Carter Coughlin has potential to be pass-rushing force for NY Giants

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 23: Carter Coughlin #45 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers plays against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on November 23, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 23: Carter Coughlin #45 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers plays against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on November 23, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The NY Giants look to have gotten a massive steal when they drafted linebacker Carter Coughlin in the 7th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The NY Giants headed into the 2020 NFL Draft in dire need of help in the pass-rushing department. The bad news was, this was one of the weakest edge rusher classes in recent memory, so the team’s hands were tied unless they wanted to reach, which is never the answer.

Unless the team is actually able to bring back Markus Golden, the unit needs a lot of help.

Enter 7th round pick, Carter Coughlin (no relation to Tom), who enjoyed a very productive career at the University of Minnesota. Originally a four-star recruit, Coughlin had an offer from Ohio State but chose to stick with his family’s tradition of going to Minnesota, but that surely speaks to his football pedigree.

After not playing much during his freshman season, Coughlin put up three straight productive seasons to get himself onto the NFL Draft radar. Most had him projected as a mid-round pick, but he fell into the NY Giants’ lap all the way at pick #218.

He was one of four linebackers that GM Dave Gettleman selected in the final two rounds, which is a strategy I actually loved as there was not much premier talent at the top of the draft – or at least at the spots the G-men were picking at.

So, Big Blue now has four shots at a linebacker working out at a position they badly need help out. What helps Coughlin out is that he is the only true pass rusher out of the bunch, so he might actually have the best shot at making the initial roster.

Pro Football Focus had him rated as their 145th overall player and 18th best edge rusher, further demonstrating the value the NY Giants got with him at pick #218.

Coughlin’s best season came in his junior year, as he racked up a whopping 9.5 sacks. He also tacked on 6.5 and 4.5 sacks in his Sophomore and Senior years, respectively.

A team captain, Coughlin is lauded for his leadership and motor, while also being extremely durable as he didn’t miss a game after his Sophomore season.

Where does he fit in with the NY Giants defense?

Carter Coughlin is walking into about as good of a situation as a 7th round pick could imagine as his team is desperate for pass-rushing help. One reason he fell in the draft was team’s were worried about him playing in coverage, but that won’t be an issue for him too often in the team’s base 3/4 defense.

If you were going to mold the perfect 3/4 outside edge-rushing linebacker, Coughlin would be close to fitting that mold. At 6’3, 236 pounds he’s going to be agile enough to beat tackles with speed rushes at will. That’s further backed up by the blazing (for a linebacker) 4.57 40 time he ran at the NFL combine.

Overall, he tested in the 85th percentile in the Sparq score testing, which is teetering on an elite athletic level. While the NY Giants do have a few young pass rushers with potential, there’s no reason Coughlin couldn’t walk right in on day one and get meaningful snaps with his potential and athleticism.

In fact, that’s exactly what I expect to happen.

Head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham have made it clear they are going with a pass-rusher by committee approach, and should he earn those early snaps and make the most of them he could easily work his way into the lineup in a meaningful way.

Picking up on the playbook and NFL reads shouldn’t be difficult for Coughlin as he handled some of the defensive calls at Minnesota.

Obviously, when it boils down to it, 7th round draft picks don’t have a high percentage rate of panning out in a big way – or even sticking in the league at all – but Coughlin is simply not your average 7th round draft pick.

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Dave Gettleman has been known to find diamonds in the rough late in drafts, and if all goes well he just might have landed another one in Carter Coughlin.

And boy, does the NY Giants defense need that in that worst way right now.