Inside linebacker Ryan Connelly became the second Wisconsin Badgers standout to be selected in the 2019 NFL Draft last weekend, going to the New York Giants in the fifth round with the 143rd overall pick.
Now, the former walk-on turned significant contributor to the UW defense the past three seasons will work and train to make the active roster of one of the NFL’s oldest and most famous franchises.
Based on the Giants’ tweet below from Thursday, it appears Connelly will wear No. 57 for now.
Helping us break down what could lie ahead for Connelly in East Rutherford, N.J., is editor-in-chief of Big Blue View—our SB Nation cousins who cover the Giants—Ed Valentine.Overall, what were fans’ impressions of the selection of Connelly in the fifth round?
Well, I think fans automatically think of Chase Blackburn and Mark Herzlich, limited guys who contributed mostly on special teams, when they think of Connelly. Is that fair or true? I’m not sure, but I think that’s where it is.
How is the depth and talent at linebacker with the Giants?
The Giants play a base 3-4 with Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson as the primary inside linebackers. Tae Davis, a 2nd year player, is a backup and a nickel type guy with coverage skills. There’s room for more depth.
Which leads me to my next question—where do you see him contributing in the position group and at what linebacker spot?
Connelly will be an inside guy. I’m not sure initially how much he will play, but if he does I’m assuming it will be on early downs.
How critical will the ability to play special teams at the next level be for Connelly to make the Giants’ roster?
Essential. He will likely be a backup and see most of his time on the field in that role.
Former Wisconsin standout Jonathan Casillas played for the New York football Giants for several years. What are some fond memories of the former Badger in his time in New York?
Loved Casillas. He was a stand-up guy, well spoken, always gave you real answers to your questions.
A great Casillas story. His first year with the Giants I interviewed him along with beat writer Pat Traina, who co-hosted a podcast with me at the time. As a new Giant I asked him for one player he really knew nothing about when he came to the Giants who had really impressed him. Instead of giving me a big name, he gave me Nikita Whitlock, a fullback who had spent the previous year on the Dallas practice squad. Whitlock made the team, and also played some defensive tackle.
This question became an annual thing with Casillas, Traina and myself that he actually looked forward to and put a lot of thought into every year. Really cool.