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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

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Is Raekwon McMillan the linebacker Giants’ fans have been looking for?

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The New York Giants seem in perpetual need of an impact, three-down linebacker. They have expressed interest in potential high draft picks, such as Leonard Floyd coming out of Georgia. However, the nature of their 4-3 defense puts greater emphasis on the defensive line and secondary, and the linebacker position has suffered.

With just one linebacker signed past the 2017 season (2016 fourth round pick B.J. Goodson), the Giants could look to draft a linebacker at some point in this year’s draft as well. Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan is one of the most respected linebackers in the draft class. Might he have caught the Giants’ eye? Does he even fit New York’s defense?

Measurables

Pros

  • Prototypical frame for an inside linebacker with great size, length and strength.
  • Has the power to take on linemen in the tackle box, which he willingly does to free up teammates.
  • Stout run defender. Forced running backs backward and generally looked competent navigating the trash at the line of scrimmage.
  • Instinctive player who trusts his eyes and generally makes a quick accurate first step.

Cons

  • Probably played a bit heavy in 2016.
  • Appeared to have issues with balance at times.
  • Probably won’t be able to stick in man coverage with more athletic tight ends or running backs.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

McMillan probably would fit the Giants’ defense, and parts of it wouldn’t be too foreign. Steve Spagnuolo made the trip to Ohio State to study up on how the top college defenses were defending the spread offense, and some elements of the Buckeye’s defense have made it into the Giants’ scheme.

McMillan would likely have to watch his weight in the Giants’ defense though. He added some weight to play at 245 when he manned the middle of the OSU defense full-time in 2016, and it did impact his movement on the field. There were times when it looked as though he knew where he wanted to go, but couldn’t quite get there. He still made some plays in those situations, which is impressive, but sticking out a paw and tripping up a running back won’t work as well in the NFL.

In the Giants’ scheme I think McMillan would be able to play either SAM or MIKE linebacker, possibly moving between the two depending on the current package and flow of the game.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 50th overall

CBS Sports - 44th overall

Draft Countdown - 54th overall

Draft Tek - 52nd overall

Final Thoughts

McMillan started out the 2017 season as one of the top candidates for top linebacker in the draft. He had a strong year, but didn’t impress in the way that many expected from him. Part of that might have been playing a touch heavier than he probably should have, and was visibly quicker in 2015.

But while his name may have slipped below the radar a bit, he is still an intriguing prospect. If he could play at 235-240 in the NFL, he has the look of a long-time starter at either strong-side or middle linebacker -- either an odd or even front -- at the next level.