Could the Giants’ solution at CB2 already be on the roster?

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) catches the ball as New York Giants cornerback Nick McCloud (44) pursues during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants still have a void to fill in their defense with a clear starter not currently present for the starting cornerback position opposite Deonte Banks. Having yet to sign a corner in free agency, perhaps the Giants could look from within to solve their weakness on the boundary.

Can the Giants count on Tre Hawkins III to take that step forward?

At the beginning of last season, the Giants had high hopes for rookie sixth-round pick Tre Hawkins III. He stood out all summer, making plays in training camp to earn the starting outside cornerback job in Week 1. But things did not go as planned for Hawkins.

He only wound up making three starts at the beginning of the season before being pulled from the lineup due to poor play. Hawkins finished the season having allowed 25 receptions on 30 targets (83.3%) for 403 yards and four touchdowns.

Hopefully, Hawkins is ready to take that step forward in 2024 after using the 2023 season as a learning lesson. If he has another solid summer of practice, the Giants could give Hawkins a second chance to start this season.

The Giants tendered Nick McCloud this week

If Hawkins is not ready to become the full-time starter, the Giants do have another familiar face waiting in the wings. They tendered veteran CB Nick McCloud this week, giving him a one-year $3 million deal to compete in New York’s secondary.

In addition to being a key contributor on special teams last season, McCloud turned in some quality playing time at cornerback. He made three starts and finished the season with three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, three pass defenses, and one interception. McCloud is quality depth in the secondary and could ascend into a larger role if the Giants are unable to find any additional talent to inject into the defensive backfield.

READ MORE: Giants sign two veterans to add offensive line depth

Could Cor’Dale Flott start on the outside?

The expectation is for Cor’Dale Flott to be the team’s starting nickel cornerback in his third season. However, if the team is unable to add a new starter on the outside, they could attempt to play Flott in that role instead.

The Giants moved Flott to the slot in 2023 after he spent the majority of his playing time as a rookie out wide. In 2022, he played 269 snaps as the wide cornerback compared to 15 in the slot. In 2023, those numbers shifted, and he spent only 45 snaps out wide and 432 as the nickel.

In all likelihood, Flott will maintain his role as the nickel cornerback. But if the Giants cannot find a suitable replacement for Adoree’ Jackson out wide, Flott might need to prepare to play that role, too.

Flott totaled 36 combined tackles, five pass defenses, and one interception in 2023. He also surrendered 34 receptions on 57 targets (59.6%) for 440 yards and three touchdowns in coverage. Flott has flashed his potential, but will need to take a step forward in 2024.

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