was some progress made,” Judge said, per Giants beat writer Art Stapleton. “We had a long talk with [Jones] after practice, a long talk with him [Friday] morning again. We’re going to put him through it again and see how he responds to it. I’m fairly optimistic but at the same time there’s a ways to go and we gotta be fair to him.”

While the offense could gain back their quarterback, the defense could lose theirs against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend.

Against Seattle, linebacker Blake Martinez suffered a back injury in the 4th quarter that held him out for the remainder of the contest. With the game on the line, the Giants’ defense had to survive without him, and they got the job done despite their best run-stopping LB sitting on the sidelines.

Despite the injury, Martinez had a fantastic game against the Seahawks and altogether has been a stud for the Giants this season, racking up 111 tackles, six tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, and 2.0 sacks.

Losing Martinez would be a significant blow to the defense against Arizona, who has one of the best running games in the NFL. As a top run-defender in the league, Martinez has 47 stops this year and has done a great job mitigating big plays at the second level.

In his absence, the Giants would have to utilize backup David Mayo, who physically is a similar player to Martinez but lacks his speed and vision.

Last season, Mayo started in 13 games, earning 82 combined tackles and five tackles for a loss. He was actually quite solid for Big Blue, and while losing Martinez is a massive blow, this is why the Giants signed Mayo to an extension as a depth option.