Who will play inside linebacker for the NY Giants

The Giants are in need of an inside linebacker.

For decades the New York Giants have had some of the best inside linebackers in football.   Sam Huff, Harry Carson, Brian Kelly, Gary Reasons, Pepper Johnson, Michael Barrow, and Antonio Pierce.

Sometimes the team captures lightning in a bottle with Kawika Mitchell, but it’s time that the Giants put a quality player in the middle of the field to anchor the defense; however, the entire league knows that General Manager Jerry Reese sees no value in this position.

Options for the 2016 season

  • Jasper Brinkley – the well-traveled linebacker was signed by the Giants in 2015 after being cut by the Cowboys at the start of the 2015 season.  He had short stints with the Vikings and the Cardinals from ’09 to ’14.  Brinkley did stop the bleeding on a Giants defense that was being gashed in chunks.  While not flashy or dynamic, Brinkley had a nose for the football as a downhill linebacker causing 4 fumbles in 15 games.   He had 67 tackles and 1 sack.  Brinkley will never be an All Pro linebacker but is reliable and healthy.  Behind Hankins and Harrison, Brinkley would be solid.  Brinkley is currently unsigned and a free agent.
  • Keenan Robinson – Free Agent pick up sign from the Washington Redskins.  Robinson was a 4th round draft pick in 2012.  He describes himself as “relentless” and see’s the Giants as a perfect fit because they need a middle linebacker.   While Robinson is correct, the Giants need a game changer in the middle of the defense that can stay on the field.  Robinson shares the same injury bug as Jon Beason.  While Beason was older and more talented, Robinson does mirror him in time spent on injured reserve.  Robinson missed 21 games (2012 & 2013) with a torn pectoral, 3 games (2014) with an ankle and 4 games (2015) ribs and shoulder.
  • Devon Kennard – Drafted in the 5th round in 2014.  In college (USC) Kennard played Defensive End and Strong Side Linebacker, making him a versatile player. In his two-year tenure on the Giants, Kennard has been an outside linebacker with the skills to be the signal caller.  The knock on Kennard is that he disappears from week to week.   While his long frame works for the outside, the Giants could consider moving the 6’3 260 lbs linebacker to the inside.  
  • Uani “Devin” Unga – Unga is a fun player to watch and has a great story.  Unga lead the nation in tackles at BYU until he injured his knee on the last play of his college career.  The Giants signed him a free agent and rehabbed his knee while on the practice squad.  He has 4 brothers who has all played big time college football.  Unga’s size hurts him at 6’1 233.   There is no denying his nose for the ball as he flies around the field making plays.  Could be a lights out special teams player, and situational linebacker. Drops into coverage great, but has a tendency to let the tight run free in the middle of the field.
  • James Laurinaitis – The free agent linebacker recently cut by the Rams seems that he would be a perfect fit for New York Giants.  The media has gone back and forth whether the former Rams all-time tackler was planning on a visit with the Giants.  The bottom line is…he should be.  In seven years Laurinaitis has not missed a game, he’s durable and would be re-united with Spags.  We don’t hear much on the Spags, Laurinaitis relationship front?  Prototypical inside backer at 6′ 2″ 248.  Will sign somewhere in the next few days.
  • Miles Jack – not an inside linebacker; however, reports say that Jack has bulked up during his knee rehab process. Jack has fantastic closing speed and is a great line of scrimmage player, chasing down quarterbacks and running backs moving away from him.  Jack does not have the experience you would like coming out of college, having missed significant time due to his knee injury but will be a great NFL talent.   Repeat:  If he was available at No. 10, Jack would not be moved to the inside.

There are a handful of young inside linebacker that are available; however, most of the reports on these players is not good.  

Curtis Lofton – struggled and was benched 

Donald Butler – check out after big contract.  24 tackles in 16 games.

Bruce Carter – signed 4 year deal and was cut after 1 year.  Lost starting job to rookie

David Hawthorne – signed from Seattle in 2012.  Was cut for mediocre play.