Alec Ogletree may not be the best linebacker available in the 2013 NFL draft, and he may not even the best Georgia linebacker available. But at pick No. 19 for the New York Giants, he would be both a steal and a solid fit for a team looking to improve at the position.
I mentioned Ogletree in my last article on which players the New York front office should consider drafting, and each day he is growing on me more and more.
In his junior year at the University of Georgia, Ogletree helped lead the Bulldogs to a near National Championship appearance after just falling short against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia finished the year 12-2 after a Capital One Bowl victory over No. 16 Nebraska on New Year’s Day, much thanks to the dynamic and consistent play of Ogletree.
The linebacker missed the first four games of the 2012 season after breaking team rules, but had few hiccups upon returning for Georgia’s final ten contests, averaging more than 11 total tackles per game, recording three sacks, and forcing two fumbles.
Ogletree is fairly new at the position, being recruited by Georgia initially as a safety and making the switch to linebacker before his sophomore season. His detractors will note that, partly due to this, Ogletree has some issues shedding tackles and blocks.
The linebacker does however boast incredibly athletic ability and versatility. At 6’3” and 232 pounds, Ogletree has proved that he is an incredible athlete capable of making crucial plays all over the field, including countless huge-play killing tackles this season.
Though the Giants have other needs they need to address in the upcoming draft, the linebacker position is shaping up to be the most crucial one of all.
Chase Blackburn had a solid 2012 season, but is an unrestricted free agent and could be asking a lot more than the Giants are willing to pay for him. And while there are some interesting younger linebackers in the Giants corps in Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich, they could use some assistance if they want to significantly take some pressure off of the defensive line.
As far as other linebackers go, there has been a lot of hype into the still real possibilities of drafting Manti Te’o. However, I’m still not sold on the idea that Te’o has the ability to make as big of an immediate impact that Ogletree can.
Te’o has proved he is both a terrific playmaker and undeniable leader, but even if he is available that late in the first round, I would personally rather have Ogletree, as it seems right now that he can make a stronger impact right away for New York.
But regardless of which player they choose to go for, either Te’o or Ogletree (or even LSU’s Kevin Minter), the Giants finished almost last in total defense last year. Ogletree will most likely be the best choice available, but any solid play-caller on defense is more and more looking like the right choice come Draft Day.