Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Drafting Giants: Linebacker Misfires


Since their 2007 Super Bowl season, the New York Giants have nabbed seven linebackers in the NFL Draft: one in the 2nd round, two in the 4th, one in the 5th and three in the 6th. The success rate has been microscopic to nonexistent.

2008

Bryan Kehl, BYU 4th Round | The Giants moved up seven spots and forfeited a sixth round pick to select Kehl. He began his career with a bang, intercepting Ben Roethlisberger in his first career start back in ’08. He’s served as a journeyman special teamer ever since, recording 122 career tackles. A member of the Redskins specials in 2013, Kehl unfortunately tore his ACL on Sunday at Dallas. Apparently he doesn’t look back on his days in New York fondly: “I almost think the GM might have overruled the coach when they drafted me. It was almost like from day one the coaches didn’t really like me there, which is fine. That happens.”

Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt 5th Round | After making 80 tackles in spot start duty in 2010, Goff looked the part of up and coming fixture at middle linebacker; intelligent and solid in coverage. Then, in the lead-up practice to opening day 2011, he tore his ACL. He was signed by the Redskins in the offseason of 2012, but tore his ACL again in training camp. The Giants actually worked out Goff in September looking to improve their sub-par LB corps. He hasn’t played an NFL down in two plus years.

2009

Clint Sintim, Virginia 2nd Round | A linebacker at #45? Stop the presses! Sintim came to the Giants carrying the reputation of a well-rounded outside linebacker with premium pass rush skills. While that assessment may have been accurate, injuries prevented Sintim from making any semblance of an impact – ironic because he had the build of an Adonis. He tore his ACL in 2010 and tore both his ACL and patella in the 2011 preseason. In May, Sintim announced his retirement from the NFL at 27-years of age.

2010

Phillip Dillard, Nebraska 4th Round | Dillard played three defensive snaps for the Giants in 2010. He was waived in 2011, and has since been handed his walking papers by the Panthers and Chargers. Wasted draft pick with limited upside.

Adrian Tracy, William & Mary 6th Round | Tracy, who the Giants planned to convert from defensive end to strong side linebacker, dislocated his right elbow before playing a regular season game as a rookie. The team tried moving him back to defensive end this offseason, but he was eventually cut from the 53-man. A developmental project, Tracy never put the pieces together.

2011

Greg Jones, Michigan St. 6th Round | Jones opened ’11 as the Giants starting middle linebacker, replacing the injured Jonathan Goff. Lacking ideal mobility or size, his starting job lasted about one week. Jones was on the sidelines on passing downs and failed to surpass four tackles in any contest. He was waived the following summer. He’s since suffered a broken leg and been cut by both Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Jacquian Williams, South Florida 6th Round | Finally a drafted linebacker occupying a spot on the active roster (albeit hardly). Williams was reasonably productive at middle linebacker during his rookie season, as he recorded 78 tackles and showed flashes of competence defending in space. He missed seven games with a PCL injury in 2012, and produced minimally when active. Williams has been MIA in 2013, unable to pilfer playing time from the incomparable Spencer Paysinger.

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And around and around we go – thankfully the Giants decided to take a year off from the pursuit in 2012. The routine is all too familiar: short of talent, severe injury, out of football. The Jints haven’t reached into the first round for a linebacker in 29 years, dating back to Carl Banks in 1984. Recent on-field success aside, it’s about time the Giants brass addressed the position. Freak outside linebackers Anthony Barr (UCLA), Khalil Mack (Buffalo) and Kyle Van Noy (BYU) would all look beautiful in a “Big Blue” uniform. At 0-6, however, Jadeveon Clowney is the apple of every fans eye.

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Tags: Jerry Reese New York Giants NFL Draft

  • Joseph Bulger

    During the 2010 draft I was yelling at JR through my TV to draft either NaVorro Bowman or Sean Lee out of that strong Penn State LB squad. But instead he went with JPP, Joseph, and Chad Jones. No telling how good Jones could have been for the Gmen, but JRs first two obviously worked out well enough. But I think JR could have had Bowman in the 3rd if he wanted him. Sure would be a different LB squad with him on the field.

  • Adam Ganeles

    No question, Joseph. Bowman is the one of the elite, high-activity level LB’s in the sport. Linebacker U strikes again… Giants do not.

  • James

    Reese loves tweeners and it has really hurt him (Sintim/Tracy/Dillard). Sintim in particular is one pick I remember screaming at the time was a terrible one. Connor Barwin went one pick later and LeSean McCoy (who I REALLY wanted, but Gilbride would have never knew how to use anyway) a couple of picks after that.

    Really great post Adam, although it just put me into a minor depression. It’s amazing how bad Reese has been at drafting linebackers. You would think with all of those picks that he could have at least hit on two or three decent players.

    • Adam Ganeles

      Thanks, James. I should have taken it one step further and examined the picks that followed. Reminiscing back to the days of Barwin knocking people around off the bench for UC hoops.. he’s come a long way.

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