The New York Giants: The Next Generation
The recent death of Giant great Brad Van Pelt brings back memories of what New York Giants linebackers used to be made of.
Van Pelt ushered in an era of linebackers that saw Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor, and Brian Kelly. The aforementioned four formed the "Crunch Bunch".
While the most illustrious title ever bestowed upon a defensive unit is The Steel Curtain, The Crunch Bunch is not far behind.
Reminiscing about Van Pelt brought to mind the fact that at this junction in Giants history, the position of linebacker is in need of a serious upgrade. The draft is right around the bend.
Ohio State Buckeye James Laurinaitis represents what type of upgrades the Giants must consider making.
Laurinaitis has a very respectable body of work by which to judge him.
He has been the recipient of a number of awards in his time at Ohio State including The Bronko Nagurski Trophy, The Dick Butkus Award, The Lott Trophy, and was a three-time AP All-American. While none of this means that he will be a good NFL player, it is a great indicator of consistency.
While Laurinaitis is not a flashy player, his style is similar to Van Pelts. He is very dependable, solid at tackling, and rarely gets lost in a play.
The money maker of the 70s and 80s defense was LT. Now, it is Justin Tuck along with Osi Umenyiora. What the Giants need is that reliable, technically sound option behind Tuck and Osi to erase any mistakes up front.
Right now, the Giants linebackers are weak at the point of attack and struggle in coverage, which are both strengths of the aforementioned Laurinaitis.
Another dimension of his play that makes Laurinaitis an intriguing option is his ability to move outside and play the weak side, and eventually replace Antonio Pierce in the middle.
Pierce is on the decline, and the athleticism of Laurinaitis may even overthrow him this upcoming season should he join the Giants. What makes him a realistic possibility in the draft is the fact that he missed the Senior Bowl, and has had little or no talk surrounding him in the past few months.
Despite his body of work, scouts will still be scrutinizing his 40-yard dash time and bench press at the Combine to see if he measures up to his peers athletically. The 40-yard dash is a grossly over-rated event, and everything regarding Laurinaitis is a tale of the tape. He can flat out play football.
Seeing the Giant linebacking core revert to old ways would be a pleasure for any Giant fan and would also give them a legitimate chance of reeling in the Lombardi Trophy.
Working behind Tuck and Umenyiora would be a pleasure for any young linebacker. The combination of Laurinaitis and the two Giant bookends would make an awfully stout run defense.
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