Giants 2021 Position Breakdown: Who will start next to Blake Martinez?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Lorenzo Carter/Blake Martinez Treated Image
Lorenzo Carter/Blake Martinez Treated Image

Heading into the 2021 season, the Giants have a much-improved roster on both sides of the ball and are looking to finally make their way back to the playoffs and become a Super Bowl contender once again.

In this series, we’ll break down every position group on the depth chart for Big Blue. This time, we’ll go in depth on the inside linebackers…

Projected Depth Chart

RILB: Blake Martinez, Tae Crowder
WLB: Lorenzo Carter, Devante Downs
Depth: Reggie Ragland, TJ Brunson

- Key Additions/Losses: Lost David Mayo, lost Ryan Connelly, Signed Ragland

- Top 2020 Performer: Martinez – 151 tackles, 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, five passes defended, one interception

What the ILBs have going for them

Martinez is the definition of a tackling machine. He’s had over 140 tackles in four straight seasons now, and he’s totaled 155 and 151 tackles in two season with New York thus far.

Having that skill up the middle is a reason why the Giants are so good against the run recently because it is very hard to get passed Martinez when he’s barreling down into the line.

On the other side of him should be Carter this season, as he moves off the edge and into the middle. The Giants don’t really have a choice there considering Mayo and Connelly are both off the team now compared to how they started the 2020 campaign.

Ragland does join the group and the former Alabama Crimson Tide member is someone that Joe Judge is well aware of. Also, Crowder, Downs and Brunson all contributed last season in solid ways, with Crowder in particular being a good addition as Mr. irrelevant and having some good defensive and special teams reps.

Key Concern: Carter’s transition

Sure, tackling is tackling and if you know how to do it, life should be easy on defense. But Carter has been used to perfecting his craft as an outside linebacker since he entered the league. Now he’ll have different assignments up the middle.

Carter is a veteran, though, and the transition shouldn’t be extremely hard. The one key concern within the key concern, however, may be coverage skills in the middle that are required now with how the modern NFL offense functions with tight ends and crossing routes.

Carter is also coming off an Achilles injury from last season, so it will be telling early in training camp how that transition goes.

Player who must step up in 2021: Reggie Ragland

Why should a depth option be the one that must step up?

Ragland can be much more than that with New York. He has a Super Bowl ring during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s only 27 years old. And he’s entering his fifth season in the NFL, so he know exactly what need to be done to get playing time.

The Giants could use a fierce Ragland up the middle when Martinez or Carter needs a break because the other depth options are younger and don’t have those years of experience like Crowder and Brunson.

Sep 27, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detroit Lions inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (59) looks down Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) during the second half at State Farm Stadium.
Sep 27, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detroit Lions inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (59) looks down Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) during the second half at State Farm Stadium.

Biggest Camp Battle: Reggie Ragland vs. Tae Crowder vs. Devante Downs

As we just mentioned, a productive Ragland would do well for this group. But Crowder and Downs aren’t going to let up their spot on the depth chart.

Crowder and Downs also have the upper hand knowing how Patrick Graham’s scheme works.

This will be fun to watch, as Martinez is simply getting geared up for his starting role. So even he might have some fun watching how the battle goes down with these guys.

2021 Outlook

As long as Martinez stays on the field, the Giants will be set up the middle. He’s been an anchor and a leader on this defense that has immediately made an impact since joining the squad via free agency two seasons ago.

The question becomes what can Carter do? If the transition is smooth, Graham can have some fun maneuvering him in different ways because of his pass rush prowess. Sending him on blitzes would do the Giants well to keep offense on their toes.

With many questions on the outside, the inside is pretty solid for New York and that should show in 2021.