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Potential Giants Free-Agent Target: Quincy Black, OLB, Buccaneers

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It seems we have spent a lot of time recently discussing potential free-agent linebackers to see how they might fit with the New York Giants. In a recent post a commenter asked for an in-depth look at Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Quincy Black. So, here is it.

Black is a four-year veteran who has started on the strong side for Tampa Bay the past two seasons. Just 27, he could be an unrestricted free agent if the league reverts back to 2009 free agency rules.

Pewter Report referred to Black as "a young, ascending player that has his best football ahead of him."

Last season, Black was on pace to have his best year before a broken forearm ended his season in Week 14. He totaled 88 tackles with four tackles for a loss, two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Black also missed two other games due to an ankle injury. If Black had stayed healthy he likely would have been the team’s second- or third-best tacklers for the season. Buccaneers head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris added a 3-4 defense and 3-3-5 defense and used less nickel packages in part to keep Black on the field for all three downs and use him as a pass rusher.

Walter Football said "Black did a great job as Tampa Bay's two-down strongside linebacker in 2010."

Bucs Nation, SB Nation's Tampa Bay website, seems to think that Black is a good, but 'replaceable' player for the Buccaneers.

In previous stories, I've talked about Quincy Black as a replaceable player, because I did not see much of a dropoff from Black to rookie Dekoda Watson and veteran backup Adam Hayward. But a lot of people disagree with my take, and see Quincy Black as a star. Pro Football Focus consistently touts him as one of the best 4-3 LBs in the NFL, and Matt Williamson of ESPN's Scouts Inc. has praised him as well.

Quincy Black has not been a special player on the field these past seasons. He's been solid, perhaps, but he hasn't made many splash plays. He's weakest in coverage, but probably the Bucs' most consistent linebacker against the run. Unlike the other linebackers, he can occasionally shed blocks and there's a bit of a pop to his tackles. He's been used as a pass rusher by the Bucs, though with little success. What stands about Quincy Black more than anything, though, is his athletic ability. He's 27, but he has a lot of upside left at least in terms of physical potential.

Pro Football Focus does, indeed, like Black's work. In 2010, Black ranked 12th among linebackers who played at least 25 percent of a team's snaps, with a +8.0 rating. His numbers were positive across the board. For comparison, Keith Bulluck was +8.7 in limited duty and Michael Boley was +7.8. In 2009, Black was +7.1 and Bulluck (then with Tennessee) was +6.9.

PFF lists Black 44th among its top 51 free agents.

Black isn’t exactly a game changer, but he’s a solid hand and teams need those guy of guys. Good enough to play on every down, you’ll need playmakers around him but no need to worry about him letting the side down.

For Football Outsiders fans, Black had a 2010 stop rate of 60 percent -- meaning 60 percent of plays in which he was targeted were considered stops, or unsuccessful plays for the offense.

Could Black be a younger version of Bulluck -- or become Bulluck when he was in his prime with Tennessee? PFF shows them as comparable, but that is really hard to judge.

Your thoughts?