The New York Giants are leaning into their youth movement in the 2022 season. Not only are prized first-rounders like Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal going to earn starting roles, but Day 3 selections like tight end Daniel Bellinger and linebacker Micah McFadden figure to earn tons of snaps.
McFadden, a fifth-round rookie from Indiana, was drafted to provide depth at a position that has often been maligned over the last few seasons. While Blake Martinez was the projected starter, those plans have hit a major snag after some unfortunate news regarding the Stanford alum.
Martinez was released after the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on his financial future. While he is coming off an injury, losing a proven starter that has been one of the few competent defenders in the last few seasons has to be a kick in the head.
McFadden and Tae Crowder are now going to slot in as the starters at linebacker. With former Ravens linebackers coach and blitzer extraordinaire Wink Martindale in charge of this defense, McFadden will be thrown into the fire very early in his professional career.
Giants: Micah McFadden must replace Blake Martinez
McFadden is a classic two-down thumper who should be a quality run defender in between the tackles. With a solid build for his size and good read-react skills, McFadden will pile up the tackles in his rookie season. Even with all that is going for him, there will be a steep learning curve.
Unsurprisingly, McFadden’s worst games came against professional-level athletes at Michigan and Ohio State. With only passable range in coverage and unimpressive speed, McFadden better prepare for a ton of targets coming his way in the passing game.
Martinez, a fourth-round pick out of Stanford way back when, had many of the same issues when he was drafted. The key to making sure that McFadden adapts to the speed and the pace of the NFL is him quickly picking up the playbook and the Giants using concepts that can mask his deficiencies at the moment.
The Giants don’t need McFadden to turn into Harry Carson this season, but they do need an iota of consistency from that position if this new-look defense is going to take a leap forward. That sounds like a lot to ask of McFadden, but the situation will call for him to play above his means and show he is worthy of a starting role.