The Giants Guys

Giants Expecting Ogletree to Be Leader of New Defense

When the New York Giants traded their fourth and sixth round selection in this past NFL Draft to the Los Angeles Rams for LB Alec Ogletree, many were perplexed.

The 26 year-old leader of the Rams’ defense traded? Either this is great move for the Giants or a lousy one for the Rams, or both. Ogletree has always been coveted by Giant fans, who have been longing for a leader in the middle of their defense for nearly a decade now.

Ogletree was a first round pick of the Rams out of Georgia in 2013 (30th overall) and instantly asserted himself as their most active defensive weapon, leading the team in tackles four of the five seasons he spent with them, missing only 2015 when an ankle injury limited him to four games. He had 155 tackles as a rookie in 2013, 169 in 2014, 171 in 2016, and 95 last year. His career totals include 645 tackles (475 solo), 5.5 sacks, six interceptions (including two returned for touchdowns), 43 passes defensed, 12 forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 67 career games.

So, why did the Rams decide to move on from Ogletree? They claimed he didn’t fit in DC Wade Phillips’ system, which would explain the dip in production, but the reason appears to have been financial.

It is true that Ogletree struggled a bit last year under Phillips. Pro Football Focus gave him an overall grade of 38.9, which equates to poor, and ranked him 75th in the NFL among linebackers. But you judge for yourself. Here’s Ogletree’s highlight reel from last season with the Rams:

It’s no mystery that Ogletree will immediately become their defensive captain and wear the headset to call the defensive signals this season. At 6’2″, 235 Ogletree is not the prototypical middle linebacker bu the Giants may not need him to be in DC James Bettcher’s 3-4 defense. They were looking for a leader, and it looks like they found one.

“I saw him up close and personal in Arizona during our time there,” said Bettcher. “Did him when he came out in the draft and was a guy that was always, we always thought he was a smart player, we always thought he was a guy you could see during a course of a game that was leading other players on the field and they had a bunch of talent on that defense and for you to be a guy that is leading a defense that’s that talented says something about you and your character. You watch his play and I’m not just talking about his ability to make tackles or run down things on the sideline, I’m talking about his play, his mindset, his physicality at which he plays the game, how hard and passionate he plays the game. Those were some of the first things that jumped off the charts for me when we had a chance to get him here. Certainly excited about him as a leader and a guy that is going to bring a ton of energy to our room.”

“I see a guy who’s a playmaker,” said LB coach Bill McGovern. “You can tell he takes the lead out on the field on the defensive side of the ball. He can run and hit, he shows up, he flashes on the pass rush game too. So, we’re excited to have him….you always want the leadership out there. And again, every position would like to have it come from their position, but in particular, it’s naturally expected to come from a linebacker group and we’re excited to have Alec.”

The Giants will go with Ogletree and B.J. Goodson in the middle with Olivier Vernon likely at SAM and possibly rookie Lorenzo Carter, another Georgia product, at the WILL.

After the Giants made the trade for Ogletree, they wisely restructured his contract to reduce his cap hit from $10 million to $4.75 million this season which makes the trade even more palatable. But Ogletree’s cap hits for the next few seasons will be harder to swallow: $11.75 million in 2019 and 2020 and then $10.75M in 2021.

He knows he will have to live up to that deal, the one that the Rams walked away from. The Giants are counting on him to continue their long legacy of great linebacker play.

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