April 8, 2020 | 3:03am
Before free agency, it looked as if the Giants had a cavernous hole on their roster at linebacker. Signing Blake Martinez to patrol the inside and Kyler Fackrell to line up on the outside addressed two big needs. Does this mean the Giants are in good enough shape at linebacker that they will eschew taking one high in the 2020 NFL Draft?
Probably not. General manager Dave Gettleman in past drafts has not shown great proclivity for taking linebackers in the early rounds. Saving them for later has not worked out well, at all, for the Giants the past few years. Gettleman is more a believer of fortifying the line and the defensive backfield and filling in as needed at linebacker. But if Isaiah Simmons is sitting there when the Giants are on the clock at No. 4 he will be exceedingly difficult to pass up, as it will be quite tempting to take the former Clemson hybrid beast.
The Giants have Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines and Fackrell as outside linebackers and Martinez, David Mayo and Ryan Connelly (returning after knee surgery) on the inside. Is there a place for Simmons? Put it this way: Is there ever NOT room for a potential Pro Bowl player and this draft’s most versatile athlete? Simmons checks boxes at linebacker, slot cornerback and safety and grabbing him at No. 4 will make a great many Giants fans happy. It would also be the first time since 1984 (the inimitable Carl Banks) the Giants used their first-round pick on a linebacker.
The draft does not end after the first round, of course, and if the Giants go offensive line with their first pick they would be thrilled — and surprised — to see Zach Baun of Wisconsin available at No. 36. Baun is the best pass-rush true linebacker, as he became a hot prospect after posting 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss as a senior for the Badgers. If the Giants land him, it would be a reunion with Connelly, his college teammate in Madison.
There are some, but not many, concerns Simmons might develop be a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none. More likely, he develops into a new-age defensive weapon. Can you imagine a more perfect player to use as a spy to shadow mobile quarterbacks?