Most NFL fans have never heard of middle linebacker B.J. Goodson, but that may change this season. Goodson has been turning heads at New York Giants minicamp, showing his potential on the field. He is starting to emerge as the lead candidate for the starting middle linebacker position, which could help the defense continue its dominant 2016 run.

While Goodson didn’t do much for the defense last year, he did look to be a special teams ace. He showed some instances of big hits and strong recognition skills. Goodson was also fighting for snaps behind veterans like Kelvin Sheppard, Jasper Brinkley, and Mark Herzlich. As a result, the Giants limited his snaps on defense.

However, these veterans are getting older or have moved on. While players like Sheppard were very solid, they didn’t exactly turn heads. The Giants have relied on average veterans for MLB roles since Jerry Reese became general manager. They never had a Luke Kuechly or a Sean Lee. They haven’t found hidden gems in any of their late linebacker picks, but Goodson could be the difference.

The second-year man has been impressing, and although no one should expect a Pro Bowl performance from him this year, there is a lot to be excited about. New York doesn’t need Goodson to be miles better than past middle linebacker production, but he does need to be just as good. Even if he is average, that is still positive for the future because he is so young. He still has time to grow into a very talented player.

Not only that, but Goodson is in one of the best positions to succeed. There are few teams with as big of an opening at middle linebacker as the Giants. Additionally, he is playing alongside an established elite defense. He is playing behind one of the best front fours in the league. Plus, he has one of the best secondaries behind him. If Goodson’s potential translates into strong regular season play, New York will be in good shape for 2017 and beyond.

Furthermore, the success of Goodson would do more than improve the Giants on the field. Jerry Reese has been a fine GM, but his main blemish is his inability and lack of desire to draft talented young linebackers. He has taken many linebackers in late rounds in the hopes that they turn out, but they never amount to more than solid backup players. If the Giants truly did find a starting caliber player in Goodson, it would mean a lot for Reese and his legacy. It would mean that he isn’t totally incapable of identifying young linebacker talent.

Goodson should get the Giants and their fans excited. He could be the answer to a long-standing issue in the Jerry Reese era. Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to see a young play-making linebacker anchoring this talented defense?

Matthew Graziano is a contributor for the New York Giants at Pro Football Spot. He is passionate about football and hockey, as well as a fan and follower of all New York area sports teams.