The past few seasons for the New York Giants have been difficult, and they haven’t had a player worthy of being considered in the top 50 of all athletes in the NFL since they featured Odell Beckham Jr. on offense. After trading him away, the talent level dropped off significantly until they drafted Saquon Barkley, but his inability to remain healthy and active has hurt his standings. Defensively, they’ve been looking for a star to help project them into the spotlight.
However, in PFF’s top 50 players in the NFL, the Giants saw a cornerback, James Bradberry, land at 47, earning a career-best overall and coverage grade in his first season in the NFC East last year.
All Bradberry needed to realize his full potential was a chance of scenery. The former Carolina Panther earned career-best overall and coverage grades in his first season in the NFC East, recording a massive 14 pass breakups — one off the league lead –and allowing a passer rating of just 70.1 on throws into his coverage.
Bradberry still faced some pretty imposing wide receivers; he just showed that he is a match for them as a member of the Giants secondary.
The free-agent signing was spectacular for Big Blue in 2020, ranking second in pass break-ups with 14, allowing one touchdown after week two, and tied a career-high with three interceptions. He was also targeted a career-low of 91 times, as opposing quarterbacks desperately try to avoid throwing in his direction. He limited some of the best receivers in the NFL. For example, he held Allen Robinson to under 15 yards in their week two match-up last year.
In addition, he played valiantly against DK Metcalf in week 13 and held Arizona receivers to under 23 yards when in man coverage. There’s no question the Giants landed an absolute stud in James, who simply needed a change of scenery to realize his potential.
Nobody expected him to be this good, but thanks to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, he was able to elevate his style of play and rely on man coverage, which seems to be his forte. As a primary off-ball defender, his fundamentals and technique in trail are exquisite. Pairing him with Adoree Jackson will only help the secondary improve this upcoming year.
Bradberry went from a middling corner in the NFL to being ranked as a top-five in one season at his position, an astronomical step forward that will hopefully continue to progress with the Giants adding more resources toward an already solid defense.