Competition at Linebacker for Big Blue

by Spiro Kasabian @NYspawstguy_spi

Who Steps Up to Plays Beside Alec Ogeltree?

Going into the 2019 NFL Draft, there was a large contingent of New York Giant fans that wanted the team to improve the Linebacker position.  Besides the obvious hole at the Outside Linebacker position, there were many that clamored for a new Inside Linebacker that would provide an upgrade over the incumbents B.J. Goodson and Alec Ogletree. 

As we know…the Giants decided to punt on adding more money to the position in Free Agency and went in a different the first few rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.

As of today’s OTA session, B.J. Goodson and Alec Ogletree remained the first-team starters in the Giants base 3-4 defense.  With Alec Ogletree coming off a decent 2018 season in his first year in James Bettcher’s system, you can expect him to remain in the lineup.  Ogletree is a key piece of the defense and a leader on an off the field for this young Giants team.  It should be noted that the Giants gave up a draft pick for him and are paying him good money. If healthy, he will be on the field for a large majority of defensive snaps in 2019.

The question becomes, who will be manning the position next to Ogeltree?

The Incumbent

B.J. Goodson – Goodson finally stayed relatively healthy in 2018 but, he failed to make much of an impact over 13 games.  Goodson ended up making 61 tackles, recorded 0.5 sacks, and had 2 interceptions.  Goodson never made any game-changing plays or stood out in any way. He is the very definition of a JAG (Just Another Guy).

The Challengers

Ryan Connelly – The Giants finally took a Linebacker in the 5th round of this year’s draft, selecting Ryan Connelly is out of Wisconsin.  Connelly is already the fan-favorite candidate to take Goodson’s spot by the end of the year this year.  He is quick, instinctive, tough and can probably provide more in pass defense than Goodson.  Bettcher has already mentioned the former Wisconsin walk-on by name during OTA press conferences.

Tae Davis – UDFA out of Tennessee-Chattanooga who played in 14 games in 2018 (4 starts).  He didn’t wow anybody but played admirably with 33 tackles and 2 sacks in limited time.  Coming from a small school, Davis has room to grow. He could play the Nickle Linebacker next to Ogeltree.

Battling for Roster Spots

Nate Stupar – Good Special Teamer that will solely be competing for backup duties and spot starts due to injury.  If he is starting, the defense is in bad shape.

Josiah Tauaefa – UDFA out of Texas-San Antonio.  Aggressive, downhill LB that will need to make his way through Special Teams.  Good blitzer.  A lot like B.J. Goodson in that he is a thumper that struggles in coverage.

For my money, I think Ryan Connelly steps up and will see the large majority of defense snaps next to Ogeltree after the Bye Week.  Looking forward to this battle during training camp and preseason to see who steps up.

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