Taking a look at the New York Giants‘ secondary and if they really took a step forward this offseason.
The Giants entered this off-season with one essential goal, upgrade the secondary and ensure the pass rush had support in 2020. Replacing Janoris Jenkins was a necessity after being cut later on in the season. Finding a new number one corner would be expensive and complicated, considering the competition for players like Byron Jones in free agency. Ultimately, the Giants passed on Jones, who inevitably signed with the Miami Dolphins, allocating resources toward former Carolina Panther James Bradberry instead.
Comparing Jenkins to Bradberry:
Jenkins has been a consistent corner for the Giants over the past two years but losing began to take its toll. In 13 games last season, Jenkins recorded a 53.8% completion rate against, 503 yards allowed, and three touchdowns. His 14.3% missed tackle rate ballooned in 2019. While he was solid in coverage and only really allowed a completion half of the time, there were plays that he took off and tackles he failed to make.
This is what resulted in him getting cut by the Giants, leaving a void in the secondary for general manager Dave Gettleman to fill.
Bradberry, who signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Giants this off-season, played in 15 games for the Panthers in 2019. At 26 years old, he posted 12 passes defended, a 59.8% completion rate, 644 yards allowed, and one touchdown. His ability in coverage was solid, and his low touchdown numbers were stellar.
Two years ago, Bradberry posted a 44.2% completion rate, one of the lowest in the NFL. Despite his impressive numbers in coverage, he allowed six touchdowns, which was slashed by five this past season. Clearly, he adapted and lowered his touchdown totals, which may have resulted in being a little bit more conservative in coverage. If he can put those two categories together and play at a high-level, Bradberry can be better than Jenkins and ultimately restore the number one corner position for the New York Giants.
How about the rest of the secondary?
The rest of the secondary is relatively young, but the Giants have invested plenty of capital in young corners and safeties. After a recent interview with the defender Julian Love, he expressed his confidence in playing free safety. His comfort in the defensive backfield and adaptation in 2019 allows him to play there in the future if the Giants see him in that role.
With Love, Cory Ballentine, and DeAndre Baker all entering their second year in the NFL, I anticipate a substantial jump from all three, which would increase the production of the secondary exponentially.
Gettleman may invest in a free safety in the NFL draft — a player like Antoine Winfield Jr. is a talented prospect, but they should be confident that Love can hold down the spot. This would also imply that Grant Haley and Ballentine would feature as the slot corner and continue to develop there.