The New York Giants have been in search of a coverage linebacker for what seems like ages. Jacquian Williams’ short-lived four-year tenure in the early 2010s and Keenan Robinson’s 2016 campaign are the only outlier performances that jump to mind in an otherwise elongated run of Giants linebackers with flawed coverage skills.
The good news, it appeared New York had found a potential coverage-backer this offseason when they inked the highly-versatile undrafted free-agent, Dominique Ross, to a one-year, $2.285M contract following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ross, a jack-of-all-trades defender during his time at North Carolina, played all over the field for the Tarheels, from stand-up linebacker to edge rusher and even outside cornerback. This intriguing skillset built into a 6-foot-4-inch, 228-pound frame, even led the fellas at “Talkin’ Giants” to peg Ross as the UDFA with “the best chance to make the roster.”
The bad news, Ross failed to make it more than 10 days into training camp before the Giants opted to move on from him, as New York announced the release of Ross on Thursday.
We have waived LB Dominique Ross pic.twitter.com/kLLIgf98fa
— New York Giants (@Giants) August 6, 2020
Ross Broke Out in 2019, Flexing His Versatile Skillset
Ross played a total of four years at UNC, appearing in 31 career games. He finished his college career with a grand total of 126 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, four sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and 10 passes defended. The majority of Ross’ statistical output came in 2019, when the linebacker started all but one of the 12 games he appeared in, accounting for 60 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and five pass breakups.
Here’s what Big Blue View & SB Nation had to say about Ross’ coverage traits earlier this offseason.
Primary strength is in pass coverage, especially in off-man vs tight ends. Will take away big slot options. Used as a passing downs-only LB in UNC’s defense last year and did well – 4 PDs, 6 TFL all coming in the flat.
Great size for a pass coverage linebacker, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds makes him big enough to deal with tight ends and he carries it well enough to match running backs in the flat.
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Assessing Giants’ Linebackers
Despite Ross being shown the door, the Giants still have an abundance of bodies battling for a spot on their linebacker depth chart. Free-agent addition Blake Martinez is cemented in as one of the two starting inside backers, while second-year pro Ryan Connelly and the sneaky-productive David Mayo duke it out for the right to line up next to him in New York’s starting base defense.
Behind Martinez, Connelly and Mayo, the Giants have special teams ace, Josiah Tauaefa, along with three late-round draft picks, TJ Brunson, Tae Crowder and Cam Brown. The latter will also likely moonlight as an outside linebacker throughout camp as well.
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