Before last season, the New York Giants had a massive hole at the linebacker position. Luckily for the team, they brought in Blake Martinez, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, and a lot of their issues were quickly resolved. Martinez basically tackled anything that moved, registering 151 combined takedowns of ball carriers last season.
With that said, New York will continue to try to bring in talent at that level of the defense, as opposing offenses are now very well aware of Martinez’s skill set, and will try to game plan against him.
Who are some linebackers that the Giants could try to obtain in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft?
In many NFL mock drafts, Penn State Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons is the first linebacker off the board. The Giants pick at 11, and Parsons seems to be slotting in between 10-20 in many prognostications, so he should certainly be available when they’re on the clock. He would be a high upside addition to an improving Giants defense.
Parsons decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season, so teams will have to pull up his tape from his prior seasons in Happy Valley. His junior season was relatively Blake Martinez-like, as he was seemingly involved in almost every play. Parsons had 109 total tackles in 2019, with a solid 5 sacks. If the Giants pair Parsons with Martinez, they’ll have two players who will be able to cover an impressive amount of ground around the line of scrimmage.
Another option for the Giants could be Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. While Parsons seems to be regarded as just a little bit better than Owusu-Koramoah, the latter’s participation in the 2020 college football season could sway New York to take him—if not over Parsons, after Parsons if he’s already off the board.
Owusu-Koramoah has never quite put up the eye-popping statistics that Parsons has, but his last two years at Notre Dame were extremely consistent. He has played in 25 games in the last two years and posted double-digit tackles for losses each season. Koramoah is a little smaller physically than Parsons, but profiles as a solid fit in today’s NFL. At a svelte 215 pounds, he figures to be able to run with running backs and receivers.
Zaven Collins could be another alternative for the Giants, but they’ll likely be more inclined to take him if they trade down from number 11 into a later pick in the first round. They could also try to move up from number 42 in the second round if Collins is sliding. Out of the University of Tulsa, Collins didn’t face the same level of competition as the prior two prospects did, but still has attractive redeeming NFL qualities.
According to Pro Football Focus (as highlighted below in the tweet), Collins has exceptional skills in pass coverage coming out of college. His passes defended statistics have remained relatively static during his college career, but his interception totals spiked in 2020. Collins picked off 4 passes last season and averaged 38 yards on the run backs of each of those turnovers. He’s a versatile player who should be on the field on third downs, regardless of the down and distance.