2-Time Pro-Bowler Scouted by Joe Schoen Can Fix ‘Toasted’ Giants Group

Joe Schoen

Getty A Pro-Bowler scouted by general manager Joe Schoen can fix the New York Giants' biggest weakness.

Linebacker is to the New York Giants’ defense what wide receiver is to the offense. A problem position long overdue an infusion of marquee talent. Fortunately, general manager Joe Schoen’s experience can help Big Blue land a two-time Pro-Bowler in 2023 NFL free agency.

Schoen scouted Tremaine Edmunds as a member of the Buffalo Bills’ front office, before the AFC East franchise drafted the player 16th overall in 2018, per Patricia Traina of Giants Country.

Traina noted Schoen’s familiarity with Edmunds and outlined why the latter would be an upgrade for linebackers who got “toasted” this season: “Edmunds has posted over 100 tackles in every NFL season in which he’s played, and while not a big sack guy–he has 6.5 career sacks–imagine what he might be able to do if Wink Martindale returns as defensive coordinator and takes the aggressive nature of this Giants defense up another notch?”

It’s a sound argument, especially since Edmunds is expected to be available this offseason. The 24-year-old is somebody the Bills must let walk, according to NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal: “Edmunds was one of the earliest first-round picks made by Sean McDermott’s Bills and he is coming off his best season, but the cost will be prohibitive. Buffalo can’t pay him more than Matt Milano, who is a better player.”

Salary Cap Rich Giants Should Pursue Pro-Bowler

As Rosenthal noted, the Bills may have a tough decision about who to pay between Edmunds, Matt Milano and safety Jordan Poyer. No such dilemma exists for the Giants, who don’t have an inside linebacker anywhere near as talented, while Schoen has $44,419,480 worth of room under the salary cap to make a deal for Edmunds happen.

Edmunds is worth a decent investment as a gifted youngster still approaching his peak years. He was stellar in 2022, showcasing the kind of range the Giants have missed at the linebacker level for too long.

Specifically, Edmunds can be a difference-maker in coverage. His 6’5″, 250-pound frame helps him fill passing lanes and give quarterbacks a formidable obstacle to throw over.

When they can’t, plays like this tip-interception against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, highlighted by Pro Football Journal, happen:

For the season, Edmunds allowed only 39 completions from 60 targets, per Pro Football Reference. While he didn’t always get his hands to the football, Edmunds was a sure hitter in space, missing only one tackle all year.

His form, fit and hit technique showed up brilliantly on this tackle of tight end Jonnu Smith against the New England Patriots in Week 13:

The Giants need this kind of stingy resistance after more than one tight end burned their linebackers this season. T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings was a notable example, after he combined for 23 catches, 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns in two games against the Giants.

Hockenson routinely beat journeymen linebackers like Jaylon Smith and Jarrad Davis. More stop-gap solutions won’t solve the Giants’ issues at linebacker.

It will take a splash signing like Edmunds, who could overcome his biggest weakness in the Giants’ aggressive defense.

Giants Run Perfect Defense to Unlock Tremaine Edmunds’ Potential

The one criticism against Edmunds has concerned an apparent lack of big plays, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:

There’s some truth to the argument after No. 49 logged just a single sack and snatched a mere one interception this season. Yet, part of the problem is a Bills’ defensive scheme more reliant on safe, zone-based coverage than the blitz-happy approach favored by the Giants and defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale.

The difference is obvious when looking at Edmunds’ pressure stats for 2022. He blitzed a career-low 18 times, down from 54 during the 2021 season. That decline owes a lot to the Bills blitzing just 19.4 percent of the time, compared with the Giants’ league-leading 39.7 percent, according to Pro Football Reference.

Edmunds would become more of a weapon for the Giants, with or without Martindale’s influence. The latter is among the “frontrunners” for the vacant head coach job with the Indianapolis Colts, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

If Martindale moves on, his scheme won’t change much for the Giants. Not if the team looks to either outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins or defensive backs boss Jerome Henderson to replace him as a play-caller, scenarios Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post believes are likely.

Whether Martindale leaves or not, Schoen can’t afford to ignore the Giants’ obvious need for a linebacker as talented as Edmunds.

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