By Michael Stewart/@TheTruthNYG
Last season the Giants lost Blake Martinez for a large portion of the season with an injury and felt his absence as the Giants ILB position failed to provide any type of production for the Giants defense. Fast forward into the off season with new GM Joe Schoen who understood the importance of adding depth and talent to this position by drafting two ILB with starter potential in Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers. Let’s take a look at the rest of the current players who will be looking to make the 53-man roster by opening day.
- Blake Martinez: By all reports, Martinez is ahead of schedule from his 2021 season ending injury and should benefit from DC Wink Martindale’s defensive system. The Giants GM Joe Schoen, convinced Martinez to take a pay cut to remain a Giant for much needed cap space, so I expect to see a highly productive Martinez in 2022.
- Tae Crowder: Mr. Irrelevant from the 2020 draft, Tae Crowder has achieved more than anyone could have imagined, unfortunately playing a larger role after the injury to Martinez exposed many of Crowder’s pitfalls as a reliable starter in the middle. With the new additions this season, Crowder will not only be competing for a starting spot, but also for a roster spot and at this point, the odds could be against him.
- Carter Coughlin: Coughlin was originally drafted as an outside OLB and has been converted to the inside since 2021. It’s unclear if Coughlin has the makeup to be an ILB based on his lack of experience at this position and his size (6’3/235). My guess is that DC Wink Martindale could employ Coughlin as a rover linebacker, moving inside or outside in certain packages when he gets any playing time. Coughlin will need to have an outstanding camp to not only make the final roster, but to see any playing time aside from special teams.
- Michah McFadden: One of three picks for the Giant’s in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL draft. Mcfadden was a steady force for the Hoosiers defense throughout his college career. Mcfadden has a compact frame (6’1/240) and is very similar in his style of play to Blake Martinez. McFadden excels closer to the line of scrimmage and has some pass rushing skills that I’m sure DC Wink Martindale will look to exploit.
- Darrian Beavers: Beavers was graded as a late Day 2 to early Day 3 prospect and fell to the Giants in the 6th round. Beaver’s has good length and size (6’4/255) as he could be one of the many diamonds in the rough selections made by the Giants in this draft. Beaver’s is not flashy, but he always seems to be around the ball and can play as a 3 down ILB with his ability to play in coverage and defend the run, Beavers has displayed solid production and also has some pass rushing skills.
- Cam Brown: Brown has excelled in special teams and that will be the storyline for him if he wants to make the final roster. Brown will be one of the top special team’s performers for the Giants in 2022 and will see limited action on the defensive side of the ball. Brown has developed at a gradual pace and has cemented his role with the Giants on special teams.
- Justin Hilliard: Hilliard is considered an undersized ILB (6’0/231) who relies more on quickness and anticipation. Hilliard will be facing an uphill battle to secure a final roster spot with the 2 game suspension handed out (NFL Policy on PEDS). The best way will be excelling on special teams during the pre-season games. If not, Hilliard could get released or find his way onto the practice squad.
Among this group of seven candidates, I expect the Giants will carry five into opening day. With any position, GM Joe Schoen could still look for an upgrade should any potential player get released from now until the end of training camp. Like any position, the success of the Giants ILB position will be staying healthy; especially with Blake Martinez as he is the glue at the ILB position. In the end, I see one of the rookies emerge and claim a spot alongside Martinez by opening day.