When Blake Martinez tore his ACL in Week 3 last year, the New York Giants quickly realized how thin they were at inside linebacker. Former seventh-rounder Tae Crowder found himself on top of the depth chart with middling veterans usually starting opposite him.
Does fifth-round pick Micah McFadden have what it takes to make a difference in his rookie year? Let’s discuss as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the team’s 90-man roster.
By the numbers
Contract: Four-year, $4.015 million rookie deal | 2022 Cap hit: $793,926
Career to date
After a relatively unimpressive high school career that earned him only six collegiate offers, McFadden ended up a starter for three of his four years at Indiana and made 216 tackles in 45 games. He broke out in his senior year with 77 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 15.5 tackes for loss, which ranked third in the Big Ten conference. He was also named a second-team All-American.
Pro Football Focus College lists McFadden with a 92.9 pass rush grade since 2020, higher than any other inside linebacker in this year’s draft class. That makes him a great fit for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who is known for weaponizing every position to bring blitz pressure.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic had McFadden ranked as the 15th-best linebacker in the class in his annual draft guide. Here was his analysis:
McFadden is a physical, tough-minded player with outstanding blitzing skills. However, he struggles to play ahead of blocks, and his lack of overall range limits his NFL upside. Overall, McFadden is well-strapped together and one of the better downhill linebackers in this draft class, but his athletic and coverage limitations take excitement away from his pro evaluation. His ability on special teams can help him lock down a backup job.
After selecting him, GM Joe Schoen summarized McFadden this way:
“ ... very good size, speed. He was a captain, he’s athletic. I think he’ll help us out. He can play inside, outside, and he’s a good blitzer as well. Again, another versatile piece.”
McFadden should make the 53-man roster given the lack of quality options at linebacker and compete for playing time. For now, Crowder’s experience probably makes him the top option after Martinez. but McFadden and sixth-round pick Darrian Beavers should see some usage. McFadden’s blitzing ability makes him even more valuable and could allow for some unique packages.
In a post-draft fim study, BBV’s Nick Falato wrote:
“McFadden may find his way onto the football field for a solid chunk of snaps early in Year 1. Blake Martinez can be an excellent mentor for McFadden and they can both coexist and play interchangeably on the field. Tae Crowder struggled the last two years with positioning, reading his keys, and knowing when/how to leverage his gap. McFadden was good at that in college, despite some issues with late engagement on climbing linebackers - hopefully, he can maintain his processing while fixing some of the issues with engaging linemen a bit late. I like the player and the selection.”