Does Linebacker still matter? Of course it matters. Let's first review the draft and then discuss LBer.
A- The Giants got a number of very good players in this draft. We like Austin, Sash and Scott for value. We believe Amukamara, Jernigan and Brewer are not great "value" but will certainly help the team to get better. Perhaps Jernigan will make the most immediate impact of anyone, because he will be active in Special Teams. So that is a good draft.
B- The Giants draft picks of Jones and Williams in R6 did not address need for the Gmen at LBer. They were easily the two least inspiring picks of the Giants.
But make no mistake- if you want to see the Giants go all the way to a title, which we all do, then two things have to happen:
Number 1- The Giants older members of the OL have to stay healthy.
Number 2- The Giants will have to be active once again in Free Agency at LBer.
We will have plenty of time in coming weeks to talk more about OL. But let's get after our favorite squawk here on UltimateNYG- the Linebackers.
We have been disappointed about the lack of commitment to this unit for many years. Why? Is it a sense of respect for the history for guys like LT, Carson and Huff? You might be surprised to hear that the answer is an emphatic NO!!! When we bellyache about 27 years since a LBer was taken in the Draft at #1, we could give a rat's a** about the past. The game has changed. What we mean when we talk about 27 years is that you simply cannot ignore ANY unit on the team for that long and expect that there will not to be any issues. Yes, the game has changed. Yes, LBer has been downsized in the NFL by all of the passing that is going on. But the importance of LBer has not been eliminated.
Some may think we can win a title without strong representation at this spot in the defense, but we think this is unrealistic.
2006- 25 (traded down thereafter), 2007-20, 2008-31, 2009-29, 2010-15, and in 2011 we chose at 19. So since that Eli Manning pick for 2004 and 2005, we have been picking at an average spot of 23rd in the Draft. Now obviously we'll never complain about picking last in the draft. But the point is that you have to expect that you are not going to get the Rolando McClain's of the world. So where is the commitment to this position? With the Jeremy Shockey pick in R2 in 2009, the Giants picked Clint Sintim, and that is it folks. Reese is still invested in this pick.
In 2009, the NY Giants had the opportunity to take Rey Maualuga with the 29th pick. They chose Nicks, and then took Sintim at 45.
In 2010, the Gmen chose not to take Daryl Washington and took Linval Joseph. The Cards took him 1 pick later.
In 2011, Martez Wilson fell to our pick at 52 in R2, we took Marvin Austin and then (Moch went at 62 and) Wilson went at 72.
Hakeem Nicks is a terrific player and he probably has more upside than any other player on the Giants' entire roster. We believe Joseph is going to make a very good DT. And when Joseph is teamed up with Austin, the Giants are going to have a formidible DL in coming years. The problem is that these good players do not come without a cost at LBer. There has been no impact play at LBer in YEARS. The last true impact play I personally can recollect at the position was at the NFC Championship game in GB when Antonio Pierce (a FA signing, not a NYG Draft pick) disrupted a screen pass while being severely outnumbered by a blocking convoy. That was 4 seasons ago. And I personally do not think it is entirely a coincidence that the last 3 years we have fallen short.
Another coincidence... that that play was in coverage. The NFL is a passing league, so you need quick LBers who can play in space and defend in coverage. Who do you trust to play in coverage? Maybe on a good day, another Free Agent signing, Michael Boley. That is it.
Other teams know this only all too well. Our answer is to play another Safety as a quasi-linebacker. But that doesn't work either, because other teams put in a second TE and pound you. There is a reason why fast 245 lb. athletes have a job in the NFL, it just isn't with the NY Giants because we don't have the skilled players to play there. Maualuga has 30 starts in 32 games as a pro. Washington has 11 starts in 16 games as a rookie. We are on record as saying that both Moch and Wilson will be very good LBers in the NFL. Yet we are not making the commitment to these types of players. As I tweeted on Friday night of the Draft, if the Giants had drafted Wilson (or Moch) in R2, I would not have cared if we selected Carole King in Round 1. We can all celebrate about how good Amukamara and Austin and Nicks and JPP and Joseph are going to be but none of these players will be able to do a lot when Brees takes a quick 3-5 step drop and puts the ball in the hands of a player that beats one of our LBers.
A chain is as strong as its weakest link. And the weakest link of the NY Giants continues to be at Linebacker.