One mid-round linebacker the Giants could pair with Blake Martinez in 2022

quay walker, georgia, giants

With the Giants hiring Wink Martindale as their new defensive coordinator, drafting and signing athletes is a priority with his man coverage-heavy scheme that relies on blitzing and speed.

Luckily, management restructured the contract of linebacker Blake Martinez, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons last season. Retaining a defensive leader who is one of the best tacklers in football while lowering his cap hit was a great move. The Giants would be smart to pair him with a young linebacker vi the NFL Draft.

Of course, the big names like Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd stand out as the best in the draft class. However, there could be a few gems in the middle grounds that Big Blue could target, one of them being Georgia linebacker Quay Walker.

Walker is an instinctive player that stands at 6’4″ and 241 pounds. For his frame, Walker possesses great reactionary speed and sideline to sideline capabilities. With solid football IQ and eyes at the second level, he’s capable of plugging gaps and stopping runners through the middle of the formation.

While Walker doesn’t possess elite speed by any means, his positioning and understanding of the game give him an advantage. Walker projects as a good backup with eventual starter potential at linebacker, but given the only other option, the Giants currently have on the roster is Tae Crowder, who has likely already reached his ceiling, drafting a player to compete with him would be ideal. Coincidentally, Walker and Crowder bare both Georgia products.

As you can see in the clips, Walker possesses good vision and flows nicely over the line of scrimmage to stop runners. He’s rarely confused by motion and keeps his eyes on the football at all times. In addition, Walker is great at dropping back into coverage and lining up against tight ends. He has sufficient reaction timing that allows him to break on ball carriers. Another positive — Walker rarely misses tackles, which was a problem for the Giants last season.

Under former general manager Dave Gettleman, the mid-rounds were a graveyard of players, but new GM Joe Schoen should have more success given his history with the Buffalo Bills.

Nonetheless, Walker fits the bill nicely with his coverage abilities and great intelligence at the second level. Allowing him to learn from Blake Martinez would give him a tremendous advantage, and he could likely compete with Crowder immediately for starting snaps.

New York Giants: Carter Coughlin should see his role increase Sunday

New York Giants, Carter Coughlin

The New York Giants were hit with brutally bad news on Monday morning. During Sunday’s painful loss to the Atlanta Falcons, inside linebacker Blake Martinez went down with a knee injury. On Monday it was announced that Martinez tore his ACL and would miss the remainder of the season.

Blake Martinez is a huge loss on the Giants’ defense. Last year, in Martinez’s first season with the Giants, he recorded 151 combined tackles. This was his fourth year in a row totaling 140 or more combined tackles.

Without Blake Martinez on the field, the Giants are going to need some young linebackers to step up and start making plays. Tae Crowder had a career game against Atlanta filling in for Blake Martinez, according to PFF. Unfortunately, Crowder is also dealing with an injury now. Tae is dealing with a hamstring injury and is QUESTIONABLE for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

With Blake Martinez OUT and Tae Crowder hampered, second-year linebacker Carter Coughlin should see his role increase on Sunday.

Carter Coughlin stats and highlights

In his rookie season with the Giants, Carter Coughlin played edge rusher, as he did in college. He had some impressive moments as a rookie and showed some real promise. Coughlin racked up 17 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack in 14 games and two starts.

Heading into year two, the Giants had Coughlin transition to a new position: inside linebacker. After the preseason, this transition seemed to be a great success. According to Pro Football Focus, Carter Coughlin graded out 91.8 on 24 snaps in his preseason debut at inside linebacker. Coughlin totaled five tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss in the Giants’ first preseason game. He finished the preseason with eight tackles, three pressures, and two sacks on 69 snaps.

Carter Coughlin looked phenomenal in the preseason. However, he has barely played in 2021 (11 defensive snaps in three games). Carter Coughlin has shown promise in the past. With injuries piling up at the position, it seems to be about time Coughlin enters the lineup and sees his role increase.

New York Giants: 3 big takeaways from the release of the unofficial depth chart

david sills, new york giants

The New York Giants released their first unofficial depth chart ahead of the first preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. With the team enjoying a great experience at MetLife during Fan-Fest, coining the first fan engagement since before COVID-19, spirits are high, and excitement is brewing.

While the depth chart has a few interesting placements, there’s still plenty of time for players to change the course of their off-season.

Three takeaways from New York Giants’ unofficial depth chart:

1.) David Sills listed ahead of CJ Board, Austin Mack, and Damion Wills

One of the standout players for the Giants thus far has been David Sills, who broke his leg last year, ending his preseason early. Sills was a stand-out during training camp in 2020, and once again, he’s proving to be a solid receiver, especially in the red zone. During live drills in the RZ, Sills has hauled in five touchdown passes, with a number of them coming from quarterback Daniel Jones.

