4 LBs the NY Giants should target in the draft after signing Bobby Okereke
By Reese Nasser
During the 2022 season, arguably the weakest area of the NY Giants defense was the linebacker position. With injuries and underwhelming performances, the team was forced to rely on players signed from the open market. Heading into the 2023 season, this will no longer be the case.
Outside of the trade to acquire tight end Darren Waller, the Giants made their big move of free agency with the signing of former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke. With the addition of Okereke, New York has the new face of their linebacker core. The 26-year-old defender has proven that he can be elite, and now with his arrival, this unit has gained a potential star at the position.
But there is still room for improvement in the linebacker room and the 2023 NFL Draft could be where the position is addressed next. In a linebacker class that is loaded with talent, the Giants could have their pick of LBs. Here’s a look at four players they should target:
4. Cincinnati LB Ivan Pace Jr.
Over his four collegiate seasons, linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. cemented himself as a special talent. While at both Miami of Ohio and Cincinnati, Pace was able to find success. During his three seasons at Miami, Pace recorded 179 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, five defended passes, and one interception.
Pace played a key role in the Miami defense in his first two years at the school, but in 2021, he took his game to new heights. Over 13 games, he recorded 125 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and four sacks.
Following his breakout season, Pace made the move to Cincinnati. In his lone season at the school, he was elite. He finished the campaign recording career-highs across the board. This included 136 total tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and four defended passes
While Pace is one of the more undersized linebackers in this year’s class coming in at 5-10.5, he can still make an impact in a big way. For a Giants defense that struggled heavily against the run in 2022, Pace could help the unit turn things around.
With his ability to make plays in the backfield, which was made clear by his 41.5 career tackles for loss, he could find a spot on this defense. He’ll most definitely be a player for fans to keep an eye on once the draft rolls around.