ESNY provides a detailed look at the outside linebacker position for the New York Giants going into the 2019 season.
One of the bigger problems for the New York Giants during the 2018 season was the overall effectiveness of the pass rush.
The Giants were tied for second-to-last in the NFL with only 30 sacks on the year. Linebacker Olivier Vernon led the team with seven sacks, earning him a Pro Bowl nod. But now that Vernon is a Cleveland Brown, the team needs to rebuild and improve from there when it comes to rushing the quarterback.
The Giants have a few guys on the roster that should help improve the pass rush from last season. With Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson playing more inside linebacker-type roles, Big Blue desperately needs these outside linebackers to step up.
Lorenzo Carter had a very good rookie season after he was drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Georgia. Playing the backup position to Kareem Martin, Carter would come into the game on certain blitz packages. He brought a ferocious, athletic demeanor to the pass-rush.
Carter finished the year with 43 combined tackles and four sacks for Big Blue, having played in 15 games throughout the regular season. His efforts earned him an above-average grade of 65.8 on Pro Football Focus and essentially cleared the way for him to become a possible starter on this Giants defense in 2019.
The former Georgia Bulldog needs to step up though. He can’t afford to have a sophomore slump of any sort. Carter should look to be the Giants’ top pass rusher in 2019 being that Vernon is gone. It’s clear that Carter will be one of the guys that Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher will count on for next season.
The Giants signed veteran outside linebacker Markus Golden to a one-year deal in March. Golden previously played for the Arizona Cardinals where he was coached by Bettcher. Injuries have plagued him the past few seasons, however, Golden did rack up career-highs in tackles and sacks in 2016 with 51 and 12.5, respectively.
Golden recently stated he’s “ready to hunt” for his new team.
The thing that should intrigue Giants fans is his connection with Bettcher. Having worked together before, Golden knows Bettcher’s coaching style and what he looks for on the field. The same goes for Bettcher, knowing Golden’s playing habits. It’s cool to think that both could complement each other well in a sense.
It’s not official yet, but Golden could very well become one of the two starting outside linebackers in this 3-4 defense. The thing that scares fans and coaches, however, is Golden staying healthy for this team. Golden only played 11 games in 2018 and four games in 2017 for the Cardinals. He hasn’t been able to stay out of the trainer’s room in recent years, so that could be an issue going forward for the young pass-rusher.
All in all, if Golden stays healthy, he could go back to being the dominant pass-rusher he once was. Twelve and a half sacks in 2016 is a great amount, so he could end up being a great impact for this Giants defense if he gets back to that level of play.
Kareem Martin is another former outside linebacker for the Cardinals who played for Bettcher. Again, it’s the same concept with Golden and Bettcher. Martin and Golden could complement each other well due to the fact that they’ve played with each other before. They have experience with one another which could end up being a key factor when both are on the field.
Martin had an okay year last year, not great though. In 16 games (and seven starts) he racked up a combined 48 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He was a convenient player in certain packages but definitely needed to be more effective on the pass-rush.
The former Cardinal has the opportunity to start this year but will need to prove a lot in training camp and in the preseason. Carter and Golden will bring great competition for Martin leading up to the regular season.
The former fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft is someone that people may forget or overlook. Avery Moss in 2018 racked up 14 combined tackles for the Giants and zero sacks. The Giants mainly used him as a reserve outside linebacker. Moss could continue to play that role going into the 2019 season.
Moss is the only person on this list that could be cut going into the regular season. Carter, Golden and Martin will have a bit of a position battle when it comes to the two outside linebacker positions. Moss will need to work hard in minicamp and in training camp in order to prove his worth to the coaching staff.