Find An Impact Linebacker
For far too long, Jerry Reese has ignored linebackers in the draft and free agency. For whatever reason, he just doesn’t believe they are of much value. That’s why the Giants haven’t had a truly great linebacker since Antonio Pierce.
Last year, Reese spent a fourth-round pick on B.J. Goodson, a linebacker from Clemson. The early noise out of the building is that the Giants brass expect Goodson to fill a prominent role in the upcoming season.
While Goodson’s ability to impact a game remains to be seen, some good linebackers will be available in the coming weeks via free agency and the draft.
The splash signing would be Dont’a Hightower, who was surprisingly not given the tag by the New England Patriots. Hightower was the foundation of the best scoring defense in the league, flying to the ball on every play.
Although Hightower is a perfect fit in Steve Spagnuolo’s attacking 4-3 defense, his price tag may be too much for the Giants to take on. I’d expect Jamie Collins’ four year, $50 million deal is the starting ground for a Hightower contract.
The Panthers are letting backup linebacker A.J. Klein hit the market, as well. Klein has publicly stated that he wants a chance to start, and the Giants present that chance.
Klein is a solid player who was overshadowed by the best linebacker duo in the NFL. At 25 years old, Klein could prove to be of value on the open market.
The NFL draft features three potential off-ball linebackers with a first-round pedigree. Rueben Foster from Alabama is the best of the bunch, but will not make it to No. 23, when the Giants make their selection.
The other two guys have a serious shot to be there. Temple’s Haason Reddick and Florida’s Jarrad Davis both can be impact starters from day one.
With Keenan Robinson set to hit the market, it remains to be seen whether Jerry Reese will continue to act like linebackers don’t exist.