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Giants’ 90-man roster: LB B.J. Goodson an early down player, or more than that?

Goodson entering final year of his rookie deal

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
B.J. Goodson
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Is it just me, or when you think about New York Giants linebackers does it seem like B.J. Goodson, entering his fourth season with the team, has been around a lot longer than that?

Maybe that’s because when you think about the Giants linebackers Goodson is easy to take for granted. Alec Ogletree is an alpha on the defense. Tae Davis has been getting attention this spring. Ryan Connelly is a draft pick. Undrafted free agents Mark McLaurin and Joseph Tauaefa are the new hopes for a unit that never seems to be good enough. Then, it’s “oh, yeah, they still have Goodson.”

Is that fair? Probably not. Let’s take a closer look at the 26-year-old Goodson as we continue working our way through the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 241
Age: 26
Position: Linebacker
Experience: 3

How he got here

Goodson played in 15 games with 13 starts in 2018. He finished with a career-best 61 tackles, not really all that impressive a number when you realize he had 53 tackles in just seven games in 2017.

Goodson broke into the Giants’ lineup with a splash in 2017, registering 18 tackles in the season opener vs. the Dallas Cowboys. He hasn’t come close to that production since, failing to notch another double-digit tackle game.

Goodson played 513 snaps in 2018, 46.7 percent of the Giants’ defensive plays. Ten Giants’ defenders played more as he generally came off the field on expected passing downs.

Drafted as a 4-3 middle linebacker, Goodson found himself playing in tandem with Ogletree in the Giangts 3-4 defense last season.

Goodson is not considered a strong coverage player, often replaced last season by Davis or a defensive back in sub packages. Yet, in 39 targets (29 completions against) his passer rating against of 69.9 was, per Pro Football Focus, sixth-best among inside linebackers. In 2017, Goodson’s passer rating against was 127.6.

2019 outlook

Goodson is probably going to continue along a similar path. That means playing early and short-yardage downs, then being replaced by a reputedly better coverage linebacker or extra defensive back in passing situations.

By now, I think we know that the 18-tackle 2017 opener was an aberration, but Goodson is a good player in the Giants’ base defense.

This is the final year of his rookie deal. Will he have a good enough season to earn a second contract from the Giants? I have my doubts about that.