Linebacker is always a position of concern for the New York Giants, and by extension a position of great angst in the Giants fan base. The upcoming 2017 season really isn’t any different, though perhaps not for the same reason.
The Giants do have a capable veteran trio of linebackers with Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard and Keenan Robinson. They have B.J. Goodson, a second-year player they believe can be a quality starter.
What the Giants do not have is any long-term security at the position. Goodson is the only one who has a contract beyond 2017, which means that at least some amount of change is eventually coming to the position.
All of which brings us to undrafted free agent linebacker Calvin Munson. Can the undrafted free agent from San Diego State earn a job this season and put himself in position to be part of a revamped linebacker corps in 2018 and beyond?
Let’s take a closer look at Munson as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
2016 Season In Review
Munson had a career-high 116 tackles, 57 of which were solo and 11 of which resulted in lost yardage. He added 4.5 sacks, an interception and three passes defensed.
Entering the 2017 NFL Draft, Pro Football Focus called Munson “a highly productive pass-rusher.” PFF, though, believes the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Munson’s athletic limitations could hold him back in the NFL.
Munson was a highly productive player in all three phases in college, but considering his speed limitations it’s difficult to see much of what he accomplished at San Diego State translating to the next level. What will translate is his ability to quickly diagnose and attack the run, as he does possess the short area quickness and aggressiveness to avoid blocks at the line of scrimmage without compromising gap integrity. He has the physicality to defeat blockers, but needs to consistently be the aggressor, as he struggle to shed once his man is locked onto him. He is capable of playing in coverage on underneath zones, but once he’s asked to turn and run he quickly loses ground he can’t make up. He can time blitzes well and work off stunts effectively, which led to him posting 24 sacks over the past three seasons at San Diego State. However, until he learns how to use his hands to set up a variety of moves against blockers, he is unlikely to translate his college production in this category to the NFL level. Munson has some viability as a run defender, especially if he can learn how to consistently stack and shed blocks inside, but his lack of straight-line speed could make it tough for him to stick unless he can quickly prove his worth on special teams.
2017 Season Outlook
The Giants have gotten good mileage over the years out of players who would also fit the description scouts give to Munson. Chase Blackburn, a special teams ace who helped the Giants win a Super Bowl as a fill-in middle linebacker, comes to mind. So does current Giant Mark Herzlich.
It’s unlikely Munson becomes a defensive contributor in 2017. He could, though, sneak on to the end of the roster as a backup linebacker and special teams player.
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