Cornerback far from settled for the New York Giants

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

The New York Giants have attacked the cornerback position in the draft the past several seasons but have no clearer a picture of what their secondary will look like in the coming seasons.

With veteran Janoris Jenkins retained this season as a mentor to the many young players they’ve brought in, the Giants’ secondary has been one of the NFL’s worst, allowing wide receivers and tight ends huge chunks of yardage. They have given up 45 passing plays of over 20 yard and a league-leading 13 plays over 40 yards.

The plan going into the season was the Giants would anchor their secondary with Jenkins, 35 year-old safety Antoine Bethea and former first round pick Jabrill Peppers, who they got in the Odell Beckham, Jr. trade with Cleveland.

The Giants were going to let Sam Beal – who they selected in the 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft – and one their three first round picks in this year’s draft, Georgia’s DeAndre Baker battle it out for the other starting corner clot.

The thinking was that they could get away with several options at slot corner. Grant Haley had a promising rookie season in 2018 and the Giants were also bringing two other rookies (Julian Love and Corey Ballentine) to compete for roster spots.

But as fate would have it, Beal would get injured for the second consecutive year and spent the first half off this season on injured reserve with a hamstring. Baker got off to a slow start due to a knee injury. That left the Giants with a tender of Ballentine and veteran Antonio Hamilton on the outside. Baker returned to become a starter but his performance has been extremely disappointing.

Unfortunately, Jenkins has not played up to snuff, either which has compounded the Giants’ issues. Beal has retuned and Baker’s performance has evened out but teams are still picking the Giants apart.

Bethea has liked every bit of 35 as the season has wore on and Peppers fractured a bone in his lower back ad could be out for the rest of the year. The Giants will play the remainder of the season with a combination of Love and veteran Michael Thomas in his place.

But slot corner is still unsettled. Haley has not played as well as hoped. The Giants are trying several players in the role to no avail. Ballentine is not a slot corner by trade was picked on exclusively at the position in the Giants’ loss to the Chicago Bears last week.

Several mock drafts I’ve seen are not sold on the Giants’ secondary and have them taking a corner very early in next year’s NFL Draft. The position general manager Dave Gettleman thought he was set at for years apparently is still in need of an influx of talent.

Coaching has been partly to blame for the poor performance in the secondary. Baker, Beal and Ballentine are are press corners and have been positioned 8-10 yards off the line of scrimmage on most plays, not giving them much of chance against speed receivers.