The New York Giants will have to make a variety of adjustments in 2018 as a completely new coaching staff takes the reins of the franchise.
Most are concentrating on the offensive side of the ball as the team rebuilds the offensive line and the scheme is molded in Pat Shurmur’s image. But there is going to be a significant adjustment on the defensive side of the ball as well. Many of the Giants’ players will be able to adjust to James Bettcher’s multiple defense, which is based on a 3-4 front. However, there is also a need for some different players to fit his schemes and fill in holes that exist on the roster.
Most notably, of course, is the linebacker unit.
As it happens, it is becoming more difficult to find linebackers who can play every down in the NFL. Since the spread-option systems have taken over the college landscape, defenses have been forced to adjust by getting smaller and faster to compensate. As a result, fewer “classic” linebackers are coming in to the league, while spread concepts are being picked up by NFL offenses. In response, NFL defenses are adopting some college concepts of their own, which in Bettcher’s case is the “Moneybacker” strong safety, weakside linebacker hybrid.
It’s assumed that the Giants will use Landon Collins in that position, and he does thrive close to the line of scrimmage. However, he is a versatile player and has shown himself to be a playmaker all over the field, as well as a reluctance to move to a linebacker position.
The Giants could look to a player who has been in a similar role in college. Kyzir White is one of the top “box” or strong safeties in college football, and was frequently used as a linebacker in West Virginia’s defense.
- Physical player as well as a fearsome, and fundamentally sound, tackler.
- Versatile player who can play strong safety or linebacker.
- Natural blitzer with a knack for timing rushes and finding lanes.
- Impressive closing burst.
- Capable in zone coverage.
- Quickly diagnoses plays coming down-hill. Disciplined with play fakes.
- Build and athleticism may create scheme fit issues at the next level.
- Seems to have issues in man coverage, especially against more athletic running backs or wide receivers.
- Plays slower when dropping back.
What they’re saying
Like his brothers who also attended West Virginia, White was a late bloomer who was lightly recruited and began his journey at Lackawanna Junior College. Despite being a JUCO transfer, White has become a highly-respected team leader who leads by example with his fearless, physical play. Teams are looking to transition him into a hybrid role with the ability to cover tight ends like a safety and support the run like a linebacker. While he’s nothing special as an athlete, his competitiveness and play-demeanor should earn him a spot as a starter.
Does He Fit The Giants?
White is an impressive player within his limitations. Playing a “hybrid” outside linebacker/strong safety position in West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defense, White quickly earned a reputation as a player to be feared. When playing down-hill, he shows proper form and technique taking on and shedding blocks as well as an impressive closing burst. And in an age where tackling is a lost art form, White is both a thunderous hitter and a sound tackler who seldom allows much of anything after contact.
He is quick to react playing down-hill and isn’t often fooled by play fakes but maintains discipline, trusting his teammates to make the plays he sets up. It doesn’t always work out, as White is the best player on his defense.
White does play in space as a coverage player, and his strength is definitely zone coverage where he can keep his eyes in the back field and use his closing burst to make plays, either punishing receivers for going over the middle or breaking up passes.
White will almost certainly be selected some time on the second day of the draft and would be a natural fit in Bettcher’s defense in the “Moneybacker” hybrid position. The combination with with Landon Collins could be absolutely terrifying for offenses, with two big hitters who can line up in a variety of positions that offenses must keep track of.