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Hindsight 20/20 thread: Drafting Linebackers

dep026 : 9/16/2013 9:58 am
We have all talked about how we have struggled having a quality LB for years now, and on draft day - a lot of people don't want the Giants to reach for players. However, just in the last two years alone, here is a list of LBs who were drafted in round 2:

Mychael Kendricks
Bobby Wagner
Zach Brown
Lavonte David
Manti T'eo
Arthur Brown
Alec Ogletree (taken after our 1st round pick)
Kevin Minter
Kiko Alonso
Jon Bostic
Jamie COllins

There are a lot of difference makers there in David, Ogletree, Wagner, Z. Brown. Alonso has looked superb for the Bills and Kendricks is having a nice start to this year. T'eo is still hurt and Bostic, Minter, A. Brown, and Collins have yet to make an impact.

Now the reason why I bring this up is because our LBs are the worst in the NFL. We need a 3 down LB, especially a MLB who can help control the game. Granted I dont think the defense has been terrible, but it still could be improved.

One thing that is hurting the Giants is our rounds 2-3-4 picks have yet to play. It doesnt mean they are bad picks or busts, but they are not contributing. A lot of teams are relying on draft picks, and the last two years - Pugh has become a starter, Randle a 3rd WR, and Wilson in and out of the lineup/doghouse.

It just sucks realizing we passed on a good many LB the last few years, maybe its time we take a LB with our 1st/2nd pick.
the Giants haven't drafted an above-average LB since Armstead  
Greg from LI : 9/16/2013 10:02 am : link
And that was twenty years ago.
i was always pissed  
NVA_Blue : 9/16/2013 10:03 am : link
the giants selected linval joseph over sean lee. nothing that has occurred since that time has dissuaded me from that notion.
Not to nitpick  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/16/2013 10:03 am : link
but Te'o haven't even played.

For all we know he might be another Herzlich.
This front office's  
mercy : 9/16/2013 10:05 am : link
disdain for linebackers is baffling. Look at all the best defenses in the league today...they all have have superb linebackers. Yet, we think that they are unnecessary? It's troubling.
Sean Lee is a tad overrated IMO  
Greg from LI : 9/16/2013 10:07 am : link
Nice player, but if you want to be irritated about passing over an LB in 2010 I'd go with Navorro Bowman, who was picked about 10 spots after the Giants picked Chad Jones. Oh well.
Its not that they're unnecessary  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/16/2013 10:08 am : link
It's that they'd rather spend the money on the defensive line, cornerbacks, and safeties, and look for bargains.

They've done pretty well when shopping for quiet, under the radar linebackers. They did it with Pierce, Boley, and Mitchell.

Just haven't been lucky since.
Sad but true Greg  
LPete : 9/16/2013 10:08 am : link
The one that sticks in my mind was taking Jernigan over Mason Foster back in '11. Whilst foster isn't an all pro he's a much better player than what we got
I believe  
dep026 : 9/16/2013 10:08 am : link
one of the reasons we cant blitz is because our LBs are too slow and small too do it.

If you watch other guys around the league, you would see the disparity in quality of LB play. For how "athletic J. Williams is, his size/strength/speed are no match for other LBs in the league.
In this upcoming draft,if all goes well  
ghost718 : 9/16/2013 10:11 am : link
There will be a good LB from Alabama available,CJ Mosley,and it's looking more and more like the Giants will be in his range.

It will be interesting to see what Reese will do.Maybe we should start calling him the JPP of linebackers in college football threads
The speed is fine. He can run with anyone.  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/16/2013 10:12 am : link
The problem is his instincts. He's slower to react than the action on the field.

Saw him run right down the seam with Denver's TE. He's extremely athletic, there's no denying that.

