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Giants position review: At inside linebacker, it’s Ryan Connelly and ... well, who else?

This is a position that faces uncertainty going forward

NFL: SEP 29 Redskins at Giants
Ryan Connelly
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We have reached the inside or “off the ball” linebackers as they are often called in a base 3-4 scheme as we take our position-by-position look at the New York Giants heading into the teeth of the 2020 NFL offseason.

Between free agency, potential cap savings, players rehabbing from injury and the fact that we really don’t know exactly what coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham want from this position it’s difficult to project. Let’s just do the best we can.

The roster

Starters: Alec Ogletree, David Mayo (Free agent)
Injured reserve: Ryan Connelly, Nate Harvey, Mark McLaurin
Reserves: Deone Bucannon (free agent), DeVante Downs, Josiah Tauaefa

Alec Ogletree — Honestly, it’s hard to imagine Ogletree, a seven-year veteran, being in the Giants’ plans going forward. He carries an $11.75 million cap hit in 2020, far above his value as a player. The Giants can save $8.25 million of that by cutting him, and I would expect them to do that. Ogletree is a poor tackler (12 missed tackles in 2019) and doesn’t cover well (47 receptions/54 targets. 116.2 passer rating against in 2018). The Giants need to at least try to do better.

David Mayo — In his first extended opportunity as a defensive player, the 26-year-old Mayo started 13 games and finished second on the Giants in tackles with 80. Mayo was easily the Giants’ best run defender. Per Pro Football Focus, his 90.1 run defense grade and 37 run stops were easily team bests. His coverage, though, was a liability and he was often taken off the field on passing downs. Mayo is a free agent and whether or not Judge and Graham are interested in bringing him back is anyone’s guess.

Ryan Connelly — Connelly impressed the Giants from his first practice of rookie mini-camp, and it might have even been considered a surprise that it actually took until Week 2 for him to supplant Tae Davis in the starting lineup. Connelly showed intelligence, instincts and athleticism before suffering a torn ACL that wrecked his season after just four games. If he returns healthy, he would seem like the kind of player new coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham would value.

OthersDeone Bucannon joined the Giants at midseason because had had great success in Arizona with James Bettcher, and the Giants wanted to see if it would translate. It really didn’t in the nine games Bucannon played with the Giants. Josiah Tauaefa played mostly on special teams. He figures to compete for a roster spot again in 2020.