by Spiro Kasabian @nyspawtsguy_spi
Smash mouth football returns with the Linebackers
LB Corps Looking Legit
The New York Giants haven’t been able to put the words “Linebacker” and “Legit” in the same sentence for a very long time. The Giants have not had an impact linebacker since Antonio Pierce left nearly 10 years ago. I am here to tell you that times are changing. The Giants are getting back to their roots. If Training Camp is any indication, this team looks to have some players at LB.
Olivier Vernon – Playing the Chandler Jones role in this year’s defense, I expect OV to have a big year. His focus will be rushing the passer, but OV has always been great at setting the edge against the run. Big year for OV as well, as he has a very cuttable contract after this season. Played in a 3-4 defense before and should excel.
Alec Ogletree – So excited to get this young man in Blue. No questioning that this guy is an athlete and can be a leader on the field. Much like Pierce, Ogletree comes to the NY Giants as a 27-year-old, with a lot left in the tank. Per reports, he has been flying all over the field in practice. He can cover, tackle, and blitz. Very excited for what should be the new vocal leader of this defense.
B.J. Goodson – This should be a big season for Goodson. He flashed several times last season but was hurt way too often over the course of his young career. Goodson needs to stay on the field, because as evidence of his 14-tackle opening day performance against Dallas, he can be an impact player. He has less pressure now with better surrounding talent, so I expect this year to be B.J.’s best year yet. Has made plays over the first week of camp, so I am excited to see him in Bettcher’s defense, making plays downhill.
Lorenzo Carter – The young rookie out of UGA has all the skills to be a difference maker at the OLB position for a LONG time. He will have his rookie moments, but it sounds as though Bettcher will make it simple for the rookie at first and give him a light workload until he proves he can handle things. Per reports, Carter has been flying around the edge at Camp. This guy could end up being the best of the bunch once he figures the NFL out.
Connor Barwin – A very smart move by Gettleman. Barwin might not be quite the impact player he was earlier in his career, but the guy can still rush the QB (back to back 5 sack years with 55.5 over his career). Will provide much-needed pass rush depth and will be a solid mentor for guys like Carter and Martin. With a reduced snap count, Barwin might be more effective than he was last year for the Rams.
Kareem Martin – James Bettcher liked Martin enough to insist the Giants signed him right off the bat this offseason. While his career stats don’t jump out at you, he did post career highs in games started, tackles, and passes defended. If nothing else, Martin is going to be a guy that knows Bettcher’s system and will be able to communicate on the field. He is known as a good run defender and will set the edge.
Wild Card Backers:
To round out the LB Corps, the Giants have some intriguing talents. Avery Moss, Romeo Okwara, and Ray-Ray Armstrong (flashing talent throughout the first week of camp) are talented. This is the first time in over a decade will you see such a talented group. I couldn’t be more excited about getting back to the Big Blue tradition of great LB play. If things go right, this could be one of the better Linebacking Corps in the NFL.