One of the areas in which New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman placed emphasis is in rebuilding their linebacking corps. With just B.J. Goodson, Ray-Ray Armstrong, and Calvin Munson under contract beyond the 2018 season, as well as a shift in defensive philosophies, Gettleman has something of a blank canvas with which to work.
Fortunately for the Giants, while changes in college defenses, forced by changes in offenses, are making it more difficult to find linebackers, the 2018 draft is not without talent at the position. Iowa’s Josey Jewell has been one of the best defenders in the nation, and should be one of the top linebackers in the draft.
- Very smart and instinctive. Obviously high football IQ and almost always take an accurate first step. Quick to identify and fill running lanes and plays faster than he will (likely) time.
- Leader. Captain and unquestioned leader of the Iowa defense. Active communicator pre-snap.
- Good short-area quickness.
- Looks comfortable dropping in man and zone coverage.
- Shows good timing and awareness as a blitzer, with a knack for batting down passes.
- Durable player. Has only missed one game in the last three seasons.
- Highly productive and a reliable tackler. Averages well over 100 tackles a year and has had 27 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, 6 interceptions and 26 passes defensed in the last three seasons.
- Won the Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker Of The Year award as well as the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player Of The Year award in 2017.
- Good work ethic. Weighed under 200 pounds when he arrived on campus.
- Struggles taking on and shedding blocks. Jewell can get engulfed by linemen and larger tight ends.
- Not an elite athlete. Quick in a short area, but shows some stiffness and long speed is only average.
- Average at best size and build. While Jewell should certainly be commended for building his body from a sub-200 pound freshman, his frame is likely maxed out and offers limited upside
What they’re saying
”He’s going to measure out a little less than what you’re looking for ... but he’s my guy. He has a nose for the ball. When you watch the tape, he is always making plays or right there next to the play.”
- Area scout for NFC East team on Iowa LB Josey Jewell (via NFL.com “Sources Tell Us”)
Where Jewell is ultimately drafted will likely depend on his combine performance. If he is able to shock the league like Luke Kuechly, he has a chance to be a first-round selection. He has been one of the most consistently good defenders in college football over the last three seasons, and that isn’t by accident.
Jewell doesn’t look like an elite athlete, but his instincts, intelligence, and fast processing make him look as though he he is playing at a different speed than the rest of the defense. He is active in lining the defense up before the snap, and never stops moving during the play, either pursuing the ball or making constant adjustments in coverage in a high-speed chess match with quarterbacks.
Jewell should be able to step in as either a middle or weakside linebacker, depending on scheme, package, down and distance. He would do well protected by the Giants’ formidable defensive front and would certainly be a welcome addition to a depleted linebacking corps.