All the speed in the world doesn't mean anything if you can't take the right angles or you bite on fakes and have to catch up.
Mason Foster was an OBVIOUS choice at the time  
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 10:14 am : link
and they selected Jerrell Jernigan instead. Tampa Bay grabbed Foster with the very next pick.
yes, Williams' speed is fine  
Greg from LI : 9/16/2013 10:16 am : link
But he's easily overpowered and, as you said, has poor instincts. He's useful to keep on a roster but with his limitations he's not a quality starter.
The problem with the Giants LBs  
Lionhart28 : 9/16/2013 10:16 am : link
is two-fold. They aren't strength/speed guys AND they aren't great football instincts guys. That's a bad combo.
Mason Foster and Lavonte David  
dep026 : 9/16/2013 10:16 am : link
had huge rookie years for TB and started off with big games already.

They could both be in blue. Sigh.
It is the defensive philosophy.  
Britt in VA : 9/16/2013 10:16 am : link
D-line and Secondary are what we hold our highest priority on. We won the Superbowl in 2011 with just "guys" at LB.

The problem these days is the D-line is not holding up it's end of the bargain.
I would love  
mercy : 9/16/2013 10:17 am : link
to get Mosely or Anthony Barr on this team. Heck, I wouldn't mind if they double dip on linebackers in the first two rounds next year but they have too many holes to do that.
What Britt said, this team is built around stockpiling  
BeerFridge : 9/16/2013 10:35 am : link
DLine and DBacks and filling in with replacement level backers. The DLine has been average at best and that is why the backers aren't getting it done.
Again, great points Britt...  
PeterS : 9/16/2013 10:36 am : link
We're not getting to the passer. When we do we usually win. At least we're playing the run tough.
Everyone knows that the defensive philosophy is.  
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 10:43 am : link
Its been regurgitated so many times over the years that its practically a cliche at this point.

Even within the standard for this defensive philosophy these LB's aren't good enough. They aren't even as good as the LB's who started in 2011.

All it would take is just ONE good MLB to dramatically change things. Not a Pro Bowler, but a good player. We don't have it and we need it. We need other things too but a sound MLB is certainly a piece thats missing.
stretch234 : 9/16/2013 10:45 am : link
Have you watched the NFL - game after game the TE & RB are running open in the pass patterns. You want to keep saying the Giants are worst in the league, but how do you explain

Matt Ryan 19 of 33 to RB/TE
Jay Cutler - 18 of 28 to RB/TE
Rivers - 18 of 36 to RB/TE
Brees - 21 of 26 to RB/TE
Romo - 15 of 30 to TE/RB
Palmer - 12 of 23
Stafford - 11 of 24

It is not just the Giants
Linval Joseph was a good pick  
jeff57 : 9/16/2013 10:46 am : link
But what good is taking Wilson if the OL can't run block.

They could have taken Wagner, David or Brown. Or even an OL like Glenn or Osemele instead.
AcidTest : 9/16/2013 10:50 am : link
with Britt. The defensive "formula" for this team has been getting pass rushing DEs, and to some extent DBs, not LBs. That helped us win two SBs.

But we are now not getting the pressure from our DEs. They used to command double teams, or at least chipping by a TE or RB. Now they are being blocked one on one, and rather easily at that. So we aren't getting pressure with four. When they did so, it covered up weaknesses in our LBs, but not anymore.

The cause of this is ominous, as it isn't just one DE:

Tuck: Done.
JPP: Coming off back surgery, and has played well, but hasn't done anything this year. His weight problems, dating back to last year before he was injured, suggest a lack of commitment.
Kiwi: Invisible. Could be he is still adjusting to yet another position switch, but he is also getting a bit long in the tooth.
Moore: Unproven.

That is a lot of questions for a position to which the Giants have invested a lot of draft picks and importance.
stretch234 : 9/16/2013 11:03 am : link
How did Tampa's LB do yesterday. Brees threw at will to the TE and RB.

Great - they had a big game against Geno smith in his 1st NFL start

They were part of the worst pass defense in the NFL last year
Mason Foster had an INT for a TD  
jeff57 : 9/16/2013 11:06 am : link
And they had a great goal line stand led by David and Dekoda Watson.
dep026 : 9/16/2013 11:07 am : link
NO had 16 points
75 yards on 20 carries
RBs had 10 catches for 55 yards

Yes, they couldnt stop Jimmy Graham. But the rest of your analysis is off,

13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 PD, 1 INT, 1 TD.

