In recent years, the New York Giants have amassed several players to their roster, via the draft and free agency, who can play multiple positions. This seems to be a trend under the Jerry Reese administration.
The hype train has left the station for rookie linebacker Clint Sintim out of Virginia, and Giants fans everywhere are now aware of the dominance possessed by their team's latest defensive addition.
Sintim burst onto the scene his senior year in college as a rush linebacker in Virginia's 3-4 scheme and led the NCAA in sacks for a linebacker. He accumulated 70 total tackles, third best on the team, and had 11 sacks in 2008. That is why the Giants were ecstatic to land him in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft, the 45th pick overall.
Sintim's long arms and imposing physique bear resemblance to defensive end Justin Tuck, and so did his performance against the Carolina Panthers in the preseason opener for the G-Men.
He managed to rack up a sack, forced fumble, and four tackles in fairly limited playing time towards the end of the game. Some may scoff at this, proclaiming that Sintim looked dominant purely because of the second and third string backup offensive line he was going up against, which is certainly true, but I would argue that.
When NFL scouts watch game tape on recruits, especially those from small schools, they observe that particular player's dominance over the competition. If they don't stand out overall, they won't at the professional level either.
This isn't to say that Sintim is from a small school—in fact, Virginia is quite the opposite—but the only way his performance can be gauged accurately and fairly is based on how he played against the opposition. Sintim immediately made his presence on the field known and caused disruption in the passing game.
Many fans even thought that he was Mathias Kiwanuka, a defensive end for the Giants who used to wear the No. 97 jersey that Sintim now owns.
The emergence of Clint Sintim for the Giants defense means that there will be more versatility for the front-seven than ever before.
Chris Canty and Justin Tuck can play at both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions. Mathias Kiwanuka and Clint Sintim can play as edge rushers as well or at linebacker (though Kiwi's days as a linebacker are probably over at this point). With so many players being able to play so many positions, expect opposing offensive lines to miss assignments and generally be confused by the multiple fronts they'll see.
While it may take a while for Sintim to crack the starting lineup, primarily due to suspect coverage skills, I would expect to see him receive ample, situational playing time by midseason or sooner.
With the physicality that Sintim brings to this team, I could also see him eventually become the starting middle linebacker. But at least for this season, Antonio Pierce has that position secured.
Pierce's presence is like having an extra coach on the field, and what he does for the defense as far as lining everybody up and calling audibles cannot be devalued. He is a major asset to the team and highly underrated.
With that said, Pierce's physical attributes last year really diminished and he certainly isn't getting any younger. He is an excellent leader and I truly believe that he will tear it up and have a solid statistical season, if only because he is in his contract year. Sintim is certainly the future at Mike linebacker for the Giants though.
The 2009 New York Giants defense has the potential to be one of the best of all time, if they can stay healthy. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, an immensely exciting time to be a Giants fan.
I know that this article will do little in the way of silencing the abundance of pessimism about the team's wide receivers, but hopefully it will bring attention and respect to a player who will demand it in 2009.