In today's passing oriented NFL, the game has evolved to place a premiums on defensive ends, cornerbacks and wide receivers that were not nearly as prevalent even just a decade ago. Perhaps the one position that has transformed the most over that time period is linebacker, which has gone from being the staple of any successful defense, to a supplementary role.
Gone are the days in which it's good enough to be a hard hitting, run stopping threat in the middle of the field. Any linebacker who struggles in pass coverage will see his market value decrease drastically, as it's impossible to defend elite NFL offenses without linebackers who can hold their own in both man and zone coverage schemes. The newest member of the New York Giants, Kyle Bosworth, is by no means a complete, dominant football player. But at 6'1" and the ability to run a 4.69 40-yard dash and likely playing for the veteran minimum, he fits perfectly into Big Blue's defense.
With the departure's of Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley, the Giants are without two of their three starting linebackers from a season ago. Additionally, Mathias Kiwanuka is likely to see more time at defensive end in 2013, which will limit his ability to play effectively at linebacker. It's entirely plausible that we will see a brand new trio of starting linebackers next season, which makes for an interesting dynamic on the Giants defense, but also creates vast uncertainties as well.
Currently, the Giants are likely going to rely on a combination of Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams on the weak-side, with Mark Herzlich, Dan Connor, Keith Rivers and Aaron Curry competing for middle linebacker and strong-side linebacker. Kiwanuka figures to factor into the occasion as well. But again, it's much too early in the offseason to definitively state what his role will be in 2013.
So where does Kyle Bosworth fit into all of this?
At the very least, Bosworth is athletic enough to contribute significantly on special teams. If he makes the 53-man roster, special teams will likely have played a large factor in his selection. But at the top end of his potential, is that he masters the Giants defensive schemes and pushes the players already on the roster for playing time. He's big enough to play in the middle and fast enough to guard tight ends down the field. He just has not effectively harnessed that athleticism at this point of his career.
Once again, the Giants have elected not to pursue pricey free agents at linebacker and fill the depth chat with low risk/ high-reward players. Eventually, one or more of them will develop into a productive player. There's no telling whether Bosworth will do so, but to sign him for the veteran minimum is an absolute steal for the Giants.
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