Yeah, sign me up for that against Brees any day of the week.
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 11:15 am : link
Its is plainly obvious that we need an upgrade at LB. Sure, the defensive philosophy does not require an amazing LB unit and Lb's are "de-emphasized" and blah blah blah, vomit, puke, regurgitating the same old stuff.

But these guys at LB are just not good players. Not even average players. They are an exploitable weakness in any defensive scheme. Not to mention the fact they are dangerously thin in terms of depth. This is a skeleton crew.

It isn't the only reason the defense underperforms, but it is definitely a part of the problem.
The Giants didn't  
Joe in Cambridge : 9/16/2013 11:17 am : link
need to draft LB's to have a solid group this year. There were guys like Karlos Dansby and Daryl Smith available for bargain basement prices.
But yeah  
Joe in Cambridge : 9/16/2013 11:19 am : link
taking Jernigan over Foster was extremely disappointing at the time. I really hoped that Jernigan would prove me wrong. But, I'm still waiting.
Daryl Smith is one of those signings that I would have expected  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/16/2013 11:20 am : link
us to make. That had all the makings of a Pierce/Mitchell move.
Curtis in VA is spot on regarding what a good MLB would do for this D.  
Optimus-NY : 9/16/2013 11:22 am : link
Everyone knows that the defensive philosophy is.
Curtis in VA : 10:43 am
Its been regurgitated so many times over the years that its practically a cliche at this point.

Even within the standard for this defensive philosophy these LB's aren't good enough. They aren't even as good as the LB's who started in 2011.

All it would take is just ONE good MLB to dramatically change things. Not a Pro Bowler, but a good player. We don't have it and we need it. We need other things too but a sound MLB is certainly a piece thats missing.

Their evaluation process is terrible when it comes to selecting LBs and they leave willfully leave a hole in the Defense that should be filled (MLB) by someone who they can hang their hat on, instead of get by without. Greg is spot on about Navarro Bowman too btw. The Giants AT LEAST need to bring in a decent MLB here. They passed on Bostic this year too. Enough already.
Pat Traina's grades for the weekend on the LBs.  
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 11:24 am : link

Keith Rivers: D

Rivers didn't see the field much, and when he did, he didn't do much with his time. He was unable to protect the edge against a tight end who blocked him on a run. He did mange to get one penetration, but it didn't matter that much, as Peyton Manning worked himself out of harm's way to complete his pass.

Mark Herzlich: C

Currently the starting middle linebacker until further notice, Herzlich's biggest gaffe of the day was failing to cover up the third-quarter fumble that the Broncos recovered. There's nothing wrong with Herzlich's effort, but he always seems to be a step too slow or too late in getting to a pile.

Spencer Paysinger: C+

Paysinger started out strong, but by the end of the game, his play started to get sloppy, perhaps due to the high number of snaps he was asked to take as part of the nickel package.

In the fourth quarter, he failed to wrap up on several running downs, was the invisible contain on Moreno's second touchdown run, and was beaten in single coverage by tight end Julius Thomas for a second-half touchdown despite being in position to break up the play.

Jacquian Williams: C-

Williams struggled in zone coverage in that he simply doesn't know how to take proper angles. As a result, when a man enters his assigned zone, there is often lots of space for that man to exploit.

Basically repeating the same issues that have been pointed out time and time again. They are not instinctive and don't react quickly enough. They don't disengage from blocks. And they are not good tacklers.

