Speaking of guys who had to deal with injuries (see Chris Canty below), Gerris Wilkinson is hoping to play a full season this year. In his four years with the Giants he’s managed to stay healthy enough to play in an average of 11.5 games per season. Over the last two seasons he’s played in just a combined 17 of the 32 regular-season games.
But the thing Wilkinson is excited about is his move to middle linebacker. We’ve told you a few times here on the blog that the Giants were considering that move, and it looks like that will happen. While coaches have not expressly told Wilkinson that he is a middle linebacker, they’ve discussed it with his agent, he said, and he’s going forward with that mindset.
“I’m excited about it,” he said. “That’s what I played in college. I think I can get some things done in that spot.”
Wilkinson will be competing in what is shaping up to be an open casting call at middle linebacker. He and Bryan Kel will be asked to audition along with Jon Goff and Chase Blackburn who have played the position. The Giants are also expected to draft a middle linebacker relatively high, most likely in the first round.
Wilkinson has experience playing in the middle of a 4-3 system. He did it his final two seasons at Georgia Tech (he was an outside backer and a defensive end at Tech before that). When he came to the NFL, though, he was shifted back to the outside.
“A lot of people felt like I was a weakside linebacker because of my frame and my quickness and size-wise,” he said. “Once I got here, that’s where they put me. My whole career since high school, coaches have had trouble figuring out where they want to put me. I’m used to that.”
There are differences between outside and inside linebacker. There are more bodies to clear out, more mental responsibilities, and more expectations as a leader. Can Wilkinson handle those?
“I think so,” he said. “I like playing in space but just going back to my college days I was able to have a lot of success (in the middle). That’s what got me drafted, playing in the middle. It’s a little bit different playing in the ACC than it is in the NFC East, but it’s something I can handle.”
Wilkinson is a restricted free agent but he has not signed his tender offer from the Giants yet, he said.