Former Clemson linebacker B.J. Goodson was stuck on the New York Giants’ bench behind Keenan Robinson during the 2016 NFL season. He only managed nine tackles the entire year. But Goodson has drawn rave reviews from coaches in training camp this week and is now listed as the team’s starter at middle linebacker. He has shown aggressive play and range in the middle throughout the start of training camp; skills that have earned him a spot in the starting lineup.

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Coming out of Clemson, Goodson was believed to be a traditional downhill thumper with only two-down potential in the long run. However, he has surprised with good coverage ability throughout camp. This bodes well for him, given the NFL is such a passing league. Having a linebacker like Goodson, who can cover in the middle, might just complete this already dominant Giants defense. The Giants haven’t had a quality middle linebacker in a very long time. This makes sense given it is one spot New York prefers to fill with veterans and mid- to late-round draft picks.

It will help immensely having Goodson cover tight ends; one area in which the Giants defense struggled mightily last season. Opposing tight ends recorded 1,052 yards against it, according to Pro Football Reference, which was good for fourth worst in the NFL. That type of production allowed over the middle was horrendous last season and needs to be improved upon. Fortunately, this Giants defense has the talent to do just that heading into this season.

B.J. Goodson is just a second-year linebacker. The responsibility that will be heaped onto his back this season will require him to work out any kinks quickly. This will be the eighth straight season the Giants will have a new starting middle linebacker, but Goodson might just end that streak for good if practice is any indicator of how well he will play during 2017.

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