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Giants 53-Man Roster: A Closer Look At The Linebackers

The Giants’ most important position this year will be at the inside linebacker position. New York will run two inside linebackers this year in most formations and need a solid inside linebacker group. Is this inside linebacker group good enough to help out the Giants’ poor secondary?

The Giants are returning their two starting linebackers from last year. Starting at right inside linebacker for this squad will be Blake Martinez. Starting at left inside linebacker for the Giants will be Tae Crowder. The Giants’ inside linebackers’ backups include Micah Mcfadden, Austin Calitro, Carter Coughlin, and Cam Brown. Here’s a deeper look at each player in the team’s linebacker corps:

Introducing The Giants 2022 Linebacker Corps

Blake Martinez

As already stated Blake Martinez will start at right inside linebacker for the Giants this year. Martinez was drafted in the fourth round by the Packers in 2016. He came over to the Giants in 2020 via free agency. The inside linebacker signed a three-year deal for 30 million dollars (with an average annual value of 10 million dollars per year). 19 million dollars was guaranteed at signing. Martinez had a great year in 2020. The former Packer had 97 solo tackles, five tackles for loss, and 155 combined tackles.

Additionally, he had three sacks. While he had a great year in his first year, his second year with the Giants was cut short early due to getting injured with a torn ACL. He missed 14 games last year. This is a very interesting year for Martinez this year. The 28-year-old is going into free agency next offseason. If Martinez wants to get paid, he will need to prove to the NFL that he has returned to his 2020 status after suffering an injury last year. Martinez could be the difference maker in whether the linebacking core is good this year because the Giants are counting on him being the 2020 version of himself this year.

Tae Crowder

Tae Crowder will start at left inside linebacker for the Giants this year. Crowder was drafted in the seventh round by the Giants in 2020. In his two years with the team, he has been very playable. Crowder had 34 solo tackles during his rookie year on defense. While he had a good rookie year for someone drafted in the seventh round, his real value did not show until Martinez got injured last year. He was a very nice surprise last year, with 64 solo tackles, three tackles for loss, and 130 combined tackles last year.

While that is good and not great, considering that he was drafted in the seventh round it was a great value pick by former General Manager Dave Gettleman. Drafting Crowder was one of the rare wins of the Gettleman era. Crowder will be solid this year. While he will probably not be exceptional this year, I do expect him to be solid and put to good use with the Giants.


Micah Mcfadden

Micah Mcfadden is the first backup linebacker for the Giants this year. Mcfadden was drafted in the fifth round by New York in last year’s draft. Before being drafted, Mcfadden was a four-year player at Indiana. He was a two-time captain at Indiana and had 77 total tackles (49 solo tackles and 28 assisted tackles) last year. Additionally, he had 6.5 sacks last year.

Despite him putting up good stats at Indiana, Mcfadden was considered a late-round draft pick due to his small size for the NFL game. He has proved the doubters wrong so far in training camp. Coaches, reporters, and fans have praised the young linebacker. While his size is a real and fair question to have about his playing abilities at the NFL level, he could be a very solid backup linebacker for the Giants.

Austin Calitro

Austin Calitro is the second backup inside linebacker for the Giants this year. He is a four-year veteran in the NFL. He went undrafted in 2017 before being picked up by the Seahawks. In his four years, he hasn’t stayed with one NFL team for more than one season. He has stints with the Jaguars, Broncos, and Bengals before being signed by the Giants this off-season.

He signed a one-year, one-million-dollar contract with New York. He had to make his way onto to the roster by beating out other players for a roster spot and proved his way to a roster spot by having a very good training camp. The highlight of his training camp was when he forced a fumble, had a pick-six, and a tackle for loss in week three of the preseason against the Jets.

While Carter Coughlin might be ahead of him on the depth chart by week one, I would say that Calitro is the second backup against the inside linebacker position because Coughlin will probably play backup snaps at the outside linebacker position until Thibodeaux comes back from injury. Additionally, if there are more injuries at the outside linebacker position, Coughlin is more likely to be a backup at that position than at the inside linebacker position. Coughlin was drafted in the seventh round by the Giants in 2020 and has filled his role as a backup linebacker in his two years with the Giants.

Inside Linebacker Third team

Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin are the two third teamers for the Giants at the inside linebacker position. While they will probably not get a lot of snaps at the inside linebacker position, they will play special teams. Having already gone over Coughlin, let’s talk about Cam Brown. Cam Brown was drafted in the 6th round by the Giants in 2020. Brown had a forced fumble in limited snaps for the Giants in his rookie year. He has played many special teams snaps for the Giants over the last two years. He has been very playable for the Giants on special teams. Look for Brown to get regular snaps on punts and kickoffs.

Verdict

The Giants’ inside linebacker position will be very crucial for them this year. If the Giants want to be good this year, they will need their middle and inside linebackers to be solid for them. With the Giants’ secondary expected to be very poor this year (outside of Adoree Jackson and Xavier Mckinney), the defense will need solid pass coverage from their middle linebackers. While they might not as needed in the run game, if New York wants to have a good pass defense this year, they need their middle linebackers to be good.

If Blake Martinez is able to be solid to return to his 2020 form, the Giants should be good at the middle linebacker position. If Martinez is not able to be good this year, New York will need Mcfadden or Calitro to step up. Considering Mcfadden will adjust to playing at a small size and Calitro is an NFL journeyman, it is unlikely that either of them will be starting caliber in year one. The success of the Giants inside linebackers and basically the whole New York defense will come down to whether Blake Martinez is able to return to his 2020 form.

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