3 NY Giants veterans who could lose their roster spots to rookies
By Reese Nasser
2. Linebacker Blake Martinez
Blake Martinez has been one of the most dominant linebackers in the NFL since he entered the league in 2016. He has been known as one of the game’s premier tacklers, racking up 686 in his career. In each year that he’s played a full season, he’s recorded at least 144 total tackles.
Martinez has been a force in other areas of the defense as well. He has recorded 49 pressures in his career, with 33 of them being hurries and 12 being sacks. He hasn’t been the best in coverage, allowing 249 receptions and 2,143 receiving yards in his career.
A torn ACL in Week 3 of last season led to Martinez missing nearly the entire campaign. He has been known to be reliable throughout his career, though, as he had played at least 1,000 snaps in three seasons prior to 2021.
While he’ll be back and ready to go this season, the Giants did address the linebacker position in the draft. They added two quality players in Indiana’s Micah McFadden and Cincinnati’s Darrian Beavers. Using two of their selections to add to the position could very well be because of concern for the other linebackers on the roster. At 28 years old, and entering the final year of his contract, Martinez’s time in New York could be coming to an end.
Potential Replacement: Micah McFadden
The Giants drafted Micah McFadden in the fifth round. After a strong four-year collegiate career at Indiana, the Giants may expect McFadden to produce fairly early into his career.
McFadden spent the last three years as a starter on Indiana’s defense. During this time, he recorded 196 total tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. He was also disruptive in the passing game, racking up 87 total pressures.
He has a sort of versatility that allows for him to move around the defense. In each of the last two seasons, he recorded a pass-rushing grade of at least 91.0, according to PFF.
McFadden’s 2021 season was the best of his career. He played a total of 738 snaps, almost 200 more than his previous high. He also set career-highs in every stat, while making strides in his coverage.
McFadden has had an issue with his tackling, and while his coverage has gotten better, it is also an area he struggles in. He finished his career with 47 missed tackles and a miss rate of 18.8%. In coverage, he allowed 43 receptions, 473 yards, and 11 yards per reception.
Given McFadden can improve in some of the areas that he struggled in college (and also given that he possesses the same weaknesses as Martinez), a starting job could very well become his. As previously noted, Martinez is coming back from a torn ACL. If he struggles, there could be an opportunity for McFadden to take over.