The Giants took their third linebacker of the draft in South Carolina's T.J. Brunson at 238 overall in the NFL Draft.
Brunson was the team’s eight selection of the draft after acquiring this pick back in 2018 from the New Orleans Saints for cornerback Eli Apple.
Brunson was a very productive player at South Carolina, starting 38 career games and recording 283 tackles, with 164 being un-assisted, tenth all-time in school history.
He was the unanimous leader of the Gamecocks defense the past two years being named a captain in back-to-back seasons. His best year came as a junior in 2018, where he led his team with 106 tackles (7 best in the SEC), with 10.5 for a loss, and four sacks. This earned him the honor of co-Defensive MVP voted by his teammates sharing this accolade with 2019 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw.
Brunson will join a crowded Giants linebacker room after he was one-of-four players taken at this position by the team on Day 3.
These rookies will play and compete with each other for a backup spot; however, Brunson is mainly an inside linebacker, which will benefit his candidacy as there are only three of these players currently on the roster with Ryan Connelly returning from a torn ACL.
According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Brunson is a prototypical inside backer who brings toughness and physicality to a defense, but who struggles with reactionary quickness, range, and pursuit of angles.
The Giants have certainly loaded up on linebackers in the draft and free agency, but there will be an opportunity for Brunson to prove his worth to the coaching staff once training camp begins this summer.
Round 7, No. 238: LB T.J. Brunson
Weight: 230 pounds
South Carolina (Senior)
- South Carolina native playing his ball at Columbia’s Northeast high school overcoming a serious hip injury as a junior to record 140 tackles in his senior season.
- Appeared in 11 games for the Gamecocks as a true freshman in 2016, mostly appearing on special teams while receiving some snaps on defense.
- Started all 13 games as a sophomore linebacker in 2017 and finished second on the team with 88 tackles, and 4.5 for a loss, to go along with two sacks and three fumble recoveries (3 most in SEC).
- Named a team captain in 2018, where he led his team with 106 tackles (7 in SEC), with 10.5 for a loss, and four sacks. Recognized as team defensive co-MVP by his peers with 2019 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw, and several other team accolades including Best Defensive Player, Unselfish teammate, and was given the Leadership award.
- Was second on the team with 77 tackles as a senior, and 6.5 for a loss.
- Earned the Leadership award for the second straight year voted by his teammates.
- Nominated to play in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl