After years of doing almost nothing to upgrade the position, the New York Giants finally went out and got themselves an impact linebacker in Alec Ogletree.
The New York Giants defense got a huge upgrade on Wednesday when they traded fourth-and-sixth-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft to the Los Angeles Rams for linebacker Alec Ogletree and a 2019 seventh round pick.
Acquiring Ogletree was a huge necessity for the Giants, who are transitioning to James Bettcher’s 3-4 defense and were in desperate need of another inside linebacker to pair with B.J. Goodson.
Last season Ogletree, a captain, led the Rams in tackles with 95, and also had two sacks and one interception that he ran back for a touchdown.
In his five seasons with the Rams, he totaled 501 tackles, forced 12 fumbles, had six interceptions, and five 1/2 sacks. He was named second-team All-Pro in 2016.
His speed and athleticism is something the Giants haven’t had at the position in a long time and was sorely needed as opposing tight ends have given Giants linebackers fits for the better part of the last decade. There was a span of 10 games from 2016 through last season where Big Blue allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends.
"His No. 1 attribute… It's his speed."
— NFL (@NFL) March 9, 2018
Ogletree’s arrival gives the Giants their first Pro Bowl-caliber linebacker since Antonio Pierce. The Giants are hopeful that he will provide a similar impact to when Pierce arrived in 2005.
Following a 6-10 2004 season that saw no Giants linebacker have over 65 solo tackles or be credited with more than six passes defended, they signed Pierce away from the Washington Redskins as a free agent.
His impact was felt immediately. In 2005 he was second on the team in tackles with 99, defended 10 passes, recorded 2 ½ sacks and caught two interceptions. The following season he had the best year of his career when he recorded a career-high 138 tackles and played in his first and only Pro Bowl.
During this time he emerged as one of the team’s vocal leaders alongside future Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.
During the Giants Super Bowl run in 2007, Pierce made one of the biggest plays of the season in the NFC Championship Game when he single-handedly stopped a Packers screen pass while being blocked by a lineman. Without his will and determination to stop the play, the Packers may have scored a touchdown which could have changed the outcome of the game.
Piece would retire following the 2009 season and although he only played five seasons with Big Blue indelible mark on the franchise. Now, the Giants hope Ogletree can leave s similar mark as Pierce had done.
He has the same aggressive and nasty attitude as Pierce had which is invaluable to a linebacker and something that teammates and feed off of.
His ability to blitz and play in coverage will make the defense enormously better than they were in 2017. Dave Gettleman still has to add other pieces if the Giants are going to contend for a Super Bowl. But acquiring Ogletree was a huge step in the right direction.