The New York Giants’ cornerback situation has been an intriguing storyline to follow throughout the season. With younger talents starting to emerge, the question of whether or not veteran cornerback Adoree’ Jackson has a future with Big Blue has started to arise.
Adoree’ Jackson has been struggling this season
Jackson has struggled throughout the season, earning an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 40.5, including a subpar 37.0 in coverage. Initially starting the season in the slot position, Jackson struggled immensely and has seen his playing time in the slot decrease drastically after Week 4.
Shifting Jackson back outside
With only six combined snaps in the slot in his last two games, the veteran has seemingly shifted back to his position as an outside cornerback, currently falling behind standout rookie Deonte Banks on the depth chart as the CB2. Considering his reception percentage of 75%, allowing 24 receptions on 32 targets for 345 yards, Jackson appears to be the weaker link in the Giants’ secondary.
Is Tre Hawkins III the Giants’ new CB2?
Jackson was sidelined in the Giants’ Week 7 matchup against the Washington Commanders due to injury, and quite frankly, Big Blue’s secondary seemed to look better without him in the lineup. Fellow rookie Tre Hawkins III took his place and delivered a solid performance.
Hawkins was a standout during the offseason and initially secured the CB2 spot ahead of Jackson. However, he faced some inevitable rookie growing pains as he adjusted to the demands of the regular season. Through the first three weeks of the season, Hawkins was targeted nine times in coverage, surrendering eight completions for 127 yards. This poor performance ultimately led to his benching in Week 4.
Hawkins has since seen his snap count decrease, but opportunity knocked on his door when Jackson was forced to miss Week 7, allowing Hawkins to start at CB2 once again. The rookie stepped up and held his own against Washington, finishing the game with an impressive stat line.
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Hawkins turns in a solid performance in Week 7
Hawkins allowed only three receptions for 34 yards, displaying a significant improvement and earning the highest PFF coverage grade on defense with 72.5. Hawkins redeemed himself with this performance and proved his potential as a valuable asset for the Giants’ secondary moving forward.
Hawkins was in rotation with cornerback Nick McCloud throughout the game, with Hawkins receiving the bulk of the snaps with 59 and McCloud receiving 16. McCloud made the best out of his limited snaps and was able to impress and hold his own against Washington’s star WR Terry McLaurin, even securing a pass break-up on the receiver.
According to PFF, McCloud was one of New York’s best defensive performers with a grade of 70.7, just behind the rookie Hawkins.
The Giants are testing different players in the slot
With Hawkins potentially on pace to win his starting spot back, Jackson seems likely to fall on the depth chart once again. Following Jackson’s struggles in the slot, second-year corner Cor’Dale Flott has seemingly taken over the slot position.
After not playing the first three games of the season, Flott has been strong in coverage, earning him an overall coverage grade of 67.7. Flott had his best showing in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins and earned the highest defensive PFF grade of the week with 90.3.
The defense as a whole had their best performance to date against Washington, and the mix of Banks, Hawkins, McCloud, and Flott in the secondary could be part of the reason. With the success and potential shown by these younger players, Jackson doesn’t seem to have a place in the Giants’ future moving forward.
What’s next for Jackson?
While Jackson has had success in the past, his performance has declined recently. Jackson is currently in the final year of his $39 million contract. With a hefty cap hit of $19.1 million and the potential to create $6.7 million in cap space if traded, the Giants have some financial flexibility to better their roster. Trading Jackson to a team in need of a quality cornerback could ultimately benefit both parties.