Zach Cunningham is the dream draft choice for the New York Giants. The Giants have not selected a linebacker in the first round since 1984 when they selected Harry Carson. The last linebacker the Giants sent to the Pro Bowl was Antonio Pierce in 2006. The Giants have also won two Super Bowls without dominant play from their linebackers. One could argue that a strong defensive line or strong secondary could bring home a Lombardi Trophy. So with this knowledge, why would Cunningham be the ideal choice for the Giants?
New York Giants Should Draft Zach Cunningham
Giants Lack Pro Bowl Talent at Linebacker
The Giants have been looking to find Antonio Pierce’s replacement since he retired in 2009. Pierce was the quarterback of the defense, being dependable and irreplaceable. The Giants have not had nor do they have a linebacker that is a Pro Bowl talent. The Giants currently have Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Casillas, B.J. Goodson, and Devon Kennard. Goodson is entering his second year and he should not be expected to handle an every down role. Cunningham could be plugged right into the middle linebacker position to take over the every down role. He would be an immediate upgrade over both Goodson and the man he would be replacing in Kelvin Sheppard, who is currently a free agent. Cunningham would not be expected to be the leader of this defense the minute he joined the team, but would be able to learn under the guidance of Casillas.
Off the Chart Athlete
Zach Cunningham brings a lot to a Giants team that has missed high-level talent at the linebacker position. He has good size and is a play-making machine. Whether he is shooting the gap to stop the run or dropping back into coverage, he can do it all at a high level. Cunningham is arguably the best linebacker in this class for that reason. Cunningham has been a reliable producer on the field. He had 88 tackles his sophomore season, but his junior season he had 125 total tackles. His sophomore year, he showed he could also put pressure on the quarterback and had 4.5 sacks.
Cunningham ran a 4.67 40-yard dash along with a 35.0-inch vertical jump. Athleticism cannot be taught, and Cunningham is a tremendous athlete. Reuben Foster out of Alabama is a tremendous run stopper, but he is not as dominant in coverage. Also, there are now question marks regarding the character of foster after his outbreak at the combine that got him sent home.
Instant Impact Playmaker
Cunningham is the full package and is someone the Giants could compliment their defense around. Although they already have a championship caliber defense right now, their weakness is at the linebacker position. Adding Cunningham to this defense would only make it even better than it previously was. He would man this defense for years to come and would have a lot of Pro Bowl talent surrounding him. Cunningham would make an immediate impact for the Giants. He would be involved in virtually every single play. He brings a little extra to a Giants team that has lacked a dominating presence in the middle of the field.