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Giants Now: PFF ranks Giants among top LB units


Pro Football Focus ranks Giants among top linebacker units

The Giants' defensive front has garnered a lot of attention since the acquisition of outside linebacker Brian Burns, and rightfully so. But while the defensive line has gotten much of the praise, members of the media are now beginning to recognize the team's group of linebackers.

Pro Football Focus recently ranked the top linebacker units across the NFL, in which the Giants landed all the way up at No. 5.

"The Giants are solid at their starting linebacker spots," wrote PFF's Gordon McGuinness. "Bobby Okereke's 78.9 PFF grade ranked 13th at the position in 2023, and Micah McFadden came in at No. 46 in his second season in the league. They also have Isaiah Simmons, who hasn't lived up to his billing as a top-10 draft pick but was a useful depth player for the team last year, earning an 82.7 PFF coverage grade on 203 snaps."

Okereke, who was recently ranked by PFF as a top 10 linebacker heading into the 2024 campaign, performed well in his debut season with the Giants. The 27-year-old registered a team-high 149 total tackles, the third-most in franchise history and the ninth-most in the league last season, while setting new career-highs with four forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, six quarterback hits and 10 passes defensed.

Perhaps more impressive than the stats in his breakout season was his ability to stay on the field. Okereke displayed tremendous durability by playing every single one of the team's defensive snaps, making him and former Giants safety Xavier McKinney the only two defensive players in the league to to be on the field for every defensive snap last season.

As if all of his on-field production wasn't enough, Okereke was also voted a team captain prior to the start of his first season with the Giants, indicative of his leadership within the locker room.

"You go through and you're always evaluating yourself and so I think our free agent process was good," general manager Joe Schoen said following the conclusion of the 2023 campaign. "We brought in guys that fit our culture, they were good guys, they helped elevate their rooms and Bobby O's one of those guys."

View photos of the New York Giants' 2024 active roster as it currently stands.

One of the guys Okereke helped elevate was McFadden. The two combined to create a formidable linebacker duo last season, as McFadden set numerous career-highs himself. He recorded 101 total tackles (63 solo), 12 tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, four fumble recoveries, five passes defensed and an interception, all of which topped his rookie season marks.

We still don't know how exactly defensive coordinator Shane Bowen intends to use Simmons, but the 6-foot-4, 238-pound 25-year-old certainly had his moments last season. As McGuinness mentioned, Simmons earned an 82.7 coverage grade in his first year with the Giants, which ranked 9th among all linebackers, after he allowed 17 receptions for 153 yards on 203 coverage snaps. Finishing right behind him in 10th place at the position was Okereke with an 82.5 coverage grade.

Simmons played in all 17 games with four starts and completed the season with 50 tackles (33 solo), one sack, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, three passes defensed and an interception that he returned 54 yards for a touchdown.

The other linebackers on the roster include Carter Coughlin, Darius Muasau, Matthew Adams, Darrian Beavers, and Dyontae Johnson.

Here are PFF's top 10 LB units for the 2024 season:

  1. New York Jets
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Chicago Bears
  4. New England Patriots
  5. New York Giants
  6. Baltimore Ravens
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars
  8. Cleveland Browns
  9. New Orleans Saints
  10. Minnesota Vikings

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