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UDFA LB Dyontae Johnson could be new Giants depth piece

The team still needs help at inside linebacker

NCAA Football: Toledo at San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Even after signing Bobby Okereke in free agency, the New York Giants are in need of help at the linebacker position. There will be a hefty number of options to sift through once training camp begins, ranging from rookies to more established veterans.

Dyontae Johnson isn’t exactly on top of the team’s depth chart. But the undrafted free agent could have a path to playing time this year given the question marks at linebacker.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 230
Age: 22
Position: Linebacker
Experience: Rookie
Contract: Year 1 of three-year, $2.72 million rookie deal; $175,000 guaranteed | 2023 cap hit: $758,333

Career to date

Johnson began his career at Toledo in 2018 as an edge rusher but quickly transitioned to playing off-ball linebacker. He was most impressive during the last two seasons of his five-year career. He had 109 tackles, three sacks and three passes defended in 2022. In total, he recorded 273 tackles in 57 career games.

Here’s what Pro Football Network had to say of Johnson before the draft:

Strengths: Productive run-defending LB who showed improvement in his game the past four years. Quick diagnosing plays, stacks well against the run, and squares into ball handlers. Stays with assignments, has a burst to the action, and takes proper angles.

Sifts through the trash getting to the ball handler, moves well laterally, and chases the action out to the flanks. Easily changes direction and gets into space to make the play. Fluid pedaling in reverse and shows ability in zone coverage.

Weaknesses: Stiffness results in broken or missed tackles. Lacks true pursuit speed.

Johnson’s athleticism measurements before the draft were adequate.

Johnson signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent this offseason.

2023 outlook

Of the Giants’ nine undrafted free agent rookies, Johnson is among those more likely to make the roster just based on the lack of other options at linebacker. His history as an edge rusher makes him a good piece for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who prioritizes players who can blitz from all positions. He has the skills to rush the passer, drop back in coverage and defend against the run.

Right now, Bobby Okereke is the only entrenched starter at linebacker. Draft picks like Darrian Beavers and Micah McFadden presumably have a leg up on Johnson. But don’t rule out Johnson as a possibility to sneak onto the 53-man roster as a rotational piece or to be elevated from the practice squad if he sticks around.