T.J Brunson barely got any playing time last year as a rookie, and could be looking at an uphill battle to stick around with the Giants in Year 2 of his career.
The Giants loaded up on linebackers in the 2020 draft, picking four between Rounds 6 and 7.
The third of those four, T.J. Brunson, was the only one not to see significant playing time, making him something of a mystery as to what he has to offer.
Let’s take a look back at his post-draft write-up and try to guess if this 6’1″, 230-pounder out of South Carolina has a future with the Giants’ 53-man roster.
Brunson is somewhat of an undersized linebacker who lacks ideal athleticism but who is feisty. He appeared in four games and took two defensive snaps and 53 snaps on special teams.
He was a three-year starter for the South Carolina Gamecocks and a two-time captain who has a reputation as a defensive leader and a physical and aggressive player.
At South Carolina, Brunson primarily lined up as an inside linebacker playing within the box. In 43 games, he racked up 283 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, 6.0 sacks, one interception, six pass breakups, and one forced fumble.
Brunson, as a tackler, always brought the wood, the force of his tackles being felt by spectators as high up as the nosebleed seats. He also did a good job of limiting yards after contact against ball carriers.
Per PFF, he recorded 111 career tackles for zero or negative yardage, but he also had inconsistencies with tackling, accumulating 12.5% missed tackles in his four-season career; this mainly due to incorrect angles that left him out of position to make the play.
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What He Brings
Brunson is a limited athlete and a two-down linebacker. He plays a solid downhill game in which he shows discipline and awareness in recognizing and filling running lanes.
Those abilities combined with his tackling make him a natural fit for special teams, where the bulk of his limited opportunities last year came.
Brunson is on Year 2 of his rookie deal, where he’ll count for $800,488 against the cap if he makes the roster. If he doesn’t, he will yield a $739,024 cap savings with $61,464 in dead money hitting this year’s cap and $40,976 hitting next year’s cap.
Given how often he was active last year, it wouldn’t be surprising if Brunson has an uphill battle to stick with this team’s 53-man roster, especially with all the new talent added on special teams.
If nothing else, perhaps there will be a spot for him on the practice squad as one can never have too many good special teams players, but as far as cracking the 53-man roster, unless there are injuries, Brunson appears to be the longest of long shots.