This has nothing to do with the defensive philosophy. These players are just not good at playing their position. You could pick up any LB off the free agent scrap heap right now and get the same level of production.
link - ( New Window )
Joe and TTH make great points too  
Optimus-NY : 9/16/2013 11:25 am : link
They had chances to bring in guys who are reliable vets on the cheap. Daryl Smith should have been the guy they turned too, not this scrub Connor who hasn't been able to stay on the field for a good portion of his career. Desmond Bishop was out there too.
I am not about bringing guys in for the cheap  
dep026 : 9/16/2013 11:27 am : link
and then have to worry about it again next year. A lot of those guys I mentioned earlier are you guys you plug in, and dont worry about for 4-5 years. And they are impact players as well.

Smith and Bishop are serviceable. We have to get away with that mentality.
I really can't blame them on Bostic  
jeff57 : 9/16/2013 11:27 am : link
He went higher than most projections, and they didn't know what the health and performance level of Patterson and Rogers would be.
stretch234 : 9/16/2013 11:40 am : link
How many teams do not have exploitable LB in the passing game - honestly 3 or 4.

This team rushes the passer they win. They don't they lose. It is as simple as that

I will agree not bringing in more LB in camp was an error. However, why are so many other teams LB being exploited the same exact way
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 11:42 am : link
read Pat's grades. Sure to some extent any LB can get exploited against the pass but that isn't the point. These linebackers aren't even getting it done in any phase, run or pass. They just aren't good. Even within what is expected of them in this defensive philosophy, they don't play well.
And I know thats just one game but  
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 11:47 am : link
its really been the same story every week with the LB's.

They just aren't good. Even with whats expected of them in this defense.
I honestly think it's coaching.  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/16/2013 11:50 am : link
We have young players that really haven't done much developing. That's on the position coach to get results from the potential.
It's not the coaching. It's a lack of talent  
jeff57 : 9/16/2013 11:51 am : link
Plain and simple.
That could be.  
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 11:51 am : link
We've had a number of players come through here and not one of them as done anything. Can definitely point to the coaching, or lack thereof.
Curtis in VA : 9/16/2013 11:53 am : link
it could be both.

Nobody was claiming Jacquian Williams didn't have talent  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/16/2013 11:55 am : link
when he started as a rookie, and when he made big plays in the NFC title game and looked like a good young cover LB. We all thought we had the position set there.

Since then he's been terrible. That's development, or lack of it.
Williams was a 7th rounder for a reason  
jeff57 : 9/16/2013 11:56 am : link
And no, Jesse Armstead he's not.
A 7th rounder who made the team, played well, and earned his spot  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/16/2013 12:01 pm : link
The Armstead comment is irrelevant.

Again, nobody thought he lacked ability then.
He's a decent backup and good special teams player  
jeff57 : 9/16/2013 12:07 pm : link
Not a starter.
I think its a combination of things  
Blue Blood : 9/16/2013 12:08 pm : link
I dont believe the Giants evaluate LB's well. They seem to do a much better job of evaluating DE and CB.... They dont seem to understand that we would be better off with the faster LB's at every position and not worry about the overall size of the player... I dont care if he isnt 6'3..

I believe that to get quality LB's you have to draft higher up in the draft.. You just will not get the talent drafting in the bottom third of the round.. The better guys just go earlier.. period.. everyone else will have question marks.. Very hard to find a three down LB later in the draft..

A lot of the LB's in college are just smaller DE's who dont play well in space.. and again the guys that DO play well in space go EARLY.. usually top 15...

Our DC sucks.. period.. Coughlin simply doesnt evaluate DC's well. Our best DC over the years was Spags who Coughlin didnt hire..

I dont believe we have good linebacker coaches.. and I have believed that for years..
Williams does fine in man coverage  
Mighty : 9/16/2013 12:09 pm : link
because his biggest asset is his speed. Zone coverage takes a lot more instincts, mental aptitude and just plain ole reps to get used to it.
Williams was a 6th rounder  
Rjanyg : 9/16/2013 1:01 pm : link
and since our special teams should have a good amount of LB on them, our starters are out there getting gassed playing punt return, punt coverage and kick offs. The fact that we only have 5 linebackers is enough to make me puke. It's one thing not having any depth, but to have no quality on top of it is unacceptable. Our LB play in the first half wasn't half bad considering all the passes were short high percentage. But they looked tired and slow in the sencond half and thats when the tight end starting making some big catches and Moreno finished us with his nice stroll of right tackle.
ive been saying it a million times  
Neverend : 9/16/2013 1:25 pm : link
Williams is a run and chase, man cover guy. hes a sub package player

