Giants’ 2nd-year cornerback could try to steal the starting job

Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams (9) reacts to a first down catch against New York Giants cornerback Tre Hawkins III (37) during the first half of a preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday

The New York Giants’ secondary could be a boom-or-bust unit this season as they enter the campaign with plenty of youth and potential. However, the defensive backfield’s inexperience could lead to some growing pains along the way, especially considering the lack of an established starter at one of the two starting cornerback positions.

The Giants’ CB2 position is far from solidified

New York Jets wide receiver Allen Lazard (10) drops the ball as New York Giants cornerback Cor'Dale Flott (28) defends during the first half at MetLife Stadium

Opposite Deonte Banks, the Giants’ No. 2 starting cornerback job is unestablished. Third-year cornerback Cor’Dale Flott is expected to step into the starting role, however, he has spent the majority of his career so far rotating as a nickel cornerback in the defensive lineup. While he has the first crack at the starting job at training camp, it will likely turn into a position battle during the summer practices.

Along with Flott will be Nick McCloud and second-year cornerback Tre Hawkins III competing for playing time on the boundary. McCloud impressed at the end of the last regular season and Hawkins was a training camp standout last summer. Now entering his second season, Hawkins could be a sleeper to steal the starting job back this summer.

Tre Hawkins III has a lot to learn from his rookie season

Washington Commanders wide receiver Dyami Brown (2) is unable the catch the ball as New York Giants cornerback Tre Hawkins III (37) defends in the second half at MetLife Stadium

Hawkins started the 2023 season as one of the Giants’ two starters on the outside despite being a sixth-round rookie. He quickly made a name for himself during training camp as he locked down the team’s starting wide receivers and earned his spot in the starting lineup. However, he was quickly demoted by the fourth week of the season after a string of poor performances to start the campaign shook the coaching staff’s confidence in Hawkins as a rookie.

But entering year two, Hawkins has plenty to learn from his rookie season. He made his mistakes and had his growing pains, surrendering an 83.3% completion rate in coverage. But another solid summer of practices could get Hawkins back on the coaching staff’s good side.

New defensive coordinator Shane Bowen is expected to play a more conservative and simplified defensive scheme that could cater to its defensive backs. Hawkins might excel in the new defensive scheme and, if he can outperform Flott during the training camp practices, he could steal back his starting job.

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