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Giants - Round 5, 5th Pick (143rd overall) - Ryan Connelly, ILB
1 year ago  ::  Apr 27, 2019 - 3:27PM #1
Posts: 25,531
The former walk-on made himself into an NFL prospect, now he’ll be looking to make himself an NFL player.

Ryan Connelly is one of the most Wisconsin stories in Badger history. Connelly, a former walk-on, found his way onto the field for his first prominent action after Chris Orrtore his ACL on the very first play of the game at Lambeau Field against LSU in 2016, and Connelly never relinquished his stranglehold on that starting position.

A Minnesota native, Connelly evolved into a tackling machine alongside his classmate and fellow inside linebacker T.J. Edwards, and I am sure the rest of the Big Ten Conference will not be heartbroken to see the two of them go to the NFL and stop terrorizing their running backs. Connelly is the slightly better athlete, but both should end up as NFL players.

Height: 6’2

Weight: 242 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds

Vertical jump: 34.5

Broad jump: 9’10”

Short shuttle: 4.31 seconds, 4.02 seconds*

Three-cone drill: 7.09 seconds

Bench press: 17 reps*

*All measurables except bench press taken from’s Draft profile of Connelly, as he performed at the NFL Combine earlier this year; Connelly performed the bench and the short shuttle at Wisconsin’s pro day in March.

Strengths: Above average football intelligence, rarely out of position. At his best when attacking downhill. Has incredible intuition on knifing through the line of scrimmage on draws. Has experience in underneath zone coverage, has the hip fluidity to turn his hips and adjust to crossing routes. At his best in the run game playing downhill. Has special teams experience.

Weaknesses: Extremely aggressive as a tackler, which can lead to some misses. Not much experience in man coverage. Frame could be maxed out. Average athletically. Can he add mass to take on NFL offensive linemen at the second level?

Summary: Ryan Connelly is one hell of a football player. He, along with Edwards, have been fixtures in the Wisconsin defense over the past three seasons. Played through an injury for most of his senior season in 2018 where his abdominal muscles were torn off of the pubic bone; tough player. Likely a 4-3 ‘Sam’ (strong side) or ‘Will’ (weakside) linebacker. Will need to play special teams to stick while continuing to develop as a linebacker.

Round projection: Round 5—Round 7

12 months ago  ::  Aug 18, 2019 - 9:00PM #2
Posts: 1,329

Giants fifth-round pick Ryan Connelly looks like a starter

New York Daily News

Two rookies were guaranteed to start on the Giant defense this season: first-round picks Dexter Lawrence on the line and DeAndre Baker at corner.

One more has a shot to join their ranks. Fifth-round pick and Wisconsin linebacker Ryan Connelly has been a first-team contributor with veteran Alec Ogletree out with a calf injury.

While Ogletree and second-year pro Tae Davis project as the Giants’ Week 1 starters in the middle, Connelly’s will likely start against the Bears in Friday’s second preseason game.

“I think he’s shown us that he belongs on the field,” head coach Pat Shurmur said.

Connelly, 23, is making all the defensive calls on James Bettcher’s first-team defense when he’s in for Ogletree.
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The rookie has digested the playbook extremely well, and he applied it in the first preseason game against the Jets. He tied for a team-high five tackles in just 28 snaps, including two second-quarter run stops that demonstrated Connelly’s pre-snap read ability and nose for the ball.

He slashed through for one shoestring tackle to hold Jets back Elijah McGuire to a two-yard gain, and he fired into the backfield after back Trenton Cannon and drew a holding penalty on center Jon Toth in the process.

Maybe Connelly’s dexterity in the huddle shouldn’t be a surprise, though. He was a three-time state champion quarterback for Eden Prairie High School (Minn.) before he walked on at Wisconsin in 2014, with no Division I offers, and converted to linebacker.

By the time the 6-2, 236-pounder left the Badgers, he had started 26 games at inside LB, played in 52, with 251 tackles, 29 for a loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.

The cousin of Islanders captain Anders Lee, Connelly was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. He made Academic All-Big Ten three straight years from 2016-18 and graduated with a degree in economics in September.

And his Wisconsin senior class finished with a 42-12 record in his time there. He played through a sports hernia last season as a team captain, too, which is fully healed now. That told the Giants’ scouts he had toughness to match his brains.

But Connelly knows his mind is what gets him on the field and keeps him there.

“I think to be able to show I have an understanding of the defense, so I know what’s going on and the other guys can trust I know what’s going on,” Connelly said. “I think that’s the biggest thing: showing the veterans, the other players, that they can trust me out there and I know what I’m doing.”

Any step forward for Connelly is a major gain for the Giants’ defense. Linebacker is a position of weakness.

When Dave Gettleman drafted Daniel Jones sixth overall, he not only passed on a pass rusher in Kentucky’s Josh Allen; he also let Michigan linebacker Devin Bush fall to No. 10, where the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to get him.

Ogletree is a veteran leader who did have five interceptions last season, and Davis is athletic, which the Giants value for defending the pass. But they struggled mightily covering pass-catching backs and tight ends last year, and they didn’t make up for it by stacking up against the run.

That’s what makes fourth-year player B.J. Goodson’s slide down the depth chart so interesting. Though it’s not surprising a Jerry Reese draft pick would fall out of favor in Gettleman’s regime, Goodson did start 13 games last season and has been the Giants’ toughest run-stopping linebacker.

Second-string LB Jonathan Anderson had a solid preseason opener alongside Connelly, forcing a fumble with five tackles on 25 snaps. And Anderson is a special teams asset so those factors do impact the depth chart.

Most encouraging for the Giants’ future, though, is that Connelly has already earned such a high level of trust from the coaching staff. Especially with Baker (sprained left knee) sidelined, Big Blue is eager to get its promising rookies reps now so they’ll be ready for the games that matter.

If Connelly’s recent workload is any indication, they have huge plans for him come September.

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