we need a complete lb in the worst way
When you have a bad position  
Joey in VA : 9/16/2013 1:41 pm : link
Consistently, look to the position coach. The position coach should work out the prospects and have input to type of players he wants for this scheme, which is something he would coordinate with his DC and the overall philosophy of the defense. We seem to have a hodge podge, which in the modern era of spread out offenses and matchup emphasis is important but consistency is the key to success and we have zero.

Michael Boley wasn't great last year but he was our best LB during his time here, his replacement I assume is Jacquian Williams but Paysinger starts and so far is just awful. Blackburn was a smart player, not fast but didn't make mistakes and we somehow won a SB with him starting. If healthy, I think Connor is an upgrade but he's gone for the year and now we have a major downgrade in Herzlich. Kiwi moves back to DE and we replace him with Keith Rivers who again, has done nothing of note.

Our LBs don't attack and that I assume that is system based. They are supposed to read and react, but we have one LB with no instincts, one with no speed and one who I just don't understand (Rivers). There is not one, outside of Williams who plays with any fire and seems to want to be out there. A lot of football is effort, how bad do you want it? I don't see much of that out of our LBs and our DL aside from Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson.

When you cannot find, train or sign and plug in decent LBs you have a philosophical problem, not all of the players we have gotten can possibly be that awful.
If you downgrade the importance of the position  
jeff57 : 9/16/2013 1:45 pm : link
the talent level will fall as well.
You would think the Giants would draft at least one LB  
Blueballz : 9/16/2013 1:47 pm : link
with a high draft pick. I can kind of understand their thinking and de-emphasis on LBs, as the league has gone more pass oriented and thus more nickel D. But you need at least one good linebacker, one linebacker pretty much plays every snap. Ideally two good LBs, as a 2nd LB plays the vast majority of snaps.
Doomster : 9/16/2013 2:46 pm : link
is a horror in run defense....he is just plain bad at the point of attack.....look at his effort on the first td run.....he plays like a 6th round draft pick...oh, he is...
Why try and pick a good LB in the 4th Round  
kinard : 9/16/2013 2:54 pm : link
... when you you can take a 3rd string QB who you hope never sees the field while your starting QB is in the prime of his career?

And we waste a roster spot keeping a 3rd QB because someone else might grab him on waivers?

Brilliant. If you think the season is a disaster, wait until Curtis Painter trots in...
stretch234 : 9/16/2013 3:08 pm : link
He was on the opposite side of the field of where Moreno ran on the 1st TD. Bigger question on both runs is where is the S
kinard - I hear you  
Optimus-NY : 9/16/2013 5:07 pm : link
Khaseem Greene was there to be had with the 116th overall pick as well. The Bears wound up taking him one spot after where the Giants were originally set to choose. Interestingly, had the Giants nt made that Nassib trade, besides staying at 116 in the 4th round, they would have kept their 6th rounder that they traded to Arizona in that trade up to the 110th pick.

With the 187th overall pick in the draft, the Giants could have chosen RB Andre Ellington out of Clemson. He dropped and was expected to be picked somewhere around the 3rd round. Ellington is doing well with the Cards and is a pretty decent pass protector and receiver coming out of the backfield (he's about 5'9" and 200 lbs.).

Both Greene and Ellington would have been BIG helps to this team IMO over Nassib, and I'm one of the people that totally understood why they selected Nassib and made the move that they did for him. Sometimes though, teams need t make exceptions to their organizational philosophy and deal with the needs that would most benefit the team. They should have stayed put and selected Khassem Greene at OLB in the 4th with their 116th pick, and RB Andre Ellington with their 6th rounder and 187th overall pick of the draft.
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