Last season the New York Giants had a renaissance of sorts at the linebacker position, as Jon Beason brought something to the middle of that defense they sorely lacked in previous seasons. But as any team in the NFL knows, building depth is one way to sustain success, and that is what the Giants did signing Jameel McClain in free agency. They did not stop there, selecting Devon Kennard in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and also bringing in a linebacker as an UDFA. That linebacker is Dan Fox from Notre Dame.
Fox comes from one of the most prestigious programs in the nation in the Fighting Irish. He produced well on the field, leading the team in tackles his senior year. He also has plenty of playing experience, starting every game the last three seasons he was at Notre Dame.
What makes those three seasons of starting experience even more valuable is the versatility Fox showed. Notre Dame plays a base 3-4 defense, but he had time at every spot. He started on the outside of the linebacker spots, but ended up playing both inside spots as well by the end of his career.
Fox spoke highly of the experience he gained bouncing around like he did and how he was during spring practice with the Giants thus far, stating, “This is kind of a new position a little bit, I’ve been doing a lot of Sam and Will in camp but have played some Mike. I’ve done a little bit of everything and it’s fun learning all the positions. I’m just trying to make the team.”
The chances of the 6-foot-3 inch, 235 pound Fox making the team increased exponentially just recently as well with Beason going down with an injury. With Beason set to miss all of training camp, and potentially the beginning of the season, Fox may be able to carve a role out for himself.
Right now McClain will be moved into the middle in Beason’s absence, with Jacquian Williams flanking on one side and Spencer Paysinger and Kennard fighting for reps on the other. The Giants still have former UDFA Mark Herzlich on the roster, but his spot could be up for grabs if Fox has an impressive summer after strong spring practices. If he is able to make the team, Fox should be ticketed for special team reps once Beason gets healthy in addition to whatever defensive responsibilities the Giants give him.
Fox shows solid instincts on tape, but will have to showcase those skills during training camp if he is to make the roster. Beason’s injury opens up an opportunity for him and all of the other second and third-string linebackers; it is just a matter of who makes the most of it.