Giants: How CB Amani Oruwariye can turn his career around

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Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants signed cornerback Amani Oruwariye this offseason, adding much-need depth to their secondary. Oruwariye was once considered to be one of the top young defensive backs in the league. But after a disappointing 2022 campaign, Oruwariye struggled to find a new home in free agency.

Eventually, the Giants signed Oruwariye to a one-year, $1.2 million deal over two months after free agency began. The former Detroit Lions rising star has endured a fall from grace after getting benched in 2022. But the 27-year-old has a unique opportunity to turn his career around in New York this upcoming season.

Oruwariye’s Fall from Grace

In 2021, Oruwariye established himself as one of the best young defensive talents in the league after totaling six interceptions, 11 pass breakups, and 57 combined tackles in the third season of his career. According to Pro Football Focus, Oruwariye’s 57.5 passer-rating-against ranked ninth out of 130 qualified cornerbacks that season.

Oruwariye’s development through his first three seasons was notable. Per PFF, his passer-rating-against improved from 108.5 as a rookie to 96.0 in year two and 60.2 in year three.

But things took a turn for the worst in year four. Oruwariye failed to nab an interception in 2022 and broke up only three passes across 14 games (only five starts). Despite being a staple in Detroit’s defense from 2019 to 2021, Oruwariye was benched in Week 5 of the 2022 season and failed to reestablish himself as a starter in the defense for the rest of the season.

Amani Oruwariye is playing like one of the worst cornerbacks in the league this season. By ProFootballFocus’ measure, he has been the worst cornerback in the league this season. With promising young cornerback Jerry Jacobs due back at the bye, and Jeff Okudah certainly not coming off the field, Oruwariye’s days in the starting lineup seemed like they could be numbered

Kyle Meinke of Michigan Live following Oruwariye’s benching in 2022

Oruwariye is a perfect fit for the Giants’ defensive scheme

Entering 2023, Oruwariye is not viewed as a starter on the Giants’ defense. Adoree’ Jackson and first-round rookie Deonte Banks will open the season as the team’s two primary corners on the boundary. But Oruwariye could still earn himself playing time in Wink Martindale’s defensive scheme.

Oruwariye is a perfect fit for Martindale’s system. Martindale deploys a press-man-heavy defense that mixes in a fair amount of Cover 3 zone, frequently making use of a single-high safety. During his career year in 2021, Oruwariye thrived in those coverage types. He allowed just a 64.9 passer rating in Cover-3 and a 44.7 passer rating in Cover-1 (PFF).

At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Oruwariye has the perfect size and length to play in Martindale’s defense. Martindale favors physical, lengthy corners on the outside. His size, combined with his ability to play in Martindale’s preferred coverages, could earn Oruwariye some playing time.

The perfect backup (with a legitimate chance to play)

Though he may not open the season in the starting lineup, Oruwariye will have every opportunity to earn playing time in 2023.

The Giants learned a difficult lesson in 2022: depth in the secondary is crucial. After starting CB Adoree’ Jackson went down with an injury, New York struggled to find a suitable replacement in the starting lineup.

Jackson has struggled with injuries throughout his six-year career. He has not played a full regular season since 2018 and has missed 11 games with injuries across the past two seasons.

Opposite Jackson is Banks, a rookie who will need to take his time to adjust to the next level. There may be moments where it behooves the Giants’ defense to sub Banks out and let a veteran get some reps; enter Amani Oruwariye.

Oruwariye can seamlessly fit into New York’s defensive lineup if there is ever an opening. Whether Jackson goes down with injury again or Banks needs a breather, Oruwariye can confidently take over.

This opportunity could allow Oruwariye to get back to the high level of play he displayed during his first seasons in Detroit, and ultimately allow him to turn his career around. Hey may not be getting much attention as Jackson and Banks cast large shadows over the rest of the team’s corners, but the Giants may have a hidden gem on their roster in 27-year-old cornerback Amani Oruwariye.

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