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Coaches Corner/Spotlighting the OLB

By Michael Stewart/@TheTruthNYG

Welcome to part 8 in a series of 10 as we spotlight the Giants outside linebackers for 2021. GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge utilized free agency and the draft on a few productive outside linebackers with playmaking skills in Ryan Anderson (Washington), ifeadi Odenighbo (Vikings) and Azeez Ojulari. Let’s take a look at the projected starters, backups and the others on the outside looking in.

Starters

  • Lorenzo Carter:  Thus far, all reports on Carter are encouraging and he seems to be fully healthy to compete for a starting spot in 2021. However; Carter could find himself in a similar position as Ryan Connelly did in last year’s training camp if he can’t convince Joe Judge and DC Patrick Graham that he has no side effects from his Achilles surgery. Carter is in the final year of his rookie deal, so this is a make or break year for him.
  • Ryan Anderson: Andersons playing time dismissed with the arrival of Chase Young at Washington, but in 2019, Anderson had a solid season. Anderson has a good chance to get the starting nod by opening day and share his snaps early in the season with Ojulari who will eventually see more playing time as the season progresses.

Backups

  • Azeez Ojulari: The selection of Azeez Ojulari in the 2nd round for the Giants could wind up as one of their best draft picks over in the last decade.  Ojulari has that rare combination of power and speed and will need a little time to acclimate to the NFL. I’ve got him as a situational defender to start the season and then becoming a starter as the season unfolds. However; it wouldn’t surprise me if he starts by opening day as he is that special.  
  • Ifeadi Odenigbo: The Giants signed Odenigbo to a one year deal in the hopes he can provide some production in the sack department. Idenigbo had 42 pressures in 2020; which would have placed him 2nd only behind Leonard Williams. Odenigbo has 3 down ability and should see his fare share of snaps.
  • Oshane Ximines: Ximines had a solid rookie campaign in 2019, but struggled before his shoulder injury sideline him for the rest of the 2020 season. 2021 season is setting up as a vital one for Ximines as he needs to prove to the Giants organization that he is part of the team’s future before his rookie deal ends.
  • Carter Coughlin: Coughlin will be utilizes more on special teams, but if needed could see time at both the inside and outside linebacker spots in certain packages in 2021. Coughlin would benefit by getting stronger with additional size to his frame; especially if he plays on the inside.
  • Cam Brown: Brown performed well on special teams and in limited snaps at the linebacker position in 2020. The Giants staff is looking for Brown to continue developing by adding more size and strength to his long frame; which will only benefit him.
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On The Outside Looking in

  • Trent Harris: Harris has no chance making the final roster and could even have difficulties making the practice squad.
  • Cale Garrett: Garrett is another extreme long shot making the team and the practice squad at this point.
  • TJ Brunson: Brunson bounced back and forth last season from the practice squad to the roster and seems to be a practice squad candidate at this point. However; it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is released.

The outside linebacker under former GM Jerry Reese was arguably the weakest position on the defensive side of the ball. Fast forward, current GM Dave Gettleman has transformed the outside linebacker position into a more diversified and talented group with a few playmakers. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham will now have the ability to mix and match this group with certain packages to get the most production possible that could make the Giants defense more dynamic than they were in 2020.