David spent the majority of his off-season following Jones around the country, working hard to create chemistry and perfect timing. Clearly, that is paying off in a big way during camp.

“Basically this guy followed Daniel around the country,” Giants coach Joe Judge said of Sills, per Art Stapleton of NJ.com. “Wherever Daniel was, he was going to be there to catch passes. That’s someone who you can tell has really invested in himself to get every shot he has.”

Judge loves players who invest in themselves and spend extra time refining their craft. Based on that alone, I would say Sills is on the fast track to earning a spot on the 53 man roster. If he can contribute on special teams, Judge will have a hard time moving on from him and his work ethic.

“He’s making a lot of plays for us,” Judge said. “He’s doing a good job, he comes out, works hard every day. Sills is a guy who does everything you ask and he does it 100 percent.”

2.) Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines listed as projected starters at OLB

The Giants added tons of outside linebacker support this off-season, but they listed two familiar faces as the projected starters ahead of the first preseason game. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, who was activated off the PUP less this week as the starters, have Azeez Ojulari and Trent Harris behind them.

Carter is coming off a torn Achilles and Ximines a shoulder injury that ended his season, but they have the most experience at the position. The expectation is that Ojulari will earn significant reps to open the year, given his success last season in the SEC.

Having more depth at the position will prove to be beneficial in 2021, as the Giants were forced to rely on seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin and practice squad player Jabaal Sheard as their primary outside linebackers in 2020. Based on the fact this depth chart is unofficial, it’s not surprising to see Ximines slotter it in as the starter.

3.) Tae Crowder listed as starting WLB next to Blake Martinez

When the Giants drafted Tae Crowder with the final pick in the 2020 NFL draft, nobody expected he would be vying for starting snaps just one year later. The Giants have Crowder listed as the starter opposite Blake Martinez. Not much has been said about the former Georgia stand-out this training camp, but he showed flashes of adequacy as a pass coverage linebacker and run stopper during his rookie season. He collected 40 total tackles, 18 stops and allowed 283 yards. Over 210 covered snaps, he didn’t give up a single score, which is a positive sign.

Behind Crowder, the Giants have Devante Downs and TJ Brunson. I wouldn’t expect either to dislodge him from the starting spot, putting Crowder in an advantageous position to open the year as the primary weak side linebacker.

One New York Giants breakout candidate at the linebacker position

New York Giants, Tae Crowder

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.

New York Giants getting everything and more out of 2020 rookie class

New York Giants, Tae Crowder

The New York Giants are on a four-game winning streak. This is the longest winning streak the Giants have been on since 2016. New York is also in first place in the NFC East after beating a tough 8-3 Seahawks team on the road this Sunday. The Giants look poised to make a playoff run this season, proving their legitimacy while beating one of the best offenses in the NFL in Seattle.

One of the biggest difference-makers on the Giants this season has been their 2020 rookie class. New York has seen early returns on nearly every single rookie they drafted or signed this offseason. These rookies have been crucial to the Giants’ success in recent weeks.

Rookies on offense

On the offensive line, the Giants have been seeing their young, inexperienced players improve every single week. Andrew Thomas had the best performance of his young career so far this week against Seattle. For the second week in a row, Thomas did not allow a single pressure in pass protection. He also recorded the highest single-game Pro Football Focus grade of his career at 87.1 overall. Not only was this his highest-graded single game this year, but it was also the highest single-game grade among all first-round offensive tackle picks this season (PFF).

Right beside Andrew Thomas is Shane Lemieux, the Giants’ fifth-round pick from Oregon who has been starting at left guard for the past few weeks. The entire offensive line has played significantly better since Lemieux entered the lineup. Lemieux has had his fair share of ups and downs, but he has been very impressive when considering where he was drafted. Lemieux has also been improving week-by-week and looks like he will be with Big Blue for a long time.

In addition to the two rookies on the offensive line, Nick Gates has gotten better every week playing a brand new position. Initially, a guard, then a tackle, Nick Gates has transitioned to the center position and played at a high level in recent weeks after some great struggles early in the season. Gates is basically a rookie as he is learning and playing a brand new position this year. He has shown tremendous progress, though, and is already locked into a contract extension that should keep him as the Giants’ starting center for years to come.

Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Austin Mack also has a game this season as the Giants’ leading receiver. The Giants’ other rookie offensive tackle, Matt Peart (selected 99th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft), has not elevated to starting status yet. However, he has seen playing time while rotating in at both left and right tackle this season. He has been super impressive whenever he is on the field and could play his way into a starting role sooner than later.

