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Is Phillip Dillard a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker?

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Is Phillip Dillard a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker?

Post  Big_Pete on Sat May 15, 2010 6:05 am

from http://espn.go.com/blog/nfceast

Is Phillip Dillard a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker?

Phillip Dillard, a fourth-rounder in this year's draft, looks like a front-runner to start at middle linebacker for the Giants.
Something strange has taken place since the New York Giants' first rookie minicamp a couple weeks ago. It's almost like we're assuming that Phillip Dillard, a fourth-round pick out of Nebraska, should be the starter at middle linebacker. So does that say more about the team's shaky status at that position or Dillard's upside?

Antonio Pierce is gone because of injuries and declining play. But the Giants certainly will miss his leadership at middle linebacker. It's the job of new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to identify someone who's not afraid to be vocal while getting the front seven in the right spots. The good news for Fewell is that rookie linebackers have flourished as starters over the last few years in the league. I think of the impact DeMeco Ryans had as a rookie with the Texans. And you immediately knew that Patrick Willis would be Pro Bowler when he stepped on the field for the 49ers.

Dillard has a long way to go, but there are signs that he has the type of ability to take over the position. And honestly, I don't think Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl and Gerris Wilkinson are viable alternatives. I'm not sure there's a fourth-round pick in the league who faces more pressure than Dillard. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com caught up with Redskins middle linebacker London Fletcher to ask him about rookies in the starting lineup. Fletcher played for Fewell with the Bills, so he knows what the defensive coordinator's trying to accomplish.

"If the rookie comes in and is a great talent and they can live with the growing pains that come with the rookie, and that rookie learns from his mistakes and doesn’t repeat the same mistakes, he can excel in that defense,” said Fletcher.
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Re: Is Phillip Dillard a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker?

Post  Big_Pete on Sat May 15, 2010 6:28 am

I think Dillard will be in the mix to start early and wouldn't be surprised to see him starting by mid season

I expect we will see very good play from our DTs with Cofield, Canty and Alford all fired up with points to prove + Joseph who will likely be in the mix to start early.

It is a good point about rookie LBs impacting early, look at guys like who have impacted early in their careers at MLB in recent years - DeMeco Ryans, Jon Beason, Pat Willis, D'Qwell Jackson, Curtis Lofton, David Harris etc. (note with the exception of Willis and Harris, Dillard is similar size wize to all these)

Dillard is a similar style of player to Ryans, Vilma, Beason etc.

If you want a darkhorse for defensive rookie of the year look no further than Dillard (and Jospeh)
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Re: Is Phillip Dillard a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker?

Post  Pizan on Sat May 15, 2010 10:48 am

Lol at that last part. Middle linebacker is a very critical part in any defense. Also to compare Dillard to ryans and Willis is pushing it. I'm still standing firm that our starting MLB isn't on the team yet.
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Re: Is Phillip Dillard a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker?

Post  Big_Pete on Sat May 15, 2010 8:34 pm

I think our starting MLB for this season is on the roster.

Like it or not Dillard will get a shot along with our other LBs.

Lets not get too worried about where Dillard was drafted, there are plenty of good MLB who were drafted late or undrafted.

I am going to consider Dillard with an open mind and see what he does on the field in training camp and the OTAs; the front office really like him and he has some ability.

I still think our long term solution at MLB will be drafted next year with guys like


LB Greg Jones, 6-1, 224, Michigan St
LB Quan Sturdivant, 6-2, 232, North Carolina
LB Kelvin Sheppard, 6-3, 239, LSU

I think our LB overhaul will continue next year, Blackburn and Wilkinson will be off contract plus Kehl and Goff will be entering the final year of their rookie contracts.
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