NY Giants: GM Jerry Reese Linebacker Options in the 2017 Draft
By Michael Stewart (@golferbad)
MLB- Zach Cunningham-6’4/230 (Vanderbilt): Cunningham is the real deal and if his 2016 totals doesn’t suggest that (125 tackles), just watching his game films will. Cunningham is equally solid as a run defender and a pass rusher when called upon. He is strong at the point of attack and has excellent football instincts.
OLB-T.J Watts-6’3/250 (Wisconsin): Watts can play outside & inside and is a solid edge rusher and is also productive against the run. His totals in 2016 were very impressive (63 tackles/15.5 for losses/11.5 sacks/4 passes batted and 2 forced fumbles). During the combine, Watts displayed good speed and athleticism; which has many scouts projecting him to be a late 1st round selection.
MLB- Raekwon McMillan-6’2/240 (Ohio State): McMillan is very physical and tough at the point of attack. Many scouts have McMillan going as early as round 2 to possibly round 4, depending on how serious they view him as a legit MLB/ILB at the next level.
OLB-Carroll Phillips-6’3/240 (Illinois): Phillips could have been a 1st round selection if not for weakness against the run. As a pass rusher, Phillips has the speed and athleticism to give opposing QB’s nightmares on any given Sunday. If Phillips can improve on his run defense, the sky’s the limit.
MLB- Kendell Beckwith-6’2/252 (LSU): Beckwith is solid as a pass-rusher and run defender, however; his pass coverage skills needs to improve to be considered and viable 3 down MLB/ILB in the NFL.
OLB-Ryan Anderson-6’2/253 (Alabama): Like many Alabama players before him, Anderson was easily overlooked in the Alabama defense; except from his teammates. Anderson will never stand out and overwhelm you with his burst of speed or incredible strength. However; just does all the little things well that wins you ball games. Anderson has great instinct and nose for the ball and fit in well in rotational LBer group.
MLB- Riley Bullough-6’2/227 (Michigan State): Bullough is a steady run defender and has a nose for the ball. Bullough lacks the speed and athleticism to make the jump to the NFL by many scouts.
OLB-Richie Brown-6’2/245 (Mississippi State): Brown is a solid run defender and would need to improve on pass rush where he only recorded 1.5 sacks in 2016.
MLB- Ben Gedeon-6’1/243 (Michigan): In 2016, Gedeon totaled 106 tackles with 15.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks for the Wolverines. Gedeon is a pure run stuffer, but needs to improve on his pass coverage.
OLB-Josh Carraway-6’3/250 (TCU): Callaway is a pure speed rusher off the edge with immense athleticism. Carraway will need to improve against the run if he wants to be a 3 down LBer.
MLB- Keith Kelsey-6’0/240 (Louisville): Kelsey excels in two areas; run defender and pass coverage. He is weak as a pass rusher and if a team is in need of a MLB pass rusher, then Kelsey is not your man. However; if a team is looking for a solid MLB who can stop the run and pay adequate pass defense, then Kelsey is your man.
OLB-Devonte Fieids-6’4/240 (Louisville): Fields has 2nd to 3rd round talent, however; injuries have set him back throughout his college career. Fields needs to work on technique and get stronger as he currently excels by using his speed and athleticism on the field.
MLB- Hardy Nickerson-6’0/226 (Illinois): Nickerson does have the blood lines (father Hardy Nickerson Sr.) however; Nickerson lacks many of the skill sets to be a major contributor in the NFL. He is more suited to be a solid depth LBer and contribute on special teams.
OLB-Derek Rivers-6’4/248 (Youngstown): Rivers is currently viewed a Strong-side Linebacker in the draft. However; many scouts view him as a DE in a couple of years. Rivers has speed and athleticism for his size and his stat this season of 14 sacks is a strong indication that he knows to get to the QB.
Final Thoughts: Throughout Jerry Reese tenure as the Giants GM, the Linebacker position has been the least desirable when it came to the draft. Since 2007, the earliest Linebacker drafted by the Giants was in 2009 when Reese selected Clint Sintim out of Virginia. If you’re a Giant fan like me, we all know the outcome of Sintims’ career as a Giant. Year after year I keep holding out for Reese to finally draft a playmaking Linebacker (MLB or OLB). However; year after year it’s the same results. Could this be the year?