The Giants headed into the offseason with their eyes on the rehabbing Jon Beason, hoping their middle linebacker can get back onto the field after suffering a serious toe injury in 2014 that cost him most of his season. If he can stay healthy, Beason has the potential to be a
difference-maker and leader under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The team also protected themselves in the offseason, acquiring J.T. Thomas in free agency. He started 10 games for the Jaguars last year, replacing the injured Paul Posluszny at middle linebacker. The speedy linebacker is capable of playing any of the three linebacker positions and is just 26 years old.
>>Watch Giants Insider: J.T. Thomas
Jameel McClain returns for a second season with the Giants, and he did yeoman's work replacing Beason last year in the middle. The veteran is a great leader in the linebacker room and has the ability to play both inside and outside.
Teams rarely have their fifth round picks come out and make huge contributions in their rookie season, but the Giants got just that from linebacker Devon Kennard. The 250-pound linebacker from USC finished with 4.5 sacks and established himself as a dependable outside linebacker. The Giants are hoping for even bigger things in his second season.
The Giants also acquired linebacker Jonathan Casillas in free agency. Another versatile linebacker who can play multiple positions, Casillas was especially effective as a special teams player for the Patriots and adds great value to the Giants linebacker corps.
>>A Look at the Giants O-line Depth for 2015
The Giants also picked up Victor Butler this offseason, a former fourth round pick of the Cowboys and a player who has shown the ability to rush the passer in seasons past. The team also brought back Mark Herzlich, a core special teams player who played some of his best football at outside linebacker last season.
The Giants have a number of other linebackers on the roster looking to contribute this season: James Davidson, Paul Hazel, Terrell Manning and Devin Unga, who will all compete for playing time.
Check out photos of the Giants Linebackers unit