New York Giants: 3 breakout candidates for the 2020 season

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker
Dec 15, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) reacts after breaking up a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at three New York Giants players that can break out in 2020:

The New York Giants made it a priority to boost both sides of the ball this off-season through the NFL draft and free agency. However, the success of the team moving forward heavily relies on the 2019 draft class and their development.

The Giants added quarterback Daniel Jones, interior defender Dexter Lawrence, and cornerback DeAndre baker all in the first round. While Jones and Lawrence had successful rookie campaigns, Baker struggled significantly and failed to leave his mark on the field.

In 2020, the defense, which is the youngest of the units, must step up in a big way and show progress from last season.

Here are three breakout candidates for the Giants in 2020:

1. DeAndre Baker

Baker played in 16 games last season, and at just 22 years old, he still has plenty of time to reach his potential. Compiling 61 tackles, two for a loss, and eight passes offended, he was a bit all over the place in terms of production. He didn’t record an interception and was quite poor in the tackling department. He missed 9% of his tackles and allowed a 61.4% completion rate. The most troublesome statistic is the number of touchdowns he allowed, which was six. He allowed it 116.2 passer rating against opposing quarterbacks.

His struggles primarily landed on James Bettcher, who inefficiently utilized him. Baker was known to be a more refined man/press cover corner coming out of Georgia, but Bettcher employed him as an off-ball player in a heavy zone scheme. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will utilize him in mostly man coverage, which he used 50% of the time in 2019. That should benefit Baker significantly.

2. Oshane Ximines

Ximines is one of my favorite breakout candidates for 2020. On 45% of defense of snaps in 2019, the 23-year-old posted 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits. He didn’t miss a single tackle and earned five tackles for loss on top of it all. He was quite efficient for a rookie third-round selection, and he has the potential to be a staple for the Giants at outside linebacker. Patrick Graham will likely utilize him as a starter alongside Markus Golden if he ends up staying with the Giants.

If the Giants can extract the most out of Ximines in 2020, he can resurrect a pass rush that has been quite inadequate the past few seasons. An improved secondary should also allow him more time to get after the quarterback.

3. Darius Slayton

Jumping over to the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Darius Slayton is the third breakout candidate. Having posted 740 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie season, leading the team in both categories, he is set to make a sizable developmental jump next season.

While he had shaky hands at some points, posting a 57.1% catch rate, he developed nicely after starting rookie minicamp, dropping everything in sight. He played on just 66% of offensive snaps, and seeing an uptick in that category and remaining healthy should allow him to cement himself as Daniel Jones’s top option. As a fifth-round pick, most expected him to be more of a project, but he has defied all odds and established himself as a starter moving forward.