Rookies on defense

The defensive side of the ball is where the Giants have really seen their rookies contribute this year. New York has been starting rookies at multiple defensive positions this year. Darnay Holmes, New York’s fourth-round selection out of UCLA, has started at slot cornerback all season long. Holmes has, like the rest, improved every single week. He certainly has not been a liability like the slot cornerback position has been for the Giants in the past. Holmes had his first career interception against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks this week. A promising future seems to be laid out for Darnay Holmes and the Giants’ defense.

The second half of the Giants’ 2020 NFL Draft class was filled with defensive selections. New York drafted the likes of Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, and Tae Crowder in the sixth and seventh rounds. Whether earned through merit or obtained through injuries, these rookies have all seen significant playing time in the Giants’ defense.

Tae Crowder, Mr. Irrelevant from the 2020 NFL Draft, has been starting on the Giants’ defense this year when healthy. Crowder has been so impressive for a player who nearly went undrafted. Crowder recorded a clutch sack against the Seahawks this week and recorded a game-winning scoop-and-score fumble recovery against Washington earlier this season. He has exceeded all expectations as a starting inside linebacker for the Giants this year.

Crowder was one pick away from going undrafted. When speaking of undrafted rookies, it is hard not to talk about Niko Lalos, the Giants’ undrafted gem out of Dartmouth. Lalos was elevated to the Giants’ active roster last week before their matchup with the Bengals. In his first NFL game, Lalos recorded an interception and earned more playing time this week. Of course, the Ivy League animal went ahead and recovered a fumble this week against Seattle. This undrafted rookie has been forcing turnovers left and right.

Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin were two under-the-radar linebackers that the Giants found late in the 2020 NFL Draft. Coughlin has seen increased playing time with EDGE Kyler Fackrell recently placed on injured reserve. Coughlin has played 79 defensive snaps this season, already totaling 6 combined tackles, 1 sack, 8 total pressures, and 6 hurries. Cam Brown has played 48 snaps, recording 5 pressures 3 hurries, and 8 combined tackles already.

Second-round pick Xavier McKinney has yet to see expanded playing time after returning from a fractured foot, but he is sure to be part of New York’s long-term defensive plans as well.

The Giants have seen early returns on nearly every rookie they drafted or signed this offseason. It was a job fantastically done by Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, and company, acquiring young, talented players this offseason. The future is bright in the Big Apple.

New York Giants: 2 rookies fighting for a roster spot during training camp

New York Giants, Chris Williamson

With rookie training camp starting on Tuesday, the New York Giants are gearing up to iron out there active roster for the 2020 regular season. The NFL and NFLPA came to a conclusion on testing protocols, and given the short timetable they had to negotiate, it happened rather quickly.

With testing and health protocols in place, the Giants and other teams can begin training correctly. Most of the players’ work has been virtual the past few months, individually staying in shape and learning the playbook.

With the rookies set to begin training, let’s take a look at to New York Giants players who are fighting for a roster spot:

1.) Tae Crowder

“Mr. Irrelevant,” Tae Crowder of the Georgia Bulldogs. Selected with the last pick in the 2020 NFL draft, Crowder was an unsung hero for Georgia and was a last-second addition to the 2015 signing class.

Over three years in college, Crowder racked up 122 tackles and two turnovers. He is a raw linebacker coming out of Georgia. He represents a high upside alternative for the Giants at a weak position. Last season, he logged 62 total tackles and four tackles for loss. He is an experienced player in the SEC and has faced off again some of the best collegiate teams in the country.

Nonetheless, it will be difficult for him to earn a spot on the active roster. The Giants have several players competing at linebacker, including Ryan Connelly, Devante Downs, Mark McLaurin, Chris Peace, Dominique Ross, and Josiah Tauafa.

New York Giants draft Georgia LB Tae Crowder – what does he bring to the team?

New York Giants, Tae Crowder

Taking a look at Georgia LB Tae Crowder, drafted by the New York Giants with the 255th overall pick:

With the Mr. irrelevant pick and 255th selection in the 2020 NFL draft, the New York Giants elected linebacker Tae Crowder out of Georgia.

USA TODAY’s Draft Wire ranks Crowder inside the top 20 NFL draft prospects at the linebacker position for this class. He is an unsung hero for the Bulldogs, having been a last-minute addition to their 2015 signing class.

During his three years as a starter, Crowder tallied 122 tackle and two turnovers in the process. He is a pure developmental player but he’s one of the hardest hitting linebackers in college football.

Another pure competitor and potential roster spot player for the Giants to maximize during training camp. In 2019, he logged 62 total tackles and four tackles for loss.

His stats don’t necessarily stand out, but he is one of the more experienced players in the SEC and Georgia team, making him a solid grab with the last pick in the NFL draft.